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

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

A Quiet Christmas, A Renewed Sense of Purpose

A Year in Review: Reiterating My Purpose

For the first time in years, I spent Christmas Eve and Day alone. I won’t go into all the reasons why except to say it was by choice as well as circumstance. The time alone gave me a chance to go inside, do some soul searching and gain some perspective.

Although I don’t always give myself credit, I did meet some of my goals this year. Others were extended into 2019 while I worked on my infrastructure. Not the physical so much as the mental, emotional, and spiritual.

I started working with coach Linda Clay on a regular basis after being one of the beta testers for her new program. The month-long beta test yielded such positive results I opted to continue, and came to a mutually beneficial arrangement to make it happen.

Successes Always Outweigh Setbacks

The end of the year brought a number of setbacks which at times left me unable or unwilling to accomplish much. Even my thrice weekly gym visits suffered a bit, at times becoming only twice. I actually see that as a win, if only because if I missed, it was only once a week, where in the past, it would probably have been the entire week. Clearly, it’s one habit I’ve cemented into my life and lifestyle, which is a huge leap forward in my opinion.

I’ve also managed to stay at least a week ahead with my blog posts, and am slowly working my way back to 2 or 3. My goal right now is to finish the last 8 posts for January no later than the 12th. And, despite setbacks and delays, I still plan to honor my latest goal of finishing the current edit of Life Torn Asunder by the end of January.

What Others See Pales Beside What Lies Beneath the Surface

My goals may not sound lofty to an outsider, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg of my plans Created with Canvafor January and getting them done sooner rather than later leaves more time to take care of all the things I’m working on with my coach, and to propel myself forward according to some pretty lofty plans and goals.

I’d like to spend at least 25% of my time ghostwriting and another 25% getting my books finished, investigating publishing options, taking the necessary steps to make those options a reality, and promoting before, during, and after publication. The promotion side, especially will find me stepping even further away from the comfort zone I’m losing sight of, even as we speak.

That comfort zone was a huge part of my Christmas revelations. Each step I take nowadays is scary, more because they’re all steps into uncharted territory for me. I know I’ll trip and fall many times along the way, but I also know I have tons of support now. My support comes from places I’ve come to expect and appreciate immensely, but it’s also been coming from new, unexpected, and no less appreciated directions as well.

I think the single biggest factor in my continued forward progress is knowing support will be there for me every step of the way. I may not see it at the moment, but it hasn’t failed me in longer than I can remember.

Allowing Our Cycles to Run Their Course

Sure, there are places where the odds were against me, and I lost someone or something I loved. I have to accept it, even if I have to go off to my hermit hole and sob a few sobs, shed a lot of tears, and continue a grieving process which will run as long as it needs to. Even those days are productive, if not as much as I’d like. I’ve written my share of articles or researched options for one of the many aspects of my life during those seemingly down times. Shutting myself away doesn’t mean I sit around doing nothing.

I got hooked on the Hallmark Christmas movies before Halloween, and watched more TV than is my wont for the next couple of months. But there comes a time when I reach TV burnout. Then I pick up a book, a notebook and pen, or put my fingers on the keyboard and create. One night even saw me in front of the TV with my laptop on a TV tray creating one of my January posts.

Creating New Healthy Habits

I promised myself I’d reinstate “cafe writing Fridays” after my Friday workouts. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere for lunch, others, a snack and some green tea (I’ve given up coffee, hopefully temporarily while I get my blood pressure under control). My plan is to drag my sweaty-from-the-gym body, my pink bag full of writing materials, and Judy Reeves’ “A Writer’s Book of Days” to every coffee shop, diner, and sandwich shop in town over the next few months. Weather permitting, I’ll also start making use of the numerous parks in town for a change in scenery.

For now, my cafe writing involves a writing prompt, but even there, I’m coming up with some interesting, gut level material, some of which will find it’s way into my memoir, and some into blogs. I’m learning it’s nearly as effective as my morning pages for bringing buried treasure from the depths of my subconscious.

Helping Others to Help Myself

I’ve also started a dialogue with another writer friend, and will start having regular meetups to https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7write or read each others’ work. My experience with organized writers’ groups has been both helpful and frustrating, so maybe starting one-on-one will get me headed back in the right direction, and writing more, procrastinating less. (Some would say I’m too hard on myself given I’m keeping 2-3 weeks ahead on blog posts, but I have higher aspirations for myself. Doesn’t everyone?)

Even now, as much as I share large chunks of myself here, on my website, and in my books, I know when I write, I’m still writing for myself rather than an audience. Perhaps I’m short-sighted if my goal is to grow my writing business, but I’ve learned oftentimes when I write for myself, other people relate better to what I’m saying.

Although I’m still tearing down some of the walls I spent 6 decades building, I believe I’ve sufficiently eradicated the masks and costuming I wore for nearly as long. I no longer feel the need to hide anything of myself. Others are free to accept or reject; agree or disagree; love or hate what I’m saying. I’m learning not to take it personally. Their reactions are as much their own as my writing is mine. Often, I learn from those responses anyway, and am driven to dig deeper to try to understand myself and some of the deep-seated feelings better.

Start With New Goals and Solidify Them With Gratitude

My Christmas musings were a start. They yielded, not a full conversation or set of goals, but launched the conversation I expect to continue throughout 2019, until I take another few days to look within, and to recognize what I’ve accomplished, the lessons I’ve learned, and the challenges I’ve overcome. Each day, each week, each month, each year, is a new opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve something great. Let’s make each and every moment count, because the future is not promised to any of us.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people in my life who keep me moving forward, keep me humble, and keep me from diving back into my comfort zone.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who have been there to comfort and keep me company through the tough times, the crazy times, and the celebratory times as well.
  3. I am grateful for my butt kickers, Heather, Linda, and Candy especially, who may not always see what’s going on, but force me to look and create things I’m proud of.
  4. I am grateful for the excitement in my heart and bones for the upcoming year, the projects I’ve begun, and the ones I’ve yet to start.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, health, prosperity, harmony, peace, challenges, lessons, and philanthropy.

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

Clean Diaper, Full Belly. Finding Our Bliss In Simplicity

When Did We Lose Sight of Simplicity?

Somehow we’ve all gotten caught up, at least to some extent in the myth that happiness is predicated on having more. We’re bombarded, especially this time of year, with entreaties to let our consumeristic selves go wild, and the devil take the credit card bills.

Finding My Bliss by Giving Things Up

As I throw away every ad and delete every email asking me to buy, buy, buy (and only about half of them are from retailers), I feel a certain kind of peace in my decision to keep my holiday purchases to a minimum this year. It takes a lot of the stress out of the holiday season and beyond, and lets me put more focus into accomplishing things I want to see finished by the time the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Here are a few things I won’t miss this year:

  • Endless hours spent wrapping presents
  • Cramming my car to the gills with gifts for my daughter and son-in-law, many of which they probably neither want nor need (pajamas, socks, and books notwithstanding)
  • Hours agonizing over what I can get them they don’t already have anyway
  • Hours spent online or in the stores which would be better spent bringing my clients’ affairs up-to-date and getting my own projects ready for the next steps
  • Credit card bills in January that leave me questioning what I could possibly have been thinking
  • Dragging out and putting back the bins of wrapping paraphernalia
  • The chaos my living room becomes while I’m wrapping those endless piles of gifts
  • Time spent wrapping in front of the television that would be better spent writing, editing, or doing work for clients
Halting the Pursuit of Stress, er, Happiness

Needless to say, I’m already enjoying the minimal stress of this holiday season more than I’ve enjoyed the holidays in a very long time. My shopping is already done and the wrapping won’t take more than a couple of hours including dragging out the paper and boxes and putting them back. Instead of setting up the card table in front of the TV as I’ve done in years past, I’ll just wrap everything on the dining room table so there’s one less thing to put away when I’m done.

There are hidden benefits to keeping our gift-giving to a minimum this year too. My daughter and I have been working on de-cluttering our environments. Adding more stuff means finding places, or re-cluttering areas we’ve worked so hard to clear. Why would we want to get back on that hamster wheel to nowhere?

Steps to Becoming the Ultimate Non-Consumer

I’m making good use of that “unsubscribe” option at the end of most emails these days. I have no problem if someone is offering me information with a link to their site if I want to learn more. But when someone bombards me with daily emails, each containing a poorly veiled sales pitch, there’ll be one less subscriber under their tree come Christmas. But I’m grateful to all who choose to do business this way as it shows me things I should not do when my goal is to develop a tribe who know, like, and trust me.

Many business-people out there believe very strongly in a numbers game. The more people you put yourself in front of, and the more often you do it, the more sales you’ll have. But if you think about it, their success rate is minimal. They send out daily emails to their 5-10,000 subscribers, so they have to take the time to either write those emails or pay someone to do it for them. Of those 5-10,000 daily emails (and don’t get me started on those who send more than one a day!), I’d say, conservatively, 75% are deleted without being read. Another 20% delete them after seeing they’re nothing but another sales pitch.

Generously, 5% or 250-500 people might actually read those emails, but how many of them actually buy? Remember those same people are also being inundated by emails as well as TV and online ads from Target, Kohl’s, Walmart and more encouraging them to buy the latest fashions, toys, and electronics for their oh-so-deserving families. You can bet most of them haven’t seen a gigantic influx of money to feed these voracious and never-satisfied fires of consumerism. I’m guessing most are going to take care of family before signing up for yet another course or e-book.

Happiness is Simplicity

Though this little rant of mine has strayed a bit off-topic, the point is that if we take it back to basics; to a time when the little things made us happy, we might be surprised to find that the little things still make us happy.

Here are a few of mine, just to get you started:

  • Spending time with friends in an environment conducive to relaxation and conversation.
  • Spending time with my daughter and son-in-law being silly and laughing a lot.
  • Snuggling on the couch with my cats, a book, and a cup of tea.
  • Letting my imagination take over as I spew words on the page with no particular reason or direction.
  • Getting outside and walking, preferably with a friend.
  • Daydreaming
  • Cooking up some kind of tasty mess
  • Baking something just to give it away.

We all have our own version of “clean diaper, full belly” if we just clear the crap and the constant compulsion to buy, the invisible cord that drags us into stores so we might buy on impulse rather than thoughtfulness.

Getting off the Stress-Go-Round

The biggest advantage to this year of simplification is that my stress levels have gone down to almost nothing. My calendar is fairly full, but the tasks required to get there are manageable. There’s even time in between for self-care; something most of us shove to a back burner this time of year, only to pay the price come January (in more than those previously mentioned massive credit card bills).

Simon and Garfunkel said it best, a long, long, time ago:

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

If you find your pleasure being a part of the holiday chaos, so be it. As for me, I’ll be talking to lampposts and watching the flowers grow.

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for slow, easy holidays.
  2.  I am grateful for simplicity, and for recognizing it’s an option.
  3.  I am grateful for work that keeps me busy enough, a social calendar that makes me spend a little less time alone, and that both require me to stay on task more.
  4.  I am grateful for the many things I’ve learned and the progress I’ve made this year. Looking back, it’s been a wild ride, but one helluva year for me. I’m looking forward to seeing where the wheels I’ve set in motion take me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; work, friendship, lessons, love, joy, time, peace, harmony, opportunities already here and yet to come, inspiration, motivation, balance, limitless possibilities, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her special gift lies in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information or to schedule a free informational call. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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

Basking in the glow of another beautiful day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Namaste

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