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

Posts tagged ‘challenges’

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, 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 and . 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!

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.


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