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Posts tagged ‘baby steps’

Comparison is For Major Purchases, Not People

Acceptance Instead of Comparison

At the gym as in life, we are all at different places on our journey. Comparison is both meaningless and self-defeating. And yet, while working out around people at different levels, it’s all too easy to find ourselves making comparisons; some even favorable to ourselves.

There’s no way for us to know where anyone started except ourselves. The only valid comparison is where we are now vs. where we were at some specified point in the past, and then, only to show ourselves how far we’ve come.

Each of us progresses in our own unique way. A heavier person might have 4 or 5 times the strength of a wispy woman. Then again, she might not. Outside appearance is the least accurate barometer for forward progress.

Looking at the Outside Misses Where Our Real Changes Occur

Sure, you can look at someone who’s dropped 50 or 100 pounds and see progress. But what you see is superficial compared to the internal changes they made in order to release the weight. Those outward changes couldn’t have happened without a lot of internal redirection, a huge shift in mindset and values, and a decision to make those changes plus the will to make new habits. How can someone on the outside looking in possibly know the mountains we move to make those changes?

By the same token, we don’t have any way of knowing how far another person has come, so how on earth can we possibly compare ourselves and our journey to theirs?

Comparison is a momentum killer.

Comparison is a short road to discouragement. It allows us to fall back into “you’re not good enough” mode where we ignore all the progress we’ve made, looking instead at how far we have to go. But our progress wasn’t made in a series of giant leaps. Chances are, we took a lot of baby steps and maybe, just maybe, the occasional giant leap. The mountain we set off to climb must be scaled one step at a time.

Focusing on Our Own Progress

That doesn’t mean the steps don’t get easier as we gain skill and strength. Nor will those baby steps remain the same minuscule size as we learn and grow. But as we progress our perspective changes too. What was once a major accomplishment is barely a blip on our personal radar. We reset not only our goals but our expectations as we go. That too is progress.

Expecting more of ourselves when we’re ready, or almost ready is what makes us reach for loftier and loftier goals. If we set our bar at a level too far beyond our current capabilities, we’d get discouraged and give up before we made what we’d consider significant progress. But if we set smaller, reachable goals, we’ll experience a feeling of accomplishment that will motivate us to keep trying.

My biggest challenge is to release the excess weight I’ve accumulated over the years. Though it’s been rough going the last few months, I can stop myself and remember that there are about 20 pounds I’ve released and not allowed to creep back. Yes, there are also 5 or 10 which have, but the ones that haven’t motivate me to keep trying because I have some success to look at.

Meanwhile, I’ve gone from barely being able to lift a pound with my left arm, courtesy of a herniated disc in my neck to getting comments from men at the gym about how much weight I’m lifting now. It didn’t happen over night, and it’s not helping me take off as much weight as I’d like, but it is progress. In fact, when I pull up MyFitnessPal to see what weight I’m using on various machines or free weights each week, I’m often surprised to see the numbers have climbed as high as they have.

Figuring Out What Motivates Us

Most of my progress has occurred in the last year, when I finally found a schedule I’d follow consistently, and created what I hope will be a lifelong habit. It might have taken me a few extra decades to get there, but that’s how my journey is unfolding. I’m OK with that.

Comparison has another ugly side. When we see ourselves as less, or not as good as, we tend to treat ourselves unkindly. We give up on ourselves. We feel unworthy. None of that crap is true. We slip back into old habits, but we don’t have to stay there. We need to remind ourselves it’s OK to make mistakes or fall off track as long as we treat ourselves kindly and get back on that track before we do ourselves too much damage.

The trouble is, we tend to be quicker to beat ourselves up than forgive our own transgressions. And boy are we stingy with praise for the person who deserves our praise the most!

Focus on Now and the Rest Will Follow

One way I’ve found to get off the comparison merry-go-round is to focus on what we are doing, thinking, and feeling in the current moment—in the Now. Feel how our bodies and minds are responding to the new tasks we’ve set, and don’t worry about what happened 5 minutes ago. If we ate a cookie, or skipped a set, it’s done and can’t be re-done. So let it go and embrace this moment, making it the best we can.

I also like to make lists. At the end of the day, I make a list of at least 10 things I accomplished. They don’t have to be big things, and often, I give myself a couple of “gimme’s”. They’re things I do every day without thinking about it like writing my Morning Pages, and making the bed (another habit I had to work to achieve). To the outside world, they might seem insignificant.

To many of my friends, making the bed has been a lifelong habit. For me, as the Queen of Clutter for so many years, it was one more thing I had to learn to find important. But forming and keeping the habit taught me that climbing back into bed during the day was no longer an option. Ask anyone who has fought depression at any point in their life, and you’ll understand why such a small, seemingly ordinary task can make a huge difference in how a day unfolds. Learning to make my bed every morning turned days on end of laziness, lack of motivation or inspiration, and long-term failure into the desire to finish what I started and form more healthy habits.

What I’m saying in my usual long, roundabout way is, if you must compare, look at who you are today, what you have accomplished, and how far you’ve come. The only person we have to be better than is ourselves. The only improvements that matter in our lives are the ones we make to the person we are now, and the person we want to become. Look objectively. Look without judging. See yourself without unrealistic expectations. I promise you’ll see someone marvelous, accomplished and amazing who’s conquered a lot of odds and challenges to become the ever-evolving person they are today.

Remember to Be Grateful for Accomplishments Both Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my evolving perspective.
  2. I am grateful for the many accomplishments which continue to help me evolve.
  3. I am grateful for reminders that I’m perfect the way I am, but can always make myself a better me.
  4. I am grateful for people who can be examples for me rather than comparisons where I find myself lacking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; self-love, joy, health, new habits, friendship, dancing, inspiration, motivation, prosperity, peace, harmony, and philanthropy.

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

30 Minutes a Day to Retrain Your Brain

Finding 30 Minutes at the Beginning of My Day

Lately I’ve discovered if I hit the ground running first thing in the morning, I get a lot accomplished. This may sound counter-intuitive to you morning people out there, but my normal day has, for the last few years, run from 9 or so in the morning to anywhere from 1 to 3 the next morning. But as my productivity window seems to be changing, I figured I need to change my sleep schedule as well. I’m learning it’s not as easy as it looks.

I started by setting my alarm for 8 after having spent nearly 4 years rising whenever I felt like it, and leaving the alarm in the off position where it almost didn’t want to leave. That worked OK for a while, and I even trained myself to stop hitting the snooze a bazillion times. Finally, I was getting pretty consistent about getting up between 8 and 8:30 so I thought OK, that worked. Let’s try for earlier.

Trial and Error to Effect Change

I’d like to say I’m happily rising between 7:30 and 8:00 consistently, but I seem to have shot myself in the foot. My brain says, oh, don’t worry. Your clock is 20 minutes fast, so it’s barely 7:00. You have plenty of time! Unfortunately, “plenty of time” has meant sleeping until 9 the last two mornings, at which point I fly out of bed scattering cats and pillows hither and yon, trying to make up the lost hour or so I lost when I outsmarted myself.

Sometimes, we need to do more than try to fool ourselves into changing our habits. Before a habit can truly be changed, we have to want to change it, not just consciously, but to the depths of our subconscious too. Clearly I missed the boat on this one.

Working With Our Natural Resistance to Change Instead of Against It

Never one to give up without a fight, especially when it’s with my own change-resistant brain, I’m taking it back to the drawing board. First, I have to recognize all the advantages of getting my day started earlier.

  • There’s more day in which to get things done (psychologically speaking)
  • I get to the gym earlier and often find it less crowded which means I get my workout done quicker. Voila! Even more day!
  • More day means more inclination to take time to make healthier meals.
  • Starting earlier means I’ve gotten more done in time to get ready to add another night of dancing.
  • Many of my potential and current clients are out of state, and would appreciate earlier con-calls.

All in all, I can see no real disadvantage to starting my day at 8 instead of 9. I know I use up the first hour feeding the cats, writing my morning pages, putting my contacts in and fixing my regular blueberries and yogurt breakfast. It still puts the earliest possible call at about 9:30, but for east-coasters, it’s still morning, if barely.

The Power of Intention

Intentions are powerful things. In fact, when we set a good one, it’s awfully hard to ignore. When I’ve truly wanted to get up early, I’ve had no trouble doing so (though it gets tougher when it’s still dark when I want to get up). Like other habits I’ve set and kept, the secret is in the intention setting, more than anything else.

Sure, I break my pattern now and then, like skipping back and shoulder day so I can actually vacuum and mop the entire house instead of just the rooms where the cats make pigs of themselves. I still end up making up the gym day about 95% of the time, if for no other reason than Jewish guilt.

Did I mention how effective Jewish guilt can be, even with ourselves? I can honestly say I’ve guilted myself into a fair number of better choices simply by asking “do you really need to do that?” Sure, it’s only effective part of the time as I long-ago trained myself to be somewhat resistant. (An overbearing Jewish Mama will send you one of two ways. Into a life of angst and guilt, or one of independence and guilt resistance. I chose the latter.)

Still, like anything else, we need to pick our battles, even with ourselves. This one however, is one I’m determined to win. My evidence lies in those days when I do jump out of bed by 8, and am at the computer working by 9. My productivity levels are unreal on those days, and I truly want more of them.

Adjusting Our Expectations to New Circumstances

My plan is to use the morning hours for client work, then after lunch and meditation, jump right into my own writing; not only these blogs, but the much-delayed completion of my Life Torn Asunder re-write. I was going great guns for a while, but lost my momentum. I believe getting myself on a better daily schedule is the solution to that particular weighty problem. And believing is the first step to manifesting.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/158790927@N08/25811269728/in/photolist-FjRveS-9bdN4K-dKT3m8-anLPS8-G2jGGP-666Dfo-9m3HTB-2ybGf6-9iiWLY-25XfULY-7a6uQa-U9eETw-7DiPVT-p9S65F-e2GNW6-vQhq-4X1zBQ-21j28Rw-aThcrK-RtCD8e-JQymgD-4tNbf5-pHEbRM-6Spn3F-q6BKxR-dFUcvG-pRv5H1-a83xB-3BDEC4-51zVdg-qDXFZQ-ZxzHMW-5QUcWa-sRkDaA-nwfiJe-D2A2dy-6mzNAb-51EaCE-dH2iC3-51zW7R-qy8Bsg-2fiQNc-4rnFvK-cGPQZG-jKU2zx-rpgXY4-oUjEqW-6AiPdn-8GTCLG-9VrnVKRe-setting my alarm to gain 30 minutes might seem a small thing, especially to the people I know who are up at 5:30 every morning (the night owl in me shrinks from rising at that hour as if I’d  looked in the mirror and seen a shriveled, ghoulish face instead of my own). Yet for me, it’s a giant leap out of the comfort zone I established after leaving my day job.

Setting our own hours is a luxury for the work-at-homers. But it’s easy to fall into habits of sloth and procrastination. That’s what happened to me, and it’s long past time to reverse the process. I may never be up at 6:30 or 7 on a regular basis again, but I also have no commute. I can still be working at my desk by 9, and even at my slothiest, I can’t call that a bad thing.

Several Small Steps Equal One Giant Leap

I mention baby steps a lot because most of the grand accomplishments in our lives take time. We obtain a degree in our chosen field one class at a time, and one semester (or quarter) at a time. We learn new skills step-by-step. And we change habits little-by-little. It’s far easier to set and reinforce a small change than a large one, and easier to fake out the change resistance in our brains if we don’t make the first few leaps too grand.

Once we’ve made the mind feel comfortable, and maybe even complacent with the changes we’re making, we can take a few of those bigger leaps. Then again, maybe not. If we’re getting where we want to go with the small ones, and we can make 5 or 10 small ones in the same time and with less effort than 1 giant one, is there really any reason to leap when we can step just a little further than comfort allows?

Knowing When to Leap and When to Build a Bridge

Don’t get me wrong. There is a time and a place to suck it up and jump off that cliff. But after you take that giant leap, you need to regroup and take smaller ones for a while until your brain stops whimpering and cowering like a beaten puppy.

What small steps can you take to gain an extra 30 minutes in your day without cutting out something important or sending your brain into a tizzy?

Finding Gratitude Every Step of the Way

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned which help me adapt to change more easily.
  2. I am grateful for slowly adding more productive time to my day.
  3. I am grateful for the freedom to find my productive sweet spot, and capitalize on it.
  4. I am grateful for the support and encouragement I’m getting these days, just by showing up and asking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; freedom, joy, encouragement, friendship, an expanding social life and network, newfound marketing skills, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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. 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

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 mehttps://www.flickr.com/photos/ekilby/16654251449/in/photolist-rnFoJn-apL7G5-8dGq5W-3w8Ke-8hXDgU-jghTD-88g1hy-5TtJq-4HTyY3-bKMwoD-gmMGf-8SggFs-aR1use-9QsYh-6Lego9-dHJajk-6Uqg5T-HBz66U-6wBgGs-6EMd2b-3i2FAx-RdqC6h-aBYCYg-8cSZJL-eSGonX-3i1qEx-ov2XaG-eSTPh3-6KYT7T-dg1bo-3i2hPa-YC8cK9-3i1vc4-f9zQVL-79EZcb-6KYSRe-josrJ-imGePS-josiC-joscd-3i6Gk9-6LbHPt-jore9-9ZD8oy-5cot6h-2un1k7-jorVf-jorbz-4H1Zbr-7GDbMJ 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

Sometimes Writing is Hard

Pushing Past Writer’s Block

I’ve fought with myself for the last two days about sitting down to write Wednesday’s blog post. I had an idea I thought I was going to go with, but somehow, I managed to find every excuse in the book to avoid sitting down at my computer and starting to write.

Most of the time, I tell people how easy it is for me to write, whether it’s my morning pages, a writing prompt, or a blog post. I can usually dash off a thousand words or more without much thought. Of course, the key to any writing is sitting down with pen or computer keyboard at hand and actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. My problem with this post has been, to use an old movie title, a failure to launch.

When Habits We Set Become Non-Negotiable

I find it difficult, if not impossible to skip my morning pages after about 2 years of dedication to the task. In fact, on the days I do have to skip (which can be counted on one hand with fingers left over) I feel like the day never really gets started properly. Like I’m running on 4 1/2 cylinders instead of 8. And I know if I go to bed tonight without having scheduled the post for Wednesday, I’ll feel off all day knowing, not that I let anyone else down, but that I let myself down.

I used to let myself down all the time. I’d honor commitments to friends, strangers, and co-workers while ignoring commitments to myself. I’ve learned how damaging that can be to my self-esteem, and work hard to ensure I no longer forget about the most important person in my life. It has led to having a number of things that are non-negotiable: thrice weekly gym visits, dance nights, morning pages, and thrice weekly blog posts. (re-reading this I’m seeing how heavily I’m influenced, without even realizing it, but the “Rule of Three“).

We Are the Most Important Commitment

It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes struggle with one or another of my self-imposed commitments (usually writing or editing). It means sometimes, like now, I really have to force myself to start. The funny thing is, once I do begin one of my tasks, no matter how unmotivated I might have been, everything comes together. On the days I have to drag myself to the gym (which thankfully are relatively rare these days) I’ll tell myself “I’ll just do a couple of machines, a stretch and get out of here”. Those are the days I’m usually there for an hour and a half or two hours, working extra hard.

Blog writing is no different. I may wait until 10 or 11 o’clock to start, but once I get going, I’m a beast, and it’s usually one of my longer posts. I can’t say right now if my pattern will stand tonight. For all I know, I’ll end this particular ramble at 700 words or so. For those who’ve been reading for a while, that’s flash fiction compared to what I typically write. But some days, I just need to write a shorter post. It’s no reflection on how committed I am to myself. It’s simply a day when ideas flow more slowly, and I don’t have the usual waterfall of words flowing from my fingers.

Yet the commitment is honored whether I write 2000 words or 700. I think that’s what I’m trying to say here, and it matches a saying I have on my vision board. “Creator, you take care of quality and I’ll take care of quantity.” It was one of the many things besides my morning pages I took away from Judith Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”.

Goal Setting and Baby Steps

When we set small goals, we might dive in and accomplish them in a single session, a single push. But our large goals, be they writing a book, healing from a trauma, learning something new; they all require a series of smaller steps, maybe even baby steps. Trying to get from point A to point B instead of skipping to point R on some of those larger tasks is often necessary, not only so the foundation is firm, but so we learn some essential lessons along the way.

My writing is one of those things. Committing to three blog posts a week is one of my baby steps. Making myself sit down at the computer and pound out a post, even when I don’t feel like it is training for what I need to know and do if I ever want to be that best-selling author who currently lives in my head.

Inspiration From Persistence

I admit I’ve put J.K. Rowling on a rather tall pedestal, but she epitomizes what it means to set goals, then work towards them. She is a huge inspiration to me regarding what we can do when we set down our stepping stones, securing them in place, then setting down a few more.

Success rarely comes easily. It’s reached by traveling a road filled with triumphs and disappointments, but mostly, of small steps which, when we’re consistent, when we’re persistent, bring us, ultimately to our goal. Of course, by then, we’ve likely set new ones, but the road to each goal is paved with lessons which will help us, not only with the goal we’re currently working towards, but for the even loftier ones we set once we’ve achieved the first ones.

Color My World With Words

Many times, I feel like I’m not painting the vivid pictures we writers are supposed to paint with our words. I’m not giving readers enough detail to allow them to see what I’m seeing, or at least see it colored by their own experiences. Then someone will say to me “I can tell you’re a writer by the way you answered my questions”. It tells me the word picture I painted, believing it was insufficient was actually enough for them to see something that was at least close to what I was seeing.

Too often we sell ourselves short, or fail to start on the road to a goal, even talking ourselves out of it, thinking it’s too ambitious. I’m learning no goal is too ambitious if you can see it clearly in your mind. No vision is too lofty if you can feel it in the depths of your soul. It’s simply tragic if we envision ourselves with the goal achieved, yet can’t find a way to launch ourselves, to take those first small, seemingly inconsequential steps. No step is inconsequential or unimportant if it moves you even the slightest bit away from what you know and are comfortable with, into something that is different and maybe even scares you a little.

Using Our Fears as Stepping Stones

In all honesty, I’m a little terrified of getting my memoir published and out there to the general public. I’m scared to get up in front of a bunch of people and talk openly and honestly about losing someone to suicide, about understanding how a person can feel depressed and suicidal, and about forgiving myself. I know I’ll get a fair amount of heat for postulating that suicide is a choice, and for some people, the only one they believe they have left. But I’m more afraid of being in the same spot I am now, 5 years from now, or even 1 year from now, having accomplished nothing.

We all have to face our fears. Frankly, I don’t believe we have a choice. Some may choose to face theirs by wrapping themselves in cotton wool and retreating from the world. They may feel safe there, but they sure aren’t happy. I spent enough time in that particular town to know. It’s lonely and dark, and the feeling of being disconnected from the world is far more painful than anything I’ve encountered by taking a few risks and letting people into my life and the world I kept hidden for so long.

Honoring Personal Commitments is Our Biggest Success Story

Once again, I’ve honored my commitment to myself to write a post every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday by dashing off a “few” words for this one. As before, I set out to dash off a few hundred words, and ended up with over 1,000 again. It seems I’m incapable of saying anything in a few hundred words. But I’m also incapable of following a single thread to it’s reasonable and predictable conclusion. I think that’s why my writing has been such a great therapist for me, and in the process, has shown others they’re not alone in feeling some of the alone-ness, the frustration, the round peg in a square hole-ness they’ve felt while trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape we call life.

The best advice I was ever given was to set my goals in broad strokes and don’t try to control the steps or even the outcome. I do the same with my writing. I get my fingers on the keyboard and type the first few words. But what you ultimately see here and on my website is very much a free flow of ideas that comes, maybe from somewhere inside me, and maybe from the Universe itself while I’m but a vehicle to communicate what needs to be said. I’ve let go of the need to know where the words are coming from. I’m perfectly OK with being the conduit rather than the source.

Like moving towards our goals, there are many roads we could take. The easy ones might get us there faster, but the tougher ones give us tools we’ll need later to tackle the tougher goals which may not come with an easy road. I’m happy with the way my words flow out, just as I’m happy with the roads I choose. I don’t need to analyze why I followed one train of thought rather than another any more than I need to know why I chose one road over another. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all part of my personal grand plan which puts me exactly where I’m supposed to be at any given time.

That’s enough.

Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful I have learned to honor the commitments I make to myself first and foremost.
  2. I’m grateful for the ease with which words flow from my fingers when I get out of my own way.
  3. I’m grateful for being able to type fast enough to keep up with the thoughts my brain is thinking, and the ones I’m sure are seedlings being planted.
  4. I’m grateful I’m a night owl so commitments I put off can still be accomplished when the sun has long ago started shedding it’s light on the other side of the world.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance, ideas, commitment, persistence, innovation, inspiration, overcoming fear, baby steps, new goals, friendship, joy, love, 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

January 28, 2015 Thinking about my thinking places

Some places are better for thinking than others

I believe it was “Holiday Hotel” where Bing Crosby sang “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I go to sleep counting my blessings.” For me, when my brain is full and I can’t pull anything out of it, there are a couple of places I go to think. One of those places is the kitchen. Whether I’m chopping veggies for a soup or stir fry or just cleaning up from dinner, I get a lot of good thinking done when I’m doing something which doesn’t really require that I engage my brain.

Tonight was one of those nights when random thoughts were flitting through, when I realized that I was finally getting back into my good habits on a regular basis after letting them slip for awhile. The train of thought continued as I washed pans and wiped down counters. I started putting two and two together and found that when I keep up with things like cleaning the kitchen and going to the gym, everything else falls into place as well.

While I was being sloppy about those good habits I’d established last year, both my blog and my writing suffered. I don’t really know which one got back on track first, but it seems that it all goes hand in hand. Either I’m doing all of them, or they all start to slip. There’s just no in between.

This could explain why, up until the last year or so, my gym habits were haphazard, my kitchen often stayed dirty for days and my house was horribly cluttered. I also didn’t post in my blog on a regular basis and I certainly wasn’t keeping up with my writing. Now, here I am, going to the gym often enough to be recognized by instructors and trainers, working on my second novel with a third percolating in my brain and going to bed with a clean kitchen nearly every night.

You can teach an old dog new tricks, provided she is willing to learn them

Had anyone told me two years ago that I’d be going to the gym three or four days a week, even taking Pilates classes, and being diligent about housekeeping (at least with certain things) I’d have laughed in their face. Had I realized two years ago that I would be feeling so much better for having changed my habits, I might have wished I’d started sooner.

Those baby steps really do add up

Everyone knows that if you want to get somewhere, you have to start by putting one foot in front of the other. I call it ‘baby steps’ because it applies to everything. If you want to learn something new, you take it one step at a time. If you’re going through a rough patch, you just get up every morning, and put one foot in front of the other until eventually, you get past it. If you want to change your life, you take that first, crazy, scary step, and the rest is just…you guessed it, one foot in front of the other.

You’ve got to step that step, walk that walk, shake that thing, and talk that talk

Sawyer Brown was popular a number of years ago, and I was fortunate enough to get to see them a couple of years ago at the local County Fair. One of my favorite songs they did was called “Step that Step”

I’ve come to realize since that time so many years ago when the song first resonated so strongly is that my subconscious recognized and embraced the message long before the rest of me caught up. In a nutshell, if you want to accomplish anything, you have to take the first step, then own it, live it, be it. (Warning! Laws of Attraction Moment coming!) You have to act like you’re already exactly where you want to be and have everything you want and need. In short, Step that step, Walk that walk, talk that talk.

It may seem like I’ve once again wandered off topic, but I really haven’t, for a change. What I realized tonight was that I’d allowed myself to stop living my dream for awhile, but thankfully, I hadn’t wandered too far and my internal compass guided me back to where I belong. It was only when I realized that some of the other habits I’d formed while being a writer were coming back as well that it really is an all or nothing proposition.

Think about it. If you really want to be someone and accomplish something, you have to start with yourself. You have to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. A cluttered environment precludes a healthy spirit. A lazy lifestyle precludes a healthy body. An unhealthy spirit and body precludes a healthy mind. It affects our choices from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we lay our heads down on our pillow at night. Mac and cheese or farfalle with spinach? An hour at the gym or an hour in front of the TV? Computer games or website development (as frustrating as that might be at first)? Clean up the kitchen tonight or let things pile up for a few days?

One small change leads to another small change and a bunch of small changes lead to a lifestyle change

So we’re back to taking it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. What is a leap of faith except taking that first giant step which will be followed by a whole lot of baby steps? What are the establishment of new and better habits but more steps on the road to the life you desire? The things you do and the changes you make might not always seem like they’re related, but they truly are important and necessary.

What is your dream? What steps are you going to take to bring you closer to that dream?

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my thinking places.
2. I am grateful for revelations.
3. I am grateful for a return to my well-established better habits.
4. I am grateful that my daughter has launched her own blog.
5. I am grateful for abundance: ideas, revelations, thoughts, dreams, realities, imagination, steps, love, joy, happiness, harmony, beauty, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my daughter’s new blog: https://heathersculinaryadventures.wordpress.com/
Please also visit my Facebook page: 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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