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

Posts tagged ‘commitment’

Living My Life Unapologetically At Last

Unapologetically Me

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

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

Owning My Choices

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

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

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

Wasting Effort on Other Peoples’ Happiness

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

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

Driven by Passion, Not by Fear

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

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

Holding the Dream Loosely

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

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

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

Clearing the Clutter

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

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

Committing to Myself

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

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

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

A Daily Practice: Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

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

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Giving Relationships a Fighting Chance

How Does a Successful Relationship Begin?

Created with CanvaWhen I was in my 20’s there was a belief many of us shared that said living together before marriage was the best way to determine whether you could survive the perils and pitfalls of life with someone else sharing your space. Like any other belief, it worked for some people and not for others. I’ve seen as many relationships fail after a period of living together (including my own) as I have when there wasn’t. The long and short of it is, there aren’t any guarantees, no matter how you approach merging your life with someone else’s.

Today, I have friends who’ve been married more than 30 years, as well as some who’ve been married multiple times. Some of us pretty much gave up after 1 failure, and others have opted for a committed relationship without the piece of paper. Looking around, I’ve noticed a few things.

  • Commitment is a mindset
  • Making a relationship work takes effort from both parties
  • Desperation does not yield the best of choices
  • Sometimes, alone is better
  • “Want” and “need” are two very different animals
  • Compromise doesn’t mean giving in all the time
  • Without self-love, you can’t have a healthy, long-lasting relationship

People Pleasing Doesn’t Build Self-Esteem

Contrary to popular belief, people who allow themselves to be doormats are Created with Canvaseldom happy. I have several friends who turned themselves inside out to please someone and keep a relationship going, only to see it fall apart anyway. Today, they’re stronger for it, and unwilling to repeat past mistakes. They realize how unhappy and unfulfilled they were while trying to be what they thought someone else wanted them to be. In her song “Miss Me More”, Kelsea Ballerini sings “I thought I’d miss you, but I miss me more”. I think this epitomizes the concept of being true to yourself as well as anything I’ve seen or heard.

Living together could help uncover some potential problems a couple might encounter, but unless the masks come off, all aspects of the living situation are shared, and decisions are made jointly, I’m not convinced it will guarantee success. In some ways, you’d remain in “honeymoon status” because one or both of you are trying to keep the other happy. In truth, neither of you will be happy in the long run because, quite frankly, maintaining that blissful, carefree state is exhausting.

Life gets in the way. Trying to be perpetually cheerful, happy, and willing to please your partner eventually becomes a chore. You want and need “me” time, or to be the one who’s pampered and catered to. Even in a relationship where there’s a lot of give and take, there will be times when one or the other is used up emotionally by job, finances, family, and a host of other issues, and has nothing left to give. Those moments and how you manage them together will only show up if you’re honest and open.

Easy In = Easy Out

Sometimes they are the show-stoppers in a living together arrangement. Since you’ve made no real commitment, it’s easier to decide you’re unwilling to make the effort and walk away. Or to use another old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” though in this case, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure, marriages end too, but I’d like to think most people who’ve made a commitment to each other give breaking the commitment a lot more thought than those who, to use the vernacular, are just “shacking up”.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against living together, or even being in a relationship and maintaining separate homes. I’ve seen that work well too. My point is you have to avoid falling into “honeymoon mode” if you make such a choice. Successful long-term relationships can begin in a multitude of ways, but only last when they’re based on honesty, mutual respect, and a healthy balance of give and take. One person can’t put all their time and energy into trying to make the other happy.

Face it. The only person you can make happy is yourself. If someone isn’t committed to their own happiness, no amount of love and attention from outside is going to bring them happiness. It’s truly an inside job.

Throwing Trust Into the Mix

In my own life, the single factor which has caused every single unsuccessful https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvrelationship to fail, be it employer-employee, co-workers, friends, or lovers has been lack of trust. It took me a long time to recognize the red flags, but after many painful situations and outright failures, I’ve learned to run when I see the signs:

  • Requiring me to prove myself in order to “earn” their trust
  • A tendency to talk more and listen less
  • Disrespect in any form
  • Mention of prior relationships in which their trust was abused
  • Failure to answer direct questions honestly. This may include diversion, humor, or flat out refusal.
  • Narcissism
  • Inattention such as taking a call in the middle of an interview, flirting with the waitress during a date, or any other behavior which implies I’m an afterthought

https://www.flickr.com/photos/svensson/4829867389/in/photolist-6XCAQH-WgXmBb-byu3Nn-6XCCec-F2ovRt-Gn7Ut6-7xLAFR-6XCBk8-8mNkiF-6XGAK9-p3qjVr-24BFZCb-24BG1Vb-poheFW-p8PQeo-F2orHZ-66bJw1-667u2F-F2okjr-GxKsrU-5kBreE-4tZPNF-66bL5y-667tVr-pqhycN-F2owK2-8mRw1h-24E9hKg-23jj36V-f7TE62-24BFXBY-5NnPFa-24BG3po-22t2Y6M-F2ojVR-4pHCNQ-F2osaR-23jj3vH-66bL2U-66bHY9-23AG54S-5dGrPJ-64i5Dg-4zorW-24BFZ1u-4MCNfE-6i2AXJ-5kBpHY-3rLwcC-3rFJXKNeedless to say, I’ve been burned by every one of these, and quite a few more as well. I suspect I’m not alone either. Everyone has a horror story or two to tell about a job, a friendship gone wrong, or a relationship that tanked. Each of us also has perfect hindsight. You know why it went wrong…now. But you allowed it to unfold for longer than it should have even with all your alarm bells clanging and red flags waving.

Knowing How to Lay a Firm Foundation

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyWhen all is said and done, I don’t think how you begin a relationship, be it personal, work, or anything else determines success or failure. It’s about whether the parties to the arrangement are willing to put the effort into making it work. It’s about mindset and owning responsibility for your own happiness. Most of all, you have to decide from the onset whether it’s a passing fling or something you want to last a lifetime.

There are no guarantees. Things happen. People change. Lives end. The world interferes. But you can’t weather the storms if you’re not willing to get soaked now and then.

Gratitude: The Strongest Brick in Your Structure

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned by failing.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who’ve taught me what I deserve, and the ones who’ve taught me what I don’t.
  3. I’m grateful for peaceful afternoons spent creating. I truly am living the life of my dreams in a lot of ways.
  4. I’m grateful for flexibility; schedules, tasks, friendships. Life throws us curveballs and being able to step out of the way rather than face them all head on means a more peaceful, stress-free life.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, laughter, love, friendship, creativity, inspiration, motivation, opportunities, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

 

Time for Change Again

Riding the Winds of Change

created with CanvaI’m feeling somewhat alienated lately. Friends I once hung out with, laughing and carefree now gravitate towards others who share their need to frequently vocalize dissatisfaction with their lives, or conflicts with others. I want no part of it and as a result I find myself once again on the outside looking in.

Overall it’s a good thing. I’d rather steer clear of the whining and complaining. Perhaps things will shift and the negativity will run its course. Meanwhile, I’ll either have to find others to hang with until this cycle peters out, or revert to my normal, isolationist patterns.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issue with friends needing to vent their spleen, and to find others who share their current mindset. There are times I’ve needed to do so myself, and am grateful people put up with me while I did. Right now, I know if I stayed there too long I’d start absorbing the negative energy and find fault instead of joy with my own life. Though I enjoy having a pack to run with, I’m OK being a lone wolf for awhile too. Perhaps I’m being pushed into being alone so I can spend more time working on my projects and business. I’ve always believed things happen for a reason

To Everything There’s a Time; a Season

A friend recently pointed out I have my own cycles. Sometimes I simply need a https://www.flickr.com/photos/sermoa/7289177616/in/photolist-c77Wy9-r361B6-7UmPsp-XGAjhz-64e9v7-2aA91KA-dgqyUQ-45XqnC-9QJ7eT-9QN5fS-sHuD2X-eYWQtB-fbDKCi-RX57Dd-21GaQYp-ap2UBy-2cqyUd9-4BaZUn-XR9iq1-649VdX-GEVNFE-37rTTS-8GD4Ct-21M2mrm-8PB966-kzYvK4-6Vje9y-4Hq3oP-izzeb3-ouihv3-NiJYj7-bua5Bm-iRQDZe-jpV8mm-gJX2L-R36JFv-23NUNNG-2cw7Nyt-2a4658R-npfQy2-RZFcen-M2YpLg-STMqAt-WKMNmd-29UnKjq-owijzY-f4WJBJ-96ELMg-p9Cein-T8HccTlong stretch of alone time. Nothing is wrong. I need to be alone to do some self care and work on me for a little while without distraction or interruption. It could be I’ve waited too long to indulge my inner hermit.

She must be indulged even if it’s simply a matter of taking a few days to lay low and get things done. Doing multiple loads of bedding has even crept into my dreams. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder I need to wash the sheets and comforters from both beds which usually requires 3-4 loads. I need to get caught up on blog posts again and schedule another month’s worth of posts for Medium. I also have to finish compiling blog posts for my opt-in E-book.

That doesn’t even take into consideration the rewrite I’ve had hanging over my head for a couple of months. Clearly, disenchantment with the energy the people around me are exuding means it’s time I got myself organized, which requires alone time. Either I make it for myself or the Universe makes it for me.

A Time to Build My Network, and a Time to Do the Work

I’ve learned we all have cycles we go through; ups and downs, highs and lows. I know I need time to indulge my social side, and time to be alone with my thoughts, dreams, and hopes. Times to look deep inside myself and decide which of the many paths laid out before me I want to take, and what I’ll have to do to make it happen.

Lately, I’ve given those hopes and dreams short shrift. I’ve done the easy stuff like writing blog posts (easy for me, anyway), and setting up posts for Medium. I’ve shirked the tougher stuff like putting together the E-book or starting to re-write my memoir.

The truth is, I only hurt myself when I take the easy road. Pushing the big dreams into a corner while I essentially play games with myself is cruel and unkind. I deserve better. Perhaps that’s why I’m so sensitive to my friends’ complaints. Except I know I have no one to blame but myself.

Nobody is turning my attention away from what’s important but me. No one is criticizing me, or throwing obstacles in my path. There’s nobody to suck my energy except my old fiend, procrastination.

Re-Focusing My Energy

It doesn’t mean I haven’t been taking care of business. The new web pages went live recently, and are performing well. I made doctor’s appointments I’d been putting off. I’ve made and consumed 2 batches of gazpacho, and have the ingredients for several other batch meals with which to re-fill my freezer.

Again, those are the easy things; the stuff I do without thinking about it. Some of it is actually therapeutic. In fact, I’m getting more exercise these days too! All good things, and I can’t complain. And yet, I know I can do better; accomplish more.

It all starts with a single step in the right direction. Maybe distancing myself from people who need to air their grievances, no matter how valid, is exactly what I need to do right now. Again, it’s no reflection on others, but a reminder I need to keep working on myself, even if that means more alone time than I’ve taken recently.

Turning Sloth into Productivity

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamullen/15936340893/in/photolist-qheUWa-6tvCyC-mfcahW-kF42vg-7aHRKn-dozSYs-upc1JR-5nU36i-6ZX1X8-9soFsZ-b6p5F2-dKgSFh-9soP3r-9GGyf-edzaxy-dKgQLq-4oLacT-9z49UC-aBS6db-kF5mTy-dbhFbp-83VBDF-JGdSxG-dKgR3q-dKbnZX-kF3i5M-kF2WWF-25sqyfg-kF3het-dKgU63-7121pw-dKbnLT-6ZXghB-7aMFFo-6ZXfye-a6G8a6-26PQPAR-ceZ3mw-7aF5cr-7aHRUn-kF3FwP-dKboVp-dKbj4F-3jqo8-dKbmgk-kF5cCu-dKgPvE-edzags-dKbjKc-dKbjtVMore important is to use my alone time wisely. Too many Hallmark movies and evenings spent parked on the couch are starting to turn my brain to mush. Though my cats love the extended cuddle time, it isn’t going to benefit any of us in the long run.

I guess I need to step back and re-set every so often, re-evaluating my priorities, and reminding myself to keep the goals front and center. It doesn’t mean putting in an endless stream of 18-hour days (unless the muse strikes and I become oblivious to the passage of time). Those days and that mentality are behind me.

It does mean putting my butt down in front of the computer, my fingers on the keyboard, and doing the writing and revisions I’ve committed to doingfor no one else but me. It means giving my business the attention and effort it deserves instead of haring off on the next adventure in People-land. There’s a reason I can only handle so much people-ing before I need to disappear into my turtle shell for some R and R.

Once again, I am detaching for my own sake. People and places will still be there when I resurface, and I’ll appreciate them more for my absence, and for the time I take to move closer to my dreams. If some of them have moved on by the time I resurface, I’ll know it was a necessary migration for all concerned. It wouldn’t be the first time I changed my social environment, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Living for the Adventure and Wonder of a New Day

I’ve learned the only certainty in life is change, so I might as well embrace it. Fighting change only exhausts me. Swimming upstream may have been my pattern for awhile, but it doesn’t mean I ever got very far doing it. Give me a canoe floating down a lazy river instead. I’ll enjoy the scenery instead of fighting a losing battle to go back where I came from. If it had anything to offer me in the future, I wouldn’t have moved on in the first place.

Do You Need to Shake Things Up So You Can Bring Your Dreams Closer?

Are you trying to do everything, yet falling farther behind? Are you doing too much of what you hate and not enough of what you love, because you feel pressured? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

 

Seeing Each Day’s Wonder Leads to Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friendships and activities which fueled me, but are no longer the fuel I need to move forward.
  2. I’m grateful I’m ready to follow some of the changes that have been clamoring at my door.
  3. I’m grateful for my ability to be happy in my own company.
  4. I’m grateful I’m learning to put myself first and to accept that I have a right to expect commitment to myself before anyone else.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, possibilities, opportunities, losses, growth, space, motivation, self-sufficiency, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Out of the Picture: A Retrospective

Still Taking Myself Out of the Picture

Every time we get together, we do a group picture, as if to remind us that, although our building is gone, our hearts remain connected. All too often these days, I’m not in the picture, even those times when I’m there.

Maybe I was in the bathroom, or outside trying to pull it together because I was having a rough time. Maybe I didn’t go at all because funds and circumstances didn’t permit. Even if I was fine with not being there, seeing the group pictures where I’m missing hurts.

Yet there are plenty of times I’m there, sometimes right in the middle, my red curls standing out amidst the browns, blonds, and subtler shades. I paste a smile on my face and my eyes close to small slits when the person wielding the camera says “say cheese”. When I’m overly visible, I try not to critique; to notice how much heavier I am than the women who surround me, or that my clothes aren’t as carefully pressed and attractive. I try to ignore how thrown together I look, despite the time I took fixing my hair and putting on makeup.

Trying to Fit in When It’s No Longer Necessary

As often as not, I’ll hide in the back, my face partially covered by someone’s head, my body https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffsand/3871415191/in/photolist-pcGBET-kFToD-6qGVED-qNy62T-68V6FA-in6U7u-in73Zi-in67pq-2X39ED-in5RhJ-in62bm-6U71RM-qNCNQf-6VFXCi-p5tBS9-oZtmEp-7aBWmV-pmWp5N-in7Paa-qNys8v-in78S4-in6ZkK-in66L2-in5VK1-pcDpbn-qxEYaihidden so my natural unkemptness is less obvious. But I wonder, why don’t I take more care? Why don’t I pull out an iron or wear something more flattering? Sure, I’m dancing, and I sweat a lot. I tend to wear clothes that are lighter, cooler, and not always classy. I stopped wearing boots because they made my toes hurt, so my clunky dance sneakers at the end of long, slender legs look like Mickey Mouse feet. Is it any wonder I so often take myself out of the picture?

The pictures tell a different story than the hard fought confidence I try to exude. They deny the progress I’ve made, though the mere fact I’m in some of them is a giant stride. The 20 or so pounds I’ve managed to keep off aren’t obvious from the photographs, but when I stop being critical, I know.

What also doesn’t show is that when I’m missing these days, I’m also missed. That’s something I didn’t have until maybe the last couple of years. Until then, I’d have to be gone for weeks before my absence would be noticed, if it was noticed at all. Now, it’s often a matter of minutes, even while I’m telling myself I’ve managed to slip away without making a ripple.

Why Do We Try to Blend In?

I may still have some of the barriers up; excess weight, untidy appearance; but I’ve lowered others, allowing people to get closer and see the real me. When I’m missing from the picture or the gathering, people not only notice, but let me know I was missed. It’s crazy how good that feels to a woman who spent a large portion of her life trying to be wallpaper.

Which begs the question, why would anyone want to blend in with the walls and go unnoticed. To answer that, I’d have to go back to my childhood when I didn’t know how to embrace and love my differences. Back then, my mother nagged at me about my weight and my acne-ridden skin. The neighborhood kids found ammunition in my glasses and zits, and eventually, the steel bands forcing my teeth into a more aesthetically pleasing symmetry. Nothing was out-of-bounds for kids who were, in retrospect, trying to draw attention away from their own flaws.

Embrace Your Unique, Quirky Self

I grew up believing I needed to fit in, yet having no idea how to go about it. I didn’t know then my own personal style was all I needed, and that fitting in was, and still is highly overrated. Someone wiser than me said if we are simply ourselves, we’ll attract the people who accept and love us as we are.

But more teenage tears are shed from being excluded. More angst is formed from being marked as “different”. Many of us carry that into our adult lives where we continue trying to force ourselves into an uncomfortable, ill-fitting mold. We never quite manage to conform, but however much we do is itchy and uncomfortable, often leading to irritability and further self-abuse, because where are we going to direct that irritability but towards ourselves? We’re the ones failing to measure up, right?

Finding Myself When I Stopped Trying to Conform

In my 20’s and 30’s, I dressed the part, and tried my hardest to avoid conflict and https://www.flickr.com/photos/125303894@N06/14365669046/in/photolist-nTrNV5-2f5PCUZ-28knBCQ-bSRpwg-hSnPyx-otGuDp-azqvRQ-D2QXQh-YVh4U5-8ZJcE3-26bTzFo-eeaBEi-occovQ-9i7bQ5-23CJvTx-rhV1XQ-26LZPM6-nrsG7K-bmnvub-8rRn4C-MZDGbT-HuqYEh-27342hV-HrkwAE-ehfTPF-2734sEP-LgusiG-272GRGH-25DqddG-25Dqn1m-Y2VH7U-LXKfra-LguvaJ-25Dqnoq-25DJuL5-2f1ci9J-25DqbXL-28povan-Lm2wcx-HkMrNJ-2dYUsVs-oaeobo-ZR9qTn-rtFBMa-24ZPYXp-R78K1f-Dymseq-24W5BDs-23CJCE8-21DkYfLconfrontation, but all too often, it found me anyway. I’d come home from work,  immediately strip off the trappings of conformity, and sigh as I sank into the soft comfort of t-shirts, sweats and bare feet.

By my 50’s, I gave up trying to fit in and accept my isolation. I was still taking jobs which fit my skill set but not my mindset. It took a few more years for me to see I didn’t fit into Corporate America at all. Still, when I finally saw it, I threw away the baby with the bath water, so to speak, and lost my work ethic and ability to manage a schedule for awhile.

Now I’m slowly climbing back up; re-engaging old skills like setting deadlines and keeping commitments, not to anyone else, but to myself. I’ve never had a problem honoring those I make to others, so my clients haven’t suffered during this period of rebirth. Instead, I’ve had to learn I’m as important (if not more so) than my clients, and to treat myself accordingly. In other words, I am responsible for keeping myself in the picture.

Pouring from a Full Vessel

https://www.flickr.com/photos/blueyeda73/462237282/in/photolist-ERQi6-4QJhoE-dze2go-72vcw-Ewfmrv-z5pHh7-yNMLkm-z7eorD-5m8ZsL-eLzyW-4zDPn4-oaHUt5-sixfS-GR63j-BQbZtq-GmyPM-AUZ1vW-AUYQqq-dEZ72-wr2n7s-djYJn3It still surprises me to see how much my clients benefit when I’m taking care of myself first. Their work gets done more quickly and with even greater attention to detail. I see things I might have missed if I was still glossing over my own needs and requirements. It really is true you can’t pour from an empty vessel. If you don’t take care of yourself, everyone suffers, even if it’s not readily apparent.

Part of doing a better job for clients is improving and expanding my own skill set. As I commit to getting up earlier, I start my work day sooner, allowing for an hour or so of self-development before I start on tasks for clients (including myself). That may mean doing some reading to tap into areas of my expertise I’ve yet to mine, or working through a course which will help me hone in on who I really want to serve. Sometimes, it’s an hour with my coach, or following up on tasks I’ve been set.

Whatever I use that extra hour for, it benefits all my clients as well, both present and future. Keeping myself in the picture instead of sneaking away or hiding in the back means I’ll be ready when opportunities arise or the scenery changes. In the past, I would have tried harder to fit in. Now, I know I was meant to stand out.

Still Trying to Fit in? I Can Help!

Where are you fitting in when you should be standing out? What masks do you shed when you’re back in the safety of your home? If you’d like help breaking free of the masks and letting your real self shine, I invite you to join my Facebook group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

A Gratitude a Day…

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders about how far I’ve come.
  2. I am grateful for friends who don’t allow me to go missing for long.
  3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, especially when it comes to honoring commitments to myself.
  4. I am grateful for leaps of faith when I may not have landed perfectly or unscathed, but I landed exactly where I was supposed to; where I stopped trying to fit a mold that wasn’t me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, opportunities, manifestations, inspiration, joy, dancing, health, peace, harmony, happiness, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

Abut the Author

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

DUFF No More

Refusing to Remain a DUFF

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8225835927/in/photolist-dwTyrn-a3ks33-9mvXys-6ja1gb-9yrH2G-nDdzvx-XUYUcB-5mVAik-aGc4QM-rcaJkB-te2rAP-a7Uq98-3dzbhp-GAf1t-n7eEii-SdF6ND-NpW4QT-Nn4EE7-Q1PXro-6GmuAj-Nb8fd-aGc4LK-5rvjUB-9G5iLz-dViNns-47qcTR-8gCJx7-53s2we-8Amcx2-651TAL-e3ogb6-3Sf9H3-23Jx66D-4beknX-477UHP-Nb8cA-61cxQD-7htzF3-e3tWNL-58nCxm-e3ogk4-27FNZKJ-9NHU1S-i23hC-8Rg5Yu-5tzpF9-CvzijW-Ck2RtR-28aTBt3-MweagTI looked around at my current circle of friends at a recent dance gathering and realized a few things. First, I’ve migrated to a younger circle of women lately. I can’t always keep up with them, but there’s no shame in going at my own pace. Second, they’re all slender and look cute in their little dresses and skirts—and I’m not.

My first reaction was frustration with myself for allowing the weight to creep back on over the last few months. Not all of it, but enough that some clothes were tight again, and others looked pretty awful on me. Meanwhile, I see myself in cute little dresses but the cute little dresses don’t see themselves on me.

Protecting My Heart a Little Too Well

Too often in my life, I’ve been the fact chick amongst the skinny ones; the DUFF if you will. But https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqin the past, though I may not have realized it, I used my weight as a defense mechanism. Guys wouldn’t approach the fat chick when the skinny ones were around. Nobody would get close to my heart if they were too disgusted to even try to get to know me, right?

As logic goes, it was effective but faulty. I’ve since learned I don’t need excess weight to guard my heart, if that’s what I want to do. My demeanor alone can manage that task effectively. So I set myself an aggressive but reasonable goal, put it on the spreadsheet I use to track my weight, and vowed to accept all suggestions for additional dance nights. My knees may scream for awhile, but they’ll thank me in the long run as I reduce the amount of pressure they endure while carrying more pounds than they’re designed for.

Our Inside Controls Our Outside

One of those cute, slim friends pointed out I’m more of a DFF than a DUFF as I’m not and never have been ugly. Sure, there were times I was less attractive, but it was my bearing, my anger, and the misery I held close like a security blanket which contributed to my unattractiveness. The attributes I was born with had nothing to do with it.

We all control our outward appearance from the inside more than we realize. I’ve seen people the world might consider unattractive looking absolutely breathtaking because of a glow which came from within. I’ve also seen strikingly beautiful women who made me turn my head away in distaste because they exuded such ugliness and filth from within, it completely negated whatever pretty packaging they were either born with or had enhanced.

Loving Who and Where We Are

I’ve learned when we’re truly enjoying what we’re doing, or our life in general, people see that far more than what our meat suit looks like. They’re drawn to the energy (or repelled as the case may be). The face, the hair, the eyes, how we look in clothes are secondary.

Still, we tend to focus and even fixate on those characteristics in ourselves. I’m as guilty as the next person in that regard. But our outside image is fixable to some degree. I’m not a proponent of drastic measures like plastic surgery, liposuction, fat freezing, or stomach stapling, but I’ve proven I can effect the desired changes in myself. I realize it’s not the case for everyone, and some may need help getting started.

I’ve also learned we’re not going to make positive changes until we love and accept ourselves as we are. That doesn’t mean we believe we’re perfect as we are or that we couldn’t stand a little improvement. But we believe we are lovable and beautiful in our own way as we are, and worth the effort to make improvements we believe we need to make. Without that self-love, no diet, surgery, or health plan will ever be successful. It may appear so to others from the outside looking in, but to the child inside ourselves, we’ll still find ourselves lacking and in need of improvement in order to be loved.

Starting from the Inside

What I’m saying is, we need to do the internal work first or we’re doomed to fail when trying to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamullen/15936340893/in/photolist-qheUWa-6tvCyC-mfcahW-kF42vg-7aHRKn-dozSYs-upc1JR-5nU36i-6ZX1X8-9soFsZ-b6p5F2-dKgSFh-9soP3r-9GGyf-edzaxy-dKgQLq-4oLacT-9z49UC-aBS6db-kF5mTy-dbhFbp-83VBDF-JGdSxG-dKgR3q-dKbnZX-kF3i5M-kF2WWF-25sqyfg-kF3het-dKgU63-7121pw-dKbnLT-6ZXghB-7aMFFo-6ZXfye-a6G8a6-26PQPAR-ceZ3mw-7aF5cr-7aHRUn-kF3FwP-dKboVp-dKbj4F-3jqo8-dKbmgk-kF5cCu-dKgPvE-edzags-dKbjKc-dKbjtVimprove our outsides. How many people spend their lives yo-yo dieting, trying the latest craze only to be discouraged? Either they lose a lot of weight only to gain it back, or find it impossible to stick with a program long enough to see significant results.

I’ve been working out consistently for a year now. I’ve seen small changes, but nothing huge. At this point, I’m still seeing only small changes, like finally seeing a hint of my collar bone. But I see myself every day. If I looked at a photo from a year ago and compared it to today, I’d see a different story. Recently, I was complaining about the weight I’d put back on. My daughter looked at me in surprise. In her eyes, I’d lost weight because my face was thinner. It didn’t matter that I felt the tightness in my pants and blouses. She only saw the slimming in my face!

Others See Progress Where We May Not

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVMaybe what my daughter sees is more than a slightly less round visage. Maybe she’s seeing the improved self-love I get from committing to a weekly routine of self-improvement. It’s a funny thing about committing to yourself. First, you love yourself enough to make the commitment. Then you love yourself enough to turn the commitment into a habit. After awhile, you see the success you’ve had with one commitment and start making others. Pretty soon, whether you realize it or not, you have a brilliant internal glow because you care enough to treat yourself like someone you love fully and completely.

It only took me the better part of a lifetime to learn what some people find so obvious. I created a lot of terrible habits I had to break before I could set better ones. I’m sure I still have a barrel-full to break and re-set, but knowing I’m on the right track; knowing I can make commitments to myself and stick with them until they become habits is a gigantic milestone in the dark, twisty path that’s been my life up to this point.

Flipping the Switch

Are you self-sabotaging? Do you focus on hating things about yourself instead of loving the person you are deep inside? If so, try committing to loving yourself. Look yourself in the mirror every morning and tell the face in the mirror how much you love them. Then make a commitment to make a small change. Schedule it, reinforce it, and stick with it for a month or better until it becomes a habit. Even small changes raise our self-esteem. I learned the hard way; but our lessons stick better for a little pain in the learning process, don’t they?

Gratitude: The Most Powerful Tool in Our Toolbox

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I learned to commit to myself first and foremost.
  2. I am grateful for friends who inspire and uplift me.
  3. I am grateful for perspective which shows me improvements I hadn’t even noticed.
  4. I am grateful for inspiration guiding me to write further and further ahead.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, friendship, commitment, exercise, self-love, joy, dancing, music, writing, kitty love, clients, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Becoming an Overachiever for Ourselves

Time for a Mindset Reset

I’ve been, for all intents and purposes, self-employed with no other means of support for over 5 years now. Many would look at what I do, as well as my accounting records and say I’m retired. For awhile, I guess I behaved as if I was, but when the bills piled up and outflow exceeded inflow for too many months I had to face reality. If I’m going to call myself self-employed, I need to freakin’ act like it! That means doing whatever I need to to attract clients. But even more, being absolutely clear on what I do and who I want to do it for.

As a writer, that means setting myself a daily schedule for writing, and sticking to it come hell or high water. Part of that was upping the ante on how often I publish. In the last 5 years, I’ve ranged from daily (during a couple of blog challenges) to whenever I felt like it, to weekly, to twice weekly, and finally, to thrice weekly which I’ve maintained for a few months now.

Stifling Demon Procrastination

Once I got into the habit of posting three times a week, I encountered a new challenge. Too often, I’d get to a posting day and think:

Oh shit! It’s time for a post, and I’ve got nothin’! Better dash something off before the day is over!

The trouble with that methodology was I sacrificed quality for procrastination. Of late, I’ve set myself loftier goals. I’m still posting 3 times a week, but now, I insist upon having at least 2 weeks of posts scheduled. I was doing fairly well for awhile, but between tragedy, being a dancing nomad, and the holidays, I’ve slipped my schedule.

It took me a few years, but I’ve finally gotten better about keeping commitments to myself. I was my own red-headed stepchild for too long. Now, I use Trello to keep track of my posts. Every time I schedule one, I get to check it off giving me a small win. As I set them up on my board a month at a time, nothing makes me happier than to see each of my posting days at 100% with month still left over. My ultimate, yet currently unachieved goal is to see myself at 100% before the month has started.

Commitment and Determination

At the moment, I have 6 more to write for next month, and it’s the last day of the month so I’m a bit shy of that goal. But on the positive side, I’ve gotten closer this week. Since the first of the year, I’ve struggled to keep a week ahead, and at the moment, I’m finally back at two, if only for a day, assuming I don’t finish this post today (which by damn, I will!).

Which brings me to the point of this post (only took me about 450 words to get there. ADD is running amok today!). Actually, I have two points. Being self-employed, especially when you’re re-creating yourself in a heretofore non-existent image takes determination, perseverance, and a willingness to fail a few thousand times in the process of getting it right. It can also mean watching your finances dwindle at a rather frightening rate, dipping into resources, or accepting clients you’ve promised to avoid, and cutting back on things you once deemed necessities.

My second point has to do with commitment to yourself. If you’re like me, you were the over-achiever in your office, getting projects done ahead of deadline, working into the wee hours if necessary, and always coming through—for everyone else. You got so good at doing for others, you left yourself hanging on a limb time and time again. When it became only your needs at stake, you had years of bad habits to break before you could set deadlines for yourself and shut off the excuse-o-matic that got in the way of meeting those deadlines.

Entrepreneurs Put Themselves First

I’m a little slower about self-care than most, so it took me the better part of 5 years to finally learn to put myself first. Sure, I am still meeting or beating deadlines for my clients, and it will always be that way. I set high standards for myself when it comes to my clients, and have no intention of changing them. The shift came when I finally internalized the idea that I am my very best client and deserve the same high standards when it comes to completing tasks for me.

Then and only then was I able to complete, first the draft of my memoir, and within 3 months (even with the holidays and some serious traumas and travails), complete the re-write. Sure, I had to both kick and have my butt kicked pretty regularly in order to achieve it, but in the process, I’ve been learning to respect myself more as a client.

Keep Raising That Bar!

Another thing I’ve learned about both building my business and treating my own goals with respect is the bar needs to keep going up. Sure, I’m back to my 2 weeks ahead posting goal, but I want to raise it to 3 sooner than later. Meanwhile, I’ve also set an aggressive, 3 posts a week goal for sharing on Medium. this time, though, I created a spreadsheet with posting dates, date scheduled, exactly which post I’m sharing when, and whether it is coming from my blog site or website. In my past life, I kept on task by having a detailed, specific schedule for when each piece of the project was due.

And oh yes, the publication dates from the spreadsheet are now on a card on Medium as well. It helps to keep due dates in one place, at least for me. I even have a reminder on my daily calendar to check my Trello boards to ensure I stay on track.

I used to tell my staff to use their tools. Funny that it took me so long to take my own advice.

Rules To Live By

To summarize what I’ve learned in the process of reinventing myself as a writer:

  1. Treat yourself like you would your best client.
  2. Set up processes to monitor your projects and deadlines.
  3. Re-visit your deadlines daily.
  4. Accept no excuses for missing any of those deadlines.
  5. Beat all deadlines as often as possible, and it’s always possible.
  6. Never use work for other clients as an excuse to push your own deadlines.
  7. Keep raising the bar. A completed task is an opportunity to add a new one, not a time to rest on our laurels and sip mimosas.
  8. Work ahead wherever possible. Slacking off guarantees a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Murphy who love throwing a monkey wrench into the works to back the whole system up.
  9. Have a couple of butt kickers in your arsenal. Nothing makes you work faster, harder, better than being held accountable by outside sources close to you.
  10. Love yourself enough to believe, achieve, and thrive.

Your Big “Why”

On a final note, I reinvented myself because I realized I’d spent years working for people I couldn’t respect, doing work that had begun to bore me to tears with the tedium. I was a creative stuck in a fairly routine line of work, which to make things worse, was far too people-y for this introvert. I’ve never been happier, if somewhat less affluent than I am working from home on my own schedule (no more getting up before 8 AM to commute) with cats on my desk occasionally interrupting to tell me they’re feeling neglected. (Who am I kidding? What cat ever felt neglected occasionally?)

I’m free to go to the gym during the day when it’s less crowded, take a day off during the week to run errands and avoid the crowds, even meet a friend for lunch, a movie, or anything else. I am also free to work well into the night, or wee hours as the case may be. Those are my productive hours, and no “expert” is ever going to convince me to get up at the crack of dawn because “everyone” is more productive then. I know myself better than anyone, and I’ve learned I don’t hit my productive stride until at least 11AM most days.

I encourage everyone to imagine their perfect life, then go forth and get it. I don’t recommend taking the drastic approach I did, but for some of us, cold turkey is the only way. Get us hungry, and there’s no telling what we can achieve!

Gratitude Greases the Wheels

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my butt kickers.
  2. I am grateful for the leap of faith I took and the reinvention of my life which followed. It might be taking longer than planned, but I’m learning so much along the way.
  3. I am grateful for my failures. From them I learn more than I do from my successes.
  4. I am grateful for my low-stress lifestyle. I only wish I’d realized sooner it was possible.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, opportunities, self-respect, achievements, goals met, goals set, dreams realized, world expanding, self-confidence building, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

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

Comfort Found in Daily Routines

Daily Routines Keep Us Grounded Amidst the Chaos

2018 has taken some uncomfortable, and even downright painful turns in the last couple of months of the year. Although we managed to have a wonderful after-Thanksgiving feast in November, and some love-filled dance nights in December, I’ve joined the many who are going to be happy to say good-bye to 2018. Too much was lost, some temporarily, and some devastatingly permanent.

Through it all, I’ve taken comfort in daily routines which, no matter what else is happening, are a manageable and controllable part of my days. Like everything else in life, we can do no more than take it one step, one minute at a time. Falling back on the familiar helps me get through some of the minutes which are harder than others.

Morning Pages: Routine for a Lifetime

My now 2+ year practice of writing morning pages has become more than just a routine. It is a lifeline inScrappy Doo a life which has, more often than not in recent days, been chaotic and outside any control I might want or need to exercise. Whether I rise with the alarm at 8 or let myself sleep in until 9 or 10, my first stop every morning is my desk where I pick up pen and paper and write for about 30 minutes.

Part of the routine is Dylan sitting beside me purring or flicking his tail across the page to let me know he needs attention. Sometimes Scrappy joins me, especially if I put a Ricola in my mouth; he seems to find menthol as addicting as catnip. The challenge is to write with a cat rubbing himself against my face in inebriated bliss. Regardless of the disruptions and interruptions, I finish those three pages daily (with the rare miss) without fail.

Doing What I Must So I Can Do As I Please

The rest of the non-negotiable morning duties include making the bed, feeding the cats, and putting in my contacts. After that, the day is mine to do with as scheduled, or occasionally, as I please.

The “as I please” part has been my practice for the last couple of weeks, leaving many of the scheduled tasks on my Trello boards undone. In years past, I’d be beating myself up over what I’ve left undone, fretting over making deadlines and meeting goals. But these days, I know my time is more flexible, and my ability to put in a few long days to make up for days I devoted to self-care has always been there when I needed to tap into the energy and focus.

Even when I worked for others, no matter what they threw at me, I met or beat my deadlines. For a long time, I failed to meet deadlines which only affected myself and my business. One day I realized I’m my most important client and, as such deserve to have my deadlines met or beaten as well.

Allowing for Flexibility

That isn’t to say life’s challenges don’t cause slippages, but as my mentor, Linda Clay tells me repeatedly, I can re-set the deadlines and forge ahead. Spending time beating myself up over those missed or extended deadlines serves no one, and keeps me from making and executing new plans.

Nearly a year ago, I planned to finish and publish “Life Torn Asunder”. Today, I’m looking at about 15 more chapters to re-write, and know it won’t be my final re-write. I also need to work on a synopsis and the rest of the information I need to pitch it to a publisher or agent. I know they won’t happen until they become a card on my Trello board.

For years, I had a written or Excel-based To-Do list. I’ve found it worked great for things like gym visits I was trying to establish as routines, but not so great for long-term projects like book re-writes and regular blog postings. I also learned having an event pop up on my phone reminding me to check the Trello boards daily helped keep me focused on the tasks I’ve committed to.

One thing I’ve learned about routines, be they daily, weekly, or monthly, is you need to allow for some flexibility. Like friendship, routines fall into three categories; a season, a reason, or a lifetime. There are only a few which fall into my “lifetime” category these days, though many only started within the last five years, and some just this year.

Routines for a Lifetime, a Reason, or a Season

Those include daily writing, making my bed, going to the gym three times a week, and writing regular blog posts. Even the last one keeps evolving. First it was once a week, then twice, now thrice. My goal is to add a similar routine for at least five clients a month so they can put their effort into building their business instead of creating content to attract clients for them to talk to. Again, this is where Linda comes in. We have weekly calls where she helps me find focus, kicks my butt, or helps me add items to my To-Do list. I also get to do some writing for her, and she’s someone I greatly admire both personally and professionally. Writing for her is the cherry on my hot fudge sundae.

My “reason” category includes things like the components for my book pitch, a long-delayed will, preparations for our after-Thanksgiving feast—the list goes on, and changes as my life expands.

“Season” is a little tougher as I enter tasks I expect to be ongoing, or perhaps, short-term, and their nature changes. Yet this is where a lot of my lessons are learned and experience gained. It might be a one-off client who needs documentation for a divorce, or someone who responded to one of my specials, and didn’t ask for anything beyond the initial tasks. Or maybe they did and became a long-term client. Either way, I’ve learned I don’t usually know whether a season task will become more, or will die on the vine until the task is completed. Sometimes they disappear for months, only to reappear when I least expect it.

Sowing Seeds to Grow New Routines

Through it all, I, like everyone else, sow seeds. Some I’ll nurture and help them grow into something to feed my soul, and hopefully a few others. Some will thrive in spite of any attention or neglect I pay them. Others will surprise me either with the fruit they bear, their tenacity, or their ability to entwine themselves into my life, creating new and exciting challenges and routines. A few will either die out or fail to sprout at all.

All of the scenarios are perfect in my mind. Not all the seeds we plant are meant to feed or inspire us. Some will even lie dormant for a long time, leading us to believe they’ve died out when in truth, they were simply waiting for their time in the sun. Those seeds are smarter than we are in that they know when it’s their time, and when it’s not.

I’m guilty of shiny object syndrome a great deal of the time (if you haven’t already figured that out while reading a post that meanders from topic to topic with no recognizable point) so I’m prone to tossing a lot of seeds into the ground just to see what they’ll do. For many, I’m less concerned about the outcome and more about the experiment I’m running. I’ll sit and watch people for the same reason. There’s a lot to be gained by watching and waiting, so long as you don’t spend your life solely in that mode.

Honoring Our Need for Times of Rest

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4Sue Monk Kidd wrote about the value of watching and waiting in her book “When the Heart Waits”. She compared herself to a caterpillar who has spun a cocoon. There’s no rushing the process of evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Sometimes, we have to sit back and wait for things to line up properly, or rest after a long, concentrated push. Those waiting periods are as important, or more so than the periods of frenetic activity which often precedes them.

I realized this week I’d neglected my reading for quite some time. Not just books to expand my skills or knowledge, but those by writers whose story-telling skills I admire. After spending a day reading one of the Mercedes Lackey books I found at the $5 book store while seeking my daughter’s and son-in-law’s annual Christmas books, I realized I need to add reading time to my daily schedule. For me, reading for an hour is on the same level of importance as daily meditation. That too has fallen by the wayside a bit in recent weeks.

Routines Should Never Become Straight Jackets

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about regular routines we create and set is we must allow Created with Canvafor flexibility. We can’t beat ourselves up when our schedule goes sideways for a little while. Sometimes we have to step back and deal with what life is throwing at us, even if it means missing a few meditations, gym days, or even writing time. When we do, it gives us a chance to take a hard look at what we’ve deemed important to make sure it still is. It also gives us a chance to look at what we’ve forgotten about, and what needs to be added back into our life.

Most of all, it’s important to remember we are evolving beings. When we step back and look at our routines, we’ll find some are still valuable while others have outlived their usefulness. We’ve gained the lesson and need to let go to make space for something else. Those are the seeds which lay dormant for awhile until we were ready to let go of something, harvest the crop, and turn the soil again.

The short days and long nights of winter when the leaves have left the trees and the ground is resting is a good time to review our routines, turn our soil, and rest. It’s also a good time to go within and just listen without judgement, plan, or goal. You might be surprised by what comes up when you quiet your mind.

Gratitude: A Routine for a Lifetime

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I’m learning about myself from my friends.
  2. I am grateful for the time to quiet my mind, listen to my heart and gut, and find new directions.
  3. I am grateful for the variety in my days; some are quiet and introspective, some are productive, some, even chaotic. But overall, it’s balanced.
  4. I am grateful for balance, and the ability to recognize when I need more of one thing and less of another.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, connection, joy, vulnerability, authenticity, deep conversations, new connections, lessons, challenges, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

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