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

Posts tagged ‘butterfly’

We All Get Depressed. Do You Go it Alone?

Alone Again, Naturally

Ever had one of those weeks where you started down the rabbit hole—and kept right on going? When you were fighting legions of ants, and the ants were winning? Where the lab work you’d scheduled was hung up at the insurance company because the doctor couldn’t see fit to do his part? When you got a rude awakening regarding who your friends really were, and how little even the real ones heard you whimpering in a ditch? When you knew you’d make it out eventually, but a hand up and help cleaning the abrasions and bruises would sure be welcome? When you realize all the talk about taking care of each other is well-received, but not so well acted on?

After living through one of those weeks, I’m coming to the conclusion alone truly is my natural state. When I do admit I’m struggling, the advice I’m given is so lacking in compassion, so full of “just suck it up. Get out of your house and do something” I realize all my posts about reaching out to people who are hurting are falling on ears deafened by years of hard knocks.

That’s when I remind myself I’ve managed to survive, and often thrive throughout my 60-odd years with little or no help from anyone. My daughter keeps telling me to ask for help, which is all fine and dandy if what needs fixed is a garage door, or a broken faucet. It’s an entirely different story when what’s broken is me. Funny, I learned not to ask for help for this very reason. All the times I told myself: “my friends have problems of their own” or “everyone is too busy to help me over this rough patch” turn out to be entirely accurate. They are all too busy, or immersed in their own problems. Why did I allow myself to believe it was any different?

We Learn to Detach, But is it the Best Way?

I understand though. They all have families, jobs, and a million other balls they’re trying to keep in the air. Some have serious health issues so why would they even begin to understand how freaked out I am that what’s going on with me has baffled my doctors for over 6 months, or that I’m fighting every step of the way to get answers? They already have theirs. One gently suggested my health issues might be resolved with psychiatry! As if I hadn’t written reams in my “eyes only” places about that possibility and come up empty handed…and still struggling.

It really makes me empathize with people who are depressed or suicidal. If they’re getting the responses I’ve been getting, maybe what we believe is true: nobody gives a flying fuck whether we live or die — unless we happen to have the bad taste to end things ourselves.

Even when I tried to explain that I needed to be sad for a little while, people were quick to refute my statement. How dare I take even one moment to be sad? What makes me believe I deserve to be anything but light-hearted and airy-fairy?

Re-setting My Mindset’m disappointed right now. In myself for believing; in the people around me who are slowly killing my hope; and for humanity as a whole which is so caught up in pretending to be OK, and failing to allow each and every one of us to be sad and need a little emotional support once in awhile that they don’t even mourn the loss of their humanity. Instead, they accept its demise like they accept the end of true communication.

Being without a computer for a few days gave me lots of time to think; lots of time to be completely disconnected.

Only 3 people actually reached out and I know they tried to understand. But their efforts were clumsy, either because it was a skill set that got little use, or because they didn’t know how to use it with me. I’m no less grateful for their efforts even if they mostly ended in frustration on both our parts.

Maybe that’s the real problem. We can talk ’til we’re blue in the face about being kinder; more compassionate. But we’ve lost the ability to actually be those things, or at least with someone we’re not close to and know well.

Sometimes I’m a Butterfly, and Sometimes, I’m a Turtle

Though I continue to fly like a butterfly, I’m starting to see I only do it from the safety of my with words on a screen. When it comes to real life; to giving and receiving compassion, I fear I’m destined to remain a turtle.

Still, the butterfly in me insists on getting up and flying once more, knowing if I hit another wall there will be no one around to straighten my wings or clean my wounds. For that, I’ll return to my turtle state until wounds heal or I’m ready to call it a day for the last time.

Yes, I always get back up and eventually resume my forward progress. Sometimes I’m more cautious but lately I realize I have nothing and no one to lose by forging ahead in my usual willy-nilly fashion. Those who feel the need to judge or disapprove quickly fall off my radar. Their opinions or rejections might sting for a minute but they ultimately fuel the inner fire that says “I will not allow you or anyone else to dim my light. You are operating from your own pain body. It has nothing to do with me, but says everything about you. The only person you limit with your behavior is yourself so screw you and the horse you rode in on!”

OK so I sound a little bitter. That’s on me and is one of the many things I choose to work through. My imperfections and pain body give me plenty to work on. But looking back for a brief moment, I see how far I’ve come. Most important, I see that progress was made alone; without anyone’s help. I’d like to continue believing life isn’t meant to be lived alone, but recent events prove otherwise. For now, it doesn’t matter that my absence goes unnoticed and unremarked. Someday, it might, but right now, I have enough on my plate that “someday” isn’t even on the menu.

Always Room for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my resilient and self-sufficient nature.
  2. I’m grateful for the few friends who at least try, despite their own heavy loads.
  3. I’m grateful for my daughter who does understand and somehow helps me beat the funkies.
  4. I’m grateful for my writing which has gotten me over the rough patches every time.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; stubbornness, tenacity, growth, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, letting go but not giving up, opportunities, inspiration, health, peace, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

The More Things Change

Seeing Change in My “Not-to-do” List

There are a lot of things I’ve sworn I’d never do over the years: get married, have kids, divorce, bungee jump, sky dive… many are now part of my history while some are permanent fixtures on my “Not To Do” list. Lately, I’m considering removing one I thought I’d leave there forever; get a tattoo.

I recently saw a woman with 3 butterflies flitting up from her back and onto her neck. I was intrigued enough to consider what had become a very strong life symbol for me lately. Right now I’m thinking a small one on the inside of my right wrist. Meanwhile, I’ve started noticing not only butterflies in the wild, but tattoos as well. The latest was a larger one on a shoulder. The wrist still feels right to me but you never know. Then there’s the question of blue ink or a colorfully resplendent monarch or painted lady.

Fortunately, it isn’t a decision I plan to make in the near future. Heaven knows I have far more pressing matters before me. I truly have been evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly over the last few months. Not only have I become more focused on my writing and online publishing, I’ve also made a firm commitment to invest in my marketing skills.

New Directions, New Guides

Towards that end, I’ve parted company with the coach/mentor I’d been working with this year, turning instead to a course in marketing. I’ve hung out in the Facebook Group “Gorilla Army Nation” for over a year now, picking up tidbits here and there. I knew I wasn’t ready to commit to one of their programs before now. I dabbled in a couple, and got bogged down in the last one.

Fortunately, about the time I was feeling frustrated and stupid, they realized the course I was trying to get through really was overly complex. They came up with one which broke the steps down into much smaller pieces, offering more help, a private group, and tons of encouragement along the way. I took a leap.

I’m not barreling through the course or having almost immediate results like some people, but I feel I’m in good company, working through it slowly, methodically, and with the freedom to ask even the dumbest questions without fear or embarrassment. Both staff and students are supportive, and have already helped me over a couple of humps that stopped me in the larger course. It never occurred to me that if a section didn’t apply, I could simply skip it and move on!

Through the course, I’m learning I do have skills. They’re deeply hidden beneath my misconceptions and underdeveloped social skills. But they are there! And I finally got the answer to the immortal question “How many ICA’s should I have?” that fits with my own thoughts and feelings. (the answer is pretty much “as many as you need”). It is even possible to have thousands of different ones, though for me, a dozen or so should cover it all, at least for now.

Learning to Go Where Life Takes Me Somewhat Gracefully the beginning of 2019 I had a certain vision of how the year would unfold. The reality, 9 months in isn’t even close.

Yes, I’m still writing, and sporadically working on “Rebuilding After Suicide”. But I’ve changed directions on it, and am not sweating so much that I’m way behind schedule on the latest re-write. I have been posting chapters of my first novel, “Sasha’s Journey” to ChapterBuzz where I’ve been getting some helpful feedback from other authors.

This year also saw me establish a publishing schedule on Medium, and more recently, receive an invitation to join the writing team of one of the publications. While a huge boost to my ego, not everything I submit to them has been accepted, but I am also being featured every month or so by the Medium team. Recognition might be coming slowly, but since it took me almost 6 years to get to this point, I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m celebrating it as a win!

Seeing Change as a Journey

The butterfly I’ve accepted as a symbol of my journey doesn’t go through the change in one fell swoop. She crawls around as a caterpillar for awhile. One day, she spins herself into a chrysalis where she hangs from a branch for about 10-14 days while her body transforms. Even when the chrysalis opens, she must continue to hang from the branch and pump fluid from her abdomen into wings which were crumpled up inside her temporary home. Once her wings dry, she can finally fly.

I’ve spent the last few years writing lots of words, but also learning what working as a writer really means. I’ve had to establish my own presence and figure out which of the many possible directions I wanted to take. Now, I’m in the stage where I’m strengthening the tools I need to get there. It’s a process, like the butterfly emerging from her chrysalis. Some of it is instinctual, but for me, the business and marketing end really isn’t. I’m having to shed old ways and ideas and learn new ones before I can truly fly. The largest and most obstructive was the idea that I couldn’t market myself. My way was well and truly blocked until I let go of that self-limiting, and utterly false belief.

In some ways, I feel like I’m still in the cocoon, while in others, I feel like I’m already soaring up to the treetops, playing games of tag with the other butterflies.

Traveling My Own Crooked Path the butterfly, the steps I need to take aren’t laid out in a nice, precise pattern. I can jump from place to place, learning pieces of things and coming back when I’m ready for more. There’s also room for trial and error which is a good thing, as I don’t always listen to all the instructions; haring off to try something that popped into my head semi-formed. Sometimes it works out splendidly, but mostly it requires another trip to the drawing board.

Such is it with the idea of a tattoo. I’ll think about it for awhile, noticing every butterfly tattoo that crosses my path. I’ll think about a series starting with a chrysalis, then slowly opening to reveal the butterfly. Still, I won’t act until I’m certain it’s what I want; and maybe it will remain an image in my head. I can no more say than I could have predicted on January 1 where I’d be today.

I go where I’m guided to go. Sometimes my guide is my higher self and leads me through a fairly well thought out series of steps. More often, my impatience kicks in or my ADD mind starts spinning. Then I jump around from task to task until I finally exhaust myself and set some guidelines and due dates. I’m learning to accept that a certain amount of structure is a good thing. But I have to make sure and leave space for my imagination to continue to run amok. It’s where the magick happens!

Finding Reasons for Gratitude in All I Do

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for change. Life may no longer be predictable, but it’s always interesting.
  2. I’m grateful for guidance which has come to me from several different directions this year. I’m sure it’s been there, but I had to be ready to see and hear it.
  3. I’m grateful for my solitude. It gives me time to think, to imagine, to go in and out of frustration, to change plans, and to make others.
  4. I’m grateful for my friends who continue to be encouraging even if it looks like I have nothing to show for my efforts; even if it appears, to the causal observer that I’m living the life of a retiree. If they only knew!
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, imagination, guidance, support, encouragement, persistence, joy, health, harmony, peace, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Alone in a Crowd

Loneliness is an Experience We’ve All Been Through

We’ve all been there at one time or another. Standing on the sidelines in a crowded club, watching the couples dancing under the colored lights. The volume increases as music competes with voices, clinking glasses, and the occasional emergency vehicle on the streets nearby. Your walls close in around you, enclosing you in a familiar cocoon. And you realize just how lonely you are.

The feeling isn’t new. You’ve been here before. In fact, you’ve floated in and out of it so many times, you only notice it when you disconnect from the sights, sounds, and smells of your surroundings and withdraw, even for a moment, into yourself.

Allowing Yourself to Feel the Pain

You’ve learned not to fight it because most of the time it passes. A line dance set starts and you join your friends on the floor. The connection to the rest of the world is re-established, if only for the 15 minutes or so the dances played don’t require a partner. Or a friend’s antics with Bullwinkle ears turns into an inadvertent R-rated dance move. You express your shock, laugh, and the walls subside. For that moment, you’re included and no longer alone.

But ultimately, the evening ends. You get into your car and drive back to those four walls you inhabit alone save for a pet or three ( in my case, a few more. I am on the fast-track to crazy cat lady-ness, after all). You tell yourself the choices you made were the right ones even if some didn’t turn out the way you’d planned. The people who are in your life now are the ones who are supposed to be, even if they’re not there when you turn out the lights.

Looking for the Rainbow in the Storm Cloud

Life isn’t as grim as it is for some. Your days don’t run together in sepia-toned sameness. You interact with different people, learn new things, try a few others. Your body still responds with minimal pain to whatever you ask it to do. You have something to look forward to every week, friends to hug, pets to cuddle and lives to share…to a point.

But then you watch from the sidelines as the couples stand together talking and know you can’t cross that invisible line because you don’t fit. Some might call you broken, others will offer suggestions for finding the lid for your crooked pot. Though their intentions are well meant, they only make you feel more alone. More disconnected. More of a failure.

You spend another Friday night alone because you don’t feel like facing the crowds in a club, and everyone you know is busy with family and friends. If anyone were to ask, you’d say it was exactly how you wanted to spend your evening. The idea of cuddling on the couch doesn’t even cross your mind. Really. It doesn’t.

Facing Reality

On a conscious level, you know none of it is true. Lack of a mate is not an affliction. It’s simply a state of being. A small circle of friends doesn’t mean you’re hard to love. It simply means you interact better in smaller groups. It means you don’t trust as easily because hard lessons taught you to withhold that trust until it’s been earned. You try to convince yourself that the walls you’ve built are there to protect you from harm. You’ll argue yourself breathless if someone says those walls are the reason you’re alone.

Finally, you stop lying to yourself. You allow yourself to just feel the loneliness. You allow yourself, just for a moment, to have a few regrets even though you can’t think of a single person who might have been “the one who got away”. The hard truth is you crawled into your cocoon years ago and forgot you were supposed to emerge as a butterfly somewhere along the way.

Where Do You Go From Here?

The ensuing years have atrophied your once-beautiful wings. You still have your body and it gives you mobility. As you look at the places where your wings used to be, you wrap your arms around yourself and cry over all the opportunities you missed because you stayed in your cocoon too long. It would be so easy to just wallow. To believe you gave up what might have been and there’s nothing left.

While your animals snore softly around you, a door begins to open. A light shines through. You see what you didn’t allow yourself to see while you drew your mantle so closely around yourself you were gasping for air. In that light you see something unexpected; possibilities.

The ending that never was is gone. Instead, you have the power to write whatever ending you want to write. The one you see right now might be one possible ending. But it’s only one. If you don’t like it, you have many options. One of my favorite is to shout “Plot twist!” and watch my fingers scamper madly across the keyboard, creating scenarios as wild and varied as my ADD brain and boundless imagination can conjure.

Writing Our Own Dreams

That’s where I can be the princess in the castle or the dragon rider, or the world-famous author and philanthropist, the next Mother Teresa or Madame Curie…or simply the crazy cat lady with friends as varied, unique, and memorable as she is. Dreams become reality, no matter how preposterous. I can try dreams on like clothes, finding the ones which fit just right, or better still, the ones I need to grow into. Discard the ones which fit too snugly as they’ll inhibit the growth of the new set of wings that even now is beginning to unfurl.

I might be tied to the ground right now, but in the next instant, I’ll be airborne. I can’t get the old, atrophied wings back, but I can grow a newer, stronger pair which will take me farther, faster than the old set ever could.

The truth is, there’s no set time frame for staying in your cocoon. You stay as long as you need to. That may be weeks for some, decades for others. We’re there for a reason, unique to us. Take us out too soon, we’re not ready for the challenges we have to face. And there is no “too late”. Only, “just in time”.

I Will Always Be Grateful

My gratititudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who accept me as I am, crooked, twisty, and unique.
  2. I am grateful for my dark moments. They make me open my eyes to possibilities.
  3. I am grateful for my writing. More than once, it’s saved my sanity…such as it is.
  4. I am grateful for girl friends. It’s still a new experience for me, but one I’ve sorely missed.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, motivation, inspiration, love, cat purrs, peace, harmony, health, joy, philanthropy, opportunities, stories, 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, 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!

Emerge Through Experiments and Experiences

An Accident Became an Epiphany

All day yesterday, I had a strange feeling things were about to change drastically. It wasn’t a feeling of fear, but rather, anticipation. Late in the afternoon, I washed my hair so I could get it dry in time for dancing, pushing the uncomfortable feeling in my gut aside. Before you start to yawn, bear with me. The story gets more interesting than “girl washes hair”.

This time, I changed things up a bit. I used a different leave-in conditioner, thinking it would help straighten my normal mane of frantic curls. Then I threw my hair over my head and started blow drying it from the underside. When I stood upright, I realized my mistake, or maybe not. The curls had taken on a life of their own and cascaded in wild, but strangely appealing disarray.

It would be shameful to contain something this lively. I thought to myself. So I threw caution to the winds, and refrained from corralling the mayhem as I typically do. (This is where it gets interesting, I promise).

Hiding to Emerge

I found I felt much free-er, less buttoned up than normal. (OK, so those who know me in the dance community would probably cast some doubt on the “buttoned up” description, but I’m typically more reserved than anyone realizes). For some unfathomable reason, the loose and crazy hair made me less inhibited and more able to just get into the moment with joy and complete abandonment. Could this be the butterfly effect Sue Monk Kidd spoke of? Have I been hiding; waiting; growing?

Sure, it meant pushing the hair out of my eyes a lot and standing under the fan with it scrunched in my hand to dry the resulting sweat, but overall, it was so…can I really say it? Empowering. Wearing my hair loose gave me both a place to hide and a place to come out of hiding. Does that even make sense?

Maybe it’s a lot like the language of fans women used to learn. There’s a certain freedom. A certain devil-may-careishness in a wild mop of hair flying helter-skelter as I spun and pranced. (Yes, I really was prancing around last night, having the time of my life).

Do We Unknowingly Put Constraints Upon Ourselves?

Is this really all there is to it? Is loose hair the key to loosening up and giving in to the moment? Did it make me more approachable than my typical pulled back styles? Only time will tell. But last night, I talked to people more easily, and they to me. That has to count for something.

Tonight, the experiment will alter a bit as it’s impossible to get the crazy, corkscrew curls without wetting my hair again. Tonight, I’ll try it straight and see if the effect is the same. Could the angst in my last post simply be my own, to this point, inability to completely let loose? Guess I’m going to find out. Stay tuned for more letting-my-hair-d0wn moments.

So Much to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for successful experiments and unexpected epiphanies.
  2. I’m grateful for excellent dance nights full of energy and joy.
  3. I’m grateful for friends in the dance community who both feed and feed on my energy.
  4. I’m grateful for my ability to continue changing and growing, even in small, seemingly insignificant ways.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: dancing, love, life, joy, friends, release, passion, peace, harmony, philanthropy and abundance.

Blessed Be

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!

April 2, 2015 Passover Musings: Where Did my Heritage Go?

A Friend Had to Remind Me that Passover is this Weekend: It Makes me Sad

When Mom was alive, we always did Passover dinner at her house. Back then, I failed to appreciate the time, the effort or the meaning behind it, and often felt like it was a command performance I really didn’t want to attend. After her death, my daughters and I honored the holiday with my Dad by attending Passover dinner at a local deli.

Flash Forward Eleven Years

We’ve had one Passover dinner since Dad’s death in September of 2003. My daughter was taking a class which covered both religion and other Spiritual practices and was required to visit different places of worship, so we attended a Passover dinner at a local temple. But that was several years ago, and as she now lives about 3 hours away, getting together for the holiday is somewhat impractical.

Despite the fact that we’ve never really practiced our religion, we have tried to keep at least some of the traditions alive. Sadly, Passover isn’t one of them, but I’m suddenly feeling that it should have been. While my daughter has plans to go to a deli in her area for a traditional Passover dinner (sans ceremony), I know of no place which still does it around here and it’s too late to get tickets for the one at the temple, though frankly, I am not inclined to go by myself.

The Loss of Another Piece of my Past Plays a Melancholy Chord on my Heart

It isn’t really the idea of not eating the traditional food, nor have I even participated in the ceremony (aside from the temple) since my paternal grandmother died when I was a child. It’s more the thought that a beautiful part of my family’s heritage is fading into oblivion, at least with my branch. Then it occurred to me: I wonder if there is a way to observe the holiday by myself. There are solo practitioners of Wicca, so why not of Judaism?

As it has been my experience that you can find anything with a Google search, I tried “Can Passover be celebrated solo” and found just one post with suggestions for solo Passover celebrations. As most of them aren’t really solo at all, I gather that Jews who want to observe the holiday, even if they are far from home, find a way to do so.

I Was Once Called a Goysiche Jew. It Seems the Title Fits

In truth, I consider myself a Jew by culture, but not by religion. Does not practicing the religion make me less of a Jew? I know only that, right now, I feel very disconnected, but that isn’t necessarily entirely due to lack of religious affiliation. I work from home so I don’t see too many people on a regular basis. This alone affects my sense of community. Add in a Spiritual practice which does not require the participation of others along with my introverted nature and what is left is an individual with few real, strong human connections.

Another Chicken and Egg Story

The gist of the matter is that my alone-ness for Passover is not the malady at all, but just another symptom. Red ButerflyThis is a malady I, alone can cure, but it means yet another leap outside of that comfortable little cocoon I call my comfort zone. I take reminders like this very seriously, as emotions are a strong indicator of both things we do right and things we need to change. Mine are clearly telling me that I’ve been a caterpillar long enough and that there’s a butterfly inside of me who really needs to spread her wings and fly now.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my emotions which alert me to things I need to work through.
2. I am grateful for my writing which gives me an outlet to work through things my emotions target.
3. I am grateful for my studies which teach me how to improve my posts, where to find the resources and how to safely and legally use those resources.
4. I am grateful for my dancing and my crit group which keep me from becoming a complete hermit.
5. I am grateful for abundance: resources, opportunities, friendship, challenges, lessons, health, love, harmony, peace, joy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at and my website, 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 credit: 033e eye of the tiger watching you via photopin (license)

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