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

Posts tagged ‘caring’

Ask an Introvert to Dance

Some Find it Hard to Ask

https://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/7340397856/in/photolist-cbDsxJ-fzRXJH-fzRU3V-GFFVME-87C3ro-epfT1v-6ixEeJ-HRLxVG-58xPj2-Xp8vtU-pXs6to-QHDGiW-t6dtT-6bsVU6-9SurWh-Wdj1Qd-odAC7i-ubQRAd-apXuRr-nJMGvb-9sCtdA-51wq2C-4KXrym-dJLEXx-dfGd8s-6yz6qi-22c7xXE-4KXt7A-219zYfG-Y6ugwd-aokdtX-WXZF7J-8k4FAh-219zYkm-rqFwgT-2gqYSkX-pKNDEY-fngxkg-2rBixn-cAMBNL-6yEkh5-cAMnRj-9Axjsh-WXZF8W-HU8RCu-E72ZqC-8nkuaw-bDCtyG-22eMwC4-64vyhJI’ve been dancing almost all my life. I started with tap and ballet when I was 5. Since then, it’s been a wild and varied ride; folk, square, round, jazz, modern, ballroom, and my current passion; all things Country. I know most of the line dances done in my area, can two-step, waltz, nightclub two-step, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, and even polka. But mostly I line dance.

It may seem strange given my repertoire but a few bad experiences and my innate shyness mean I simply don’t ask, but instead, wait to be asked which may or may not happen. Years ago I’d ask any available man to dance but after being turned down too many times, often with a lame excuse, or worse; watching him turn away after declining my request to dance with someone else, I gave it up as a bad deal. I decided being a wallflower was better than being turned down. Yes, I dance less than I’d like to. I know it isn’t personal. But a part of me feels it is and crawls further into the shell I’m still not ready to break into a zillion pieces and discard for good.

I’ve often been told I’m intimidating (though not as much lately as before I let some of my walls down). I suspect it has to do with an outward confidence I exude. In truth, it’s only real under certain circumstances. The rest of the time, it’s a carefully constructed and maintained facade originally erected to protect my soft, mushy center. While it’s rarely necessary these days, old habits die hard. The minute I feel even the least bit insecure or uncertain, my outward confidence is elevated to safeguard an ego that’s still easily bruised.

Nip Isolation in the Bud Before it’s Too Late

Even so, I trust too easily these days, letting people I shouldn’t get close. Yet given the choice, I wouldn’t do things differently. I know too well what it feels like to be less trusting; more self-contained. The reality is most introverts do not want to be alone and isolated. It’s a place to recharge, nothing more. Making isolation a permanent residence invites depression. Left with too much alone time to think, I can make a mountain out of a molehill in record time.

In the weeks surrounding the anniversary of the Borderline shooting, I read a lot of posts on Facebook from people who were feeling sad and disconnected, yet felt they didn’t have the right to feel that way since they hadn’t been there that night, nor had they lost a friend or family member. I know a lot of them were feeling the sadness and grief anyway. For many like me, it was a little bit of our own sadness, and a lot coming in from outside. Everywhere were reminders of a night many of us wish we could turn back; bring back the precious lives that were lost, and help a young man who was lost, alone, angry, and struggling.

Our community has it’s heart in the right place. Many people suggest professional help or post and re-post numbers for a suicide hotline. I try to remind people a listening, non-judgemental ear and a shoulder to lean on might be a better solution. It seems too many are still quick to shove the responsibility off on “professionals” who often then shove it off on the latest pharmaceutical wonder. If you ask me, human kindness is a more effective drug with no negative side-effects. I think it should be the first drug of choice before heading to the medical profession in most cases.

People Need to be Included

Sure, there are those who clearly need professional intervention, and I don’t mean to suggest there isn’t a time and a place to consult someone trained to guide people out of dangerous and destructive behavior. I think it might be the last resort instead of the first. But to make it so, more people have to care and be willing to put forth the effort even when it’s not convenient.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ay

For someone like me, it might mean something as simple as being included, or asked to dance. For others, it might take more effort; ask them out to coffee again and again if necessary. I remember feeling unworthy. I was the one who believed people tolerated my presence, but didn’t care whether I was there or not; who believed I was too much of a burden to befriend. I was lost and alone, never realizing the isolation I felt was a product of my own mind, ultimately manifesting in my behavior until it became reality. No one reached out because they had no idea I needed help. My actions had ensured no one asked or felt the need to offer.

Loneliness becomes insidious. The more a person is alone, the more alone they become. It’s as if the world becomes affected with amnesia, at least in their mind. A few years ago I withdrew for a couple of weeks when the drama became too intense. In my mind, no one would even notice my absence. To my surprise, when I returned, a number of people made it clear I was missed. Yet not one reached out while I was gone to ask if I was OK.

Belonging to a Loving, Caring Community is the First Step

Things are different now. If I miss more than a couple regular events, I get texts and Facebook Messages asking if I’m OK…most of the time. Even the best of us get busy and don’t pick up on the signs our friends might leave indicating they’re in distress. It’s why I emphasize a network approach where no one is left alone and floundering. Maybe 6 friends are entangled in the web of their own lives, but there should always be someone whose life is currently less complicated, and available to check on the quiet ones. 

What I’m trying to say in my usual long-winded and convoluted way is everyone needs to be part of a loving, supportive community. Everyone deserves to be part of a community that reaches out and draws them back into the fold when life knocks them sideways, or when they start feeling disconnected, yet accepts them as they are without judgement or expectations. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a dance community like mine which ensures everyone is included and appreciated, a church group, an extended blood family, or some other community formed around a shared interest.

We need to reach a point where no one feels like they have to act badly in order to get attention; where no one is ever left to feel they’re unloved or don’t matter. Each of us is a drop in the Sea of Souls. What we do, think, and feel causes ripples felt further away than we know. When we stop making ripples too soon, or make a gigantic ripple because we’re feeling too alone it causes enormous repercussions in the entire Sea. Sure, sometimes that Sea needs a bit of a tidal wave, but lets make sure those tidal waves are induced for the right reasons. I may be an idealist, but I believe love does conquer all.

Using Gratitude to Keep My Spirits High

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the friendships I formed once I learned I wasn’t unworthy.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who show me what caring, loving, and community look like.
  3. I’m grateful to be included.
  4. I’m grateful for less walls and more open doors.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, compassion, community, joy, hugs, music, belonging, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic 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

Positively Positive: Sharing Inspiration

Why I Promote Positivity

About 20 years ago, I began my personal journey out of the abyss. Like everything else in my life, it hasn’t been a straight path, nor an easy one. There was a lot of backsliding, especially in the early years as my brain fought to keep me in the safe, comfortable, familiar place it loved.

But my desire for happiness has prevailed and I’ve managed to flip the switch which gives me more happy days than sad ones, more positivity and gratitude, and less self-pity and blame. A good part of my success has been the manner in which I’m currently using Social Media.

First let me say that I have to have a really good reason to unfriend someone, and putting up negative or uninspiring posts isn’t one of them. (that’s why we have the option to unfollow friends. That way, we simply don’t have to see their posts on our news feed). I do, however, insist on predominantly uplifting or at least humorous posts on my social media pages.

Over time I’ve subscribed to a number of groups and followed people who regularly share evocative, uplifting, humorous, or inspiring material. Those I particularly enjoy are set up on my Buffer account where I share them on my pages to provide something thought-provoking, humorous, uplifting, or inspiring for the people who follow me.

Hate Begets Hate

While there has always been more than enough negativity and downright hatefulness out in cyberspace, the last year or so has seen a dramatic increase in hateful words and acts, anger directed outward, and a general ugliness permeating the whole of humanity. None of us are immune.

Even the best of us (and trust me, I’m no angel!) don’t completely refrain from venting our anger or frustration from time to time. Everyone has a cause they feel strongly about. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Often, it’s not the message, but how it’s conveyed. I, myself am less than tactful when I’m frustrated. (just ask the rude group who kept assuming any table in the place was for their personal use last night!) I recognize and accept that. There are a number of people who regularly share things that make me smile or think, but have their pet causes. Like most of us, they might get a bit in your face about those causes. If it’s not something I share, I just scroll on by. I know a few posts down will be something I’ll really enjoy.

There is a point to this, I promise. I’m just a bit long-winded getting to it (unusual, I know. 🙂 ).

More Than One Way to Fight for a Cause

More than once, I’ve been called out for not supporting a cause publicly. But I believe there are plenty of people flinging angry words and righteous indignation. It’s not for me to add to that cacophony. Instead, it is for me to try to hold a sort of Switzerland where people can share their viewpoints in a loving way instead of trying to rip out the throats of those who disagree with them.

Do I have things I feel passionate about? Hell yes. But screaming about them from the roof tops isn’t going to change them, in my opinion. Finding ways to love ourselves and the people around us through the chaos and the maelstrom of hate is far more effective in the long run.

Think of it this way. Those who hate and stir it up in others are broken in their own way, but they feed on anger and hate. Those emotions make them stronger and help bury their own pain with things like power and recognition. Though it’s not a perfect substitute, they believe it is what they need.

Hate vs. Love

A few years ago, I attended an event where Marianne Williamson spoke. She said something which has stayed with me ever since. She said that people who act out in anger are doing so because they lack love in their lives. If you think about it, one of the surest ways to still someone’s anger is to wrap them in a warm, sincere hug.

I’ll take this one step further. When you enter a competition, you try to have the best tools and skills so you will prevail. If you went into a competition using only your opponent’s tools against them, you’d always lose. Why? Because they’ve honed those tools to be perfect for themselves and their personal strengths and skill sets. Soldiers have swords weighted for their own physical strength and build. Magicians have wands which complement their skills. If anyone else used their tools of the trade, they’d find the tools wanting when in reality, they’re simply mismatched to the user.

If you’re trying to overcome anger and hate, why would you throw more of the same at it? It’s no different than throwing gasoline on a wild fire. You give it more fuel and it will continue to grow.

I’m trying to do the unexpected in my own small way. I share positive quotes and inspiring stories. I post cute animal videos and tales of triumph over adversity. I’ve even been known to share things slightly political, but only if they’re humorous rather than hateful.

Keeping Dr. King’s Words Alive

I may not agree with a lot that’s going on today, but adding my voice to the already overwhelming complaints isn’t going to change any of it. What will is finding the silver lining or the lesson and sharing that instead. I might still get criticized for having my head in the sand or for not openly taking a stand against any of it. But I’m also not adding to the anger. I’m not fueling the fires of hatred which are burning as brightly as the fires in Montana, and are a million times more virulent. I can’t say it any better than the late Dr. Martin Luther King who said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

What he said then still holds true today. So enjoy the happy quotes I share. Laugh at the cute videos if you can. I want to be that beacon of light when everything seems dark. I believe in love when so many around me disagree. I know I’m imperfect and act unkindly at times, and each time I do, I have a nice self-flagellation session. Then I forgive myself and go back to posting positivity. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. And some, like Dr. King gave it all to bring the light of love into the sometimes overwhelming darkness.

Finding Gratitude in Every Little Thing

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the continued inspiration I get to keep writing.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn every day.
  3. I am grateful for my imperfections as they make me work harder to do better next time.
  4. I am grateful for the improvements I’m making in my physical environment. As it is outside, so will it be inside. My inside is getting clearer with each coat of paint and piece of clutter I clear.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, sharing, compassion, lessons, challenges, problems and solutions, opportunities, dreams realized and dreams yet to manifest, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

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.

 

 

 

1,000 Blessings

My Readers Are My Biggest Blessings

In the years I’ve written this blog (and I’m closing in on 8, for those who are wondering), I’ve received my share of feedback, both positive and negative. Thankfully, the negative has been small. The positive, on the other hand has been beyond my wildest expectations and occurs in many forms.

While a few actually leave comments here (and thank you so much for doing so!), more often, I get comments and shares in my social media accounts. But the best of all is when someone walks up to me and says something like “I’ve been reading your blog and it really touched me.”

To understand why this kind of feedback means so much to me, I need to take you back a few years to a time when I had about 20,000 words of Forgotten Victims drafted and, in fact, when the working title was Life After Suicide: Healing and Forgiving.

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

I’d reached a point where the words had stopped flowing and frustration had set in. I’d been writing regular posts in the Notes area of Facebook, but my propensity for long posts had me running out of room time and time again.

My daughter Heather (one of my two biggest champions, cheerleaders and butt kickers) suggested I start a blog, and, in fact, sat down with me at my computer and helped me set it up. After copying all of the Notes into a post, my journey began.

Now, nearly 8 years later, 3 blogging platforms, and well over 1,000 posts, I find encouragement and inspiration every day to keep writing what comes to mind from living my life with an open heart and a curious mind.

A Need for Purpose

The one thing I told myself back then was that if I touched a single life, gave one person a reason to think and to know they weren’t alone, I’d fulfilled my purpose which I did by baring my soul and sharing difficult experiences.

You, my readers, continue to ensure that I’ll keep writing, sharing, and baring with your constant reminders that I am, indeed bringing useful and needed information to you. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the gifts you’ve given me.

Some might call this a need for validation, but to be honest, without the feedback, I’d still find a reason to write. Your comments are to me, more of a confirmation of my purpose; a reminder that despite the side trips, the worries and concerns, the uncertainty about my destination, I am going in the right direction.

Taking that Leap of Faith

The road we travel through life is never a straight shot. There are always detours along the way. In some cases, it’s merely sight-seeing,  in others, a time for us to learn something which will be useful further down the road.

Too often, we’re afraid to follow the unbroken path because it isn’t a sure bet. There are no guarantees it will bring us happiness and prosperity. We’re afraid to deviate from the “shoulds”.

That was me for many years. I went from one dead-end job to another, learning new skills along the way and exposing myself to situations which, all too often, were painful or uncomfortable. Even so, they were necessary. If nothing else, I learned that following a path drenched in responsibility was all well and fine when I was raising my daughters, but continuing to follow it once they were grown was killing me slowly from the inside out.

I knew I was meant for more, but was afraid to take the leap until the ladies in my healing class made me think long and hard about what I really wanted to be doing.

Following the Twisty, Turny Path to Personal Fulfillment

In the three years since I left the rat race, have I achieved the level of success I’d hoped for? No. Can I honestly say I’ve completed anything towards that dream? Again, I have to answer no, though I have several works in progress. But am I happier for it? Have I found success in the lives I’m touching, the purpose I’m fulfilling and the lessons I’m learning? Absolutely.

These days, nearly every day is a lesson. I’m watching and listening more and talking less. I’m studying whatever interests me or is affecting my life so I can both make positive changes in my life and share what I learn. I’ve been part of a critique group with many amazing people and writers who have taught me so much about writing in general and mine in particular.

Heart Lessons 101

Best of all, I’ve learned to let down my hair, both literally and figuratively. I’ve accepted that some people will dislike me on sight for reasons known only to themselves. Or they may come to dislike me after a few interactions. But I no longer let it bother me because I’ve learned it isn’t about me at all.

I myself may feel put off by someone on sight, and more often than not, it has something to do with an experience from my past. I’m having to learn to look carefully at why I’m put off by someone to see whether it’s them or me or a very real red flag I need to heed.

Life isn’t a popularity contest. She with the most “likes” doesn’t necessarily win (though I’m told it does help when you’re trying to establish yourself as an author). I believe we all have the capacity to do something meaningful, and frankly, size does not matter. Whether what you bring to the world is large or small, the important thing is that you bring it.

Helping Each Other Fulfill Our True Purposes

You’ve shown me I’m bringing something meaningful to at least a few people. You can do the same. What are you passionate about? What makes your heart sing? How can you use that to make a difference somehow? It could be art, science, technology, or simple human kindness. They’re all important. They’ll all foster positive changes.

Let me help you find your purpose as you’ve helped me find mine.

Gratitude Smooths the Way

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my readers and those who’ve taken the time to let me know who they are.
  2. I am grateful for the leap of faith I took 3 years ago, even if the results are not yet what I’d hoped for.
  3. I am grateful for the people who have encouraged me along the way; some with kindness and others with a boot to my stubborn butt. Whatever works!
  4. I am grateful for cold, rainy days. They turn the grass green and make the air smell sweet.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; readers, inspiration, motivation, aggravation, cheerleaders, butt kickers, random thoughts which become blog posts, love, friendship, people who love me, people who hate me, people who are ambivalent, sharing, caring, compassion, kindness, examples set by others, dreams, hopes, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Completing the Circle: Suicide’s Forgotten Victims

Remembering the Forgotten

I see a lot of posts lately about how people get depressed and contemplate suicide around the holidays. They’re typically followed by a number for the Suicide Hotline.

What I don’t see is any reference to those of us who may have lost someone to suicide during the holidays. I want to stand up and shout “Hey, we’re still here, and it still hurts, even 10, 20, 30 years later. What about us?”

There’s no hotline for survivors of suicide. No outpouring of love and concern. No admonitions to care more, love more, or give extra attention to suicide survivors. But in my opinion, there should be.

Suicide is Tragic, No Matter Which Side of the Fence You’re On, but it Doesn’t End with a Death

I’m not trying to minimize the fact that suicides and suicide attempts do increase during the holidays. If you’re already sad and depressed, all of the exhortations to be happy and joyful and to buy presents you might not be able to afford are certainly enough to drive one over the edge. What I am trying to do is raise awareness for those of us who didn’t recognize that sadness in someone we loved until it was too late.

What I am trying to say is that we who have lost someone to suicide, especially during the holidays suffer whenever we see one of those community service style posts. We suffer because we didn’t see the signs; because we didn’t call a hotline to help prevent our loved one’s act. But more, because we know first-hand that even if we had, it might not have helped.

Left Behind Should Never Mean Isolated

Someone who commits suicide during the holidays, especially an adult, is probably not new to the idea. The idea of ending it all doesn’t just pop into their head on a whim. Chances are, they’ve been feeling sad and unwanted or unneeded for a long time. The forced jollity of the holidays is simply the final straw, eliminating any second thoughts they might have had that they still have a purpose. It doesn’t matter what the people around them think. They feel extraneous, and they are in charge of the actions they take based on those feelings.

But those who are left behind, whether they found the lifeless body or simply dealt with the feelings of helplessness, guilt, and grief afterwards must revisit the death year after year. The holidays are just another reminder of someone who is no longer around to share the joys, the sorrows, and everything in between. They’re a reminder that we didn’t or couldn’t do enough to make someone feel they needed to hang around a little longer.

Opening Hearts to Suicide’s Forgotten Victims

Please, while you’re offering avenues to prevent suicide, also open your hearts to those who lost someone to suicide during the holidays; the most wonderful time of the year. You might not even know who we are as many won’t talk about it. If they do, they won’t open up unless they know someone who has suffered the same loss.

I suggest we make the holidays a time of more hugs, more compassion, greater understanding. Most of all, make it a time of paying more attention to the people around you. Notice when their smiles don’t reach their eyes. Notice when they seem to move more slowly. Notice when they retreat to a corner during celebrations and don’t seem to be getting into all of the joy and happiness we’re supposed to be feeling.

Give heartfelt hugs whenever you can. Not those almost embarrassed kind of hugs with the back patting you’d give a fussy child. A real hug where you hold someone, heart to heart, giving and receiving warmth. A hug that says “I may not know what you’re going through, but I care and I’m here for you, even if all I can offer is this hug.”

Remembering the Value of Family, Warts and All

I learned a lot this weekend when I saw my family for the first time in 20 years. I learned that even though they know my sister and I no longer have a relationship, they’re not judging, simply trying to understand. I learned that in many ways, my parents’ suicides will always be the elephant in the room, but we can still love each other in spite of it. I learned to appreciate how much my parents spared me as I watched cousins dealing with a mother whose mind is very child-like now, and a father who is crouched and bent and likely in a great deal of pain much of the time. I also learned how much it saddens me that my parents didn’t get to share the girls’ milestones and accomplishments.

The biggest thing I learned, though, was that my family is still there after all these years. For some, being around me might be awkward and uncomfortable but they’re willing to make the effort. For others, I truly believe they don’t hold me responsible for my parents’ actions, nor do those actions make it difficult for them to be near me. I don’t seem to serve as the constant and unwelcome reminder of their own loss I believed I did. And I met extended family who were warm and welcoming without prejudice.

Yet, I still feel sad that my parents aren’t here to share the holidays with us, with their granddaughters. Perhaps I always will. I have learned to fill my heart with love, my home with friends and my time with activity. Most of all, I express my gratitude for all of the blessings in my life right now, and still to come. I am here for a reason. I have a purpose. Most of all, I am worthy of love, success, and fulfillment.

Part of that fulfillment is being a haven for those who’ve lost someone to suicide. Won’t you help me extend that haven this holiday season?

Gratitude, the Greatest Healer

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I am able to help other forgotten victims of suicide and that so many have reached out to me in the last few years.
  2. I am grateful to be able to raise awareness of the struggles suicide survivors endure.
  3. I am grateful to have reconnected with my family. There are some seriously amazing people in my clan!
  4. I am grateful for the ability to express myself in writing and perhaps raise awareness where awareness is lacking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, family, hugs, compassion, kindness, sharing, caring, peace, harmony, success, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Moraleida via Flickr

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