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

Posts tagged ‘changes’

Indulging in Self-Care With Personal De-Cluttering

Time to End the Abuse With a Little Self-Care

https://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/5553015049/in/photolist-9sGDUM-5EBqW9-7A6Tdw-4gDtmh-aH1FQZ-9FbnL6-GymTWs-26fkr9f-5t3PNx-cec9oY-WMQdCP-bA2uTS-28EnC2y-VHjUDL-28EnB8u-MAb7Yo-2dLwChQ-PchPS-NCzeCi-RQra6J-ciZcrj-2akrLTS-buxsYi-pic2z7-ZVksGY-UFYUDP-MqWXKx-WsCN9A-EaFk7u-bE2XQ9-REsNPQ-JCtDs6-941tK5-p1HRmt-2dZ8F3V-brd3vY-bEEkqK-L1AxbK-YyFiMk-SobxGk-2bdufAm-2dZ8CoM-egeuTm-29STX8v-YHukp7-RR7Dmo-Kn2kZh-Tr68cF-28j8uyd-23xUoYqThere comes a point, many times in a life when you have to make a difficult choice. Do you keep slogging through, unhappy, and maybe taken for granted, allowing a relationship to go on, or do you cut your losses, and allow yourself the opportunity to find happiness elsewhere? Do you let another person; another job; another living situation tear at you until you can almost see parts of yourself disappearing bit by precious bit? Or do you accept that nothing you can do or say is going to make this one work, no matter how much you give up; how much you try?

What if it’s a family member? A spouse; a sibling; a child. What then? Do you keep giving them chances to rip your heart out, stomp on it a few times, then hand it back to you like a piece of spoiled fish, knowing you’ll come back with a fresher piece once you’ve had time to lick your wounds, and worse; forgive them yet again? When is enough enough?

I’ve pondered this question several times lately, and came to the conclusion I needed to cut a few ties and build walls high enough to make it clear the door was well and truly closed, barred, and bricked over. None of the decisions were easy. I could have talked myself out of each one a dozen times. But the truth is, I love myself too much. I’ve worked too hard to get as far as I have, even knowing I still have a long way to go to be fully healed from all the trauma in my own life and that of my ancestors. These people I’ve left were really only a small part, but they were a part I could and did finally jettison. It was time. And yes, one was related by blood.

Different Breaks; Different Reasons

I don’t really look to carefully at which ones were harder to cut than others. To be honest, any relationship I invest time into; that I give my heart to is going to be hard to end. One is perhaps more difficult if only because there are places we have in common neither of us will give up, nor should we. So she has yet to accept my withdrawal, or even recognize how high the walls have gone up. In time she’ll grow tired of slamming up against a brick wall and take her attentions elsewhere. There are plenty who accept them willingly, so I doubt she’ll miss me once she accepts the break is beyond her control.

One asked for an explanation, and I gave it to her. She may not see things as I do, nor understand why I needed to make the break, but accepts my right to my feelings. I appreciate her acceptance if not her understanding. How well do I really understand the people around me? No matter how sensitive or perceptive I am, I’ll never be able to get inside a person to fully grasp what they’ve been through, nor why they respond the way they do. I certainly can’t expect others to be able to do that with me.

The last was a family member, and frankly, that was the easiest one to end. It was a long time coming, and involved a couple of blocks and nothing more. I’ve spent years holding out hope we’d eventually manage a semi-normal relationship. Every year or two, she might drop me a crumb; a picture of her daughter, an announcement of her latest pregnancy. But now she’s the mother of 3 and has made it abundantly clear there are others she’d rather have in her life than me. So be it. For a moment I became her Fairy Godmother and granted her dearest wish. She’s now free to select the mother of her choice, and I’m free to stop hoping for a miracle.

Changing Tides

I’d like to say I’ve walked away without a qualm, but being an Empath is often a double-edged sword. So many times as a child and teenager, I was told I was too sensitive. Though I don’t see it as a fault any more, I do hurt more than my share when I have to walk away from someone I’ve grown close to. Even if the ones I leave don’t have a wound; a scar to show for the brief time I was in their life, I have one from them. I can’t go in halfway. I’m either in the deep end up to my neck, or I’m sitting on the edge dipping my toes in and nothing more; uncommitted, and unaffected by the changing tides. Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The tides of my own life are changing yet again. I’m looking forward to what comes in as I continue to make space. Another de-cluttering adventure will yield many surprises, as they always do. New opportunities, new people, new experiences; all guaranteed to teach me something I need to learn.

Outer Changes Heal Internal Dysfunction

It’s already begun in other ways too. Having reached the end of my options with Western medical practitioners, I’ve turned to other options, and learned a lot about the damage I’ve been doing to my body. Suddenly, I’m eating healthier and smaller quantities. The weight that insisted on clinging to my body despite my best efforts is finally allowing me to release it little by little. Maybe I had to let go of one thing to convince another it was time to move on?

Everything in my life is interconnected. I know this on a conscious level, but often lose sight of it when I’m hyper-focused on one area. I forget my struggle might become a success if I figure out where the real logjam is and clear it first. All in all, it boils down to self-care, whether that means healthy eating, more sleep, meditating, exercise, or something less tangible like my emotional and mental well-being. Health concerns remind me to keep those things at the forefront all the time instead of just when I’m feeling sick, or sad, or depressed. A little preventative de-cluttering pays enormous long-term dividends.

Gratitude: My Favorite Self-Indulgence

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who can read between the lines, and check in on me when I’m a little off.
  2. I’m grateful for options; to stay in or go out, to hold on or let go.
  3. I’m grateful for music. Sometimes it inspires, sometimes it soothes, and sometimes it helps me release what’s stuck.
  4. I’m grateful for all of my cracks. They let the starshine and love in. It took me a long time to realize that, but I’m glad I finally did.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, release, de-cluttering, opportunities, lessons, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is 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

DUFF No More

Refusing to Remain a DUFF

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8225835927/in/photolist-dwTyrn-a3ks33-9mvXys-6ja1gb-9yrH2G-nDdzvx-XUYUcB-5mVAik-aGc4QM-rcaJkB-te2rAP-a7Uq98-3dzbhp-GAf1t-n7eEii-SdF6ND-NpW4QT-Nn4EE7-Q1PXro-6GmuAj-Nb8fd-aGc4LK-5rvjUB-9G5iLz-dViNns-47qcTR-8gCJx7-53s2we-8Amcx2-651TAL-e3ogb6-3Sf9H3-23Jx66D-4beknX-477UHP-Nb8cA-61cxQD-7htzF3-e3tWNL-58nCxm-e3ogk4-27FNZKJ-9NHU1S-i23hC-8Rg5Yu-5tzpF9-CvzijW-Ck2RtR-28aTBt3-MweagTI looked around at my current circle of friends at a recent dance gathering and realized a few things. First, I’ve migrated to a younger circle of women lately. I can’t always keep up with them, but there’s no shame in going at my own pace. Second, they’re all slender and look cute in their little dresses and skirts—and I’m not.

My first reaction was frustration with myself for allowing the weight to creep back on over the last few months. Not all of it, but enough that some clothes were tight again, and others looked pretty awful on me. Meanwhile, I see myself in cute little dresses but the cute little dresses don’t see themselves on me.

Protecting My Heart a Little Too Well

Too often in my life, I’ve been the fact chick amongst the skinny ones; the DUFF if you will. But https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqin the past, though I may not have realized it, I used my weight as a defense mechanism. Guys wouldn’t approach the fat chick when the skinny ones were around. Nobody would get close to my heart if they were too disgusted to even try to get to know me, right?

As logic goes, it was effective but faulty. I’ve since learned I don’t need excess weight to guard my heart, if that’s what I want to do. My demeanor alone can manage that task effectively. So I set myself an aggressive but reasonable goal, put it on the spreadsheet I use to track my weight, and vowed to accept all suggestions for additional dance nights. My knees may scream for awhile, but they’ll thank me in the long run as I reduce the amount of pressure they endure while carrying more pounds than they’re designed for.

Our Inside Controls Our Outside

One of those cute, slim friends pointed out I’m more of a DFF than a DUFF as I’m not and never have been ugly. Sure, there were times I was less attractive, but it was my bearing, my anger, and the misery I held close like a security blanket which contributed to my unattractiveness. The attributes I was born with had nothing to do with it.

We all control our outward appearance from the inside more than we realize. I’ve seen people the world might consider unattractive looking absolutely breathtaking because of a glow which came from within. I’ve also seen strikingly beautiful women who made me turn my head away in distaste because they exuded such ugliness and filth from within, it completely negated whatever pretty packaging they were either born with or had enhanced.

Loving Who and Where We Are

I’ve learned when we’re truly enjoying what we’re doing, or our life in general, people see that far more than what our meat suit looks like. They’re drawn to the energy (or repelled as the case may be). The face, the hair, the eyes, how we look in clothes are secondary.

Still, we tend to focus and even fixate on those characteristics in ourselves. I’m as guilty as the next person in that regard. But our outside image is fixable to some degree. I’m not a proponent of drastic measures like plastic surgery, liposuction, fat freezing, or stomach stapling, but I’ve proven I can effect the desired changes in myself. I realize it’s not the case for everyone, and some may need help getting started.

I’ve also learned we’re not going to make positive changes until we love and accept ourselves as we are. That doesn’t mean we believe we’re perfect as we are or that we couldn’t stand a little improvement. But we believe we are lovable and beautiful in our own way as we are, and worth the effort to make improvements we believe we need to make. Without that self-love, no diet, surgery, or health plan will ever be successful. It may appear so to others from the outside looking in, but to the child inside ourselves, we’ll still find ourselves lacking and in need of improvement in order to be loved.

Starting from the Inside

What I’m saying is, we need to do the internal work first or we’re doomed to fail when trying to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamullen/15936340893/in/photolist-qheUWa-6tvCyC-mfcahW-kF42vg-7aHRKn-dozSYs-upc1JR-5nU36i-6ZX1X8-9soFsZ-b6p5F2-dKgSFh-9soP3r-9GGyf-edzaxy-dKgQLq-4oLacT-9z49UC-aBS6db-kF5mTy-dbhFbp-83VBDF-JGdSxG-dKgR3q-dKbnZX-kF3i5M-kF2WWF-25sqyfg-kF3het-dKgU63-7121pw-dKbnLT-6ZXghB-7aMFFo-6ZXfye-a6G8a6-26PQPAR-ceZ3mw-7aF5cr-7aHRUn-kF3FwP-dKboVp-dKbj4F-3jqo8-dKbmgk-kF5cCu-dKgPvE-edzags-dKbjKc-dKbjtVimprove our outsides. How many people spend their lives yo-yo dieting, trying the latest craze only to be discouraged? Either they lose a lot of weight only to gain it back, or find it impossible to stick with a program long enough to see significant results.

I’ve been working out consistently for a year now. I’ve seen small changes, but nothing huge. At this point, I’m still seeing only small changes, like finally seeing a hint of my collar bone. But I see myself every day. If I looked at a photo from a year ago and compared it to today, I’d see a different story. Recently, I was complaining about the weight I’d put back on. My daughter looked at me in surprise. In her eyes, I’d lost weight because my face was thinner. It didn’t matter that I felt the tightness in my pants and blouses. She only saw the slimming in my face!

Others See Progress Where We May Not

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVMaybe what my daughter sees is more than a slightly less round visage. Maybe she’s seeing the improved self-love I get from committing to a weekly routine of self-improvement. It’s a funny thing about committing to yourself. First, you love yourself enough to make the commitment. Then you love yourself enough to turn the commitment into a habit. After awhile, you see the success you’ve had with one commitment and start making others. Pretty soon, whether you realize it or not, you have a brilliant internal glow because you care enough to treat yourself like someone you love fully and completely.

It only took me the better part of a lifetime to learn what some people find so obvious. I created a lot of terrible habits I had to break before I could set better ones. I’m sure I still have a barrel-full to break and re-set, but knowing I’m on the right track; knowing I can make commitments to myself and stick with them until they become habits is a gigantic milestone in the dark, twisty path that’s been my life up to this point.

Flipping the Switch

Are you self-sabotaging? Do you focus on hating things about yourself instead of loving the person you are deep inside? If so, try committing to loving yourself. Look yourself in the mirror every morning and tell the face in the mirror how much you love them. Then make a commitment to make a small change. Schedule it, reinforce it, and stick with it for a month or better until it becomes a habit. Even small changes raise our self-esteem. I learned the hard way; but our lessons stick better for a little pain in the learning process, don’t they?

Gratitude: The Most Powerful Tool in Our Toolbox

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I learned to commit to myself first and foremost.
  2. I am grateful for friends who inspire and uplift me.
  3. I am grateful for perspective which shows me improvements I hadn’t even noticed.
  4. I am grateful for inspiration guiding me to write further and further ahead.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, friendship, commitment, exercise, self-love, joy, dancing, music, writing, kitty love, clients, 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

Mired in Negative Energy, Looking For Solutions

Recognizing Energy Drains

As more time passes and the dancers are scattering further across the available venues within 100 miles of #Borderline I’m seeing a palpable difference in our habitual positive energy. Many of us are quick to find reasons why an alternative location won’t work instead of looking for ways to be happy and engaged no matter what.

I’ve fallen victim to the malaise myself, discounting an old club where I used to dance for any and all reasons, good or terrible. Sure, I’ve found places I like to be even if they’re not optimal. But no one place makes our entire group happy any more. What some of us find enjoyable, others find reasons to dislike, often sight unseen. Again, I’m as guilty as the next person.

One thing is certain. It’s making me sad to see my family fragmented in this way; unhappy with no good solution in our foreseeable future. It’s not that people aren’t trying to find solutions which work for everyone. But really, how is that possible short of turning back time and making it so the shooting never happened? We’re all carrying around feelings we don’t express, often because we’re still confused and trying to come to terms with our own loss; our own grief.

Replacing the Irreplaceable

I know a huge part is the uniqueness of Borderline. Windows all around so we could see when the sun set, the moon rose, the weather outside, even traffic on the freeway. Missing too is our twice-weekly dose of youthful energy. As much as so many of the younger crowd ignored dance floor etiquette in their youthful exuberance, they could be forgiven because of the joy and carefree-ness the injected into our home; the place we all came to dance.

By contrast, our temporary home, while welcome, is dark and cave-like. The black-painted walls and ceilings disappearing into the darkness, the tables so spread out and separated by space that the closeness, the intimacy we took for granted is elusive at best. I no longer wander the room connecting with my friends. Everyone has formed groups which are no longer as open and welcoming. It feels instead like we’re all holding on for dear life and frankly, slipping deeper into the abyss for all our efforts. It scares me to see us falling into such disarray so quickly.

Finding an Island in Our Sea of Darkness

Created with CanvaThe one place I believe the feelings are still holding is the paltry, one-night-a-month gathering we’re allowed at the winery which so graciously hosted us in November and December. Though they’ve expressed a willingness to host us more often, out of respect for Borderline’s owner, we’re only taking advantage of the offer once a month.

But Thursday nights at the venue he’s secured don’t work for a lot of the older crowd because it’s at least an hour away for those of us either close to, or West of our dance home. I’m not alone in my unwillingness to spend an hour or more in rush hour traffic to dance on a sticky floor when I could have been dancing on the winery’s more knee-friendly one. I feel bad not supporting the staff during the shut-down, but as a better alternative is available closer to home, I’m doing what most of us do and looking out for myself (and my poor, abused knees) first.

Weakening Old Familiar Bonds

In the process of figuring out and meeting my own needs, the part which saddens me most is it https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4seems I’m leaving some of my old friends behind. As we split apart based on our dancing preferences (predominantly couples dancing with some line dancing mixed in vs. predominantly line dancing with some couples dancing) we spend less time together. Our regular dance nights of Thursday and Saturday are difficult to maintain, especially Saturdays. Thursdays, though they’re mid-week seem to be easier to fill for some reason, so we’re challenged to find places for Saturdays which suit more of us, or doing something else entirely.

Lest you think I’m giving up, willingly allowing it all to slip away, let me assure you, nothing is further from the truth. I’ve seen some excessively late nights when I joined a group traveling to a club over an hour away which has an amazing dance floor. The patrons and staff has opened their arms to us homeless ones. I’ve stayed out far later than I’m used to as part of a carpool which likes to stay well past midnight as opposed to my usual 10 or 10:30.

Creating Our Own Alternatives

I visit the club created for us as a temporary home and on a night which had typically been “College Night”, dancing selectively to spare my knees and doing my best to stay connected with those I see less often now. Granted, I don’t go every week, but at least once or twice a month; sometimes more.

And I either hold or participate in gatherings at peoples’ houses where we talk, laugh, eat, and maybe play board games. I’m also there when one of the dance instructors graciously opens their home to the dancers. In fact, those are often my favorites, second to the dances at the winery. It’s a time when we can all connect and try to make up for the times in between when we’re so far apart, and not just physically.

We’re all adjusting, while we continue to hope police reports, insurance claims, and lawsuits are resolved sooner than later so our home, or a reasonable facsimile can once again host us on Thursdays and Saturdays. So our lives can, with dancing at least, return to some kind of normal. The dancing we do now is healing. But I believe the healing process will be greatly enhanced when we can at least get back to our regular nights, in a regular place with the staff we’re used to seeing every week. At least those who remain.

Always Finding Reasons to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the strength and resilience of the dance community.
  2. I am grateful for the efforts of all concerned to get things back to normal.
  3. I am grateful for my friends, the circle that was, and the circle that is now.
  4. I am grateful for routines I’ve set for myself; gym, writing, working, meditation. They all serve to keep me grounded when my world is tilted off-kilter.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, dancing, inspiration, hope, confidence, dreams, visions, opportunities, 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

Healing Through Laughter

Finding New Ways to Heal

Created with CanvaAfter spending an evening with friends playing a rather raucous game of Mexican Train, it occurred to me, especially in light of recent events in our neck of the woods, that we all need more laughter. I didn’t even mind being a last-minute addition to the party. The company was warm and loving, and the banter kept us all laughing and playing along. I left feeling warm, loved, and most of all, uplifted.

Of late, I’ve been feeling especially worn out, fatigued, drained, and even short of breath. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with handling the emotional trauma both within and around me. Some gatherings seem to be more of a chore to stay positive and upbeat, and I can see how others around me are forcing more than allowing. I feel it as a drain on my own energy, and haven’t been good about protecting my own space. I want to help those around me, but realize I’ve let my own resources run down.

The answer is more time spent just being, and finding humor in the little things. Laughter, after all is the greatest healer.

Continued Support From Our Community

For my extended family, dancing has been our happy place, with some of us, for decades. We are still dancing and hugging and sharing, but deep down inside, we all feel it; it’s not the same. Our home is unavailable and we’re, as one woman put it, always the visiting team. Some wonderful people have opened doors and arms to us, and we’re extremely grateful to them for their generosity. But as the weeks stretch to months, the feeling is unanimous. We want to go home.

It still remains to be seen, if, when, and even where that might happen. In the meantime, a couple of clubs have been opened up to accommodate two of our regular nights. The Sunland Winery, which welcomed us in December is on our schedule once a month (though many of us wish it were more). Road trips to more distant venues are planned and well-attended. Larger and larger groups are making time to go to a smaller local club to line dance and even get in a little two-stepping and West Coast Swing.

Small, Intimate Gatherings Speed the Healing

But I think the ones which help the most are the smaller, more intimate gatherings which seem to be gaining in popularity. They’re times when we seem to allow ourselves to feel whatever we’re feeling, express our hopes, doubts, and concerns, and care about each other unreservedly.

They’re nights filled with laughter and good humor. With listening to each others’ struggles and offering support. Even a few light-hearted matchmaking attempts are starting to surface. It all expresses the love and caring of a family that’s been torn asunder by tragedy, but refuses to be kept down.

As I type this, I’m thinking about scheduling a night of my own, and of course, my mind flips over to the menu. (I do love to cook for friends). At a recent event, the fare was simple but delicious; a chicken and noodle casserole, garlic bread, salad, and garlic sauteed green beans. I particularly liked the idea of something in a pan, and my mind turned to lasagna.

The recipe I use typically takes a couple of days as the sauce has to be made first, but it’s been a long time since I made it, and wouldn’t typically make a pan just for me. It’s a great excuse to do something I love for the people I love, and to host an evening of laughter and companionship. Thought becomes things, and by the time this publishes, the event will have been scheduled, come, and gone. The details and the laughs will likely prove fodder for another post.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Make the Effort

I’m trying hard to get out more, even if it’s to places I’m not especially fond of. It’s really not about the venue right now, but about the people and of course, the dancing. I’m finding I don’t even mind standing on the sidelines, listening to the music, chatting with the people nearby, and only dancing a couple of dances. I just need to be out being, doing, living.

Still, there are days when I need to stay inside with my cats, away from people and the energy they emit. I’m still tiring easily, and I know part of it is my screwed up dance schedule. But some of it could simply be what we all struggle with: letting go of what no longer serves us.

Sometimes, You Have to Let Go

We had a beautiful lunar eclipse with January’s full moon. It left me thinking about what I need to release (after a night of crazy, disturbing dreams). I guess I should be grateful the night was overcast so the moon didn’t keep me awake half the night. Typically, with the full moon, I have to turn and sleep with my head at the foot of the bed because the brightness shines through my window and makes my eyes pop back open every few minutes.

With regard to current circumstances, here are a few things I can release which are getting in the way of my happiness:

  • Dependence on a specific place to dance to be happy just dancing
  • Unwillingness to go out on nights which weren’t my regular dance nights
  • Excessive concern over inviting people into my less-than-perfect home
  • Resistance to cleaning
  • Laziness in general

It may not seem like a lot to many, but they are things I know stand in my way. There are plenty of other things I need to release regarding my writing and my business, but that’s not the reason for this post, so I’ll leave it for another (and heaven knows, I need ideas for February now that January is “in the can”, to borrow a line from old movie speak).

Making the Most of Our Opportunities

Releasing anything which keeps us from finding joy in laughter, companionship, intimate and not-so-intimate gatherings, and even embracing change are essential when we’re dealing with circumstances beyond our control. We need to accept that we can’t return to what we know, at least for the moment, and do our best to create new spaces, new activities in which to find the joy, laughter, and exercise we currently lack.

I’m grateful for two of the dance instructors who’ve opened their homes to us in the last couple of months. Without them, we’d have had many more dance-less weeks in those immediately following the shooting at Borderline. They’ve kept us together in mind, body, and spirit at a time when we all needed it most.

We’ve celebrated many occasions inside the walls of Borderline; birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births; and those memories won’t fade away. But when we put it all together, we’ve created a family who is strong and resilient, and will find ways to stay together, not only for the short time we’re scattered to the winds, but for the long haul as well. We have so much more laughter, joy, hugs, and dancing to give and do. And maybe we needed to get shaken out of those four walls to discover how much we truly have? (though it sure could have happened in a less horrific way!)

Facing Each Day With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the family which is finding new and unique ways to stay together.
  2. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve formed which fill me rather than draining me.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned that being myself is far more attractive than trying to be someone I think people would like.
  4. I am grateful for all the people who are keeping the love, laughter, and dancing going during a truly difficult time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, laughter, dancing, loving, health, harmony, peace, inspiration, motivation, energy, synergy, 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

Faulty Self-Perception

Insides Show Outside

In recent years, I’ve been accused of being “buttoned up” or “uptight”; even “conservative”. All adjectives I’d never have attributed to my tendency to live by my own rules. Sure, I typically wore my hair pulled back from my face and favored loose, baggy clothes to hide (or at least try to) my corpulent self. But that wasn’t being conservative. It was being comfortable, right?

Hair dangling in my face while I work is annoying, and dangling in wet, drippy strands in my face while I dance is disgusting. It never occurred to me that there might be an alternative. Besides, when I was younger, I’d told myself I was using my hair to hide in uncomfortable situations like crowds and places full of strangers.

Small Changes Yield Unexpected Results

In the last couple of weeks, I decided to launch an experiment. I started wearing my hair down, either a just-washed mass of curls or flat-ironed to eliminate the resulting frizz caused by pulling a brush through said curls. For some reason, I also started wearing lipstick regularly, usually a dark burgundy or brown, depending on my clothing.

What I expected was either nothing or maybe a passing comment or two about looking different. What I got was something else entirely; something unexpected and a little overwhelming. If you’d asked me before I began my experiment what I thought the results would be, what I’m seeing now wouldn’t have even made the top 100.

People I barely know are stopping to pay me compliments! People I know are using adjectives I’d never attribute to myself in a million years. The weight I’ve lost so far which, for the most part has gone unnoticed is suddenly visible and being remarked upon regularly. The change I’d made last summer to my hair color is suddenly new. What the heck? Just because I took the clips out of my hair and let it hang loose around my face or curl wildly, untethered and free?

What Does It All Mean?

My analytical side could no longer be contained. It had to step in and try to figure out what caused such an overwhelming flood of positive feedback. And I came to the conclusion that those earlier remarks had merit. Pulling my hair back was simply an outward expression of my need to be in control at all times. It told people I wasn’t allowing myself to just be in the moment, allowing myself to, as we used to say, “go with the flow”.

It seems I’m also more approachable. People strike up conversations with me out of nowhere. They introduce themselves to me and invite me to join in their wild, abandoned fun. I think I’ve shared more hugs in the last couple of weeks than I did in the previous year.

Who knew that letting down my hair literally would unleash so much more beneath the surface?

One Successful Experiment Leads to Another…and Another…and Another

The results of my experiment have raised a lot more questions. What else am I communicating by my actions and appearance? How else am I inhibiting myself and my progress, not only on a personal level but on a creative, professional one?

At one time or another, we all struggle with things like self-sabotage, negative self-talk and so many things which keep us from living life to the fullest. We might not be able to figure out what we’re doing wrong, and yet, I’m finding we need only look to our own outward behavior to find clues. How we present ourselves to the world is simply an expression of how we feel about ourselves inside.

I’ve learned there are many ways of hiding in a crowd. Certainly, letting a curtain of hair shield us from others is one way, but avoiding participating in conversations, sticking an electronic device in our face (all too common these days), or shielding so thoroughly that we are essentially invisible are all effective. Despite my propensity for relative minimalism (body type considered) in my dance attire, I’m finding it’s still possible to be relatively unnoticed in the crowd. Wrap that personal bubble of energy around yourself, and the illusion of anonymity is complete.

Clearing our Reality of Misconceptions

Funny, this all started with conversations about how I only got asked to dance by the men who already know me. Other women I spoke with who experience the same thing agreed that we just didn’t fit the “type” men who relied entirely on visuals were looking for, even as a dance partner.

Yet since I’ve let my hair down, the invitations have increased. Not an onslaught, certainly, but one here, and one there. So I’ve concluded that it isn’t as much about whether you’re tall or short, fat or thin, blonde, brunette, or redhead, or any other exterior factor. It has more to do with whether you’re approachable. Which leads me to conclude that men aren’t as simple as women want to believe (not all of them anyway). It isn’t just about what you look like. It’s also about how you make them feel about walking up and asking you to dance or just saying hello.

Learning a Lesson Gives Us Tools for the Next One

What I haven’t gotten down yet is being able to strike up a conversation after that initial dance, and unfortunately, that’s what leads to more invitations.

My natural tendency would be to retreat again and beat myself up for not being able to accomplish the whole package in one fell swoop, but I’ve learned in the last few years that most things are accomplished with baby steps. So the hair will stay down, the lipstick will stick and I’ll watch some of my friends and acquaintances who are good at striking up conversations. I’m good at watching people. It’s time to put that skill to use as a learning tool instead of just a place to find characters for my stories.

With Each Lesson Comes Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for experiments which yield unexpected but highly motivating results.
  2. I am grateful I’m learning how to accept compliments instead of just giving them.
  3. I am grateful for the upcoming Thanksgiving feast, even if the guest list is a bit larger than we’d planned. Feeding people is always such a joyous thing, and overflowing my house will put lots of love in my walls for awhile.
  4. I am grateful for reconnecting with my family and the members who’ve been added in the 20 years I’ve been away.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friends, family, health, harmony, peace, connections, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, joy, 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 Mitya Ku via Flickr

Evolving Vision, Evolving Life

beach front property with gazeboSeveral months ago, I found a piece of property which almost perfectly matched my vision for my future. It happened to be on the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara, so it was still within reach of the places I know and frequent. At the time, that was important to me. But things change.

Out with the old, in with the new

It’s been a couple of weeks since I went dancing at what was my usual hangout. In part, it’s because I was at my daughters for a few days, but I’ve been back for over a week and have no real desire to visit a place which, for many reasons, is no longer the home I used to feel so comfortable and welcome visiting.

Friends turned out to be acquaintances. Management no longer feels any sense of loyalty to regulars who’ve been there through good times and bad; some for decades. So I’m adrift. I put together a list of dances with the songs I like to dance them to with the idea of pulling up the songs on YouTube and keeping my hand in. But I have yet to put on my dancing shoes and tear up my living room, to the amusement of the cats. Instead, I’m looking for other amusements to occupy my time.

Learning who I’m meant to be

Sure, a couple of people have noticed and might even miss my smiling face, but I’ve come to the realization that, like so many others, I’m expendable. As I struggle to find my purpose and make a go of my passion, it’s a little disconcerting to find I’ve made such little impact. But then, maybe that’s not where I’m meant to make an impact in the first place.

On a conscious level, I know purpose doesn’t come from others. It comes from within. So I turn my attention inward, seeking a germ, a morsel of something which makes me feel that I matter. I ponder my options. Some look viable but don’t really feed my soul. Others feed my soul but I have yet to figure out how to make them viable.

Still, I haven’t come this far or weathered so many storms to stop searching for the rainbow. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt almost entirely alone and directionless. I’ve just found myself in a clearing which has no clear roads leading outwards.

One thing is clear, though. I no longer need to confine my dreams and aspirations to this one, tiny corner of the world. There’s nothing to hold me here aside from my home, and soon, I’ll be in a position to make my home, my living, my way wherever I choose; without borders, without boundaries.

The time has come to shed old people, ways and paradigms

It makes me think this is not a down turn at all, but a new kind of freedom, without the need to stay in a pattern which no longer serves me. When access to people and places is no longer important, my world opens up to possibilities I hadn’t even considered.

Yes, I want to live near the beach, but there are coastlines everywhere. The perfect place for me was hidden behind all of the things I thought I couldn’t leave behind. As they fade from importance, my horizons simply broaden and with that broadening come new opportunities, the magnitude of which I’d never even considered.

Once again, the Universe is forcing me to break free of old patterns and ideas. It’s forcing me to look at other possibilities which couldn’t occur as long as I was hanging onto things which had outlived their usefulness. I face the coming days with a new sense of excitement because I can now consider possibilities beyond the limits of my current geography.

It’s freeing, but a little frightening as well. The butterfly is truly emerging from her cocoon. Time to see how far these new wings will take me.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the freedom of my solitude.
2. I am grateful that I’m learning to recognize the difference between friendship and friendly acquaintances.
3. I am grateful for the new opportunities and possibilities coming into my life.
4. I am grateful for the new people and places I will be experiencing, though I can’t help but be saddened by what’s disappeared with the rose-colored glasses.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, joy, health, philanthropy, prosperity, family, writing, publishing and expanding horizons.

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!

September 16, 2015 Hidden Benefits of Healthy Habits

Getting More than Expected

A couple of months ago I started an almost daily regimen of shoulder exercises in response to severe pain, first in my right shoulder, then in my left. A series of stretches I’d found on the net were extremely helpful in limbering up the muscles and allowing them to release, especially when performed right after I got up. When combined with light weight work for shoulders and arms, the improvement has been nothing short of amazing.

One of those exercises is performed on the floor, a place I tended to avoid because age and weight made it difficult to get back up without employing a small crane to heave my bulk to an upright position. In fact, it required a series of shoves and rolls, first to get from my back to a sitting position, then to my knees and finally, to my feet. In the process, I pushed off the floor, the dresser and the bed before arriving at the desired place, often undoing the good I’d done for my shoulders by getting down there in the first place.

Lately, I’ve noticed that getting from my butt to my knees and my knees to my feet has required little to no pushing with my arms and, in fact, I’m almost to the point where I can get there without even using my arms for balance. My body is already appreciating the stretching which has evolved to include time with the Miracle Ball under my neck and some back stretches before I get up, but to be able to get up and down from the floor with more ease (though not exactly easy yet) is a bonus I never thought I’d see again.

The lesson I’ve learned is ridiculously simple. Whatever movement we practice on a regular basis, be it squats or simply getting up from the sofa or toilet using only our legs instead of pushing off with our arms, will, over time, make it easier to do those things, and perhaps a few more we hadn’t realized we’d made difficult for ourselves by either compensating or avoiding. Now if I can just convince my lazy self to get up at least a couple of mornings a week and get back to the gym. I know I felt much better when I did, yet, somehow, I just can’t seem to get myself back into the routine.

One Good Routine Leads to Another

I know I’ve covered this ground before, but different things seem to trigger reminders. It takes a month or so to get a good habit to stick, though that doesn’t mean that it won’t still fall by the wayside if we don’t continually condition ourselves to continue. What I’ve also learned is that setting one good habit often leads to another, and not necessarily one that’s related. For example, I got into the habit of stretching when I get up most days and now, I’m getting a lot better about spending a solid part of my day writing. It may only be a couple of hours spent editing my book, an hour or so working on my website and 30 or 40 minutes on a blog post. Or it may be an hour of research and an hour or so of writing. Regardless of how much time is spent and on which project, the key is that I am spending those hours writing and, in fact, closing in on that 8 or so hour work day I’ve been trying to retrieve after nearly two years of piddling around for long periods of time before buckling down and actually getting things done.

In life, I think everything is a leap of faith of some kind. Taking a first step towards anything that isn’t part of our normal routine is a leap of faith. It doesn’t have to be something big. In fact, the small things train us for the big things. Adding a little thing to your daily or weekly routine every so often can and will broaden your view of what is possible. Those little successes will inspire you to reach higher and farther. And as I’ve demonstrated, one leap can bring benefits you hadn’t even considered.

Where will you leap today?

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for painless nights of sleep I’m once again enjoying.
2. I am grateful for side benefits to new habits.
3. I am grateful for the small successes because they inspire me to attempt the larger ones.
4. I am grateful for the rain we’re finally seeing. It may not seem like much, but it’s more than we’ve had in awhile and the plants are getting happy.
5. I am grateful for abundance: new habits, blessings, simple pleasures, friendship, inspiration, motivation, words, music, love, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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