Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘comfort zone’

Fears: They Can Cripple or Inspire

Even Dreamers Have Fears

Whether it’s fear of a living thing; spiders, snakes, dogs, bears, fear of something physical; heights, crowds, flying, germs, or something intangible; success, failure, ridicule, exposure. We all have something which stands in the way of doing anything we want to do or being anything we want to be.

The major difference between those who go on to achieve their dreams and those who don’t isn’t lack of fear. It’s learning how to overcome or manage them. But it’s also learning how to use them to our advantage. In fact, learning to listen to our fears can sometimes save our lives.

We accumulate our fears in many ways. Some may be taught to us by our parents. Others may be the result of a frightening experience. Still others come when we make an effort to do something different and we are somehow shamed or humiliated for our trouble. Some may even have no discernible basis, yet they’re no less real than all the others.

Managing Our Fears

I’ve learned to ask myself questions whenever I encounter a roadblock in my life. The first is Am I stuck because I’m afraid of something?

But fears can be tricky little devils. Quite often, thee first time or two I ask the question, I’ll get an immediate denial. But if I keep asking, the denial grows weaker, more hesitant.

Our minds are conditioned to be resistant to change but this resistance isn’t as strong as we might believe. If we keep questioning and prodding, the affinity for sameness will falter. When it does, we need to ask the next question, What am I really afraid of?

Don’t expect the answer to come readily though. The protective instinct still has a few tricks up its sleeve. We might get a vague or generally unhelpful answer. The truth when we finally get to it might actually be a confusing conglomeration of fears which over time have coalesced into one massive excuse for maintaining the status quo.

How Our Fears Keep Us Stuck

But “status quo” or “comfort zone” are just fancy ways to say “rut”. I for one have gone out of my way to move on when I’ve found myself in a rut, regardless of whether the condition is due to outside influences or of my own making.

As might be expected, those of my own making are far more difficult to break free of. The mental resistance to coughing up the real reasons and fears which keep me in the self-made rut is often the work of a master brick-layer. Chipping away years of masonry quality excuses is a major challenge all by itself. But the mind has another weapon at its disposal. That weapon is pain.

Built into those solid stone walls filled with our experiences is all the pain, both real and imagined that we accumulated with those experiences.. When we demolish one of the layers, the pain is released and sometimes even relived. If we take a step back and observe without entangling our emotions, the pain doesn’t last. Doing so, however, requires a conscious effort we don’t always employ during the demolition process. More often, we attack the walls, yanking down bricks and flinging them, willy-nilly, behind us.

Stopping the Pattern of Pain

Far too frequently, part of the lesson we were meant to learn was short-circuited by the pain so we actually have to experience the lesson and the pain again. Only then can we release the pain and the fear it hid within its prickly womb.

So, what is strong enough to make us relive the pain and release the fear?

For me, it’s passion. It’s dreams so vivid I can feel the excitement and replace the fear-based pain with success-based euphoria. I imagine myself with those dreams already fulfilled—where I’m living my passion. I feel the energy of the places I visit and live, the people who are part of my life, the things I’ve accomplished to make at least part of the world a little better. It all becomes as real as my excitement and joy over living my dreams.

Making Sure We’re Headed in the Right Direction

But imagination can take us in the other direction as well. I wrote this post out long hand a few days ago, so I had to search through the collection of notebooks which litter my office, my purse, and random surfaces throughout my house to find what I’d written. In the process, I came across a story I wrote some time ago, detailing a worst-case scenario where I had never succeeded. I’d become so destitute I’d sold my furniture and books, but was still unable to come up with the money for vet bills to save my beloved cats. I won’t take you down the miserable path I’d detailed on 9 pages of college-ruled paper, but the picture I painted was the antithesis of my dreams. It was a picture of a woman alone, friendless and destitute who lived on only for the sake of the 3 remaining cats.

By the time I finished reading what I’d written, tears filled my eyes. But I also faced a harsh reality. I have a choice. I can face my fears, do some really uncomfortable things and manifest my dreams, or I can continue to refuse to do what’s necessary, hope for the best and, if not be quite as pathetic as the story in my dream, still find myself paring my life way back and having to make some tough decisions where future expenditures are concerned.

Keeping Our Choices Real

Life is always about choices, and how we deal with our fears is one of the biggest because it can mean the difference between living our dreams or our worst nightmares. Does anyone truly wish to live their nightmares? Yet many don’t realize they do so because of their own choices.

I don’t know about you, but I have some fears I need to drop kick into oblivion. I don’t know quite how I’ll do it, but I know I’m asking for help, which is something I don’t normally do. Sometimes, the first fear you have to conquer is the fear of being a burden.

Start by Being Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I find that remind me or shake me out of my complacency.
  2. I am grateful for choices.
  3. I am grateful for my friends and family who wouldn’t abandon me as my imagination sometimes believes.
  4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and those I’m still learning.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, friends, love, joy, dreams, fears conquered, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

The accompanying Facebook Live can be found here.

 

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!

Lessons Catch Us Unaware

Life: An Endless Chain of Lessons

If you’re doing more with your life than staring at a wall, you’ve likely experienced your share of lessons. Some of them are pretty obvious and come as a result of something you actually set out to accomplish. More often than not, though, the lessons have a way of finding you. This is especially true when it’s a subject you’ve revisited multiple times, yet have yet to quite grasp the concept. One of my personal favorites is patience. (In case it isn’t evident, the last comment was laced with a liberal dose of sarcasm. I, for one could use a sarcasm emoji!)

Since I seem to be uniquely resistant to this particular lesson, the Universe has seen fit to hit me with another opportunity to get it right when I least expect it, and typically, at the worst possible moment. Put me in a store with 3 screaming children when I’m in a hurry, have a blazing headache and haven’t eaten in hours and I guarantee my patience will be tested yet again. Seriously, who could be expected to assimilate the lesson under those conditions. Never let it be said the Universe lacks a sense of humor! I only hope it will avoid taking me into a situation where I learn patience or suffer serious physical harm.

Lessons in Camouflage

As I believe I am both a component of the Universe as well as it’s entirety, I feel it’s in both our best interests to protect my physical self, at least for as long as it is required to learn the lessons I came into this lifetime expecting to learn. That does not, however, preclude increasingly painful lessons along the way. Perhaps that’s part of the plan?

Although I’ve come to the conclusion painful lessons are often the most memorable (after all, who really wants to revisit an experience akin to being smacked in the head with a bat?), I am beginning to wonder if, in some cases, it’s truly about learning the lesson, or if the pain itself is the real lesson? Are we meant to experience a certain amount of struggle and strife in order to make us stronger and more resilient? Is that strength a critical component of our virtual tool box?

My perspective on life lessons is constantly evolving, but this is the biggest breakthrough I’ve had in a long time. To realize that sometimes the experience of the lesson is the real lesson is mind-blowing. So many times, I’ve wracked my brain looking for the lesson in the painful experience, completely missing the fact that the painful experience in and of itself was what I needed to learn. The real lesson, then wasn’t patience, or kindness, or compassion, or some other admirable quality. It was, instead resilience.

Finding the Blessing in Disguise

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned over the years is that seeming catastrophes are always blessings in disguise. They occur when we’ve become so attached to something, someone, or a situation that we fail to recognize when it’s time to let go of the old so we can evolve. We stifle our own ability to enter the next iteration of our life because we’re holding too tightly to what we know. No matter what our relationship to change is, there’s a time in every life when change has to occur. Most of the time it’s in baby steps, but periodically, we need a 1994 Northridge earthquake- or World Trade Center-size upheaval to shake us right out of our boots and into a new reality.

Even when these upheavals are strictly personal, the effect is the same as those occurring on a national or global scale. We are forced to re-evaluate what we need to keep and what we need to leave behind. These events might be brutal and painful like a nasty divorce or loss of a loved one by suicide or accident. But they can also be dangerously subtle like rising dissatisfaction with a job situation. Dangerous because the longer we ignore the signs, the more likely we’ll have the situation taken out of our hands.

Changing for the Better in Spite of Ourselves

I can honestly say I never left a job which no longer served my best interests at the first sign, or even the 10th. In fact, in most cases, I stuck it out until the situation was taken out of my hands in one way or another. And yet, in hindsight, I left at exactly the right time because the circumstances surrounding the parting of ways was a critical component of the lesson I needed to experience. It was especially scary when I had two young daughters to support, but I can look back now and see that I always managed to pull through. That, too is part of the lesson. I’ve always survived whatever I was dealt.

Granted, I have not been given some of the challenges I see others face: developing a terminal disease, watching parents age, sicken, and ultimately pass on, homelessness, or a multitude of other life-lessons. But those are not the lessons I came here to experience. At least not this time around. But the people who are faced with different challenges than I am simply get a collection that’s unique to them.

Recognizing Our Own Brand of Resiliency

Though family suicide is far more prevalent than even I had come to believe, I am uplifted not only by the stories I’ve been privileged to share, but by how many different ways people demonstrate their own resiliency. In the process, one of my major upheavals broke me off from a group of friends who chose to expend their energy complaining about their lives instead of changing them. Though it left me adrift and alone for a time, the conditions I, myself had put into motion by looking at the world through more positive, grateful eyes ultimately led me to friends who faced their challenges in a healthier manner.

From my newer circle of friends, I’ve learned that life will deal you some seemingly crappy hands just to force you to step up and accept the challenge. I learned I’m not the type to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me no matter how many times I wanted to do just that in the years following my divorce and my mom’s suicide. Somehow, I always found a reason to keep going. I always found a reason to keep trying. I found it in myself to find another way when the old ways no longer worked.

Not only did I find out I was resilient, I found out how to make that resiliency work for me. But most of all, I started learning how to ask for help; how to be vulnerable at times. And guess what? There wasn’t a single time when I actually shattered into a million, irreparable pieces.

Yes, some of life’s lessons can really kick the crap out of you. But getting to the other side with most of your pieces intact is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. And it’s one I give myself over and over again.

From My Eternally Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my resiliency.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunities I’m given to learn, even the less obvious lessons.
  3. I am grateful for inspiration which gives me not only an endless stream of Facebook Live topics, but an ever-growing list of blogs waiting to be written.
  4. I am grateful for being a constantly evolving being. Stagnation has never been my comfort zone.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, lessons, experiences, opportunities, joy, sorrow, pain, healing, vulnerability, and strength. It is only by experiences both sides of the coin that we become whole.

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 Lucie Provencher via Flickr

The Tarot Card pictured is The Tower from the Spiral Tarot

Why We Fear Success

Our Hard-wired Brains

The mind is a very delicate piece of machinery. The slightest alteration in frequency can throw some of us into a tizzy of anxiety-related symptoms; quivery stomach, a tight band around our skull, the urge to run away and hide under our covers. Regardless of our personal reactions, the result, if we heed it, can be the same: permanent residence in the comfort zone.

For some people, that’s all well and fine, but staying in the comfort zone is staying in one place, never evolving, never learning, never becoming what we were meant to be. And all because our brains are resistant to change.

We Fear Success Specifically

Success can be an especially frightening challenge for our poor, change-resistant brains because achieving success, whether it’s by improving our health habits, advancing our career, or initiating world peace comes only by taking giant leaps out of our comfort zone. None of this dipping our toe in the water and leaping back if it’s even a degree too cold. To be successful, we must step out of our comfort zone not once, but over and over again. The closer we get to succeeding, the further we venture from our comfort zone. In fact, people who enjoy the most success in their lives have, at some point, left their comfort zone far behind. It only serves to put limits on what can be achieved.

Those initial steps outside the familiar, the safe are the scariest of all. Not only are we leaving behind what we know works for us, but in doing so, we’re creating whole new paths. Even more, we’re creating whole new techniques! In short, we’re leaving our minds nothing familiar to grab onto when the roller coaster ride begins. While our hearts are shouting Hooeee! What a ride! More! More! our minds our scrunching themselves into a tight ball of pure terror, shrieking Make it stop! Oh, please, make it stop!

But our minds are much stronger than they realize. Over time, they’ve adapted to all the changes inherent in simply growing from infancy to adulthood. They don’t always like where we take them, or even the road conditions, but eventually, they rise to the occasion and support our new endeavors.

Overcoming the Fear Mentality

There are many ways to overcome our innate fears. Some favor the “all in” approach which is much like taking a flying leap into a pool, determined to get used to the water or else. It’s fast and effective, though sometimes overly traumatic.

Others favor the toe-dipping approach you see people use when venturing into the ocean at the beginning of the summer. They take a step forward, ready to leap back if the water is too cold. If it’s cold but bearable, they may venture in up to the ankles, and so on until they’re fully immersed. This process can take forever, or not happen at all depending on how much discomfort the person and their brain can handle.

What I’ve found most effective (though Type A’s will surely disagree) is a combination of the two. First, I tell myself what I’m going to experience will be entertaining and perhaps educational. I tune out any arguments, making it clear I’m in charge. Then I take a step forward. I may take one more, but most important here is to change my set point.

Raising the Bar

Changing our set point, be it mentally, physically, or emotionally is essentially a re-set of our goals. We congratulate ourselves on the progress we’ve made, and set another challenging but achievable goal. Using weight loss as an example, our bodies become used to being at a certain weight, healthy or not. In order to make a permanent change, we have to see ourselves weighing less. Not all the way to our goal, especially those of us who have more than 5 or 10 pounds to lose! That’s a sure path to discouragement, not to mention gaining back what we’ve lost.

I set my own goals in 10 pound increments, but allow 5 pound mini goals too. A week or so ago, my scale showed a rather unlikely drop, but seemed to stay consistent no matter how many times I got on and off of it. Instead of being excited about getting closer to my goal, I panicked. In that panic, I ended up erasing the progress I’d made since I’d reached my latest 10 pound goal; not by much, but enough to make me see what had happened.

My brain had taken over. It whispered How are you going to handle being thinner? Won’t all the attention you’d get be scary? Instead of ignoring that fearful voice, I succumbed, eating badly and not moving enough for a few days. (I eventually discovered a small, star-shaped piece of wax had found its way beneath the scale, causing it to register incorrectly, but by then, the damage was done). I started turning things around a bit yesterday, and today, while writing my morning pages, I saw it for what it was. Fear. Plain and simple. My brain was reacting to the positive feedback I’d been receiving. It didn’t like the fact that I was putting on makeup and fixing my hair to do Facebook Lives. Too many things were changing and it was being forced to swim as the waters deepened.

Growing Stronger With Every Leap

Just as the body grows stronger when we push it to do more, the brain does too. When we refuse to succumb to the voice of fear, it becomes easier to do things we’d never done before. The idea of adventure far outweighs the fear of failure, or more importantly, success. I don’t think the brain really fears failure in the overall scheme of things anyway. Failure means it gets to maintain the status quo. Success is a much bigger threat, at least until we re-train our brains to see the wonder and beauty those successes bring into our lives.

I won’t say it’s something we ever get away from. There will always be times our brain wants to retreat. The key is recognizing when it’s happening and pushing forward anyway. Moving our set points further out. Challenging ourselves to fight for the dream, even when the one we’re fighting is ourselves.

Here’s to Your Continued Success

I hope if you’re struggling that you’ll seek out that frightened child within yourself. Take charge of your life instead of letting fear of change keep you from achieving your dreams. Overall, change is what makes life interesting. Whether we like it or not everything around us is changing all the time anyway. So why not become part of the changing landscape?

Gratitude: A Powerful Motivator

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the epiphanies which help me overcome roadblocks of self-doubt.
  2. I am grateful for the people who are constantly moving in and out of my life to teach me about myself and the world around me.
  3. I am grateful for endless possibilities.
  4. I am grateful four the strength and courage I’m developing as I overcome each new obstacle to my success.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: success, joy, love, friendship, adventure, possibilities, inspiration, motivation, creativity, courage, peace, harmony, 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 Affen Ajlfe

How Much Serendipity Do We Need for Self-Trust?

Why Do We Trust Others More Than Ourselves?

A few years ago, I took a class in healing. One of the things we had to learn was to trust the feelings, images, sounds, or whatever messages we received. This has always been difficult for me. I’m all too quick to discount what I’m feeling as simply my overactive imagination.

Time and time again during the course of the class, my feelings were corroborated, often with some surprise on the part of the person I was working with. Yet, to this day, I still struggle to just trust myself.

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly aware of repeating numbers. I’ll see 11:11, 3:33 and other combinations fairly frequently, but for a long time attributed it to the new car syndrome. You know how when you buy a new car (or anything else for that matter) you suddenly start seeing others like it everywhere. It isn’t that there are more of them. You’ve just become more aware.

Pay Attention to the Signs

Many see these repeating numbers as confirmation that you’re on the right track, or as angel messages. Either way, they are considered a sign that you need to pay attention to something. Call me a crackpot if you must, but I’m one who started out just noticing the frequent occurrence and seeing it as things that make you go hmmmm. As other things begin occurring which corroborate the messages in the numbers, I’m starting to believe it’s the Universe, getting my attention in a kinder, gentler way than its usual rather painful head slaps.

Whether it’s all green lights on a stretch of road I know is timed to stop drivers every few blocks, or finding the perfect parking spot in a crowded lot, or even forcing me to walk a mile and a half each way because the closer froyo shop is now only selling Dole Whips. I feel like I’m being pushed a little further on my path, but more, being reminded to trust in myself and where I’m going.

Leave the Comfort Zone, Follow the Heart

A few weeks ago, I took a gigantic leap outside my comfort zone and introduced myself to Carolyn Maul, a life coach and personal trainer. Although I’m not in a place right now to hire her, she gave me a couple of pieces of advice which have made significant changes in my life. Though they were things I already knew about, I wasn’t doing them, and her suggestions came at exactly the right time. You might notice there has been a marked increase in blog posts in the last few weeks, and I attribute that to following Carolyn’s advice concerning my health. When I started treating my body better, my brain engaged. Who’d have thought?

A few weeks into a routine which involved tracking what I eat and going to the gym 3 times a week, I’m getting out more, writing more, and finding inspiration in interesting places. But I’m also finding that what I’m inspired to write about shows up a day or two later on someone else’s blog or Facebook page, corroborating my own perceptions.

And there it is again. I recognize something, but think it’s only me. Not long afterwards, my feelings are confirmed by others. If the Universe was into neon, I’m sure I’d be seeing flashing red signs saying Are you going to start trusting yourself or what?

Recognizing Good News as Well as Bad

We all recognize the warning signs which tell us we’re heading into they abyss; the sick feeling in the pit of our stomach, the reluctance to step further into a situation. Sometimes we heed them and are glad we did. Other times, we ignore them and pay the price later. But how often do we recognize the signs which tell us we’re heading in the right direction; following our true path?

Those signs are more subtle (most of the time) but they are still there. I’ve found they become especially strong when our courage is waning or when we’re about to give up because we’re not seeing results and the future looks grim for one reason or another. Maybe that’s why I’m noticing them now.

My dream of being a writer and somehow being able to support myself with it has seen a limited amount of success in the 3 years or so I’ve been pursuing it. Some of it is me as I have long dry spells when few words hit the page…any page. Then I get really inspired and write thousands of words in several places in a matter of days. The floodgates open and I’m like a waterfall after a heavy rain. I can barely type fast enough to keep up. My desk is littered with notes about what I’ll write next. I’m typing madly into my phone instead of dancing because an idea has to be captured before it flits away along with the million and three other thoughts rushing through my brain.

In the last few weeks, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more often and more dramatically than I have since I made the gigantic leap of faith which left me without a steady source of income or even a regular routine. One of the biggest things I’ve accomplished is setting a routine, not only health-wise, but work-wise too.

Changing From the Inside Out

I guess you’re wondering what’s changed. Here’s a brief recap:

  • Tracking all meals on MyFitnessPal
  • Resuming the fat release progress I started last year
  • Setting 3 regular days to work out (in the past I just said I’d work out 3 days, but didn’t specify which ones, so the routine died on the vine in short order)
  • Writing at least 3 blog posts a week
  • Adding chapters to Forgotten Victims every week
  • Responding to job postings (with limited success at the moment, but I have confidence the tide will turn)
  • Developing a plan for the type of websites I will pitch
  • Expanding my own skill-set for VA work
  • Learning to trust the feelings and ideas I get without question

I’m not seeing huge successes in any of these areas…yet. I am, however, giving myself credit for each and every one instead of beating myself up when one or another doesn’t give me immediate results. I’ve discovered it isn’t how fast you get results, but how consistent you are in sticking to the plan. The rest will come together in time.

The biggest change, however, is my attitude. My confidence has returned on many levels. I know I can make my ideas work. I know I can get published. I know I can be a knock-out VA. And because of all this, I’m more willing to go out on a limb, nearly any limb (I draw the line at bungee jumping or jumping out of perfectly good airplanes). I’m leaping out of bed every morning having finally recovered from Daylight Savings Time, earlier and earlier. I’m excited about what the day will bring, even if it’s just another batch of something or other for my freezer which will save me from having to cook for awhile. (That has to stop after today, though. I’m almost out of space and today’s batch of stuffed cabbage will require all my Tetris skills to get everything in in an organized fashion. I rather like being able to choose what I want from the appropriate pile rather than just reaching in, grabbing a container, and hoping for the best.

What Signs Are YOU Ignoring?

Now I’m going to throw this over to you. What changes have you made or could you make which will get you going in the right direction? What signs have you been getting which tell you either that your on the right path or it’s time to change direction? How often do you take these signs seriously? If seldom, isn’t it time to start trusting your gut, so to speak? Above all, can you identify at least one small success which resulted from trusting your intuition?

I look forward to hearing YOUR story!

Reinforcing the Changes With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for signs.
  2. I am grateful I’m finally learning to trust in myself and know everything is working out exactly as it’s supposed to.
  3. I am grateful for the love and support of friends and family who aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m going in the right direction despite appearances, but who are also not afraid to tell me I need to get my act together.
  4. I am grateful for all of the amazing changes which have come from a single encounter with an amazing woman.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; courage, drive, productivity, imagination, dreams, hopes, love, friendship, surprises, confidence, hope, peace, harmony, 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!

Universe-driven Inspiration: Introducing Life Coach Carolyn Maul

As the New Year Slips By

For the last couple of months I’ve been floundering. No, floundering would infer that I’ve actually been trying to accomplish something. The truth is, I’ve been treading water…barely.

I’ve made a few feeble attempts to drum up business, but the Universe in its infinite wisdom seems to direct my attempts into that black hole wherein lives my despair. I followed up on an interesting lead and even shared the email I wrote with someone I trust implicitly (and despite her own challenges, is one kick-ass salesperson!) who told me it was a good pitch. That was over a week ago and the silence is deafening.

When my daughter opined today that it was already March, my frustration wanted to reach through the phone and choke the words back down her throat. “It’s not March yet!” I insisted.

But it may as well be. Forgotten Victims is no further along than it was in January, aside from finally having transcribed my handwritten outline of the first 13 chapters (now that’s ominous, isn’t it? I’ve only written 13 chapters. I can hear the clanging of the dungeon door as I write those words).

Despite all of the doom and gloom there are always those guiding lights; those sparks of inspiration; those words of encouragement which keep me going on this path I set for myself over 3 years ago. I still visualize myself as a successful writer with my memoir and several novels gracing the shelves of Barnes and Noble; the web pages of Amazon.com.

The Spark I Didn’t See Coming

Every once in awhile, you encounter someone who commands the attention of men and women alike, not by their actions, but by their presence.

Such was the case for me this weekend when I started a conversation with a woman I’d noticed at the club where I dance. She typically hangs out across the dance floor from my usual spot, but I could not help noticing her; the way she holds herself, the sheer confidence in her manner. I admit it. She has qualities I aspire to but am still learning how to achieve. To say she is striking is to understate it by a thousand degrees or more, but words escape me. Yes, I know that’s unbelievable for one who regularly says what she has to say in 10,000 words or more. The lack of words alone should be enough to demonstrate the quiet, serene power of a woman whose presence is palpable, even across a crowded dance floor.

Recognizing Inspiration, Whatever Form it Takes

We talked about what we do and I gave her my card. She reached out to me today, and offered me a chance to take a closer look at what is behind her amazing presence.  Carolyn Maul is a Life Coach, but like none I’ve ever seen. She completely embodies the words she speaks and the advice she gives.

After reading just a couple of her blog posts, I felt a renewal of that spark which started me writing Forgotten Victims what now seems like eons ago. As difficult as it has been to resume work on it and to embark on the long road to pitching a non-fiction project to publishers, I feel better about getting out of my own way and allowing the words to flow again. I can finally admit that the words are dammed up because I’ve built the dam. The only way to take that dam down is brick by brick. The bricks are my words and thoughts on a painful and difficult part of my life, but one which I know needs to be shared to a wider audience.

I can’t do that unless I truly commit to finishing it, some of which is going to involve reaching out to fellow writers to learn some of the things they do to finish their own projects and set achievable deadlines. I am truly my own worst enemy, and relegate my own work to the bottom of the pile. I’d never treat a client the way I treat myself. It’s time I listened to the advice I’ve been so freely given and treat myself like the best client on my roster.

A Life Coach for Type A’s

So thank you, Universe, for putting Carolyn in front of me, and forcing me to pay attention. And if you are a Type A personality (which I, admittedly am not) who could use a little help achieving your goals, do yourself a favor. Take a few minutes to watch her introductory video and browse her blog. Maybe even take her quiz. You might, like me, find the inspiration or the motivation to push past the blocks which stand between you and your dreams.

Always so Much to be Grateful For

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the down times as they give me time to build up the energy for the long stretches of intense effort.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to meet new people and get out of my comfort zone which frankly, has become pretty boring lately.
  3. I am grateful for the pain in my life which can and will be faced. Which by so doing could just help someone else who’s lived a similar trauma.
  4. I am grateful for loss as it makes me appreciate the good times and the little things all the more.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, inspiration, Universal head slaps, friendship, dancing, learning, challenges, peace, harmony, letting go and holding on, 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 Arseni Mourzenko via Flikr

December 28, 2014 Time for a face lift (or is that a change of face?)

Something came over me, something strange, something new…

…and with that something, I knew I needed to make some changes. The first of those changes is this blog. At first, I thought it only needed a face lift, but the more I played with themes and colors, the more I realized that what was needed was more than just a face lift, but a complete change of face.

You see, I realized that I had outgrown my original theme, quite dramatically. It only took me the last year to figure it out, too! Though the web address will remain survivingandbeyond, I find that since the onset in 2009, I have truly grown beyond merely surviving.

Leaps of Faith and other sudden and thorough sparks of energy.

What began, with a little help from my friends, with a leap of faith in late 2013 has grown into a brand new lifestyle, for better or worse. In fact, when asked if I’d consider looking for a job in my old profession again, I reacted with very real horror. And so, along with the thematic change you might have noticed overtook my blog this weekend, you’ll find that the name has also changed to reflect the path I’m currently treading. So, my loyal readers and followers, allow me to present the new and improved blog:

Leaps of Faith: Dancing outside my comfort zone

I’ve discovered that even on days when I hang around the house in my pajamas, I am still living outside of my comfort zone now, if for no other reason than I don’t have anything more than my faith that financial prosperity is just a sailor step and two wizards away; that as long as I keep dancing, keep moving, keep growing, whatever I need will be there when I need it. Not only what I need, but the means to support the causes I believe in; those which take into consideration the health and welfare of our children and animals.

The strides I’ve made in the last year may seem puny on the surface, but changing ones life and livelihood so completely still, like anything else, requires baby steps. Maintaining this blog at the level to which it has been maintained is, in and of itself, no small feat. But to complete one novel and be 50,000 words into a second is nothing short of amazing, given that it isn’t what I was doing for the last 30-odd years. It takes time to twist my head around into the direction I mean it to go.

As I seem to have finally grasped the direction I mean to take, 2015 should see further evolution and growth. I expect to see some new ideas, a growth in the amount of material I produce and variety in what I produce. I expect to see completion of some classes I signed up for in 2014 and use of the information I glean.

Numeralogically speaking, my birth year is 9 which is represented by the Hermit in Tarot. I have certainly been living up to that image as I pursue a career which is largely done in the privacy and safety of my own environment. The Universal year, 2015 is 8 which is represented by the Strength card. This is an apt card for a year which will require perseverance and strength of character as well as strength of purpose.

The real kicker, though, is my personal year which is 6 and is represented by the Lovers. This indicates partnerships, contracts and choices to be made in my work environment which will change my life for the better.

All in all, changing my blog is only a small step towards what lies ahead in the coming year. This prompts me to add another affirmation to the stickies which ring my monitor (good thing it’s an extra large one!)

The New Year sees me becoming what I was meant to be

Which leaves only my gratitudes tonight, or a smidgen of them, anyway, as to list them all would require several posts, and even then, I’d surely still omit a few.
1. I am grateful for the love and support I am receiving as I wander around, seeking the path for my new journey.
2. I am grateful for the leap of faith, and the support I received to take it last year. I am more certain than ever that it was the right thing to do.
3. I am grateful for my unwavering spirit, even when things don’t appear particularly successful.
4. I am grateful for the groups I’ve joined this year which have provided insight and direction on many levels.
5. I am grateful for the healthy lifestyle I’ve embraced as I search for my new path, and which is, in fact, a leg on that road.
6. I am grateful for the vivid dreams I have which may not always stick, but leave wisps in my brain which come back to the surface when they are needed.
7. I am grateful for the company of my cats who are often the only ones I speak to for a few days. They show their appreciation for my almost constant company in so many ways.
8. I am grateful for my daughter and my friend Candy who have encouraged me along this road, but never beat me up when I failed to produce as much as I might have had I treated my days like a job.
9. I am grateful for the ladies form my A.R.T. class who gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get out of a lifestyle which was killing me slowly.
10. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, support, love, joy, inspiration, faith, health, harmony, peace, gratitude, lessons and prosperity. (that piece of land overlooking the beach, an artists retreat and cat rescue may be dreams now, but they will ultimately be reality.)

Namaste and a very Happy, prosperous New Year to all.

September 22, 2014. The more things change…

Must we super-size everything?

Twenty years ago, I had a phone in my car which I fondly referred to as “the brick”. It was large and cumbersome and only worked in the car. As time went by, technology improved and companies worked diligently to make phones both smaller and more portable. Tonight while half listening to the television I caught part of an Apple commercial touting its “huge” new phone.  I realize the phone manufacturers are trying to meld the qualities of both phone and tablet, but I see a certain irony in how things have come full circle. With the aging of our society, our weakening eyesight will require larger screens so, while slimmer and more compact, we will soon find ourselves, at the current rate of development, with cell phones as large or larger than that fondly remembered brick!

Will we now have to super-size our pockets?

I have a preference for carrying my phone in the pocket of my pants. If they keep growing our phones, will the fashion industry have to make pockets to accommodate them? I would be particularly amused to see what they do with the daisy dukes currently in fashion with the younger set. Those things are barely as big as a dinner napkin as it is and I see a phone in a lot of those hip pockets! I suspect that when the girls get dressed to go out they have a check list that goes something like this:

Makeup? Check
Earrings? Check
Necklace? Check
Cell phone? Check
Keys? Check
Credit card? Check

The cell phone is clearly a fashion accessory nowadays. I see a larger phone in about the same light as the giant dollar sign shaped pendants favored by the rappers. Either way, I don’t find it attractive, much less, particularly useful! We seem to be switching back and forth between bigger and smaller faster than Alice and her potions and cakes instructing the observer to “eat me” or “drink me”! I may find myself with an iPhone 4 when everyone else has version 20, but at least I won’t be carrying around another brick!

Since posting on only one topic is usually outside my comfort zone, I’ll yield to temptation again tonight. The next topic is the writing and revising process and the things I’m learning. First of all, while working hard to overcome taking any criticism personally, I’m also learning that it’s very important to line it all up, read it carefully several times, and be very selective about what you do and do not incorporate into those revisions. Yes, I knew this on a cognitive level, but putting it into practice is an entirely different animal.

I’ve received a lot of suggestions, and many of them have been spot on, including recommendations for areas of further study. But as I reach out to other writers, I’m also finding that it’s like anything else. You need to shop around until you find the right fit. By right fit, I don’t mean the one where everyone tells me it’s wonderful and moves on. I want honest input. If it’s crap, tell me, nicely of course, but tell me. If I’m wandering down a path which will have readers running the other way, please let me know. If I bore you in the first page or two, don’t you think I need to know that? And I certainly need to know if I’m using archaic punctuation. If I wanted someone to rubber stamp my work, I’d just give it to my cat!

Granted, I might take some suggestions personally at first, but I am already learning to take what I’m told, go home and give it a day or two to just bounce around in my head. By then, I’ve taken the personal out and found myself with just the suggestions as they relate to the words I’ve written. During that time, I might also pick up a couple of other books to see if what was suggested holds true in work that’s been published and actually sold to people. If so, I’m that much more likely to take the suggestions seriously and do what I can to make my writing better.

None of us are born knowing it all, and putting our efforts out there for someone who (hopefully) knows more to review is how we improve. I’ve written in a void for far too many years. I’m coming out of the closet now, so to speak, and in so doing, want, need, even crave that input that will help make me a better writer.

I seem to have misplaced my comfort zone

Putting my work out there for criticism means leaving that warm, safe little hovel of mine further and further behind. As I bid it good-bye, my feelings are somewhat mixed, but the stronger one is relief. I no longer need to do things as I used to. The road is clear to find my own way, without restrictions. Yes, I’ll encounter new sets of rules, but it will be another opportunity to learn them well enough to break them. That, in and of itself, is an adventure!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new adventures.
2. I am grateful for things that make me go hmmmm.
3. I am grateful for good friends who listen and help me find my way when I’m feeling lost and confused.
4. I am grateful each and every day for the leap of faith I took late last year. It may not be a financial success as yet, but the intrinsic rewards are infinite.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, motivation, energy, life, joy, health and prosperity.

Namaste

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