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

Posts tagged ‘challenges’

Changing It Up To Enhance Creativity

Finding New Ways Out of Old Ruts

https://www.flickr.com/photos/35632217@N05/11141220045/in/photolist-hYvEyM-f3q2XF-WN7cAa-WC2tgo-VvU28y-VVCUnp-VZPPpx-X4hSbx-Xgdvnt-Xa18aU-X5F6Ba-WCiedS-VX3ngd-VZNKfH-XdNen3-X4eCyZ-WMPNM6-W32Dnn-W3cPuB-WYbJQU-VSPUyU-WcLFXu-WYe2r5-X65BN1-VVBR3a-WcJ347-Wy5z6h-WN6NEv-WwVjBd-VWVfpw-WXUkAj-WXTMcm-W36zBD-X27vox-VWWtgb-WC1Dp1-Wy6zs7-Wcye5A-WEfsVW-WDZxtd-VyyhgF-VZJ8T9-Xa1kuJ-WA8NKV-WcJi1w-psKV9t-XdCj1a-X66ds1-VywuMB-WigauPTonight I’m typing on my laptop in front of the TV where I’ve been binge-watching Hallmark Christmas movies while others celebrate Christmas with their families. It’s not that I lacked invitations, but I wanted to be alone, even as I wanted some company. I didn’t realize how much until I burst into tears when the last line of one of the movies talked about how the best family is the one we create with our friends.

It took me a long time to figure that one out, mostly because I spent too many years trying to be what others expected instead of myself. But that’s hovering dangerously in territory I covered a couple of days ago. ADD taking over my brain once again.

What I really want to talk about today is how changing our routine can open doors we didn’t realize were closed. My life and work depends on new ideas; plentiful and frequent. It’s difficult to maintain the momentum sitting in the same place at the same time every day. Sometimes, I need a change of scenery.

Making Dates With Ourselves And Our Creativity

For a while, I was trying to do some cafe writing at least once a week, typically on Fridays. But with the holidays and a bunch of other challenges, the practice has fallen by the wayside, much to the detriment of my idea generation.

Sometimes, a change of scenery is as simple as getting off the desktop and either firing up the laptop or picking up pencil and paper and moving to another room, even in a house as small as mine. This isn’t the first time I moved to my laptop on a TV tray in front of the television to get the creative juices going, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

That isn’t to say I won’t soon be reviving my cafe writing practice as it yielded some interesting results in the past. Some, in fact, will likely find their way into what I’m starting to see as the memoir from hell, as I work on it in fits and starts these days, throwing roadblocks in my path with every opportunity. I’ve re-set the timeline for completion three times so far, and I’m already a few days behind on the newest one. But at least I’ve learned not to beat myself up about missing deadlines, nor to give up on myself. More than likely, I’ll get into another kind of binging; one which involves writing instead of dividing my attention between the one-eyed monster and games on my phone.

Picking Our Battles With Ourselves

For now, I’m focusing on the immediate which means, getting a couple of weeks ahead on blog posts (I’m currently only a week ahead and that makes me anxious), and researching alternatives to blood pressure medication. My latest two doctor’s visits were disconcerting at best, especially for someone who has always run a little on the low side.

I know part of the problem is the weight I’ve gained since my dance schedule has been disrupted, part is the amount of time I’ve spent sitting lately (also due to the challenge of finding places to dance), and part is clearly a level of stress I don’t typically see, but which has been exacerbated by a dozen different factors this holiday season. As I look back on this paragraph, I realize the temporary loss of my usual dance venue is having a huge impact on my overall health.

Some of it I can mitigate. I’ve increased the amounts of Hawthorne and Potassium I take daily. I’ve revised my shopping list to include foods high in potassium and low in sodium. I’ve reviewed the DASH diet to see what I should and should not be eating, and will be even more crazy about reading labels from here on out. And speaking of out, eating there will be severely curtailed because it’s so much harder to control what’s in my food if someone else makes it.

Life Is About Reviewing What Works, And Changing What Doesn’t

Sure, it means changing my lifestyle even more, but all for the better. I’ve gotten sloppy about my eating habits the last couple of months, and it’s reflected in the numbers on my scale. I’ve missed a few gym days too,. and that’s not helping. Using alternative dance venues means less 10,000 plus step days too. Again, the one habit I’ve broken in this area is beating myself up over my lack of diligence.

What’s done is done. We can’t change the past. We can change what we do now, and try, moment by moment, to do things differently as the future unfolds. Changing up how and where we do our regular tasks is one of the things which can have nothing but positive effects. One of the things I look forward to as 2019 unfolds is embracing more changes in my life.

One Person’s Distraction Is Another’s Focus

Typically, I write either in silence or with music in the background, but tonight as I pound away on my laptop keys in front of yet another cookie cutter Hallmark movie, I’m finding it’s as good at keeping my internal editor in her proper place as music. I’ve seen the movie before so it doesn’t require much of my attention. What it grabs is the part of me who would, if given the chance, pick away at my word choices, my spelling errors, and even the topic I’ve chosen for this post.

It doesn’t hurt that tonight’s selection is about a writer. I find I key into those in particular, despite the fact that Hallmark’s version of a writer is probably romanticized and unrealistic. Yet watching a story about another writer in a strange way inspires me to write. I can’t really explain why, but as it’s gotten me to drag out my laptop and start working on another blog post, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. In truth, anything that gets me writing is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Using What Works Without Dissecting Why

It could simply be the power of suggestion. I’m watching a movie about a writer and, oh yeah. I’m a writer so why am I not writing? Since I don’t have a good answer to that question, I pull out the necessary accoutrements and let the words flow.

Sure the downside to working in a cafe, in front of the TV, or anywhere distractions can wind their way into my attention is that either some of what’s distracting me gets into my writing, or I stop altogether to give my attention to the distraction.

For the first, that’s why I edit what I write. For the second, the diversion is only temporary. I pull my attention back to the project at hand in a reasonable amount of time, thus finishing what I started, (I’ve learned I hate leaving an incomplete blog post. Now to transfer that lack of tolerance to the books I have yet to finish, as my daughter so delicately reminded me recently).

Goals Plus Gratitude Equals Success

Though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions since it’s far less effective than creating To Do lists and cards on my Trello board, I’m setting myself a goal for this year. I will seek and embrace more change in my life; look for opportunities to do things differently; take on challenges without nay-saying them for days or weeks before admitting it’s worth a try. My coach will give me ample opportunity to test this goal, and I hope to rise to the occasion. I do love a challenge!

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for a willingness to recognize how often I get in my own way rather than making necessary and interesting changes,
  2. I am grateful for the friends who have become my family, and who support me without question.
  3. I am grateful for opportunities to do things differently.
  4. I am grateful for a new year, and the chaos it will likely bring to my life. That chaos is overdue and a shakeup with the way I do things is a challenge I know I’m up to undertaking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; change, challenges, opportunities, new dietary opportunities hidden as restrictions, cats to love, friends to share with, writing to expand upon, clients, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

 

Love and Light.

About the Writer

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

Judging Us By Our Outside Packaging

Judging on Looks Alone

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenwalton/17392785562/in/photolist-suWzc9-U1NXcb-XmjtCz-ed6kDh-24cGXED-zvNtw-22hdaT5-bnJAmT-29fwg6w-LeUtLe-28yjcKQ-29yKVqS-Zb4Czw-W3tEvE-W3j5Pq-25x3t69-28xQ2mC-G9mvwr-8B5AY-oAW92o-26oKdUj-27arySt-4RRRF-eRZ2Bz-vno6N-pNuMcR-bu8ZCf-b25rgp-qybkvh-8EJH9F-4drg3M-Gc4PnH-s6rhjo-5tu11t-pokUf-26gCo3c-7RnzT6-5ZrAGk-2436Pw7-7aoRuc-qsPPki-HeAyJc-5sJFgL-7Dje8Z-22ZDBAn-qQCAvU-5uSc-21sAW6c-WWzhBC-o89HnThere’s a lot of talk these days about the damage we do judging people by the way they look, whether it’s something that’s seemingly fixable like clothing or hygiene, or a physical trait such as skin color, ethnicity, or a disability.

Years ago, I was in a pretty bad place in my life, and went everywhere in either sweats or leggings and a baggy shirt. My hair was typically pulled back and my face didn’t know the meaning of makeup. It didn’t matter if I was running to the market, dropping the girls at school, or going to a teacher conference. My uniform was the same.

A few years went by and I heard a teacher friend saying how disrespected she felt when parents didn’t dress up for her. I was unpleasantly surprised at the time, but thinking back on it, I’m horrified.

In my own case, I was struggling to keep things together, trying to get a business going so I’d be more available for my daughters’ activities, and managing an unwieldy load of emotional crap at the same time. Making myself pretty for a teacher or administrator was the least of my concerns. There were days it was all I could do to get out of bed, feed the girls, and take them to school.

Basing the Respect We Give Solely on What We See

In hindsight, I realize I wasn’t respected or taken seriously by teachers or administrators in those days. https://www.flickr.com/photos/alisdare/6821200265/in/photolist-UB4c9G-eC7695-hBLDD-93L9XM-kYuVpf-UB4c3u-frGcgF-Dj96KV-ECCKLH-763CL-aB2kxX-NLUMEQ-boLrc8-7JVP3y-5qPdx9-27zcEPH-SErX9e-mhx3sb-d3Kv1w-bbHV92-edSAMq-gcdFEN-2brCHxp-aKBVjr-f9axWB-4F2voD-oGGEo9-f5xtRv-daC8zs-cFevC-eEFrNs-2ag28y-c6ahLG-nMywhk-BTQ5Yy-8iov8y-oAG89o-r8xj63-7yzik8-FktH6-fAebFr-psM1h-dTPcPi-8inAep-9Qj2wX-6Vi7Tw-D7zjy-d3cgUS-6acoir-g6L2UEThey met with me, sure. But it was always a “my way or the highway” attitude they projected.

The worst part of this to me is that as educators, they influence our children and pass on their judgemental attitude as an accepted mode of behavior. Never mind they have no idea what a parent is going through unless a child happens to share something (assuming, of course, the teacher is listening between the lines as well).

Now I know being a teacher is getting tougher by the day, but if what I heard and felt is correct, then we need to take a look at expectations and perceptions. It shines a pretty bright light on why there are such disparities between the education kids get in suburban areas vs. inner cities where there’s a higher rate of people struggling just to hold things together, and for whom dressing up to meet with a teacher is the last thing on their minds.

Looking Past the Smiling Faces

That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty who are holding on by their fingernails in the suburbs too, but all too often, their ignorance of what the educational system deems appropriate behavior and dress code are masked by other factors. For example, as a single mother, I noticed a marked coolness on the part of the other women when I was active with the band boosters; a chill which was confirmed by some of the other single moms. In fact, it was actually made blazingly clear to one woman when it became known that the man she was always with was someone she lived with but wasn’t married to. Somehow, we were undesirables, not only in the eyes of other parents, but the school system as well.

It didn’t matter that most of us not only worked at least one job, and often two or three to keep food on the table, clothes on our kids’ backs, and a roof over our heads, then dedicated countless hours to their activities as well. Nor did it matter that we often worked twice as hard as the ones who were happily married. I used to believe it was because they saw us as a threat, but now I think it was simply that we dared to be different and manage our lives without a man to help us or worse, validate us as someone who fit the conventional model.

It doesn’t surprise me that most of us weren’t perfectly coiffed or made up when we showed up to support our kids. Those who shunned us were blissfully unaware of the often Herculean effort it took us to show up and take an active role in the proceedings.

We All Have Challenges. What We Need Most is Understanding.

I certainly don’t remember anyone ever asking if one of us was all right—unless of course it was one of https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/40513877112/in/photolist-24J5dbC-xLBnC-qDMybP-8uuvzF-er1tf-8S5Btn-5NYfwV-LihYBt-g4kBQ-S442nL-ceYb9U-g5JpWL-jTQZz6-cfHP9u-fauq5P-ahCCN2-isiMDz-6ViLeY-2EJXG4-HC2MUT-BU26S-5jegSL-VYGMA1-5j9Xzn-eB4adY-nBPSrp-5j9ZhH-dkoQLa-nbdfPZ-4FD4L1-dZ3Vjx-mbSGYM-dsW4Bs-6w75Kx-7sZRqK-8KRTG2-Mysc7N-LM2cLA-eXrUyD-faz3Az-dAR84B-8S8Fa7-7hKbWd-pYwhq-z2MhH-6jxdb7-261SwZS-ee4Pp7-vv8vw-8TKhq3the other single mothers. And we sure weren’t going to reach out to anyone in the secret society of marrieds for help. Showing even the slightest sign of weakness to that pool of piranhas was taken as an invitation to attack and consume.

By the time the girls reached Middle School, we’d been through several kinds of hell; way more than anyone ever suspected. I’d survived an ugly divorce in the midst of which my mom committed suicide. I’d been laid off from a job, only to go through another layoff, and a closure due to forced bankruptcy with another company, all in the space of about 2 years. I was trying to make a go of my own consulting business, but with no marketing skills and a negative outlook about almost everything, I didn’t exactly have clients knocking down my door.

Dancing helped, but when the girls reached High School, that, too ceased while I immersed myself in their activities and the barely concealed disdain of the married women.

Teaching Our Children Compassion

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhWhile I can empathize with teachers who want to be taken seriously, and know their jobs aren’t exactly easy, I hope my experience is the exception rather than the rule. I hope our educators are the first to follow the old adage: don’t judge a book by its cover. and remember if a parent isn’t dressing up for them, it may be something far more insidious than disrespect which has them presenting themselves in all their naked and unadorned glory.

Being a single parent is hard under the best of circumstances. But when you get no support from the father (or mother as the case may be), or they add to your burden by being difficult; when money is tight and you have to tell your kids no; when your job is kicking your butt for 8 or 9 hours a day; the very fact you’re showing up at all is, in my opinion, an act of ultimate strength. What you wear when you show up, as long as it covers you with reasonable decency should be the last thing people notice about you, much less judge you and mentally condemn you, assuming you lack respect for their lofty position.

As always, there’s a lesson for me in this memory and story. I’m far from innocent as far as misjudging people based on what I see instead of giving them a chance to show me who they are on the inside. Remembering how I felt is a painful yet poignant reminder to give others the same consideration I would have them give me. In other words, give people a chance to show their true colors, and don’t assume the outside packaging in any way, shape, or form tells the whole story.

Gratitude Instead of Judgement

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the challenges I’ve gone through and the lessons they’ve brought me.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to revisit past hurts and find the lesson contained therein.
  3. I am grateful for those who directly, or even inadvertently point out areas in my own personality and behavior that need work.
  4. I am grateful for the people who did take the time to ask if I was OK, even during the years when I wouldn’t ask for help no matter what.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, opportunities, friendship, inspiration, cooperation, compassion, kindness, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

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.

Starting at the End

Starting is Easy. It’s the Finishing Part That’s a Constant Challenge

Created with CanvaDo you have projects you start over and over, yet never seem to reach the end? You pick them up with energy high, getting past milestone after milestone, until you run out of steam, far from the finish line.

Cleaning is my albatross, or one of them. I typically start by taking out the sandboxes one by one to clean and refill, vacuuming and mopping floors as I go. I’ll usually get at least the bathrooms and one of the bedrooms done before my energy or attention wanes before I stop short of what I’d intended to do. Sometimes, I even get the living room and kitchen done if I have a particularly good burst of energy, or am into the music playing in my ears while I work.

The one room which, aside from vacuuming and maybe some mopping, gets little of my attention is my bedroom. I’ll de-fur all the furniture in the living room several times before thinking about indulging in some deep cleaning or de-cluttering in that very personal space.

Switching it Up

I realized I leave it for last because it’s a room people don’t typically see. My bedroom and office are at the back of the house and are mostly places where I spend my alone time, so they need only be clear enough for me to do what I need to, right?

This week, I decided to switch things up and am rather pleased with the results. I’ve been wanting to pull up the rest of the carpet in my room for quite some time, but the limited space in my barrels and the amount of energy required to not only pull up the carpet and padding, but detach the tack strips from the floor were often more than I wanted to expend.

Inspiration Trumps Procrastination

But with Thanksgiving looming and a house full of people on the near horizon, I decided it was time to Created with Canvakill the procrastination bug and, as Nike says, just do it. But I didn’t stop there. Once the pieces of carpet sufficient to fill the trash can were removed and the tack strips safely out of reach of the cats, I took a look at the nightstand I’d moved in order to remove the carpet it sat on.

I’d had a bunch of crap on top of it serving no real purpose so I put it all away. I pulled out the wood cleaner and a rag and gave the top, front and sides a good polishing before putting only what was necessary back on top. But now the dresser and the other nightstand looked messy and unkempt beside my newly cleaned nightstand.

The dresser was a special challenge because the dust bunnies behind the mirrors had given birth to several litters since I last saw fit to move everything and clean. Out came the rag and wood cleaner, and I set to organizing and de-cluttering the rest of the wood surfaces in my room as well.

Inspired by the End Result

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sonjalovas/4037482727/in/photolist-79M9Xa-5Gjd5S-eRC2r-71MjKg-fNKbK9-eDXif-cikYGJ-aUh67n-5Gyukb-bkcDiF-97nmjZ-abBz1d-8dVozC-bkgY21-2krwz2-6WZCBb-eTwN23-8vfmQg-bUWvwD-7nyjDz-b2QuMD-63dgyi-aVYczD-4qfrPa-4YBCLw-4tDfAm-hDA2k-8oJ5Xe-mLbU1-m1QVG-8kpaLs-5D1s4V-5yWi1N-ehJ8b3-7eoY4L-7KtRuF-4fihb8-35iwDU-7K2zY-7BKizh-5JM3At-zfgm2o-4qjvXA-7TxL2h-9pvokV-9VD3Hb-7KsvQ6-e1Yp1A-9VAoRV-2N7twUEvery time I walk into my room, I feel not only a sense of accomplishment, but a sense of openness and freedom I hadn’t realized was missing in my life. It started with clearing the accumulation of clothes and junk on my director’s chair a few months ago, but with each newly cleared surface, the momentum and the desire to continue increases.

Sure, I have a lot more to do to get the house ready for visitors, but I feel like starting at the end has been more motivating than anything I’ve done or any plans I’ve made up to this point. It’s as if I’ve proven something to myself, and in the process, shut down a few of those voices which were giving me excuses to leave things as they were.

Battling Our Innate Resistance to Change

Change is a good thing, and it comes in many forms. Whether it’s switching up the order of your https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4cleaning ritual or getting work out of the way so you have space for more. It might be writing a month’s worth or blog posts or three, scheduling social media posts, creating a price list, or working through lessons you’d put on hold.

Whatever is holding you up, sometimes starting from the part you least want to do is the way to clear the blocks. The thing you’re putting off is standing in the way of accomplishing many other things. It’s an excuse. A safety net. How many times have you told yourself I can’t do this until I do that. But “that” never gets done. Great, now you don’t have to do anything else.

It’s taking procrastination to a new level because you’re creating an excuse for not doing all you can to move towards your dreams. You’re putting the brakes on before you ever get started.

Starting with the Least Appealing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/funnybusiness/3503946843/in/photolist-87XXr1-87XZPQ-6kCDjB-2M1zdU-21ukmo7-o6vHsS-87ULKc-87XTkL-87Y3bu-87UGPM-87Y4kq-2EeDrw-7fF1mf-87Y8QS-9MnMAZ-DpnEKh-7kNkRC-87UZma-87Y5qASo for once, start at the end—with the pesky, unpleasant thing you’re using as an excuse to keep you from shining like the star you are. Get it out of the way for once and for all. Leave room for the things you get done without a second thought, and the end will become, not that onerous task you’ll do anything to avoid, but a beautiful, clear space you can fill with anything you want.

More and more, I hear about how de-cluttering your space de-clutters your mind. I stand before you as living proof it’s true. The more spaces I’ve cleared in my office, my bedroom, my garage—all over this place I call my home, the more clear I become on things which are important to my future.

The Proof is in the Pudding…er, Unblocking

I’ve written more in the last couple of months than I have in the last 6. I’ve set a schedule to finish the re-write of my memoir. I’ve pulled up carpet I’ve been looking at for at least a couple of years. I’ve removed the dust of ages.

But most of all, I’ve become clearer about who I want and need to serve, and how I’m going to go about doing that. I had to clear a lot of crap to get here, and the clearing is far from over. Some of the roadblocks are finally gone, though. There will certainly be more, but I’ve proven to myself that if all else fails, I can start at the end and clear the block first. After that, moving forward is a great deal easier to accomplish.

Check out my Facebook Live where I talked about turning things Inside Out and Backwards.

Growing the List of Gratitudes

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for more cleared spaces in my home.
  2. I am grateful for a plethora of tasks still to be accomplished.
  3. I am grateful for a new perspective I found by starting at the end.
  4. I am grateful for deadlines and schedules which I can and will honor.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; ideas, insights, support, friendship, joy, love, extraordinary life, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

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.;

You Have the Power to Direct Your Thoughts

Thoughts Don’t Have to Become Things

Created with CanvaI’m not blind nor am I dead yet. There are some nice looking men at the gym and I admit I look. Before you think I’m a dirty old woman, many of the most attractive in my eyes are closer to my age than they are to my daughter’s. Yet after a particularly yearning observation I laughed at myself thinking: You know you won’t ever talk to him. Even if you weren’t hobbled by your introverted nature, this is the gym. You rarely talk to or even acknowledge anyone here. The ear buds go in before you walk through the door and stay in until you’re back in the safety of your car.

I also have it lodged firmly in my mind that I won’t encounter men who dance at the gym while I’m there in the middle of the day and I’ve convinced myself it’s a show-stopper.

Besides, that nagging little voice inside me contributes the ones you admire wouldn’t give you a second look. Your dedication means nothing as long as you’re still 40 pounds overweight, and sporting baggy shorts, a saggy men’s t-shirt, and a messy bun.

Nagging Voices from Distant Memories

How often do we let that nagging voice convince us we’re unworthy despite our best efforts? While we https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nmay be successful and confident in some areas of our lives, there are still places where that deeply ingrained insecurity cuts us into tiny pieces.

We can’t cut the voice out like the cancer it is. Instead, we must dig deep into our psyche and find the source. Typically it’s found in our earliest memories; in an event or series of events from our childhood. It’s there we must return and reprogram ourselves.

Too often, well-meaning parents seek to make us better people by pointing out our faults. I’m sure I did the same to my kids despite my best efforts to see the good in them first. Plenty of people manage to get through those early years with minimal damage to their overall self-esteem. But many of us don’t. We carry the wounds of all the not-good-enoughs we heard well into our adult years, and watch the demons rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune moments.

In my case, it tends to happen when I allow myself to want something too much, or feel left out because I’m hovering on the outskirts. Never mind in most cases the outskirts is exactly where I want to be, and have probably put myself there on purpose. When I start feeling left out of things, I quickly forget my own part in creating the space I’m in.

One Area of Our Lives May Be More Impacted Than Others

https://www.flickr.com/photos/34167287@N05/23787059822/in/photolist-CeYUa5-f3skzG-26xyyFN-8Uqt6v-7RUJnT-5631Bv-9KzjET-otM3UU-9KC7p3-6EcqkE-rtobLr-5xx9XP-7Bj5nM-4JDZ1E-21oAHiQ-7Csyge-7YZVSv-7Z4a4L-7Z4a5b-4Btbxi-5m1iya-i54aYC-4BxARm-i54aXq-YA2ERd-4kmex7-WgVGRw-8GceK9-i548Lu-6m1sit-ospDf4-58cZtS-i54b7d-ggwmL-cKWfHj-bg5Uu-bsSgAg-8GcvXA-q68RzV-4fFkFc-e3cS7q-aQ7Ph-bg8hZ-q6pHnG-4VXWUt-dYksek-277AbZE-4VWArR-4VXUXR-2b2aNGJMen are one of my biggest challenges. As a teenager, and well into my 20’s, I didn’t really date. I had lots of guy friends who’d use me as a sounding board for their girl problems. I never asked them to return the favor. Not that I didn’t date at all, but my experiences were typically short-lived and unsatisfying, probably for both of us. My awkwardness with anything remotely resembling intimacy couldn’t have been comfortable for anyone who tried to get past the hard shell which was well on the way to becoming the sky high walls of my 30’s and 40’s. Then again, the men I chose weren’t exactly looking for long, heartfelt talks. In retrospect, each one was broken in his own way, just like me.

The trouble was I, like so many others had learned to believe the negative voices instead of what I saw, felt, and heard with my own senses. I couldn’t believe someone would actually like me for myself, and had plenty of evidence to confirm my beliefs. Little did I realize it was me who created those failures by listening to the wrong voices.

These days, I’ve reverted to my teenage years in some of the more positive aspects. I have guy friends I’m comfortable with, and with whom I can be myself because I enjoy their friendship with no expectations, or even desire for something more. I can again be their sounding board and give my honest opinion without fear they’ll run away if we don’t happen to see eye to eye.

Recognizing Progress

But I’ve locked myself into a false sense of security. I stick with the “safe” ones who won’t try to breach my much less impenetrable barriers. I keep my distance from anyone who causes the slightest tingle of awareness, convincing myself there’s no possible way it could be mutual. And though the person I see in the mirror looks pretty damn good to my eyes, my mind continues to tell lies about what other people see. Most of all, I set unrealistic limits and expectations so no one will ever meet my requirements.

Yet I realize even being able to look in the mirror and see qualities instead of flaws is a huge step for me. It also gives me hope I’ll continue on the more positive road to where I allow myself to believe others see me as I do in those moments of clarity and complimentary awareness.

Beauty vs. Perfection

Created in CanvaI was reading something recently that said each and every one of us is beautiful. It didn’t say perfect, and frankly, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder anyway. What’s perfect for me might be the opposite for the person standing next to me. So realizing each and every one of us is beautiful in our own way is quite the revelation, yet so obvious at the same time.

Because beauty and perfection are in the eyes of the beholder, one of the first steps to shutting down the negative voice that says others see us a certain way is to realize we can’t possibly know what someone else sees. So why do we decide what others are thinking? Or how they perceive us? In doing so, we unconsciously carry ourselves differently, never giving them a chance to form their own opinions without us muddying the waters with off-putting behavior.

Re-reading the last paragraph, I find myself getting angry. How dare we prevent another person from forming their own opinion? How dare we put words in their mouths; thoughts in their heads. In our failure to shut down the negative voices, we do many people a disservice. At the same time, we deprive them of getting to know someone who just might be “the one”, or at least could become a close, trusted friend.

Doing Other People an Injustice By Listening to the Negative Thoughts

When we give into the negative voices, we’re not just harming ourselves. We harm a lot of people we unconsciously push away. Sure, they’ll never realize what they might have missed. They move on and find people who draw them in rather than pushing them away. But what a cruel hoax we perpetuate.

I’m learning, slowly but surely to silence those nagging voices, or simply tell them flat out they’re telling lies and I refuse to listen. More people get to see my soft, mushy side these days, though admittedly, the only men I include are those I consider “safe”. But changing our ways is a process. We start with the outermost layers and work our way inward.

So celebrate the small changes. Look in the mirror every morning and pay yourself a compliment. Listen to your friends with your heart open, and try to share the same way. In time, those negative voices lose their power over you. At first, you bounce back more quickly, but ultimately, you reach the point where they’re little more than a fly buzzing around the room. Irritating, but with no impact on your overall mood and outlook.

Finding Gratitude Everywhere

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the changes I’ve made in my life.
  2. I am grateful for friends who now feel comfortable sharing their struggles and challenges, and not just their successes and triumphs.
  3. I am grateful for the ability to see my own beauty even when covered in sweat and dressed in unflattering clothes.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities which are beginning to open doors and allow people to come to me with projects, ideas, and above all, hope.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, joy, love, confidence, dancing, kitty love, early rising, productive days, new directions, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

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.

3 Years: Taking Stock

Looking Back: What I Planned vs. Where I Actually Am

In less than a week it will be 3 years since I quit my accounting job to be a writer. Though I’ve earned a bit of money, it hasn’t been nearly enough to stop my financial resources from bleeding out at a frightening rate. And most of the earnings have been made by doing what I left; accounting work.

So what went wrong?

For starters, I’ve let fear coupled with laziness and overlaid with procrastination halt my progress. Though I’ve started several projects,, both in writing and self-improvement, my follow-through is lacking. I have 3 unfinished novels, the self-help/memoir I began in 2009 awaiting completion and the children’s book I started 25 years ago, also begging for attention. I’ve published one short story on a blog hop. And that’s it. That’s all I have to show for 3 years of supposed writing efforts. The trouble is, too much of that 3 years has been spent doing anything but writing or pitching or preparing to publish.

Facing Some Difficult Choices

So where do I go from here? I realized this morning that I have but a few months left before I either have to start selling my stock, or get a real job again, which will be challenging simply because I’ve aged another 3 years and am, for the most part, an undesirable new employee in an environment full of new graduates and fresh ideas.

I’m forced to take a good, hard look at myself, my motivation, and the likelihood I’ll actually achieve those lofty goals I set when I was 10.

Can I achieve those goals? I’d have to say yes.

Do I have what it takes to actually go after them so I can achieve them? On this one, I’m uncertain.

Am I willing to give them up right now? This one gets a definite no. I am not ready to give up, but I’m going to have to commit to acting like a writer each and every day. I have to commit to writing that outline, to perfecting that pitch, to throwing my work under the bus wheels of my critique group, and really listen to what they have to say. Most of all, I have to accept the fact that there will be rejections, and thicken my skin some more.

Keeping it all in Perspective

Nothing I hear or see is personal. I know that on a conscious level, but will future rejections, or worse, being ignored, shake or even shatter my resolve?

Only if I allow it, I know that. But what makes me believe I’m strong enough to keep from being overcome? What makes me think I’m strong enough, when an entire nation was just overrun by greed, bigotry, corruption, and hate?

Do I even still believe I deserve to succeed?

I’ve been telling myself for awhile that there’s enough to go around; enough for everyone. And yet, publishers reject at least 99 out of 100 manuscripts. They probably don’t even read thousands more. I’m having huge doubts about being able to stand out from the crowd these days. I’m allowing myself to give up before I’ve even tried because I’m feeling average; ordinary; unremarkable.

Time to Sink or Swim, Fish or Cut Bait

3 years is a long time to tread water, and at the rate I’m going, it won’t be long before I start to sink. Yet, I know I’m the only one who can truly prevent that, either by becoming a stronger swimmer or by building a boat.

Boards are my words, the tools, my imagination and persistence. Both have been at a low ebb lately. In fact, for the entire month of November, I wrote very little. For the first time, I started NaNo and failed to follow through after the first couple of days, the first couple of thousand words.

Friends: My Lighthouse in the Storm

I’m questioning whether sticking with my critique group is in my best interests, when in reality, I’m doubting my value to the group far more. light-of-love-and-joy

In my moment of deep despair, a friend sent me a Facebook message which couldn’t have come at a better time. It only proves something I often forget. Love and inspiration will always be there for me when I need it most. I simply have to open my heart and my mind and accept the gifts.

I see that encouragement like this which always comes at the right time is what has kept me going for the last 3 years. If I give up, not only do I let myself down, but also so many who have offered love, support, and encouragement while I’ve struggled to find my path. Maybe, just maybe, I’ve changed directions once too often already, but I still have time to get myself back on track. I still have time and resources to keep from failing myself.

Starting Over: A Little Wiser and a Whole Lot Humbler

So today, I start outlining Forgotten Victims so I’ll have an outline ready when I narrow down my prospective publishers. Today, I start to organize the years of random thoughts and feelings, the advice I give others who’ve lost a family member to suicide.

Today is my new beginning.

Above All, Remembering to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who know just when to encourage and just when to kick my butt.
  2. I am grateful for my writing which never fails to help me sort things out.
  3. I am grateful for the last 3 years. I’ve found myself, lost myself and found myself again, but have learned that I still have a lot to discover.
  4. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my struggles and help others with theirs.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, self-sufficiency, opportunity, hope, dreams, faith, peace, harmony, philanthropy, success, 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 credit: Dawn Huczek via Flickr

September 23, 2015 Expanding Our Horizons Intelligently

How do You Answer the Age-old Question: What do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Figuring out our future begins when we’re very young. As a child we may have visions of being a surgeon or a fireman or an astronaut because those careers seem larger than life and our experiences are small. As we grow older, our aspirations begin to refine, though often, they are driven by our parents’ advice to pick something which will make us a good living.

As a result, many talented writers, artists and musicians become accountants, bankers and salesmen because the definition of a good living they were taught is to earn lots of money. Pardon my language, but that’s a crock of shit, and one I, myself bought into for over 30 years.

Yes, it allowed me to leave a bad marriage and still support my daughters. Yes, it has kept me off the streets and in the home I’ve owned for nearly 35 years, but if I’d started following my passion sooner, might I have made different choices which would have landed me somewhere completely different and even better? I’ll never know, nor do I really give it much thought because I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now. But at least I finally learned that preaching the same tired sermon to my daughters wasn’t doing them any favors.

Today, I work for myself making, for the moment, less money. But I also have less stress, more freedom, a happier life and am surrounded by my cats, my books and friends who understand me.

Passions Pro’s and Cons

There are down sides to living my passion. In the first place, I have to learn how to market my skills better, but thankfully, I’ve connected with some people who set an incredible example. Second, I have to hold myself in check, insuring that I actually finish projects instead of haring off to take this class or that one or begin yet another project that will join the queue of those awaiting completion. In the last year and a half alone I’ve signed up for:

  • AWAI’s Six-Figure Copywriting Course
  • Gina Horkey’s Freelance Writing Course
  • Holly Lisle’s novel writing course

I’ve also purchased dozens of paper books and countless e-books and papers on writing, many of which I’ve actually read! I’ve also participated in blog challenges and 3 NaNoWriMo’s so far. But I’ve had to curb my tendency to buy courses (even though Carrie Smith Nicholson seriously tempted me with a package for only $99 the other day) until I finish the projects I’ve already started. In fact, I am set to deny myself this year’s NaNoWriMo if I don’t finish the revision of my first novel before November 1. I’m my own harshest mistress.

My latest mind wander has taken me into my interest in herbal remedies and the temptation to search for a course in herbalism. Before I could even type the word into a search engine, my conscience kicked in and said What? Another side trip into something you may or may not finish? Sorry, kid, but there’s a novel on your desktop which deserves better. Add this to your bucket list and get back to work.

Thankfully, that little voice has gotten stronger over the last few months, fueled in part by my dwindling finances, but also by the desire to see more than my blog in print. When I worked for a corporation, I was good at prioritizing and completing multiple projects on time. Now, I have to set my own deadlines and believe deep in my gut that they’re not arbitrary.

Going back to the three courses, I ended up cancelling the first one, completing the second and playing hit-or-miss with the third (though I’ve already gained some insight from it which is helping with my latest novel revision). Fortunately, I stopped the downward spiral by taking myself in hand (with the help of a pep talk from a a friend) and setting both boundaries and goals. I’m also determined, whether I meet a goal or not, to refrain from beating myself up. Not only is it counterproductive and motivation killing, but it also wastes time which would be better spent doing everything I can to meet those goals.

Many Happy Miles to go Before I Sleep

It’s after 4:00PM and I could say I have nothing to show for the day. I haven’t worked on my novel. I haven’t done any client work. OK, fine. But instead, I got out of the house and attended a meeting for a local networking group, met some delightful small business owners, talked to two potential clients (and agreed to meet next week), tried out a new restaurant in town, chatted with a friend who is inspirational on so many levels and started a blog post much earlier in the day than normal, before any ideas I might have had fled my brain, leaving me with nothing to write about. Do I have anything tangible to show for it? Not yet. I do have inspiration, motivation and a blog topic. For me, that all adds up to a successful day. Besides, it’s not even 5:00 yet so I have hours of productive time left before I sleep.

The Student Becomes the Teacher, Or Has She Always Been?

My daughter was one of those who encouraged me to get out of the rat race and live my passion. She did so both with words and actions, and I couldn’t be more proud. She is studying Culinary Arts and plans to open a catering business. She’s taking business courses so she will understand both the creative and the mundane aspects of her work. And she’s another who can show me how to better market myself and my work. Better still, she didn’t buy into that dysfunctional mindset that says to be successful you must pursue the dollar and hope the fun and passion finds you. In truth, you have to pursue your passion and the rest will ultimately take care of itself. She is smarter than I as she trusts in the Universe to guide her, though she may not put it in those words. She follows her passion, treats people right and the doors she needs will open when the time is right. The student has, indeed, become my teacher.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the teachers who have come into my life now that I’m finally able to see past making money.
2. I am grateful for those who have been there for me with moral support, kicks in the butt and even a shoulder to cry on when I need it.
3. I am grateful for the freedom to live my life as I see fit, write until my brain freezes or my fingers cramp, be there for my friends and family at any time of the day or night without worrying about letting anyone down, including me.
4. I am grateful that I’ve learned to make a life instead of just making a living.
5. I am grateful for abundance: life, love, freedom, self, lessons, challenges, writing, reading, peace, harmony, kindness, compassion, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://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!

December 25, 2014 Another Christmas has passed, leaving love and joy in its wake. #shericonaway

Basking in the glow of another beautiful day.

As Christmas 2015 joins the legion of Christmas pasts, I find myself oddly introspective. The day was joyful and full of silliness, sweetness and the love of my extended family as we shared our version of the day. With our annual Jewish Christmas Eve dinner, the Christmas morning breakfast and shenanigans and our Christmas Day movie now just memories, I sit in the comfortably quiet house,the only sounds, the humming of the computer and my fingers tap dancing on the keyboard. And it is good.

My daughter and grand puppy arrived home safely and my adopted son made his girlfriend cry when he gave her a beautiful jewelry box he’d made himself, with her particular preferences in mind. And it is good.

I’m all warm and cozy in the Looney Tunes pajama pants my daughter gave me. The cats are snoozing on desk and bed, no longer needing to listen for the pitter patter of the feet of a 40 pound bundle of love puppy. And it is good.

My tree is somewhat the worse for wear after two kittens saw their first Christmas tree. Pyewacket contented himself with pulling the string of beads further and further from the tree while Scrappy Doo bent the lower branches because he insisted on perching on them. But it is all good.

Wrapping paper and boxes have been broken down and crammed into the barrel designated for recyclables. Leftovers have been divided up and put away. The kitchen is clean and the gift boxes collapsed and returned to their bin. All that remains is to undecorate the tree and stow tree and decorations carefully away until next year. Life is good.

Warm and comfy in the tender embrace of my introspection, I am exactly where I need to be at this moment in time. What tomorrow brings is for tomorrow. I know it will be good, even if it should appear challenging at first. Gifts come in many sizes, shapes and colors, and are wrapped to reflect the hand of the giver. None of these things make them any more or less valuable. They are simply different gifts which serve us in different, but equally important ways.

My introspection takes me along a path of appreciation where I see each gift for what it will ultimately mean to my journey and not necessarily for any frustrations they might temporarily cause when I think they’re leading me astray.

Whatever challenges come, whatever shape the gifts might take, the one thing I can be sure of is that I am blessed. And because I am blessed, I am grateful.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the gifts I have received and those yet to come. All are there to move me along my path and teach me what I need to know to follow my journey.
2. I am grateful for traditions both new and old. Each year, we add something, and each year, we revisit many things.
3. I am grateful that we find new things to laugh about and new jokes to share each year. It is the humor which truly nourishes my soul.
4. I am grateful for the quiet after the chaos, the introspection after the expectations, for therein lies my balance.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, harmony, family, sharing, giving, receiving and joining. Also for health, peace and prosperity.

Namaste

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