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

Posts tagged ‘community’

I Ain’t Dead Yet AKA There’s No Crime in Looking

Self-Improvement on Our Own Terms

Though I haven’t been as diligent as I’d like, I truly enjoy my forays to the gym. I stick my earbuds in my ears, fire up one of my Pandora stations and go through my weight routine in the privacy of my own mind. Rarely if ever does anyone try to engage me in conversation. I guess my Leave me alone. This is MY time. message comes through loud and clear.

Discouraging engagement doesn’t mean I’m not aware, however. Quite often, I’ll watch someone who clearly knows what they’re doing to get ideas to improve my own routine. But occasionally my gaze (and mind) wanders to things which are for the benefit of nothing more than my appreciation of art.

At those times, my gaze strays to a well-toned body which happens to pass within my limited line of sight, not with lustful intent, but merely in open appreciation of the time and effort which went into a certain life-like sculpture.

Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder

I’m very particular about what catches my eye, however. The muscle-bound types who are unable to touch their own noses for their bulky triceps and shoulders do nothing for me. Even if I were inclined, I just don’t find them approachable.

Instead, my gaze (and OK, perhaps a little voyeurism too) is drawn to either the finely sculpted but reasonably sized or, more often, to the works-in-progress. I have a particular fondness for people, and non-gender specific, who are clearly making an effort to improve their health. They’re not frequenting the gym to attract attention or expand their social circle. They’re simply there to make a change in their own life, their own health. I have great admiration for the people who are there week in and week out, making small changes which eventually lead to huge improvements.

Our Flaws are Our True Perfection

As a diamond-in-the-rough myself, I know those long-term benefits come with the tiniest of steps in the right direction. They come with no small amount of back-sliding as well, but along with it, the drive to succeed even if they have to cover the same ground dozens of times before they begin to see obvious improvement.

The last few years has been a series of “two steps forward, one step back” events for me. In some cases, the backward progress has even outweighed the forward, yet I’m further along than when I began, and for that, I’m grateful. I realize there are times we need to re-cover old ground because we haven’t quite mastered the lesson. Or someone comes into our life who shows us a better way around a rather tenacious obstacle. Either way, once we’ve overcome the obstacle, we have an even more impressive array of tools at our disposal when we’re ready to climb the next mountain. The view from the top of our latest mountain and the road we need to travel to reach the valley below seems a little less daunting.

Learning from those Who Come Into Our Lives for a Reason

It isn’t only the tools we obtain along the way. It’s also the people. If we allow it, our team grows with many of our encounters, and we gain much-needed skills and knowledge in the people who become part of our expanding circle.

For many years, I believed to the depth of my soul that I had to make it on my own. I believed asking for help was a weakness. It took a lot of stumbles, long, lonely nights, and a failure to achieve my highest expectations to realize I was never meant to do it all alone. I was never meant to have every ounce of knowledge and every skill-set necessary to become my very best self.

In the years I’ve spent blogging, connecting with people online, reading self-help books, and delving further into my own spiritually, I’ve learned many long-overdue lessons. The biggest of those has to be that allowing people to see your vulnerabilities doesn’t make you weak at all.

I’ve learned instead that showing your vulnerabilities (within reason, of course) actually attracts people to you who have expertise in areas you don’t. They are there to reach that jar on the top shelf or help  build the scaffolding that will support you in building my structure higher. Maybe they’re there to simply offer encouragement or hand you another nail. But without them, it would take me much longer to achieve your goals.

Better Together

It took me spending a lot of time spinning my wheels to realize it’s OK to ask those around me for assistance and to accept the offers which might come unasked. Admitting I was better for their help came slowly, but it has come, and now I’m able to rejoice in recognizing what I traveled an overly hard, but self-inflicted road to learn.

When I look at those well-toned, sculpted bodies around me at the gym, I am, in part looking at what I could become if I stopped trying to go it alone and ask for help, maybe not with my physical efforts at the moment, but with so much of what I want to achieve; my writing, my eventual speaking, building my business. I’ve been struggling along for quite some time now, neither failing miserably nor succeeding remarkably. The small amounts of progress I see encourage me to continue trying even when the failures and their implications stare me in the face.

Balancing the Equation

I may not be world-class like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or J.K. Rowling, but the operative word here has to be “yet”. That “yet” is predicated on my willingness to ask for and receive help, and in fact, I’ve seen more progress in the last few months because I’m no longer worried about appearing weak. Instead, I draw strength from those who find my words relate-able and who aren’t put off by a misguided illusion of perfection. As I said to my favorite mentor today, I’ve dropped the veil. What lies behind is neither as weak nor as scary as I’d let myself believe.

Dropping that veil has given me two gifts: the opportunity to give, and more important, the ability to receive. Some find the person behind that veil inspiring or helpful with some aspect of their lives. Others find her able to fulfill their own need to give back from their own well of experience. Contrary to my years of self-deception, we need to be on both sides of the equation. It’s called Balance, and like so many out there, I’m still working on finding mine. Sometimes I’ll find it for a little while, but then I start to wobble one way or the other and go sliding down into an extreme again.

The difference these days is I know when I’ve slid, and more, I know what balance feels like. Better still, I know I like what balance feels like and am better equipped to find my way back. I’ve learned the lesson from the people I’ve allowed into my life. Without them, I’d still be hanging off the edge of my personal cliff, struggling to climb back up on my own.

Barbra Streisand summed it up best: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”


Remembering to Acknowledge and Appreciate the Help and Guidance

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my friends and how much they’ve taught me about being human.
  2. I am grateful for the times the Universe forces me to slow down; even if it’s another ear infection.
  3. I am grateful for work that keeps my mind alive and agile.
  4. I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve been and will be given. Each one makes me stronger in some way, even if some appear as a willingness to be vulnerable.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, love, friendship, joy, challenges, successes, visibility, encouragement, peace, harmony, health, 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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author


August 1, 2015 Holy Crapapillar! Is it August Already? I’ve Been So Busy Dancing, I Didn’t Notice.

Dance: The Ultimate Medium for Healing, Joy and Community

I was talking to one of the newer dancers tonight, and it really hit home how much of a community we are. Even if someone is gone for awhile, when they return, we pick up right where we left off. Sure, if they’re gone long enough, they may not be up on any new dances we learned during their absence, but those only account for a small part of the evening, and that leaves time to chat and catch up.

Another thing occurred to me on the way home. For the most part, we’re a pretty accepting bunch. As long as a person follows the unwritten rules of the dance floor (and frankly, most of those are just good, common sense and respect for other people and their property) the rest of us are happy to help and encourage and welcome them into our happy little circle. But it’s a lot more. When we walk through the door, our mindset is on dancing and having a good time; maybe even escaping our troubles for a couple of hours. It doesn’t make our troubles go away (and dancers, as a rule, are not big drinkers) but it gives us a break from them and in a lot of cases, gives us some perspective which makes resolving them less painful.

Share Dance, Share Life

Over the last few years, we have shared the whole gamut of family events: births, marriages, deaths, divorces, children moving away, illness and recovery. We’ve shared life changes, cheering each other on the whole way. No matter what happens, we know there’s always a place we can find a warm hug and an understanding shoulder. Yet, while we’re dancing or waiting for the next line dance, couples dance or two-step partner, we can share without wallowing because we know that each of us has life experiences which allow us to relate.

I believe that the two best things I’ve gained by being a part of the dance community are the pure joy and stress relief dancing offers and the opportunity to both uplift and be uplifted, as the situation requires. As it was so beautifully portrayed in the movie ‘Inside Out’, without sadness, we wouldn’t need to comfort or be comforted and without comfort, we can’t develop compassion, nor can we feel needed.

Whether I’m sharing a warm hug with Cheryl who understands what it’s like to lose a parent in the most tragic of ways or verbally sparring with Ron who is the brother I should have had; ooh-ing and ahhh-ing over grandbaby pictures or commiserating over having kids further away than we’d like, as they go on with their lives as adults; or one of my favorites, joking with Ralph while we do an easy two-step around the floor until I get my feet all mixed up because my mind is more into the silliness of the conversation; it’s all good, it’s all healing and it’s all uplifting.

When my daughters were younger, I used to dance 5 and 6 nights a week in a different location with different friends. Though the joy and uplifting were a mere shadow of what I enjoy now, I used to joke that my ex still had all of his body parts thanks to the dancing. But in all seriousness, dancing has always been my touchstone, second only to my writing, where I can lose myself in pure pleasure and let go of things I might otherwise chew on until they achieve far more importance than they deserve. My mom gave me dance lessons because she thought they’d help my klutziness. I’m still a klutz; still walk into walls, trip over my own feet and drop things incessantly, but the gift she actually gave me was a lifelong love of dance and the people who do it for the love of it. We don’t look for perfection; heaven knows we all mess up the dances pretty regularly; we don’t do it for recognition; there are far better dancers out there who put hours and hours into being perfect and being noticed. We do it because it is the most fun we can have in a public place with dozens of our friends. We do it for our sanity and we do it because moving is always a good thing.

Still more benefits to being a regular dancer

Learning new dances stimulates our brains and has been proven to slow or even stop the development of Alzheimers. Replacing brain cells keeps you younger. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard “That’s impossible” when people find out my chronological age. Sure, part of it is genetics, but I can guarantee that an outsider would guess an age at least 10-15 years lower than that of any of my dance friends. One of the regulars is getting really close to 90, but you’d never know it (and boy, does she have gorgeous legs!).

So if you’re feeling blue or the job is pushing you over the edge or your kids are about to drive you to drink or your parents are getting on your nerves, this is my advice to you: Grab a couple of friends and find a local watering hole with a decent dance floor. If you don’t know the steps, find out when they have lessons. If you do, why are you still sitting around??? I guarantee your stress level will drop and with regular applications, you’ll soon look and feel at least 10 years younger. Tonight I danced for the better part of 4 hours, then came home and scooped litter boxes and cleaned up the kitchen before I sat down. Oops, I guess I forgot to mention how much it boosts your energy too!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the gift my mom gave me at the tender age of 5: the love of dance has gotten me through some of the toughest times in my life.
2. I am grateful for the progress I’ve made this week on several projects, and look forward to diving in again tomorrow.
3. I am grateful for the friends I’ve made in the dance community. They’re a diverse bunch, but some of the most loving, compassionate, giving people I’ve ever been fortunate enough to know.
4. I am grateful for a couple of quiet days at home to complete a few more projects.
5. I am grateful for abundance: dancing, friendship, health, energy, love, joy, compassion, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at and . Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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