Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘changes’

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

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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

September 8, 2015 Going Where the Energy Guides Me

“What Goes Up Must Come Down. Spinning Wheel Got to go ’round”

For the last couple of days, I’ve been guided, directed or simply inspired to get things out of the way. I don’t mean shuffle them to another place (my favorite method of cleaning), but to actually clear the way, make room and give myself space to make progress. On Monday, that meant getting a plumber in to unclog my kitchen sink while I vacuumed, mopped and emptied sandboxes. In the midst of my cleaning, my vacuum cleaner stopped sucking so I started fiddling with the hose to try to find the blockage.

I finally resorted to running water through the floor attachment and was rewarded for my efforts by a gigantic wad of cat fur which had gotten lodged in the middle of said attachment.

But that wasn’t the end of my suckless woes. Something had also lodged itself inside the inflexible portion of the hose. Once again, I inserted the garden hose into the vacuum cleaner hose and added water. Again, I was rewarded by a giant clump of something nasty, this time, less pretty than mere cat fur. But water and a screwdriver finally cleared the obstruction and I was on my way to clean floors (though, thanks to my darling furballs, it didn’t last very long. My bathroom alone had to be re-swept twice more before I retired for the evening.)

Meanwhile, a wonderful plumber who had been referred by members of a locally-oriented Facebook group was not only clearing the obstruction in my sink, but took the time to explain how I could fix it myself next time, and all without charging a premium for working on a holiday!

Today found me completing my household chores before heading out to run my weekly errands, augmented by a few more as a result of my daughter’s impending birthday.

The Energizer Bunny’s Got Nothin’ on Me

You’d think that after four hours of shlepping through near-100-degree heat I’d have been ready for a long nap and a tall, cool drink. So did I, but as it turns out, what was I thinking? It was all I could do to settle long enough to do a 50 minute meditation before I was, once again, bouncing off the walls.

Feeling like I’d been connected to an electrical transformer, I took care of a couple more chores, then sat down to watch a little TV (and believe me, these days, “little” is the operative word). As has been my wont these days, boredom settled in very quickly and I only stayed put because my lap was occupied by some sadly neglected furballs.

Watching Patterns Change Before my Eyes

Lately, my analytical brain has been screaming for attention to the point where I’ve reverted to playing games which require strategy, math and analytical skills to complete. I sit and play the games until my analytical side tires, then work on my writing. My current project a fairly ruthless edit/revision of the first NaNoWriMo novel I wrote, and my goal is to complete this pass before November 1 so I can, once again, immerse myself in the annual 50,000-words-in-a-month writing frenzy my daughter got me into nearly 2 years ago.

I’d like to say progress is smooth, but frankly, I edit, I put it aside, I pick it up the next day and re-edit. Some days, I’ll get through an entire chapter and others, I’m lucky to manage the re-edit and half or even a quarter of a chapter before my mind shuts down. Fortunately, it’s taking longer and longer to reach that point, though progress is not exactly getting better. Where I could only manage an hour at first, I find myself glued to the computer for 2 hours or so these days. I see a desk littered with Power Bar wrappers and Werther’s in my future if this continues.

An Explanation for this Insanity

I may have finally received an explanation for this craziness that’s driving me. A former teacher posted a comment about the energy being wild, then followed it up with a post about the Solar eclipse which is set to coincide with this week’s new moon. Being fairly sensitive to solar and lunar events, I’m starting to see why I feel so out of control. Even my sleep pattern has worsened. Rarely am I able to get to sleep before 3 or 4 in the morning, and a couple of my cats must be as disturbed as I am, since they are still restless and disruptive when I’m trying to go to sleep. Scrappy Doo has been locked in a spare bedroom so many times in the last couple of weeks that, last night, when I went to lock him in again, he was standing with his nose in the corner of my guest room. Apparently, he realized he needed a time out!

If you’re anything like me and have been unaccountably productive, especially when it involves clearing space or cleaning, you, too might be especially sensitive to the astral activity this week. I’m going to keep my crystals close and spend extra time trying (and that is the operative word right now) to meditate. Even those morning stretches can help, especially when you do them before you actually get your day started. My cats are growing accustomed, though not willingly, to waiting for breakfast while I stretch out on the floor with my Miracle Ball, breathing and stretching before I do their bidding and move to the front of the house where the cat food and dishes must surely be clamoring to be filled.49a1d-tower-card16

I thought to wind this up with my gratitudes, but as I started to do my usual review, a vision of the Chariot popped into my head. But before I could even get the image inserted here, I was drawn to the Tower Card. 61285-chariot

In my experience, things always happen for a reason, and the fact that I was first drawn to a card which indicates rapid movement only to have it overridden by a card which indicates rapid change accompanied by a ripping asunder of old ways and ideas, I can only wonder what the Universe has in store for me this time, while fastening my safety harness and getting ready for a wild and bumpy ride. Trying to hold onto anything or nail things down would be an exercise in futility so I won’t even try, but I also know that whatever I’m forced to release this time will only be in my own best interests. The reality is, what I believe is valuable and worth keeping right now may just be the first thing that’s ripped out of my hands, and once I’ve had time to process, I’ll realize it was time.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I accomplished so much cleaning and organizing in the last two days.
2. I am grateful that the back problems which plagued my in July and August have pretty much disappeared, leaving me with a valuable habit; stretching in the morning as soon as I get up.
3. I am grateful for a weekend of celebration with my daughter and son-in-law as we celebrate the end of her 28th year in her current human form.
4. I am grateful for a strong, healthy body which continues to allow me to be independent. I am also grateful for the chores and other tasks I need to do every month as they help keep that body healthy and strong.
5. I am grateful for all of the progress I’ve made on my book in the last couple of weeks and look forward to many more productive sessions.
6. I am grateful for abundance: health, happiness, harmony, motivation, inspiration, energy, love, joy, celebrations, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment 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!

February 24, 2015 Keeping the blog fires burning

There’s a time for honing my craft and a time for polishing my tools.

Writing has taken a back seat for the last couple of days and sadly, my blog, too has suffered. I’ve been busy following through with something I read recently. To paraphrase, it said that successful people have the right tools and those tools are up-to-date.

Being rather literal minded, I realized this meant that the time for putting off getting some problems fixed with my computer (my main tool) had reached the critical stage. Fortunately, I was able to find a local gentleman who got my computer running as it should again for a reasonable price.

Time for a commercial break

I’ve recently found myself in need of some services, for now, lawn care and computer repair. I’ve realized from past experiences that I prefer to have someone with references. After requests for recommendations proved less than optimum, I let me fingers do the walking with a Google search and came across a site called Thumbtack.com. This site is similar to others I’ve tried, but tends to match you up with local small business people, which I like, instead of corporate conglomerates. Through them, I found a gardener who is amazing and this computer repairman.

End of commercial. We now return you to our regular programming.

(Right now I am sending up bucketloads of gratitude that I was given the opportunity a number of years ago to increase my typing speed exponentially because right now, my thoughts are flying so fast that slow fingers would be smoking right now!) I’ve also been reading one of my many books on writing and have begun a Holly Lisle course as well. Both of these sources have a number of things in common, which prompted me to order a 3 foot by 4 foot magnetic white board, a selection of colored pens, bright and shiny magnets and 500 5 by 8 index cards which, conveniently, can also be used for my recipe box. But I digress.

Several sources agree upon a story board of some kind, whether it’s a wall of paper, a cork board or, my preference, a magnetic white board which can be used either to affix the aforementioned index cards or drawn on with the pens, or, which will probably be my choice, a combination of both.

Which brings me to the last few days. I’ve been in a frenzy of ordering, not only the white board and accompaniments but also some additional memory for my computer. Although my new tech got it running at something close to its original speed, I have now upgraded the operating system twice and have a tendency to have twelve websites, six spreadsheets and elevendy-seven word documents open at any given time, not to mention email and a couple of pdf files, just for kicks. My poor computer with its measly 4 gig of ram (which, when I bought the thing a few years ago was screaming fast!) is begging me for mercy on a regular basis. By Thursday, I should have myself four, count them, four two gig ram chips, thus doubling my short term memory (the computer’s actually. Mine is already ferkakt after too many years of gathering information which I might someday use!)

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Thus ends what was supposed to be a short explanation as to why I’ve been neglecting my readers as well as the characters in my book who only just got through a crisis at my last writing.

I also needed to give myself a swift kick in the buttocks to get back to the gym. I’ve barely managed once a week for the last couple and that is simply not acceptable. If nothing else, my knees are not at all happy and have made their displeasure clear in the only way they know how. I’m tired of them voicing their displeasure with creaks and pain so off to the gym I go.

With any luck, said white board will be installed on a wall which recently gave up some old file receptacles that had long outlived their usefulness. The best part is, my office is slowly beginning to resemble a writer’s den rather than an accountant’s office. Truly a much more fitting mood for a room which has books stacked to the ceiling on two sides plus a free standing bookshelf on another. Even the calculator has found a new home when I’m not working on my own or a client’s bookkeeping. It slumbers in the recently cleaned out file drawer in my desk, patiently waiting it’s turn to support me in my endeavors.

I trust I haven’t made your eyes cross with tonight’s ‘brief’ ramble

My eldest fur baby just reminded me that I’m once again still at the computer typing after 2 AM and with the recent spate of chilly nights, her old bones would prefer that I do my job and warm up the bed for her, so I will leave you with tonight’s gratitudes.

1. I am grateful for opportunities to learn and grow and improve how I do the things I do.
2. I am grateful for the evolution both my life and my office are making from number crunching to word smithing and story weaving.
3. I am grateful for visits from my daughter and a light at the end of the tunnel saying that my son-in-law will be home in the foreseeable future. I really am missing his warped sense of humor!
4. I am grateful for progress, slowly but surely, towards my goals.
5. I am grateful for the days when I simply finish chores as it gives me less reason to procrastinate.
6. I am grateful for a week of restocking my freezer. I let it get woefully empty over the last few weeks and it is long overdue for some new options. (I’m also looking forward to those weeks when I only spend thirty or forty dollars at the grocery store because most of what I need for the week is neatly stacked in that freezer.) On the agenda for this week and next: Spicy chicken stir fry, chili, spaghetti squash and spaghetti sauce.
7. I am grateful for the time I’m spending watching crime shows as it is making me do a better job (or so I believe) of getting into my antagonist’s head.
8. I am grateful for a return to my gym, routine. There’s an outfit in my closet that I’d love to be able to wear on our cruise in April, but it is going to require a significant reduction in body mass if I wish to actually succeed.
9. I am grateful for my furry roommates who have been very cuddly these days and make sure I never have the chance to feel unloved.
10. I am grateful for abundance: new ideas, inspiration, joy, love, friendship, exciting scenes to write, learning, new horizons, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! I’ve also launched a web page at http://www.shericonaway.com which links to this blog as well as my daughter’s, HeathersCulinaryAdventure.wordpress.com. Though the website is still a work in process while I try to navigate the software to make it interesting, don’t hesitate to visit and even offer constructive criticism if you’re so inclined. Thank you!

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