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Posts tagged ‘comfort zone’

Communities Come in Many Flavors

Everyone Needs a Community

I’ve talked a lot about Community in the last few months, mostly because, until recently, I believed to the depths of my soul I didn’t need one. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but I was raised to believe the only way to be truly independent was to depend on myself and no one else. Above all, I should never ask for help.

In the realm of self-limiting beliefs, that one is, if not at the top of the list, it’s pretty darn near. Without other people, we severely limit our progress to our own knowledge and abilities.

It doesn’t matter if your community is purely social like the dance community is for me. Within any community are people and resources, or connections to people and resources who can help you over a mountain you don’t have the skills or ability to climb alone. They become your climbing team as you scale personal mountains which rival the height and challenges of a trek up Everest. Without the leg up your community provides, you’d be either stuck at the bottom trying to get a foothold, or down some crevasse with no one to toss a rope and pull you out.

Lack of Community Equals Lack of Growth

We limit ourselves when we choose not to reach out. Yes, I said “choose”, because asking for help truly is a choice, and one I eschewed for years in my mistaken belief it was a sign of weakness. I’ve learned the strongest people I know didn’t reach their levels of fulfillment and success alone. Those who have, or claim they have stand on shaky ground and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to shore up their position. The trouble is, without a community, a team, their building materials are faulty and will ultimately fail them; typically at the most inopportune time possible.

Admittedly, going from isolated, half blind hermit to contributing member of a community hasn’t happened over night, nor have I fully embraced the concept of asking for help. I often dismiss suggestions about selling my services, for instance, without considering them from all sides. I still think, though I have no physical evidence to support my claim, that I’m doing things the best way possible for my beliefs and temperament.

There are those in my community who may actually have some ideas to increase my odds of success. But I have to stop asking “why?” and start asking “why not?”. What do I have to lose in considering their suggestions? Instead of dismissing them out of hand, how can I modify them so they work for me?

Communities Offer a Choice of Seeds

I talked recently about planting seeds instead of beating people over the head with ideas which run counter to their own. There are times I need to wake up and pay attention to my own words. Being a part of a community means (at least if you’ve found one which aligns with your own values) you’re offered a wide array of seeds to choose from. Your best option isn’t always the one that looks the prettiest and yields your favorite fruit. It might be the one that makes you cringe a little, forcing you to look behind the veil you’ve thrown over things that scare you.

I don’t mean leaping off cliffs or walking through fire scare you. It’s more about taking a few steps in a direction you feel you’re not prepared to walk; a direction which requires skills you haven’t yet learned to trust, but which will, given the chance, stand up to the test, even if part of the journey is spent tempering them so they’ll withstand the weight you put on them as you move further into the new path.

Support May Take the Form of a Kick in the Butt

The right community will provide both support and a kick out of your comfy nest, sometimes in equal parts. In others, you’ll feel like the football in a 40 yard field goal, flying through the air, praying you’ll fly gracefully between the arches and land safely on the other side. In those moments, it’s easy to forget your community will be on the other side, if not to catch you, at least to lead your bruised and battered self off the field for some much-needed R & R until you’re ready to launch again.

Can you get all the support you need, as well as the opportunity to support others within a single community? Perhaps. But I’m also learning in order to attract all of the people, skills, and opportunities you need to fulfill your hopes and dreams (assuming you’re willing to subject yourself to a few baptisms by fire, of course), you need different communities. Each serves a different purpose and brings unique skill-sets to your table, while offering both the support and the blunt, butt-kicking honesty you need to kick that rut some call a comfort zone to the curb.

If One is Good, Two or Three is Exponentially Better

At the moment, I see 3 very distinct communities in my life which are all doing their best to propel mehttps://www.flickr.com/photos/ekilby/16654251449/in/photolist-rnFoJn-apL7G5-8dGq5W-3w8Ke-8hXDgU-jghTD-88g1hy-5TtJq-4HTyY3-bKMwoD-gmMGf-8SggFs-aR1use-9QsYh-6Lego9-dHJajk-6Uqg5T-HBz66U-6wBgGs-6EMd2b-3i2FAx-RdqC6h-aBYCYg-8cSZJL-eSGonX-3i1qEx-ov2XaG-eSTPh3-6KYT7T-dg1bo-3i2hPa-YC8cK9-3i1vc4-f9zQVL-79EZcb-6KYSRe-josrJ-imGePS-josiC-joscd-3i6Gk9-6LbHPt-jore9-9ZD8oy-5cot6h-2un1k7-jorVf-jorbz-4H1Zbr-7GDbMJ into the life I envision. The first is the one which allows me to be my plain, unadorned self, and actually have physical and energetic contact with other humans; my dance family. The other 2 are online, and to date, I’ve yet to meet anyone in person. It doesn’t make them any less effective. They serve a different purpose. One is the #Heartfelt community, and especially, Linda Clay. The other is Landon Porter’s #GorillaArmy (Getting Clients without being Sales-y). He’s created a boot camp he calls the Treasure Hunt which is full of actionable ideas to, quite bluntly, get off your butt and grow your business. I’ve been through it once, and am getting ready to go through it again.

Communities of One Count Too

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a number of individuals who don’t fit into any of my communities, but are, maybe a community of their own. One is, of course, my daughter Heather. She has been encouraging me for years, but inspires me with her actions more than anything. She has become somewhat of a hero to me for so many reasons.

The second is my oldest (as in years known) friend. We met in elementary school, and when my family moved, so did hers, putting is into the same High School. We weren’t especially close most of those years, but she is a HUGE reality check for me more often than not, and does one heck of a job kicking my butt when I need it.

Lighting the Way

In truth, when we open ourselves up to the benefits of belonging to a community, it opens our eyes to how many people have been lurking in shadows of our own making, possibly for decades. They’ve waited patiently for us to realize they’re encouraging us silently until we allow them to be more open about it, allow ourselves to receive instead of always giving.

As usual, this post has taken on a life of it’s own and gone in a direction I hadn’t intended when I started. As always, I trust it’s the direction it was meant to take, and know the side roads are not a detour, but a course adjustment.

We all need a reminder now and then to not only recognize our communities, but to appreciate and be grateful for all they offer. The give as well as the take. The support as well as the chance to support others. A network of people, skills, and knowledge we could never achieve on our own. Not least of all is the limitless opportunity to climb as many increasingly treacherous mountains as we want, provided we’re willing to be kicked out of our nest time and time again by our loving, supportive family.

And Always Being Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have supported me for years, waiting patiently for me to both acknowledge and appreciate their support, but also to do something with it. Heather, Candy, Joleen, Lorna, Anne, just to name a few. There are truly so many I’m overwhelmed and can’t always comprehend the magnitude of my support system.
  2. I am grateful for inspiration which is continuing to keep me, albeit barely, two weeks ahead on my blog posts. I look forward to expanding my “lead” in the next few weeks.
  3. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned which make me less fearful of stepping into uncharted territory.
  4. I am grateful for the people who continue coming into my life as I rip away layers of protection I’m finally learning weren’t protecting me at all, but were holding me back.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, community, guidance, lessons, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch my Facebook Live about Community here.

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

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When the Light Bulb Comes On, You Find Your Purpose

Finding My Purpose Was the Ultimate Aha Moment

I’ve been searching for my purpose for a very long time. Many times, I thought I had it figured out, only to lose momentum and realize I hadn’t found it at all. This week, a lot of things changed for me. I rode an emotional roller coaster that makes The Demon seem tame. I’ve been up and down the continuum, from happy to miserable, joyous to furious.

The ride was wild and uninhibited, opening up doors I’d sworn I’d nailed shut. But in the end, I realized one vitally important thing: I have to put my efforts into educating people about mental health and depression, de-stigmatizing them so people who need help but can’t ask will find that help in all of us. Even more, I need to keep working to de-stigmatize suicide, not only for those who saw it as their only option and are no longer around to defend their actions, but for the family, friends, and loved ones they leave behind. It’s time those who had no control over another’s actions stopped bearing the overwhelming guilt, blame, anger, and pain of something over which they had absolutely no control, and in fact, probably never saw coming.

Inserting My Purpose Into My Life, or Maybe My Life Into My Purpose

I’m not sure at this point how I’ll work my purpose into my business, or even into my life, but I finally feel

like I have one, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a giant leap in the right direction. At times like this, the words of my healing teacher, Michelle, come back to me. She said, “Paint in broad strokes.” What she meant by that (or perhaps how I interpret it) is to look at the big picture of what you want and don’t get hung up in the details. Or, to put it more simply, figure out what you want and let the Universe figure out the hows.

It’s easy to say, but it doesn’t stop me from fretting over how I’m going to connect with people who can and will benefit from my skills and experiences in a way that helps open up dialogue on such incredibly sensitive subjects. In the last week or so, I’ve seen some brilliant observations, and I’ve seen some which are irresponsibly ignorant; the most notable from a self-professed mental health professional who had the audacity to proudly proclaim he’d never lost a client to suicide. It led me to wonder exactly what kind of clients his practice attracts, and whether he picks and chooses who he’ll serve based on his assessment of their stability and suitability for his own needs.

Levels of Awareness

The truth is, I am still not sure where I’ll fit into the continuum between the masses who are ignorant of the challenges faced by people who suffer depression or other mental health issues and the large portion of our population who are often ignored and forgotten along with family and friends who are also at a loss for how to help. I suspect that now I’ve put my purpose into words; into a short description, those who serve the people I want to help will start appearing in my life. But patience isn’t my strong suit.

If I had my way, I’d already know of 10 people I could talk to about helping raise awareness, not only for those who judge without adequate facts, but for those who huddle in their own darkness, perhaps unaware that help could be found without having to actually step forward and ask. Instead, I remind myself to trust that not only those 10 people, but plenty more will come into my life at exactly the right time.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to hone my message, be clearer about what I want to do to help, and do my research so I better understand the mission I’m undertaking. Part of that I know is understanding even the professionals don’t understand all the ins and outs of the human mind. Often, what they treat are symptoms, because they’re unable to determine the root cause.

Understanding Current Practices and Treatments

Maybe treating the symptoms is necessary to clear some of the defense mechanisms away. The mind is a pretty powerful mechanism. It is hard coded to protect us, even when some of those protections are no longer needed. Sometimes, wires get crossed, but as it’s a brain instead of a computer, the wires aren’t actually visible.

To me it’s a bit like gaining the trust of a cat who was born in the wild. You have to move slowly and allow them to see you mean them no harm. If you don’t, ingrained behaviors take over causing them to flee if they can, fight if they can’t. All of us have that fight or flight mechanism. Many of us have learned to minimize its influence so we can try new things, and explore outside our comfort zone. But what about those who can’t?

Imagine being stuck in your comfort zone forever, unable to step outside. After awhile, it gets cluttered and dusty, but you have no place to move things out to make more room. The lights go out but you can’t get to the light to change the bulb, even if you could find one in the midst of the clutter. So you sit in the dark with nothing to occupy you but your own thoughts. Those thoughts get darker and twistier each time you pull them out to examine them. Your mind creates more and more reasons to stay put and not venture out, more potentially unpleasant or dangerous outcomes to contemplate. You no longer know what’s outside your four walls, and are terrified to find out.

To me, and many others, shaking free of those fears so we can get out and experience life is a no-brainer. Yet even there, we’re on different levels. Some see the idea of jumping out of a plane or bungee jumping as an exhilarating challenge. You’ll never find me doing either due to a combination of fear and lack of desire to feel that kind of adrenaline rush.

Every Comfort Zone Has its Place

I’ve known people who love to dance, but would never be the first one out on the floor for fear people would be watching them. Until someone voiced that fear, it never even crossed my mind. When I realize there are people who succumb to their fears instead of being able to challenge and overcome them, it makes me very sad but also inspires me to look for ways to help.

Sure, I’ve had my own bouts of depression; some lasted years and I didn’t even know I was there. Once I recognized it for what it was, though, I was able to make some changes. It doesn’t mean I don’t spend more than the “normal” amount of time alone, but I’m fortunate in that I rather enjoy my own company, and can keep myself occupied while alone in a multitude of ways, some of them even productive.

For now, I’ll leave myself open for clues and opportunities without worrying the whole thing to death. I know at the right time and in the right place, the people I’m meant to serve will appear in my life.

Experiencing Gratitude is the Ultimate Mood Booster

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to have finally figured out my purpose.
  2. I am grateful for the people who have come through my life and taught me lessons which brought me to where I am right now, and will take me to the next steps sooner rather than later.
  3. I am grateful for aches and pains as they remind me to take better care of my body through exercise and nutrition.
  4. I am grateful for friends and family who share their struggles with me, and let me share mine with them. I realize I am so much more fortunate than many who lack the ability or the opportunity.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, opportunities, introspection, friendship, support, joy, peace, harmony, kindness, compassion, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

Those Baby Steps Again!

Overcoming Adversity a Pound at a Time

In mid-2015 I started experiencing a lot of pain in my left shoulder. By early 2016 it had gotten so bad, my arm was continually numb and even a bra strap on my shoulder was more pressure than even my extraordinarily high pain tolerance could handle. After x-rays revealed issues in my neck, I consulted with an orthopedist who found a herniated disk along with spinal stenosis.

When I began the prescribed physical therapy, I was barely able to lift 1-pound weights, which was a significant decrease from my previous ability to do chest presses and flys with 15-pound free weights. But between the physical therapy and changing my diet, I slowly regained enough strength to use 5- and eventually, 10-pound weights.

Creating Our Own Brand of Consistency

Over the last couple of years, I was intermittently continuing regular workouts and gaining strength in fits and starts. My progress was directly related to the consistency of my gym visits, or lack thereof. The baby steps were happening, but the irregularity of my commitment was easily apparent in the slow and sometimes nonexistent increase in strength I observed.

That all changed in the last few months. I finally realized the only way to honor my commitment to myself was to keep track of when I went to the gym, and to schedule regular days, not only for workouts, but for specific areas being worked as well. With consistency came greater progress, and I’m now doing flys and presses with 25-pound free weights, and bench pressing 55 pounds. It might not seem like much to those who have achieved consistency over the long term, but for me, it represents more than merely the most weight I’ve ever been able to manage, but the result of finding what worked for me.

I don’t push myself as hard as a lot of the people I see at the gym for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is lack of a spotter. But I’m also at an age where I have to be more careful of the exercises I do and the amount of weight I’m using. I may not look my age on the outside, but on the inside, things are not as flexible or resilient as they once were. I’d rather err on the side of caution and continue to retain my independence.

I have noticed that lifting the 5-gallon water bottles with one hand has become far simpler lately. And clothes I had to weigh less to wear are now fitting though I’m 5 or 6 pounds heavier.

Taking Smaller Steps to Larger Goals

What I’m really trying to demonstrate with my story is that baby steps will always get you where you want to go eventually. It’s not how big the steps you take might be, but the consistency of taking those steps. Face it, a thousand 2 foot steps will get you a whole lot farther than 10 20 foot steps. And in the process, those smaller steps will build up your strength, or teach you new skills, or even gain you some help on your journey. If you want to reach your goals more quickly, you’re often better off taking more small steps instead of a few bigger ones. Each of those small steps is a brick in the foundation you’re building to support the new and improved version of yourself.

When we take a lot of small steps, we’re spending time reinforcing the changes we’re making. We also leave more space to adjust our course if something is taking us away from what we want. Or, as more often happens, our goal changes because we learn new things which open up possibilities we could neither see nor consider when we began. It’s a lot easier to adjust course if we’ve gone a foot or two off track vs. several miles. If nothing else, less distance to backtrack means we start moving forward much sooner.

Lovin’ My Baby Steps

As you may have read in other posts, I’m a big fan of baby steps for a lot of reasons.

  • Less course correction, as previously mentioned
  • More time to learn skills you’ll need as you get closer to your goals
  • Opportunities for collaboration you might miss if you’re moving too fast
  • Creation of healthier habits from commitments you make to yourself
  • A stronger foundation because you’re taking the time and care to expand on what’s working and jettison what’s not

Needless to say, I’m more the tortoise than the hare, plodding along at what might sometimes seem a snail’s pace. But don’t be fooled by my lack of visible progress. I’m likely working on something that isn’t visible to the naked eye, but is critical to the integrity of the structure I’m creating. You don’t see the re-bar in the slab beneath your house or office building, but its presence means you’re standing on much firmer ground.

Finding Our Own Ways and Means

Some people learn life skills like fixing things around the house, balancing a check book, and creating a budget. They know how to read a contract and how to ask questions to be sure they’re getting exactly what they want and need. They’re also less likely to be taken in by a salesperson with questionable ethics (though not immune, to be sure!), and more likely to call someone on “facts” that don’t add up.

Others really struggle with what some of us consider elementary concepts. They’re easy targets for people who care only for the money they make from people whose welfare they believe is not their concern.

The same is true of the steps we take to reach our goals and the commitments we make to the steps required to achieve them. For some, the steps are obvious and the commitments necessary are easy. Others are faced with dilemmas with each new phase. Those dilemmas might be physical, mental, or emotional restrictions. They might also be purely moral.

Nobody Knows You Like You Do

Whatever drives you to choose one path or another is unique to you, and has very valid reasons for being necessary. It doesn’t matter if your choices make no sense to anyone else. For you, they represent steps you have to take to get to the next level. By the same token, steps someone else takes might seem obvious or elementary to you because you’re coming to the table with a different set of skills.

To move forward, it’s necessary to step outside our comfort zone, but how fast we take those steps is unique to us, and necessary. If we step too quickly for our own abilities and discomfort, we’re more likely to dive back into our shell of comfort and security than move forward. We all need to find our own “sweet spot” of discomfort where we can tolerate risk for the promise of a reward.

Several wise people have pointed out we are all at different stages in our life plan. You can’t measure yourself against someone else because you’ll be ahead of them in some areas, behind them in others, and on the same level in still others. What’s more important is to realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be right here and right now.

Grateful Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my increasing physical strength.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I’m learning which help me push further out of my comfort zone.
  3. I am grateful for slow, steady progress and the help I find along the way.
  4. I am grateful for momentum. The further I go, the more I achieve in less time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; strength, health, flexibility, knowledge, help, connections, inspiration, motivation, detours, delays, aha moments, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

Building a Firm Foundation

Building a Foundation is No Easy Task

Foundations come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Though what comes to mind when we hear the word is often the cement slab beneath many homes and buildings. But the kind of foundation I’m talking about is built of people. It’s the network which is formed when we become part of a community, be it a church, a family, a group of synergistic businesses, or people following the same path.

In short, building a foundation is about connecting with those who will be our support group through good times and bad. We’re there for them, and they are there for us. It sounds pretty simple, and for most people, it probably is.

But there are far too many of us who slip through the cracks. We have trouble connecting in the first place, often due to a restrictive combination of massive introversion and a history of taking care of ourselves and not asking for help. From the outside looking in, we look like anyone else, moving through life’s pitfalls with all the help we might need to navigate.

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth, and I write for those people because I am one of them. We do try to connect but our circuit never fully completes. We’ll go along just fine for a while, sharing a bit of ourselves and listening when others need to share. But when the lights go off at night we’re always alone. When the world feels like it’s crashing down around our ears, there’s no one to help dig us out.

For the Many Who Stand On Unstable Ground

When we do admit we’re on shaky ground, it typically either scares people away or pisses them off. How dare we be less than the strong, capable person we let people believe we are. What could possibly possess us to show weakness and expect anyone, even family to understand that sometimes we could really use a little propping up. The truth is, our foundation is built on quicksand which drags us dangerously close to the abyss where one day we’ll just fall in and never come back out.

And we’re not so sure we’d even be missed.

That’s not to say we’re not a part of one community or another. But we stay on the outskirts, never fully embraced by those at the center of the circle. It’s not their fault. Likes attract like, and we never learned the give and take of normal relationships. We’re too afraid of being rejected to truly allow people to see our soft, gooey center. We might give them samples to see how they react. But if we perceive even the slightest hint of disgust, we pull back into our tortoise shell so quickly as to leave them wondering if they even saw anything worthy of so visceral a reaction.

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone, But Only So Far

Surprisingly enough, many of us continue to venture out, trying to find that foundation, that community everyone around us seems to enjoy. Most if not all of us aren’t exactly joiners, but we’ll follow our passions wherever they take us, at least until things get too scary. Then back into our shells we go. In our lives, the shell is the firmest foundation we have. It’s lonely and it’s isolated, but from our skewed perception, it’s safe.

“Safe” is of course a relative term. Safe from having your heart broken? Check. Safe from an earthquake or tidal wave? Not so much. Safe from starvation or homelessness? Probably not that either. Safe from dying of sheer loneliness? Definitely not.

Though we may be better off alone under certain circumstances, in the long run, we’re not. We simply have to find our tribe; the people who accept us warts and all, and who are ready and willing to support us when, as I tend to say we’re “not in a good place right now”. More than that, we need people who understand we don’t want to burden anyone with a litany of all the things that are scaring us at the moment.

Foundations of a Different Kind

We might not even be able to handle a full-on foundation. A few struts to support us until we get our legs back under us may have to suffice. Maybe that’s another version of a foundation anyway.

Most people see a foundation as a firm, solid base, but what if, for those of us who are foundation-challenged, we simply need a looser interpretation. Our ideal foundation is built of people who understand that sometimes we need to stand alone or even isolate ourselves, while others, we want and need to be safe within the womb of our tribe. Our need for a more fluid, flexible foundation is harder to meet.

We need people as sensitive as we are to those undercurrents that aren’t visible to the naked eye; people who sense rather than see when they’re needed. Interestingly enough, most people have no problem sensing how we can be a sensitive ear or a supportive shoulder, which just proves there are people who are able to be part of our foundation.

Testing the Waters: An Introvert’s Safety Net

Many times I write a post that comes from the depths of my soul because I know someone out there might be feeling the same and needs to know they’re not alone. Once in a great while, I’ll get a message from someone who recognizes the unspoken story behind the words, and knows I, too am asking for help in the only way I know how. I know it’s completely backwards and short-sighted to expect people to see both sides of the message. And frankly, it’s somewhat intentional.

In a way, I’m testing the waters to see if anyone recognizes there’s more to my words than meets the eye. It’s my own distorted way of checking out the people I think understand me to see if I can offer them a more candid shot. Most of the time, it goes no further.

Setting Ourselves Up for Failure

I know I’m not alone here either. Too many hold back large chunks of their true selves because they are constantly disappointed by the responses they get when they put themselves out there. The trouble is, they, like me, tend to do so in such a way that they ensure their disappointment. We send out mixed messages, or are too cautious about letting people see our hurt, or fear, or lack of confidence. We’re too subtle for our own good.

Worse still, we see ourselves as too broken to be of any use to anyone when we’re being our true selves. We lend an ear, and at least in my case, are privy to the brokenness in other people they don’t easily share with others. They sense the kindred spirit, but we never give them the opportunity to return the favor or get to know us better. Because of the inherent need in most humans to both need and be needed, these relationships die on the vine because we don’t nurture both sides of the equation.

But I, like others who see the world through these distorted lenses would probably be surprised to learn that those we helped would be there for us if we only cracked a window or left the door unlocked.

All is Not Lost

Foundations can be formed, even by the most broken among us. But in order to do that, we have to be willing to live with our fears for a little longer, and take a risk of being dropped on our keester one more time. Most of all, we have to take a huge chance and let someone know that no, we are not OK right now and could use a little shoring up. The initial steps are going to be the stuff of every nightmare we ever dredged up from our subconscious minds. Yet we never seem to imagine the glory and joy of potential rewards, do we?

Letting Gratitude Strengthen Our Foundation

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I have an outlet for my fears and tough times, even if no one actually recognizes the hidden meaning behind the words. I’m better for having gotten them out there and maybe, just maybe, helped one person over a rough patch.
  2. I’m grateful for my writing. Sometimes, it truly is the only thing between me and throwing in the proverbial towel.
  3. I’m grateful for the bits and pieces of foundation I’ve been able to gather. They may not prop me up every time, but there have been a few pleasant surprises along the way.
  4. I’m grateful for the memory of my parents’ suicides if only because they serve as a reminder of what their untimely deaths have done to me, not only in the months and years immediately afterwards, but of the deeper wounds I continue to slog through.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: WORDS. I have an abundance of words for just about any situation!

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your uniquely genuine self. 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

Hidden Demons of Self-Sabotage

Removing the Tendency to Self-Sabotage

Most of us are guilty of self-sabotaging behavior at one time or another. It’s human nature to try to protect the position we’re in from the unknown. Whether we’re waiting for feedback on our writing or a proposal, a new job or client, or even a budding friendship or romance, we often find ourselves self-sabotaging without even realizing it.

Too often, we try to fend off disappointment by convincing ourselves beforehand that we’re somehow unworthy, under-qualified, unlovable, or harboring other such mucky, ugly-feeling thoughts. To that I say, in the immortal words of Tim Conway: “STOP THAT!”

You are worthy. You are lovable. You are qualified. You are perfect just the way you are. The fact that something you’re waiting for either doesn’t come through, or is delayed has nothing to do with you! There are a million and seven reasons why you don’t get picked, or in all too many cases, wait longer than you anticipated. Shake it off. Go for a walk. Clean the house. Go to the gym. Immerse yourself in something you love. Do whatever it takes to shove those negative thoughts back into the void where they came from, and out of your head.

Learning to Expand Our Own Reality

I’m not telling you to fill your head with fairy tales and nothing but happily-ever-afters (though doing so without getting too deep into the hows, whens, whys, and wherefores isn’t a bad thing either). I’m saying every time one of those negative thoughts starts to creep in, you fill the spot it’s trying to occupy with something better, something that will lift you up rather than dragging you down. If you can’t find anything yourself, call one of your favorite cheerleaders. Even hermits like me have more than we realize!

By now you may be wondering why this topic came to the top of my list of blog ideas. Like you, I have my moments when that scared little girl who lives deep inside wants to ensure she’s not disappointed yet again if the Universe decides not to grant her dearest wish. That’s when I grab the jaded, world-weary adult by the throat and say “Really? Are you going to let her get away with this? After all the times our disappointments turned into triumphs? When every disappointment turned out to be a blessing in disguise? When you know full well passion and positivity bring what we want and need every…single…time???”

My inner adult spends a lot of time daydreaming and doing her best to live in the moment, but there are times she’s hopelessly out to lunch and lets the child within take the wheel for a little too long. The adult has learned that though life may not always seem fair, things always turn out the way they’re supposed to, and get there more quickly if we don’t turn into a whiny 5-year-old while we’re waiting for most of the ducks to stop wandering around aimlessly and line up in at least a semblance of a straight line. (I have learned to never expect perfection before I move forward. I’d still be sitting on my arse doing nothing, and would certainly not have 5 books in various stages of publication readiness if I didn’t move until everything was perfectly aligned.)

Let’s Get Physical

The best way to get the adult’s attention these days is to do something physical: lace up my sneakers and hit the gym, clean the house (an adventure in itself when my ADD joins the mix), rake leaves. Anything to get my mind out of my head and into my body for a while. Focusing on something physical still allows my mind to wander, but now it’s not wallowing, or fretting, or expecting the worst. Instead, it’s seeing something accomplished or, as it did today, finding I needed to sit and write some thoughts that came up when Nelly Negative stopped getting her way.

Coming up with a blog topic is a win all across the board for me, since I’ve committed to a completely manageable two posts per week. So far, I’ve managed to write and pre-schedule posts about 5 times out of 8 as a result of my mental re-directions. Invariably. changing the direction my thoughts want to take brings up a talking/writing point. I get the first few paragraphs written (or the first 1000 words or so), then get back to whatever I was doing that took me out of the “woe is me” mindset.

Don’t Let the Prospect of Change Dull Your Sparkle

As I’ve mentioned an a few other occasions, change is scary, and our inner child will fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo unless we assure her the change will bring some new adventure which, while exciting and a bit scary, will be the most fun ever. Of course, if we want to convince said child, we must first believe it ourselves, and not allow ourselves to be derailed by those flickers of doubt swimming at the edge of our consciousness.

While listening to a video today, the speaker said something I found very profound. He said “I’m not asking you to believe, because that lets in doubt. I’m asking you to be open to the possibility.” I never thought of it that way before. More often, I’d do my best to at least suspend disbelief, if not try twisting my mind until it believed what it might not be able to see, feel, or touch. By simply being open to the possibility, we remove action from the mix, and become a receptor. We no longer unconsciously throw up blocks because we’re not actively involved in allowing or disallowing a concept to take root and grow.

Being Open to Possibilities

As you go through your day, bombarded with opportunities to change how you think or feel about the world around you, I encourage you to take a few moments to simply be open to whatever thoughts, ideas, and opportunities arise. Release the need to judge them worthy or not, viable or not. Look at them impassively, and be open to the possibilities. You’ll gently and easily absorb the ones that cause a little glimmer of interest or feel like bottled potential. You won’t feel the need to fight with yourself or consider all sides of the matter, ad infinitum, ad nauseum until the opportunity passes. Sure, it would make your inner whiner happy that another scary change was averted, but what about your conscious self? Don’t they deserve a little adventure in their lives?

As I write that, a question pops into my head: “When is a rut not a rut?” and the answer comes loud and clear. “Never! A rut is always a rut. No magic ever happens there.”

The comfort zone is the biggest and most tenacious rut we fall victim to. I use the word “victim” intentionally, because the comfort zone is the biggest block to progress, to a happy and fulfilled life we’ll ever run into. It does its best to thwart ideas which lead to those scary leaps of faith and trying something new without any guarantee of a positive outcome. Yet nothing worth having is without an element of risk. Even as a child, we took those risks and most of us have lived to talk about it.

We crossed streets alone, without the benefit of Mom or Dad’s hand. We learned to ride a bicycle or roller skate. As teenagers, we learned to drive a car. And the list goes on. If you were to sit down and write down all the things you do today which were once scary and foreign, you’d be amazed at how often you took a chance on the unknown. So why stop now?

Taking a Moment for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities to step out of comfort and into magic.
  2. I’m grateful for the ability to either calm or silence my inner child and her misgivings.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities that make my stomach drop 10 stories, and my mind soar with the possibilities.
  4. I’m grateful for the scary moments when I have to tell myself whatever happens will be exactly what I need, even if it’s not exactly what I thought I wanted.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, lessons, challenges, friendships, roller coaster rides, riding the crests and the troughs, love, joy, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri 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 specialties are 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. You can also find her on Facebook at Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Giving the Blog a Facelift Again

In Search of Authenticity

Once again it’s time to change the face of my blog to reflect the changes I’ve made in my life. The change comes because I’ve discovered how valuable it is to show the world our authentic selves. How many times do we get ourselves in trouble by trying to be someone who is not in alignment with our soul? I don’t mean the times when we fake it til we make it, but when we pretend to be someone we’re not for the sole purpose of fitting in. To quote Dr. Seuss “why fit in when you were meant to stand out?”

To say it’s been a rough couple of months for me would be overstating the obvious. Yet it seems I’m not done with the latest series of Universal kicks in the ass. Yes, folks. We’ve gone way beyond head slaps at this point and I’m being seriously challenged to remain upright instead of throwing in the proverbial towel. To put it bluntly, at 62 years old I find myself in the unenviable position of needing to either rejoin a less-than-welcoming job market or somehow manifest some seriously lucrative freelance work. My friend Lucia told me last night that I know what I need to do. My response was to update and publicize my resume, though I know she meant I need to get past my fear and distaste and start pitching like a maniac.

The Ugly Side of Job Sites

Naturally, as soon as I made my resume public on LinkedIn, Indeed, and Careerbuilder I was inundated with emails from insurance companies looking for salespeople and franchise brokers looking for investors. I have to laugh as I would never have made my resume public again if I had money to invest in a new enterprise, much less something which is ultimately benefiting corporate America!

I’m waiting for the influx of employment agencies who have no intention of sending me on a single interview but would love to put me in their inventory to molder on the shelf. I expect a reprieve until Monday when they’re back at their desks.

Open the Window and See the Opportunities

In Neurogym’s winning the Game of Money, the first recording tells a story about walking across the desert, realizing you’re thirsty and have no water, and feeling a little desperate until you trip over a cactus and realize sources of water have been there all along. You just failed to notice or recognize them. I’m doing my best to remember that those cacti, those opportunities really are there. I simply need to alter my focus so I’ll see them for what they are.

To do that I have to avoid both wallowing in my misery and fear, and step a few more paces outside the comfortable and familiar. After all, I know what I’ll find there; more of the same. And yet, I went dancing tonight (against my better judgement), and tried desperately to hold it together. Needless to say, all it took was one person asking “are you OK?” and I failed epicly. But to my surprise, I learned that it’s the next step in living my authenticity. After a lifetime of being strong and independent, I’m still learning not only how to be vulnerable, but that I’m allowed to be vulnerable. To hear my friend Judy tell it, the Universe is going to continue kicking my arse on this one until I stop fighting it and just let myself need other people.

Vulnerability and Independence are Not Mutually Exclusive

This may not seem like anything world-shaking to most of you, but for me, it’s scary as hell to have to depend on someone else. Though I know on a conscious level it doesn’t mean I have to give up my independence, on an egoistic level, my entire being is on high alert, flashing red lights, sirens, and throwing every safeguard I know at what it sees as a security breach. How can I possibly impose on anyone? They have their own problems to deal with. They don’t need to listen to me whine about mine, right?

To hear Judy tell it, I’m dead wrong on this one. This is where I learn to accept help, be it human or Divine. This is where I get the wake-up call that I can’t do it all on my own, no matter how tough and independent I think I am. Until I walk this walk, I can talk all I want to about living authentically, but until I expose that naked underbelly of vulnerability, I’m just another woman behind the mask.

When Our Dreams Scare Us Silly

I had a dream a couple of months ago that I was alone and close to starving. Most of my cats had died because I couldn’t afford to take them to the vet. It’s hard to accept that it wasn’t a premonition of Toby’s death even though I know spending more money on his care would have been unlikely to prolong a quality life for him. But a part of me lives in fear that since I’ve learned how much worse off I am financially, others will experience health problems to make my premonition a reality.That, above everything else would be most likely to have me giving up on it all, so of course, I can’t let that happen. All the more reason to increase my awareness of those lurking opportunities.

Taking Another Leap Outside My Comfort Zone

Still I’m looking forward to the 1000 Speakers Academy I’ll be volunteering at next week. There’s nothing quite so uplifting and inspiring as spending time with successful business owners who are passionate about what they do. And it might be just the place to not only help others but allow someone to help me too! Stay tuned for updates on that!

In Loving Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for my friends who are willing and able to help the Universe kick my butt when I need it.
  2. I am grateful for my lessons in vulnerability, even if I’m learning them, kicking and screaming the whole way.
  3. I am grateful for a young man named Adam who gave me such a high energy, fun, silly West Coast Swing tonight that it chased the blues away completely! (Some people dance WCS sexy and classy, and some of us are more of a Lucy Ricardo meets Mae West) Never again will I berate myself for not being the smooth, classy dancer I see other women being. My Authentic self is just perfect.
  4. I am grateful for being the silly, fun, sometimes irreverent with I am. Not everyone appreciates that in me, but then, I don’t need to please everyone either.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health (me and my family, both human and furry, friends, and acquaintances too!), dancing, vulnerability, authenticity, inspiration, motivation, Universal butt kicks, friendship, love, giving and receiving, peace, harmony, 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. She specializes 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.

Change the Outside to Change the Inside

A Small Change Sets the Snowball In Motion

We can measure our progress through life by the changes we have made. Some of those changes are intentional, and others are thrust upon us. The effect is the same, but different.

When changes are thrust upon us, we’re like flotsam in the wind. We can choose whether we grab onto something and hold tight to what was, let the wind toss us where it will, or take an active part in mapping our course around the obstacles and against the wind. All too often, these occur when the Universe gets tired of waiting for us to get off our butts and move. I can point to at least a couple of job lay-offs which did just that for me.

Intentional changes give us more control. We choose when to make those changes, how much to change, and what direction those changes will take—to a point. We’re still subjected to external conditions beyond our control, and our ability to switch gears mid-stream will still be tested. But at least we get to choose the starting point.

Turning Dissatisfaction into Opportunity

Lately I’ve become dissatisfied with my current environment; not only physical, but emotional and mental as well. Thankfully, I’ve finally evolved enough to realize I had to make a change, even if it was a tiny one. As I’ve already mentioned a few times, it started when I emptied the last remaining box from the remodel-from-hell. Suddenly, most of what was currently in my control from that little fiasco was gone.

That single act was the snowball which gathered speed along with a few more unneeded items, and started making significant changes in my world. Soon, the box filled with oversized clothes I’d packed up a couple of months ago finally found it’s way to the Samaritan Center. The pair of red Adirondack chairs moved from the sidewalk in front of Lowe’s to my front porch (with a little help from my daughter and her Prius).

Synchronicities began to occur. I’d grabbed some paint chips when we bought my weed whacker (still waiting for a little less heat to actually be used) thinking I’d paint the living room someday. But when we took a wrong turn coming home from the fair grounds and ended up at the beach, I noticed the water matched my paint chip. The next step in my journey began. I was finally ready to make a major change to my environment.

Simple Pleasures

Not only is my living room now a lovely shade of sea green with a deep turquoise accent wall, I got to spend more time than usual with my daughter, working on a project that made us both happy. I’m also one step closer to making my half demolished living room look more inviting both because of the new paint, but also because it inspired me to clear the piles of books on sofa and table.

Replacing the single white plastic chair  on my front porch with two more comfortable red ones gives an outward symbol of my desire to  invite people to share my space. The sea green walls reinforce my dream of one day having an estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The beachy red chairs will make the transition nicely. To an outside observer, these hardly seem like steps in the right direction. If you consider that changes begin, not with an act, but with our mindset, the impact of these seemingly small changes is huge. I’ve created a daily reminder of my love of the ocean and how much it figures in my long-term dreams.

I wake every morning to the clean, refreshing color of the walls feeling both soothed and invigorated when I see them as I walk towards the kitchen. Even the china hutch got a face lift since it had to be moved to paint. I took the opportunity to lovingly handle the memories it contained, and have since had an opportunity to use some of the wine glasses with a friend.

A Little Means So Much

These fairly small acts have done something for me I’d failed to achieve any other way. They made room for what I’ve been struggling to attract: people, work, abundance. Until it was cleared, I hadn’t realized how much I’d blocked because of stuff that reminded me of a failure in my life. I hadn’t let go of the pain that failure had caused to find the valuable lessons it gave me. Until I did, I could only see the room, quite literally as a place of muted colors.

My life won’t change overnight. What I did was to find a starting point for making the changes. I got past the overwhelm of having too many things needing repair or change and just picked a spot. Places I’d never even noticed became visible once I’d opened a little space; a chink in my self-imposed fort.

If You Want to Manifest, Create Some Space

Everything is related. When you open a space, you start manifesting. If you want to attract someone into your life, you need to make space: a drawer, a closet, the way you make your bed up. When you clear out a box, a business opportunity might appear like more than one has for me.

Part of the reason we fail to move forward is the firm grip we have on our past. Once we realize we won’t drown if we let go of those irrelevant lifelines, we realize how much we enjoy traveling a little bit lighter. So many of the bricks we’re carrying around are added weight rather than anything we need to shore up a shaky foundation. In fact, sometimes that shaky foundation is the best place for us to be because it forces us to find our balance in other ways.

What Will You Change to Open Space for Manifesting?

What about you? What do you want to bring into your life? What is taking up space in your life or home that is no longer needed? It could be physical, emotional, or something else entirely. What one thing can you release or change to bring your dream one step closer? Stretch your imagination on this. Step out of your comfort zone as far as you can. For me, it was a box of Tupperware. For you, it might be a piece of furniture, an old tent, or even a relationship that’s no longer serving your greater good. Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about your journey and how you made it work for you; how you got yourself back on the road to achieving your dreams.

Join the Gratitude Brigade

Of course, all of these changes would be for naught without gratitude. The Universe gives us more when we show appreciation for what we already have. We express our joy for the people, places, and things in our life and that joy attracts more that makes us joyful.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to my daughter for helping me make some much-needed changes in my physical environment.
  2. I am grateful to have finally left the pain of some lessons behind.
  3. I am grateful for the new manifestations in my journey.
  4. I am grateful to be making my way towards my dreams one baby step at a time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love friendship, clear spaces, joy, peace, harmony, opportunities, help, dreams, inspiration, health, family, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light.

 

You can find the associated Facebook Live Video here!

 

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. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

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