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

Posts tagged ‘choices’

Embracing My Flaws

My Flaws Hold My Uniqueness

I get inspiration from many things. Today, it’s a post from a friend who shared a picture of a gorgeous heart-shaped necklace she got in Greece. Like me, she sees the beauty in a flawed stone.

It reminded me I am drawn more to imperfect or “flawed” stones when I choose my crystals, just as I’ve learned, albeit late in life to appreciate imperfections not only in myself, but in the people with whom I surround myself. Putting on a perfect face isn’t a sign of strength at all, and in the long run, it isn’t sustainable.

No one is without flaws, and in fact, they make each person unique, interesting, and approachable. The masks people affect to hide those flaws in the mistaken belief they’re ugly and offensive are worn at a cost no one would willingly assume, were that cost clearly marked on the masks and walls.

Releasing Outdated Beliefs

For decades, I believed what I was “supposed to”; flaws were ugly, and showing my flaws or struggles, much less a tear or honest emotion meant I was weak. It meant I was often fair game as a target for others who were also trying to hide flaws and weaknesses from the world.

Like a well-trained monkey, I hid my own fears and kept my tears deep inside, little realizing each time I did, a small piece of myself broke off and crumbled into the dust which formed my foundation; a dust even a light tremor stirred up by the time I was 40. By then, my entire foundation was unstable layers; the dust of broken and unfulfilled dreams, friendships based on false faces hiding massive insecurities, and a disappointing life where only the love of my children was certain. Even that was, in one case, only temporary. Once she reached the edge of adulthood and began making her own mistakes and choices, that love, too was conditional, until I was no longer willing to meet the conditions.

It took a few more years, but when I began sweeping away all the accumulated dust, I discovered there was still a firm base to build on. For awhile, I narrowed my focus; self-love, smaller successes, and returning to my first love, writing. Hundreds of thousands of words later, I learned my flawed self wasn’t ugly at all. But I had a lot of fears to exhume and revisit before sharing those flaws finally led to real friendships with others who’d learned to find their true beauty in flaws instead of an unachievable perfection.

A Beautiful Mosaic Created from the Rubble

created with CanvaI see life now as a mosaic. I’ve built my life on false beliefs only to see the entire structure crumble before my eyes. I thought when things crumbled I had nothing left; no solid ground to stand on, and no more strength to rebuild. I was wrong.

Having everything crumble around me turned out to be the best experience of my life (once I got past the excruciating pain, of course!). Not everything dissolved into tiny motes of dust. Some simply broke into pieces. In their previous configurations, they’d already proven unstable, but what if I put them back together in a different order, using the love, connection, and compassion I’d gained as the grout which held those pieces together? What if some of the pieces I stuck together came from outside of me? In other words, what if I finally learned to ask for help?

I learned when I stand alone, depending only on myself to manage whatever life throws me, I do without a lot of things because I have no idea how to make them work. Just as I don’t know how to re-wire my house and need to depend on others, there are important aspects of my growth for which I have no experience, or even knowledge they exist, much less how important they might be to my overall construction. Until I interact with others, sharing both strengths and perceived weaknesses, I don’t know what I’m missing, or why my structure remains unstable.

One Woman’s Junk…

Many of my own broken pieces are of no further use to me, but to someone else, https://www.flickr.com/photos/funnybusiness/3503946843/in/photolist-87XXr1-87XZPQ-6kCDjB-2M1zdU-21ukmo7-o6vHsS-87ULKc-87XTkL-87Y3bu-87UGPM-87Y4kq-2EeDrw-7fF1mf-87Y8QS-9MnMAZ-DpnEKh-7kNkRC-87UZma-87Y5qAthey might be the piece they’ve been needing to give their own structure and foundation the stability they need to withstand life’s 7.5 earthquakes. In the process of sorting through my own rubble as well as that of others, I’ve not only cleared away what no longer serves me, but found everyone gets to find what’s needed to be strong, stable, and connected.

While I’ve learned we’re already connected energetically to everyone and everything on the planet (and perhaps beyond), the bond is further strengthened when I’ve incorporated pieces of others into my own foundation. My own strength and resilience may be lacking in some areas, whether it’s confidence, flexibility, or something else. My experiences make me stronger in some areas and weaker in others, as do those of every person I encounter.

Creating a mosaic with features from different people allows those missing strengths and resiliencies to permeate both structures; both foundations. What might have felled either person before might still put us under stress, but will no longer bring us down like a stack of cards. We reinforce each other more than emotionally.

Finding the Support I Need

Even when I need to fall back a few steps, I only go far enough to reach the support of those I’ve not only learned to trust with my naked, unadorned face but who know where my wings aren’t yet ready for a solo flight. Sometimes, I fall back with others who are being buffeted by their own storm. Together, we create a shelter where we’ll wait out the current storm and regain our individual strengths before setting out again, together, or apart, as needs dictate.

I know now, each time I fall back a few steps, I’m not losing ground. Instead, I’m gaining experience I’ll need in order to conquer the next challenge on my path. Sometimes I gain it by letting someone guide me, sometimes, when they allow me to do the guiding; proving to myself I’m stronger and wiser than I believe. 

My greatest weakness throughout my entire life was, and may always be my inability to entirely trust my own skills, talents, and abilities. I know where it began, but assess no blame. I needed to see where I gave myself too little credit before I could learn to trust. When the time has been right, a teacher always appeared.

The Teacher Appears When the Student I Ready

Whether it was learning to trust the visualizations I received concerning peoples’ auras, or what I was seeing when my healing talents began to emerge, people came into my life who could confirm what I was seeing or feeling. Ultimately, the gifts they gave me of trusting myself opened up my mind when meditating, getting a massage, and most of all, writing.

I stopped writing for years because I didn’t trust the stories in my head. I didn’t think I had the talent to make them interesting or even cohesive. I’d spent so much time telling myself what was coming out of my fingers was garbage, I didn’t allow what was inside begging for release to reach my fingers. Like so many creatives, I mistakenly believed it had to come out perfect the first time and tried to control every word.

What comes out of my fingers initially these days isn’t perfect, or anywhere close, nor is it as flawed as I once believed. bit it’s always from my heart. The real epiphany came when I realized that’s true of every one of us. No one is perfect. Perfection might be something to aspire to, but it is not the real destination. The real destination is learning to embrace what I perceive as flaws in myself and others, and to share pieces of myself to create a unique, powerful, radiant mosaic of people, experiences, compassion, and love.

Gratitude is my Strongest Feature

My gratitudes are:

  1. I’m grateful for the teachers who have come into my life when I needed them, and continue to arrive at the exact moment I need help learning a new lesson.
  2. I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned, and those still to come.
  3. I’m grateful for the flaws which I’ve learned are not flaws at all, but beauty marks.
  4. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I learned to remove the masks of perfection and be my real self.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; creativity, love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, beautiful mosaics, community, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Living My Life Unapologetically At Last

Unapologetically Me

I used to apologize for everything, probably even my very existence; as if everything I did was wrong; a mistake. I guess it makes sense as I only recently realized I’d felt like I was a mistake most of my life. Though I finally understood and got past it, the feeling had a major impact on my life, and in a way, still does.

I’ve always been rather rebellious, though less than my parents wanted me to believe, and far less than I could have been were I to shake off the ties that bound me for so long earlier than I did. I followed the rules—to a point. I got away with things—also to a point. Overall, I played it safe, a choice which even now haunts me a bit. Slowly but surely I took more risks; some planned carefully, but most, not so much. To be honest, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for several years now.

Owning My Choices

What I gained was a willingness to accept consequences or triumphs, whichever I got, and to take the lesson and leave the pain behind. My attitude didn’t happen over night. I had to fall a few times, and get up each time before it finally sunk in that I could and would get up every time, no matter how hard I fell.

In the process, I’ve learned to own my actions; my choices. I’m responsible for everything I do and reap both the consequences and the rewards. Most of all, I owe no one an explanation for my actions and choices. They were mine to make, and the results are mine to own. No apologies, no excuses.

The lesson didn’t come easily. It was too easy to hang my head and apologize when I didn’t measure up to what I thought were someone else’s standards. Of course, I realize now, it was merely my perception of their standards, as how can we really understand someone else’s expectations. Like ours, they’re influenced by so many factors, and can change in an instant when something in their environment shifts.

Wasting Effort on Other Peoples’ Happiness

Created with CanvaI was fighting a losing battle, trying to keep other people happy but I’d been doing it for so long, I didn’t recognize the futility. I only saw myself consistently failing to measure up; to meet expectations set by everyone but me.

What a revelation it was to realize all these years I’d wasted trying to please everyone except the one person it was truly my job to please—ME! It was as if the entire world had dropped off my shoulders! I was no longer chasing something I’d never be able to catch. Instead, I got to chase my own dreams—something I truly believed in and wanted with all my heart.

Driven by Passion, Not by Fear

It’s a funny thing about passion. While it may drive me to take risks I’d never consider if passion hadn’t finally taken the wheel of my life, it also keeps my dreams in sight, even when my conscious mind can’t quite see the manifestation. Yet passion lets me take things one step at a time, and doesn’t beat me up when it’s taking longer to get “there” (wherever “there” is) than I’d planned.

Passion doesn’t ask for explanations or excuses. It simply continues to shine, lighting the way, and waiting patiently when I stumble. It doesn’t dim my vision, or give up on my dream. It understands there will be times I feel discouraged and will question whether or not to keep going, and it supports whatever decision I make.

Holding the Dream Loosely

It’s been nearly 6 years since I turned my life upside down. I’ve written a lot of words, some of which actually form a coherent story. I’ve moved in and out of a couple of different social circles, and continue to do so, trying to figure out where and why I fit. I’ve been shot down a couple of times, and allowed it to make me stagnate for a little while—but only for a little while.

My overall dream hasn’t really changed though. It’s evolved, and become more detailed. It’s aligned me with some like-minded people. I’ve learned from a few, and let a few go who were teaching something which didn’t fit with my own vision. None of them were wrong; they were just wrong for me.

I’m learning following my passion is a process; an evolution. The closer I get to my dream, the more I learn and grow. Some aspects might change when I get closer, but the bigger picture remains the same. The changes come in the details, and those are easily altered. I change in my attitude and confidence as I realize those dreams are achievable.

Clearing the Clutter

Recognizing and accepting I’m only answerable to myself was perhaps the https://www.flickr.com/photos/funnybusiness/3503946843/in/photolist-87XXr1-87XZPQ-6kCDjB-2M1zdU-21ukmo7-o6vHsS-87ULKc-87XTkL-87Y3bu-87UGPM-87Y4kq-2EeDrw-7fF1mf-87Y8QS-9MnMAZ-DpnEKh-7kNkRC-87UZma-87Y5qAbiggest change of all. It wasn’t an “Aha moment” though. Realization came slowly as I shed a lot of old baggage: unexpressed grief and blame over my parents’ suicides, beliefs that no longer serve me, trying to fit in by changing who I am.

In short, I cleared out the cobwebs and old file cabinets in my mind to make space for the dreams I envision. I had to clear both the mental and physical clutter to make room for those dreams. In believing they weren’t possible, I’d filled the space with nonsense so I’d have an excuse to stagnate. As long as there was no space or time to fulfill the fantasies in my head, I had no responsibility to make them a reality. Yet the only one to whom I didn’t apologize was me.

Committing to Myself

Perhaps my greatest lesson was in committing to myself as single-mindedly and whole-heartedly as I’d committed to other people; partners, parents, employers, false friends. Once I turned all my committing skills inward, my world opened up like a blown rose, it’s petals soft and brushed by dew, swaying softly in the breeze.

Now I honor that commitment every day. I write, I walk, I read, I take time out to cuddle my cats, and I indulge myself in some kind of self-care every day. Some days it’s the gym, others, I’ll sit on the front porch when the sun has set and the night air is cooler, communing with my barn cats, the night birds, and the bats. Most days, I meditate, though not always with my eyes closed, sitting in one place.

Like everything else in my life, the operative word is flexibility. No longer do I commit to a hard and fast schedule. That was someone else’s rules. It doesn’t suit me, so I exclude it from my life. I tossed it out with apologies. I’m happier since I ejected such things, and my creativity is thriving as a result. I couldn’t ask for more.

A Daily Practice: Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to commit to myself.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve learned I’m enough, and disappoint no one for following my own heart.
  3. I’m grateful for increased creativity and productivity.
  4. I’m grateful for supportive friends and colleagues.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, creativity, inspiration, motivation, friendship, support, love, joy, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Blame it On the Stars

Star Struck Back Into Hiding

https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/31275407857/in/photolist-PDGD8X-bnbiQa-k7zt6d-6M2nn9-mAAwrU-k7wXWX-nhNH58-k7zDp9-k7xjWk-nJgXGP-nk9CP8-k7tAv4-nziGrM-6ez3RC-nxeRe7-k7zCqf-2fgYi1C-k7B7wo-c411jo-S3dRoP-k7zetH-aubYf9-5u7LHw-cDzxty-5u3mjF-efS9bW-9tURvV-MNVXL-dkbcr9-aMCP28-LFJ8h-HUeD1-87TPHZ-5u3o9k-4t8Czz-5u7Lnq-XBZhbM-Yz4KP7-dJTsqi-YfKzKY-5Xw9Tw-kYuVpf-9GbcYZ-7DuDAu-fkpUYM-zGvsDE-qxEs38-o6g4QL-pJaHTv-mmZ7UcIn the last few years, I’ve made significant strides moving out of my introverted shell. But every so often, I have to make a pilgrimage back, not to the place which was once my comfort zone, but to a new and improved location where the walls welcome me but no longer close me off from the world.

It starts slowly. I begin feeling detached from friends. I find sitting on the front porch or curling up on the sofa with my cats more and more appealing. I’ll spend a lot more time sitting in front of my computer like I am now, pouring my thoughts and feelings out on the page.

These are no longer times of isolation, but instead, times of reflection and introspection. It’s kind of like a quarterly review of where I was and how far I’ve come, and an acceptance of the work I still have to do. Sometimes I need to step back, not only to recognize the progress I’ve made, but to get clear on what’s still left to do. I need to spread everything out before me so I can more clearly see where I next need to go.

Needing to Disengage from Life’s Chaos

It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos and cacophony of daily life. Everything runs together like a finger painting; colors intermingling, and lines blurring. At these times, I need to do a kind of reality check to make sure I still want to work towards the dreams I’ve mapped out.

Sometimes, the answer is clear and I burst forth with renewed resolve in a day or two. Others, I need to ask myself tough questions and keep asking them until the answers are clear and I’ve cleaned out the rusty pipes, clogged with confusion over what I truly want to be when I grow up.

Closing a Door

Awhile ago, I wrote that my road map is a scatter diagram. It’s no more true than times like this when I’m stepping back to reassess and decide whether to pursue my current dream or come up with something new. One thing I know for sure, though. There’s no shame in deciding I’ve traveled as far as I can along a particular road, or realizing it’s time to close one door and open another.

But if I do decide to close that door, I feel like I have to choose a new direction right away, so I’ll go into my shell trying to figure out what that will be. In reality, closing a door is just that: closing a door. I already have several others open anyway, so there’s no rule saying I have to find another door right away—if ever. Sometimes I just need to close a door.

For now, I need some alone time, not only to make certain I want or need to close a door, but to decide whether or not there’s another I want or need to open right now. There are no wrong answers. Whatever I decide will be perfect. Even if I decide I need more alone time.

Disconnection Breeds Detachment

I’m not sure what triggered these feelings this time. It might be the friend I feel https://www.flickr.com/photos/augustbrill/5025448773/in/photolist-8E5JQv-bj2Q3-buZES-NosS3S-bE9C2-8NP6x3-oKBJYc-7yxvUJ-4eRexw-28mE1ch-5tW6Kf-f2JEoo-acCwSd-eajL56-paxFhz-4cv8b7-7yxvw5-7D7azC-ofd2U1-4jX86v-cLpNW-7yxvPb-7yxvS7-6hKsj7-7ytH5n-6ZkEpv-nxKqWs-pz4SNk-8HDCce-gT2U3W-7AkeTX-5hzA7T-5hDXEh-fjpMeq-ceoQ2-5hzAiF-51qGYK-ceoza-51qFRM-9vkmV9-5v6EqD-ceoGA-51uTs5-51uSJo-8NP6zA-51qEZx-7zy4Hg-ceoKc-ceorH-w9TTqis disconnecting from me, though to be honest, I started pulling back first. It might be astronomical occurrences, the weather, or a million other things. I could just be frustrated by the progress I haven’t made, and think I should have.

It could be a combination of everything which created in me a gigantic sense of overwhelm. I’ve learned sometimes you simply have to accept that you’re being pushed to do something, and to follow along without asking too many questions. I know too well how many questions we ask are unanswerable anyway.

In some ways, I’m sad. I know when this is over, I’ll have made some decisions, and perhaps I’ll have lost something precious in the process. I can’t say whether it will be a dream, something I’ve worked on for a long time, a friend, or something else. I only know something is ending, and whatever it is will be missed. And I know I’ll have had some choice in the matter.

In Life, There Will Always be Loss

https://www.flickr.com/photos/augustbrill/5025448773/in/photolist-8E5JQv-bj2Q3-buZES-NosS3S-bE9C2-8NP6x3-oKBJYc-7yxvUJ-4eRexw-28mE1ch-5tW6Kf-f2JEoo-acCwSd-eajL56-paxFhz-4cv8b7-7yxvw5-7D7azC-ofd2U1-4jX86v-cLpNW-7yxvPb-7yxvS7-6hKsj7-7ytH5n-6ZkEpv-nxKqWs-pz4SNk-8HDCce-gT2U3W-7AkeTX-5hzA7T-5hDXEh-fjpMeq-ceoQ2-5hzAiF-51qGYK-ceoza-51qFRM-9vkmV9-5v6EqD-ceoGA-51uTs5-51uSJo-8NP6zA-51qEZx-7zy4Hg-ceoKc-ceorH-w9TTqo-riJJHV-8w9YqrI’ve lost a lot of people, beloved pets, and things over the years through circumstances beyond my control. Too often, I try to hang on and stretch the grieving process out, wallowing and clinging instead of accepting and doing my best to move on without what I lost. Choosing to let something or someone go should be easier, but it isn’t always. In fact, knowing I’m going to lose something, if by my own choice makes it harder. I have to anticipate the loss and know it’ll be the result of my own irrevocable choice.

My inclination is to set the choice aside, fight my urge to be alone, and bury it in outside activity. But delaying a necessary if painful choice doesn’t make it easier, nor does it lessen the pain. It merely prolongs the agony.

Even though I don’t know yet what the choice I’ll be making will be, I feel tears filling the backs of my eyes. I value every aspect of my life nowadays, so there’s nothing I’ll choose to let go of I won’t miss, even knowing the space will be filled so quickly, I’ll have trouble seeing what part of my life it once filled.

This seems like the ramblings of a dotty, old woman, even to me right now. Too many unknowns; too many questions; nothing concrete, only a feeling of impending loss, and a choice I’ll have to make.

And an unfathomable desire to be alone which won’t be ignored.

Whatever Happens, There Will Always be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to listen to the voices in my head.
  2. I’m grateful for guidance which sends me in directions I might not go myself, but will, invariably put me exactly where I need to be.
  3. I’m grateful for changes in direction. They lead to adventures, and what would life be without adventures?
  4. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed over the last few years. They ebb, flow, grow, and evolve. But there’s a solidity I’ve grown accustomed to having after decades of being alone.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, adventure, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, challenges, guidance, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Relationship’s End for Empaths

Breaking Up for An Empath Isn’t Simple

Created with CanvaA friend’s recent break-up got me thinking about the rare (maybe 2) occasions I’ve had to end a relationship instead of someone ending it for me. With the notable exception of my marriage which was long overdue by the time I ended it, I still remember suffering emotionally when I had to tell someone what we had wasn’t working for me any more.

Even when it’s been a clean break, no further communication, both going our own way, it still seemed like a laceration to my heart. I’m not saying a lot of people don’t suffer when they end a relationship. What I am saying is Empaths get a double whammy. We hurt for ourselves and for the person we left. Physical distance means nothing when faced with emotional pain from someone we care about.

Sure, some endings come because we stopped caring (like my marriage), or because we’ve been betrayed. Though easier to get over since we effectively block the other person’s emotions, an Empath feels levels of pain others probably won’t understand. It comes back to bite us just like any other kind of grief. We re-live good times and bad, second-guess ourselves, and even entertain the notion that the relationship could be fixed if we just tried harder.

Holding On Too Long

Following that train of thought leads me to wonder if Empaths stick out relationships longer than they should, unconsciously trying to spare ourselves pain. Do we go beyond the last straw to save a relationship that isn’t really worth saving? Even more, do we ignore signs that our partner is no longer committed to the relationship and may even be cheating on us, simply to avoid being the one to end things?

For myself, years after I’d divorced my husband, people told me they knew he was cheating on me. Perhaps the signs were obvious and I chose to ignore them rather than having to end things. I knew when we were no longer connected in any way, yet chose to distance myself emotionally while pretending to maintain the relationship. I even treated him horribly, which I regretted later, hoping he’d be the one to decide to leave.

Early Lessons in Narcissism

In the end, I had to pull the plug, and he behaved as most narcissists do, though at the time, I 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-V4V7jqhadn’t made the connection. He was cruel, nasty, and abusive. Only distancing myself physically alleviated some of the effects of his vitriol. Surprisingly, his signature on the piece of paper ending our marriage legally was the most cathartic act of all for me. It’s as if the energy in his signature drained off whatever hold he still had on my emotional and energetic self. I felt drained but relieved, and finally able to move forward with my own life.

It still took a long time to rebuild myself after the damage he’d wrought, but I was already broken when we got together. Part of the rebuilding process involved creating an entirely new foundation containing components with which I was unfamiliar. Having been raised to contain my emotions and to believe taunting and teasing were symbols of love, I had to learn and forge a new path before I could rebuild on a foundation which would bear the weight of the years to come.

Creating Our Own Paths

I’ve experienced a lot of trial and error in the last 20 years or so. In some ways, it’s been a lot like rock climbing. You reach for the next handhold, testing its ability to hold your weight before using it to reach for the next rock or outcropping. Sometimes I fell back a few paces. Others, I lost a lot of ground and a great deal of skin as well. Those were painful but necessary lessons in who and what I could trust. It’s when I started learning how to recognize a narcissist and avoid being used to fuel their insatiable need for adoration and getting their own way. It’s also when I started seeing how many times I’d been bled dry in a fruitless effort to please one.

These days, I’m still on the fence. I’m mentally ready to find someone and commit, but emotionally, there’s still a lot of trepidation. I don’t entirely trust myself to see the signs of a narcissist and run the other way. I’ve seen my savvier Empath friends fall victim, which causes me to distrust my own instincts too.

Trusting Ourselves and the Lessons We’ve Learned

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101561334@N08/10197031243/in/photolist-gx5s8v-jFvehZ-ceYKvY-gx4Gcf-Qv32MQ-gx58Ji-aavAwk-k15Tk9-gcokN-jYnA9p-pts3CH-KErQUu-fMFuKi-5gvfXp-gx5zqD-594W8Y-gx5GPp-gx4EMG-S7Jpw1-P5f7sP-VMMRHL-oiRYiu-7pPH6E-2bXKRhj-2cLerFQ-oxWTqS-psDwB2-ceXTFN-amxUkM-2bsd6t6-N7Lj5T-cbSXFd-YtbGJE-bNJ5H-RNvZP3-kiboPh-WmzxPu-7UzoSM-24eKtUM-cjgru7-n3pBeq-7PK4bp-ajX4J8-nk5bJN-88HFFJ-W18WBb-jBnrh2-ciDDMd-TzUwZm-8wqYSTYet I know I already have a healthy array of red flags at my disposal. Despite the wiliness of the average narcissist, they’re bound to trigger one of those red flags before I get in too deep. And probability-wise, I don’t have a lot more decades in this meat suit, so I might as well give myself a chance to live what’s left fully and completely, even if it means having to go through the painfully unpleasant process of admitting I made a mistake, and ending things once more.

We all make choices, but rarely do we choose pain. Instead, we choose to take chances on things we know have the potential to end painfully just as they have the potentially to bring us great joy. Do we avoid the opportunity for great joy so we insure we don’t get hurt? Or do we risk potential consequences to reap equally probable rewards?

I’ve taken the safe route for a very long time as I clutch memories of the painful times close. But there comes a time when we all realize the painful stuff can only hurt us if we allow it, and it’s time to take away its power. If there’s pain to be had, we have it within ourselves to minimize the pain and decrease the longevity based on what we’ve learned from previous experiences.

What it comes down to is trusting ourselves.

Do you trust yourself, or are you still wrapping yourself in cotton wool to save you from making more painful mistakes? How’s that working for you?

 

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, even if they were painful for a long time.
  2. I’m grateful for choices. I can be what, where, and who I want as long as I’m willing to accept some risk, and some unknowns.
  3. I’m grateful for love. In its many forms, it truly does heal all wounds. Especially self-love.
  4. I’m grateful for opportunities and ideas which come to me when I learn to let go.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, light, ideas, support, collaboration, joy, compassion, peace, health, 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

 

Running Your Life on Emotion Alone is a Slippery Slope

Sliding Down the Slippery Slope

We’re all guilty, at one time or another of allowing ourselves to make an important decision or choice emotionally, without engaging the logical part of our being. Often, we live to regret decisions made from our gut without at least a modicum of input from our brain. Marketers know this and play to our illogical, feeling side all the time as does anyone else who want to control the choices we make.

They encourage us to disengage our brains by setting off emotional land mines between our feelings and the logical, rational part of ourselves which would ask difficult questions if allowed to intervene. What frightens me is not only are we being encouraged to feel instead of think, but the message is being pumped into us from every direction in a constant bombardment of—let me call it what it is—propaganda.

Infomercials Thrive on Emotional Decisions

How many infomercials use tactics which hit us below the surface of our logic? Take the ones for a well-known pillow manufacturer. The guy wears his shirt buttoned to his chin, the cross necklace conspicuous in the seemingly haphazard way it sticks out above the top button instead of hanging loosely over the collar, or as would be more likely, underneath. The commercials are studded with American flags and a not-so-subtle message to “make America great again” by buying things that are made “right here in the United States”. Boo-rah!

Every one of these visual and auditory components is an emotional trigger encouraging people to pick up their phone or log onto the website and buy the darn things right now. There’s even a code which most people don’t realize is used to track which of the company’s many advertising media sucked the customer in.

Out of curiosity, I logged into the site (without the code) one night just to see what the hype (and expensive TV spots) was all about. At the time, their “buy one, get one free” offer (yet another emotional trigger) was over 80 dollars. It’s now “only” $79.98. Even so, how many of us spend $40 apiece on pillows? I don’t even want to know what they charge for the rest of the product line that’s evolved from the first spate of infomercials that invaded my television time.

Triggering Our Emotions for Profit

My point is, enough people are getting sucked in by these tactics to keep the guy showing up on TV not only in between shows we choose to watch, but on 30-minute, stand-alone infomercials as well. Clearly, playing on people’s emotions to generate sales is a lucrative proposition, especially in today’s environment. I suspect companies like this are counting on people being on a constant emotional high to sell them crap they don’t need now, and would have never considered buying had the thinking part of their brain been engaged.

As for me, I sleep perfectly well on my $5 Big One pillows I got at Kohl’s during one of their “biggest sales of the season”. Were they made in America? Probably not. But when so many people can’t even afford to rent an apartment or keep healthy food on the table, I, for one make no apologies. There are enough monkey wrenches being thrown into trading freely between countries these days as it is.

Step Back, Take a Breath, Engage Your Brain

However, I didn’t intend this post to turn into a rant, but merely a cautionary tale about preventing our  emotions from getting us into hot water. I take advice I was given long ago very seriously with regard to flaming emails from bosses and co-workers. Do not respond right away. Take the time to step back, cool off, and address the matter from a rational place. The decisions and choices we make are no different.

Would you buy a car without taking the time to research your options, check pricing at different dealers, and maybe even see what the average purchase price has been using Edmund’s or KBB? Would you buy a house without looking at comps and assessing your options? Other choices might not have the same impact on you financially, but they deserve equal consideration.

A Time to Think Clearly and a Time to Go With Your Gut

Don’t get me wrong. There are certainly times when trusting your gut is appropriate. If we spent the same amount of time deciding on dinner as we do buying a car, we’d starve. There’s certainly a place for gut decisions. Just understand if you make some of the biggies from the gut instead of the brain, there may be a lot of backpedaling, adjusting, and perhaps even damage control to manage after the decision has been made and the wheels put in motion.

Such was the case with my decision to quit my day job to do a complete career change without adequate things in place to maintain my lifestyle and solvency while I put the new path in place. I’ve taken more steps back than forward in some areas, and taken a beating for leaping without looking first.

Still and all, I wouldn’t go back and change the fact I made the choice when I did. I might have gotten my act together a little sooner. Then again, perhaps the lessons I’ve learned in continuing to follow a dream that isn’t as easy to reach as I’d hoped are worth the struggle, the worry, and the people who’ve come into my life as a result.

Diving in Before We Have All the Answers

The biggest and best of those lessons is accepting I don’t have all the answers, nor do I have the resources or the time to get the answers I need if I isolate myself. Life is a series of hills and valleys, give and take. What I’ve learned by connecting with people who struggle with some of the same things I do, or who’ve overcome some of those things would never have happened if I’d jumped easily from one career to the other.

I’ve also learned working from home, despite the scarce times, is far better for me. Too often, I was manipulated by people who saw someone who was, in many ways naive to the ways of the world when it came to climbing the corporate ladder. I was often someone else’s stepping stone, offering too much because I expected them to be as open and honest as me.

I wouldn’t change that either. I simply learned I’m a sitting duck in the corporate cesspool, and needed to learn to be successful as an entrepreneur. My emotions are too easily engaged, causing me to make a lot of poor choices, or put up with things I shouldn’t have to. Sometimes, the key to making decisions with the right part of our anatomy is knowing when and how we function best.

These days, I have the luxury of time when it comes to making decisions. That isn’t to say I haven’t tripped up a few times anyway. It means I trip up less spectacularly, and spend less time doing damage control. I have certainly given up a lot of things I had when there was a steady paycheck, but I’ve given up the stress, misery, and abuse that went with it. I’d make the same choice again in a heartbeat.

Grateful for Every Minute, Every Breath

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the time and wherewithal to make conscious choices.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned since I left the corporate rat race.
  3. I am grateful for learning to live more minimally.
  4. I am grateful for the little things, like cooler weather and lower power bills.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, epiphanies, inspiration, motivation, butt kicks, helping hands, opportunities to help others, comedy instead of drama, prolific writing, productive days, 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.

May 28, 2015 Birthday Musings

Beginnings or Endings?

Several posts ago, I talked about the fact that the day we celebrate as our birthday is really the end of the year being celebrated rather than the beginning. On this eve of my 60th birthday as I prepare to celebrate the end of my first 60 years in this human form, I have been looking back over the last year, and more specifically, the last few months, with a little help from Elizabeth Peru’s Global Tip-off

Her discussions about planetary influences have been particularly helpful in the last couple of days, especially when I look at how the Pluto retrograde deals with peeling back the layers and releasing old hurts and issues. Elizabeth also mentions May 4th in relation to the Mercury retrograde as a date to look back upon for information about what we should be working on. In my case, I looked at the blog posts for May 3rd and 4th to find that I had been sitting outside watching the full moon, while asking for help in identifying and releasing those things which no longer serve my best interests.

But what does that have to do with birthdays, beginnings and endings? I’ve been having interesting dreams lately which bring up events from my past but with entirely different outcomes. Some of them are so ridiculous and unlikely that I wake up thinking Where in the heck did that come from? But that heightened awareness also allows me to see the situation in a much clearer light and to find and acknowledge the lesson which came out of the experience. Once I recognize the lesson, any lingering pain or emotional attachment to the event automatically releases and is no longer a part of my energy. And as my 60th year winds to a close, I am finally out from under the veil which I realize was merely a manifestation of my own imagination, but still, all too real to me. That self-imposed veil is the one which reminds me that my mother never completed her 60th year. And now, I have.

I know that I am my own woman but the specter of suicide tends to twist the thoughts into convoluted patterns and only the milestones which are largely imaginary can untwist those thoughts for good. This is one of those milestones, perhaps the last one I convinced myself I’d have to face before truly accepting that I am not my mother’s child in the ways which are most important to me now. My dreams are telling me that I am finally ready to release a whole slew of sadness, anger and angst which attached themselves to a single event by virtue of their proximity in time and space.

By reaching this milestone I feel I’m finally ready to let go of all of those poor choices I made during my mother’s last couple of years of life: choices which led to my divorce, to the men I dated in the years that followed, to the job hopping and the poor parenting. My reactions to other peoples’ actions. It’s all in there and now that I’ve somehow proven to myself that I am not inclined to make the same choices as my mother, I can forgive myself for those choices I made which didn’t turn out so well but were, in fact, lessons I needed to learn.

As I turn the page on the calendar, I also turn the page on the self-recriminations over the mistakes I’ve made because I can finally believe the words I’ve told myself over and over. What I thought were mistakes or poor choices were simply lessons the Universe sent me so I could learn the things I needed to know in order to become the woman I am now. I’m still a work in progress, but I no longer see that as a liability. I have value and I have purpose…and all is right with my world.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to have reached the milestone ending my 60th year in this human form.
2. I am grateful to be spending this very special day with the most important person in my life: my daughter, Heather. It’s been an eventful couple of weeks, but we’re both still here, and ready to handle whatever life throws us. We’ve got this!
3. I am grateful for all of the lessons I’ve been given up to know, and look forward to the new ones I know will come my way as I master the ones I’ve had.
4. I am grateful for a body which, though a bit achy in places, carried me from hither to yon and over the dance floor tonight with amazing flexibility and fortitude.
5. I am grateful for abundance: lessons learned, challenges unfolding, epiphanies, friends, family, love, joy, purpose, intensity, health, harmony, peace, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting. If you get a minute, 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!

March 23, 2015 Where has all the music gone?

While watching TV last night, I finally figured it out

For awhile now, I’ve been griping about the state of popular music. I know I’m not alone in finding that what is popular today, at least on the country charts, lacks the creativity and depth we enjoy from many of the older artists. As I type this, I realize that the same can be said of a lot of popular fiction.

What really brought the idea home was when a diaper commercial came on using a song I’ve truly come to despise as being nearly as deplorable as what comes from the pen and mouth of Taylor Swift. I’m sure by now, you’ve heard that catchy little ditty, “All About the Bass” because it’s been splattered all over social networking, shown up (to my complete disgust) on award shows and is now even rearing its ugly head on “The Voice”.

When did Marketing begin to overshadow content?

Whether you’re talking about “All About the Bass”, any one of TS’s dreadfully repetitive whines about breaking up with yet another boyfriend or mean girls who never thought she’d make it, or what I’ve come to refer to fondly as “Fifty shades of Meh”, I’ll be the first to admit that these people are marketing geniuses.

Even last year, watching Taylor coach the Voice contestants, I could see that she really knew her stuff when it came to packaging a bucket of shit and convincing people that it was French perfume (Not that I would ever, in a million years, put the Voice contestants in that category.  They’re all amazing!).  Meaghan is no different. They’ve done their homework when it comes to knowing what sells, and are doing a phenomenal job of…well…let’s not sugar coat it, dumbing down the music industry.

The message we’re hearing loud and clear is that it is no longer necessary to write a song which reaches straight into your heart with both its words and its incredibly complex instrumentals and melody, nor is it about writing a well thought out, well written novel. With the right marketing strategy, “See Jack Run” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” could be massive commercial success stories.  What it comes down to is that what sells today will be tomorrow’s commercial jingle.

Writers and Song Writers need to write, but they also need to eat.

We’re faced with a truly moral dilemma. Do we quit or day jobs to do what we love, knowing that it will likely not pay the bills, or do we work all day doing something we hate just to give us the roof over our heads and the ability to create something meaningful? Or worse, do we give in to the pressure, learn to market to the lowest common denominator and write something we hate nearly as much as that day job?

I used to find it mildly amusing that my daughters and their fellow band members chose Queen, Santana, Chicago and the Eagles over more contemporary music when we had car washes or other somewhat social events. In hindsight, I think they figured it out long before I did.

Every cloud has a silver lining

What saves us from the complete collapse of literacy and music is that some of the true artists have embraced the need to market and are using the same tools those short-cutters have learned so well. It might be a tougher road as their songs don’t make for good jingles and their books don’t leave as much room for a director to put his own mark on the story, but they do keep inspired music and stories that make us think alive. I’m sure those people are working a lot harder for their living than those who are bent on selling us baby food for the brain, but I, for one, am incredibly grateful that they remain true to their craft.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that there is still a modicum of integrity in the arts, and hope that the few who support that integrity continue to raise their voices loudly and proudly.
2. I am grateful that we have the choice; we can listen to the brain numbing, jingle worthy top 40, or we can listen to music. We can read mindless pap or we can read something which makes us think.
3. I am grateful that given the right spin, just about anyone can make a mark in the world.
4. I am grateful for a forum in which to share my observations, and that people do not have to agree with me. I really wont’ take it personally.
5. I am grateful for abundance; choices, family, love, friendship, encouragement, opportunity, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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