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

Posts tagged ‘Beach’

Everything I Know About People I Learned From My Cats

Warm and Cozy With My Cats

It’s a wet, rainy night but all the kitties are snug and warm inside, whether that happens to be the house or the garage. Flynn is gone, but other than not needing to do a load of laundry every day, nothing has really changed. Flynn’s sister Tiana is a bit less skittish, though a long way from accepting attention. I talk to her every day, and hold out my hand so she can sniff it and decide whether to run and hide or stay where she is. Each day, she runs away less. A far cry from their other sister, Mulan who is as spoiled a Siamese as ever walked, or perhaps I should say, pranced the earth.

Like Toby before her, she’ll often meow loudly from the other end of the house until I stop what I’m doing to see what she wants. (and yes, I have been known to yell out “what do you want, Mulan?” on more than one occasion). Once she has my attention, she milks it, flinging all 9 pounds of herself against me in her not-so-subtle way of informing me it’s time to drop whatever I’m doing and pay homage to her royal self.

Giving Myself a Day to Disconnect so I Could Reconnect

I had a lovely day at the beach on Monday, sitting in my beach chair with the crashing of waves my only music. Teenagers were playing nearby, but their antics amused me rather than annoying me if for no other reason than they might be invading my bubble of calm. I managed to complete two writing prompts from A Writer’s Book of Days with a nice, long walk in between. The weather was especially nice, and one of the local whales came by to frolic in the waves or perhaps scrape the barnacles off her belly in the shallower water.

Being at the beach left me suddenly calmer, more accepting, and less judgemental. Between the two writing prompts and an hour-long walk, I didn’t leave until 5. Rather than getting stuck in rush hour traffic, I decided to try out a restaurant a friend had recommended. Even though it’s only a few miles, I’ve gotten quite spoiled. I no longer have to make the morning commute or be in someone else’s office during certain hours. I choose which people I’m around, and rarely have to be around anyone whose energy doesn’t mesh with mine.

Working From Home Allows Me Plenty of Cat Breaks

I work or perform my daily tasks with a cat or two on the desk, getting up every so often just to walk around the bed and give everyone a little attention. (anyone who is owned by a cat or three knows their bed is the preferred napping spot those 20 out of 24 hours of the day the little furballs aren’t eating, using the sandbox, or demanding attention.

Perhaps it’s our scent lingering on the linens, or maybe it’s just a warm, soft spot to rest their weary bones. Even with a bed in my guest room, I’m still most likely to find my crew on the one in my room, which leads me to believe scent is a large part of their choice. Even Tiana, the shy former foster chooses to sleep on my bed most of the day, even when I happen to be in it!

I Failed Spectacularly as a Foster Mom

I guess I should explain why Tiana is now a former foster, whereas I’ve been calling Mulan my foster fail for a while now. What I thought was a urinary tract infection turned out to be a serious blockage, and by the time I took Flynn to the vet, it was too late to save him. It hurts in a lot of ways as I feel I failed him, but up until the last couple of weeks, I saw real promise towards being able to take him to adoptions soon. I held off as I didn’t want to take him until Tiana was ready as I felt she’d do better if she was adopted with her brother.

As that is no longer an option, I made the decision to keep her here as she’s had enough trauma in her life already. She’s used to me, or at least tolerates me. Her sister is here, and she’s grown pretty attached to the rest of my brood. In time, I know she’ll learn to trust me more and will even ask for attention now and then. I’ve proven it with the two semi-ferals I adopted for rat control.

Once Feral, Now Spoiled Rotten

Hailey and Cinders have lived in my garage with a door out to the yard for 7 years now. It took them about 2 to start getting friendly, and now, they’re downright demanding. Hailey just loves to meow loudly at my front door, especially on nights when the temperature is well below what I consider comfortable. She even follows instructions, but only when it suits her. If I tell her to go into the garage where it’s a bit warmer, I’ll often find her there by the time I go back into the house and out the garage door, waiting impatiently for the promised attention.

Then there’s Mulan who escaped shortly after she, Flynn, and Tiana came to live here. I wasn’t overly worried as she had Cinders and Hailey to look after her, places to sleep in my garage, and a cat door that leads to the back yard. I’d often see her up in the rafters, and would stop to talk to her. That is, until the weather got cold and rainy. Suddenly, she didn’t want to be outside any more, but didn’t trust me enough to just walk in when I opened the door.

We spent about a week playing cat and mouse. I’d leave the living room door open a crack so she could squeeze in if she wanted to, and often did. But I wasn’t able to lure her far enough inside to be able to get up and close the door. Until the night Munchkin squeezed out and I jumped up suddenly to retrieve my little escape artist. It was just the excuse Mulan needed to stay inside forevermore…and become the spoiled little princess she is today. So I have hope Tiana will settle in too. But like many of us, she has trust issues, and needs to work those out for herself.

Seeing the Similarities in Feline and Human Behavior

I actually learn a lot about people by watching cats. Some, like Dylan are friendly and confident. They’ve never met an unfriendly person. He knows he’s the Alpha cat, and though he chews on his brothers and sisters from time to time to reinforce his sovereignty, most of the time, he’s kind, loving and ready to give or receive some grooming or be part of a cat pile on the bed.

Others are like Tiana, shy, timid, and wary of anyone until she’s completely satisfied they mean her no harm. She follows the premise, guilty until proven innocent, and it takes a lot to convince her of anyone’s innocence.

Most are somewhere in between; selectively trusting, open and friendly in some situations, withdrawn and shy in others. With these, it’s best to be friendly but non-threatening; respect their personal space and make no sudden movements. Let them approach when they feel comfortable doing so, then make them feel welcome.

For Every Rule There’s an Exception

There are always a few contradictions too. They seem aggressive and self-contained but they’re really hiding a shy, easily damaged psyche so they go on the offensive in order to establish their boundaries from the very start. In some ways, I think that’s me, though I like to believe I’ve mellowed over the years. I’ve also learned to pay attention to my instincts when it comes to opening up to people. Most of the time, in true feline fashion, those instincts are spot on and save me a lot of trouble in the long-run.

Whatever you’re nature, I’ve learned the best thing you can do is accept it and listen to those instincts. When we fail to listen, one setback can send us back into our hermit hole where we miss out on a whole lot of life’s wonderful times because we’re too busy trying to protect ourselves from the might-have-beens.

I’ve taken that route enough times to have finally learned it makes more sense to simply listen to your gut when it tells you the person in front of you won’t be considerate with your softer side, so it’s best to limit what you share. There are plenty of others who will treat whatever you share with the gentleness they’d show a newborn kitten. Finding those people is truly worth the stumbles and setbacks it takes to learn to recognize them and allow them to find you.

Starting and Ending My Day With Gratitude

My life is so filled with blessings, it’s hard to choose which ones to share, but as always, I close with 5 gratitudes:

  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to love the cats who have come into my life as well as those who have left. Each comes with a lesson, and leaves with a piece of my heart.
  2. I am grateful for friends who trust me enough to share the most delicate parts of themselves.
  3. I am grateful for rainy nights in my warm, cozy house surrounded by my cats.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to learn new things. It keeps my mind sharp and my body young.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, sharing, compassion, beach days, sunshine and rain, the ability to unfollow without unfriending, peace, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.

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. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. 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

Change the Outside to Change the Inside

A Small Change Sets the Snowball In Motion

We can measure our progress through life by the changes we have made. Some of those changes are intentional, and others are thrust upon us. The effect is the same, but different.

When changes are thrust upon us, we’re like flotsam in the wind. We can choose whether we grab onto something and hold tight to what was, let the wind toss us where it will, or take an active part in mapping our course around the obstacles and against the wind. All too often, these occur when the Universe gets tired of waiting for us to get off our butts and move. I can point to at least a couple of job lay-offs which did just that for me.

Intentional changes give us more control. We choose when to make those changes, how much to change, and what direction those changes will take—to a point. We’re still subjected to external conditions beyond our control, and our ability to switch gears mid-stream will still be tested. But at least we get to choose the starting point.

Turning Dissatisfaction into Opportunity

Lately I’ve become dissatisfied with my current environment; not only physical, but emotional and mental as well. Thankfully, I’ve finally evolved enough to realize I had to make a change, even if it was a tiny one. As I’ve already mentioned a few times, it started when I emptied the last remaining box from the remodel-from-hell. Suddenly, most of what was currently in my control from that little fiasco was gone.

That single act was the snowball which gathered speed along with a few more unneeded items, and started making significant changes in my world. Soon, the box filled with oversized clothes I’d packed up a couple of months ago finally found it’s way to the Samaritan Center. The pair of red Adirondack chairs moved from the sidewalk in front of Lowe’s to my front porch (with a little help from my daughter and her Prius).

Synchronicities began to occur. I’d grabbed some paint chips when we bought my weed whacker (still waiting for a little less heat to actually be used) thinking I’d paint the living room someday. But when we took a wrong turn coming home from the fair grounds and ended up at the beach, I noticed the water matched my paint chip. The next step in my journey began. I was finally ready to make a major change to my environment.

Simple Pleasures

Not only is my living room now a lovely shade of sea green with a deep turquoise accent wall, I got to spend more time than usual with my daughter, working on a project that made us both happy. I’m also one step closer to making my half demolished living room look more inviting both because of the new paint, but also because it inspired me to clear the piles of books on sofa and table.

Replacing the single white plastic chair  on my front porch with two more comfortable red ones gives an outward symbol of my desire to  invite people to share my space. The sea green walls reinforce my dream of one day having an estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The beachy red chairs will make the transition nicely. To an outside observer, these hardly seem like steps in the right direction. If you consider that changes begin, not with an act, but with our mindset, the impact of these seemingly small changes is huge. I’ve created a daily reminder of my love of the ocean and how much it figures in my long-term dreams.

I wake every morning to the clean, refreshing color of the walls feeling both soothed and invigorated when I see them as I walk towards the kitchen. Even the china hutch got a face lift since it had to be moved to paint. I took the opportunity to lovingly handle the memories it contained, and have since had an opportunity to use some of the wine glasses with a friend.

A Little Means So Much

These fairly small acts have done something for me I’d failed to achieve any other way. They made room for what I’ve been struggling to attract: people, work, abundance. Until it was cleared, I hadn’t realized how much I’d blocked because of stuff that reminded me of a failure in my life. I hadn’t let go of the pain that failure had caused to find the valuable lessons it gave me. Until I did, I could only see the room, quite literally as a place of muted colors.

My life won’t change overnight. What I did was to find a starting point for making the changes. I got past the overwhelm of having too many things needing repair or change and just picked a spot. Places I’d never even noticed became visible once I’d opened a little space; a chink in my self-imposed fort.

If You Want to Manifest, Create Some Space

Everything is related. When you open a space, you start manifesting. If you want to attract someone into your life, you need to make space: a drawer, a closet, the way you make your bed up. When you clear out a box, a business opportunity might appear like more than one has for me.

Part of the reason we fail to move forward is the firm grip we have on our past. Once we realize we won’t drown if we let go of those irrelevant lifelines, we realize how much we enjoy traveling a little bit lighter. So many of the bricks we’re carrying around are added weight rather than anything we need to shore up a shaky foundation. In fact, sometimes that shaky foundation is the best place for us to be because it forces us to find our balance in other ways.

What Will You Change to Open Space for Manifesting?

What about you? What do you want to bring into your life? What is taking up space in your life or home that is no longer needed? It could be physical, emotional, or something else entirely. What one thing can you release or change to bring your dream one step closer? Stretch your imagination on this. Step out of your comfort zone as far as you can. For me, it was a box of Tupperware. For you, it might be a piece of furniture, an old tent, or even a relationship that’s no longer serving your greater good. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about your journey and how you made it work for you; how you got yourself back on the road to achieving your dreams.

Join the Gratitude Brigade

Of course, all of these changes would be for naught without gratitude. The Universe gives us more when we show appreciation for what we already have. We express our joy for the people, places, and things in our life and that joy attracts more that makes us joyful.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to my daughter for helping me make some much-needed changes in my physical environment.
  2. I am grateful to have finally left the pain of some lessons behind.
  3. I am grateful for the new manifestations in my journey.
  4. I am grateful to be making my way towards my dreams one baby step at a time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love friendship, clear spaces, joy, peace, harmony, opportunities, help, dreams, inspiration, health, family, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light.


You can find the associated Facebook Live Video here!


Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Are You Committed or Merely Interested?

A Time for Reassessing. Am I Truly Committed?

The last 3 1/2 years have been quite a ride for me. I’ve dabbled in a lot of things, written a few drafts of novels, and several hundred blog posts, but I’ve yet to figure out quite what I want to be when I grow up. No, I take that back. I’ve figured out what I want to be, I just haven’t fully committed to what’s required to get there.

We go through life trying many different things. Some simply interest us, but every so often, one comes along that grabs us by the throat and we have no choice but to commit to it, heart, soul, mind, and body. I thought the writing was it for me, but with each setback, each rejection, each failure to launch, I become less certain.

Step 1: Having a Plan of Action

I know I need a plan, and have come up with several, but have yet to truly stick to anything long-term. Even the plan I typed up and put on my wall hasn’t really come to fruition. I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day writing. I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day reading motivational literature. And worst of all, I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day working on queries or researching companies to send queries to.

Sure, I’m writing a blog post here and there. Yes, I’m doing at least 2 Facebook Lives a week. Yes, I’m still going to the gym most weeks, though the last couple have been challenging, to say the least.

Having a plan is certainly a good place to start. But if you don’t follow the plan, it’s just words on paper, and may as well be in Swahili for all the meaning they bring into our lives. Yet, if you’re truly committed to something, won’t you stick to any plan at all just to be heading in the right direction?

Acknowledging Our Fears and Frustrations

I question myself every day. I ask what I’m afraid of. At first, it was fear of not following through. But if I’m completely honest with myself, I’ve followed through on writing commitments for others again and again. It’s myself I have trouble committing to. But at least that eliminates the excuse that I don’t send out queries because I’m afraid I won’t be able to fulfill the obligation.

I’ve added a number of chapters to Forgotten Victims though I’m far from done. I did pay close attention to a book I’m currently reading in which the writer said that if your purpose in writing is to help other people, you might as wall hang it up. If your purpose is to help yourself, you’re more likely to succeed, at least by finishing what you set out to write. If it helps someone else, great. But the primary goal has to be self-healing. I needed to hear that as I’d gotten off track in writing my memoir.

I’d started posting chapters of Sasha’s Journey to a site of writers who critique each others’ work. But I wasn’t really committed there either. I read and commented on a couple of pieces, then slacked off. And now that they’re changing the rules and want us to post on our own blog sites and link to theirs, I’m not going to waste my time. If I wanted to post it on my site, I’d have already done so.

So the frustration, the backpedaling and the discouragement continues.

And again I ask myself “Am I committed or merely interested?”

Giving My Life Blood for Someone Else’s Dreams

The reality is, I’ve just about used up the time I had to dabble here, and fritter there. I need to get focused on what I truly want to do, what I’m truly passionate about; and throw myself into it wholeheartedly. Because if I don’t, I deserve no more than to work the rest of my life to pad someone else’s retirement fund. At least there, I know what I do not want.

It’s funny how figuring out what you don’t want in life is pretty easy. You just have to take all the things you’ve found uncomfortable or annoying all your life, put them in a pile and light a match. Those are your “don’t wants”.

Being Clear on What You Do Want

Figuring out what you truly do want is another story entirely. I want to write, yet I go for days without writing a word.

I want to be independent. But I go for days without doing a thing to move myself forward.

I want to do good for others, but here I sit, devoting time and energy to just worry about myself. That’s energy I won’t get back and it benefits no one.

I want to be an inspirational speaker, but until recently, was doing little or nothing towards that end. At least now I’ve signed up to volunteer at a summit for speakers in October. I’ve also been reading books like Talk Like Ted to help me understand what makes a truly great speaker. I’ve been incorporating what I’m learning into both my Facebook Lives and my writing. I’m also watching how other people speak, paying close attention to what does and does not work. As  a result, my more recent Facebook Lives have been under 15 minutes. (18 minutes is optimum for a TED talk. I figure a live broadcast should be shorter).

The Best Lessons Come From Watching Others

While watching one live broadcast recently, I realized how important it is to be prepared before you go live, and to have all of the tools you’ll need for the broadcast within reach. Nothing screams “unprofessional” to your viewers like staring at an empty wall while you disappear to find something you needed for your talk.

With all of the setbacks, with all of the failures, I must still be committed in some fashion, because here I sit, writing another post which will support one of my Facebook Live broadcasts. I created an editorial calendar today which will be the home to everything I need to write, both for publication on my own sites and for others.

Focus on What Is Working Instead of What’s Not

I’m getting back into the habit of writing late at night, even if it’s only 500 words. If I put it in perspective, 500 words a day will give me the 30,000 words or so I still need for my memoir in about 2 months. Considering how long it’s been a work-in-progress, 60 days is nothing!

Like the carpet that still needs to be pulled up in my bedroom, like the garage that needs to be shoveled out (though I have made some progress in recent weeks), like the yard that needs to be weed whacked—everything begins with a single step.

A few weeks ago, I pulled up another section of the carpet. I can do another section now. I just need to get up and do it.

I’ve been consistent with my Facebook Lives. Now I need to be more consistent with the coordinating blog post.

I’ve put the deadlines for client work on my new calendar. I know I’ll meet or beat those deadlines. Can I say the same of deadlines I set for my own work? Someone recently mentioned they’d committed to 3 blog posts a week. There’s not a single reason why I can’t do the same, even if I write them all in one day and schedule them to post throughout the week. I’ve proven time and again that knocking out a 1200-1500 word post is pretty much child’s play for me.

The Big “Why”

Everyone talks about the big “why”. Mine is becoming so clear that I inadvertently picked out a paint color to go with the life I want to live. It was brought home to me yesterday when my daughter and I took a couple of wrong turns and ended up driving along the beach. The water was the exact color I’d chosen for my dining room wall! Thanks to my daughter, it is now a beautiful dark teal, the same color as the ocean yesterday. The rest of the walls are in process of becoming a lighter version of the same color. Every time I walk out into my living room, despite the furniture sitting in the middle of the floor and the fine layer of dust coating everything, I feel both energized and soothed just by looking at that beautiful ocean-colored wall.

I also broke down and bought the resin Adirondack chairs I’d fallen in love with a week or so ago. They, too fit the life and setting I envision for myself.

My big “why” is alive and well. It’s now a matter of committing everything I have, everything I am to making it happen.

Writing has always been my best therapist, and tonight is no different. I began this piece feeling like an utter failure with no real possibility of achieving my dreams. But as I think of the changes I’ve made even in the last couple of weeks, I realize I’m more committed than I give myself credit for. I’m simply moving towards my goals in my usual convoluted fashion. It may seem like I’m aimless and uncommitted, but somehow, in my own weird way, I’m getting where I’m going.

Remembering Always to be Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful for the supportive people who continue to find their way into my life. My blessings grow daily.
  2. I am grateful for my personal therapist who has a way of turning my frown into a smile no matter how bad I think things are looking.
  3. I am grateful for the opportunities that are literally dropping into my lap lately.
  4. I am grateful for learning how to ask for help, and how to put myself into places where I can find exactly what I need.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; resources, friendship, courage, companionship, progress, improvements, signs, commitment, love, joy, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the Facebook Live which inspired this post here.


I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, 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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