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Posts tagged ‘compassion’

The Changing Face of Patriotism

Sullying the Name and Meaning of Patriotism

Created with CanvaSeeing USA or an American flag worn proudly emblazoned across someone’s chest, or embroidered on a cap used to make me feel good, and proud to be an American. Today, thanks to the “Make America Great Again” campaign cry, it gives rise to totally different emotions. Fear, disgust, embarrassment, sadness, and sometimes rage.

Like my previously unreconciled, and to some degree unwarranted negative feelings about Christianity, my mind focuses on the many heinous acts being wrought in the name of patriotism and I’m afraid, not just for future generations but those who currently identify with the United States of America. I see a nation dangerously divided by colliding ideologies which threaten to pulverize a foundation which has probably stood on shaky ground longer than I realize. A nation rotting down to its very core. The only glimmer of hope I see are those who are still making an effort to find and disseminate the truth amongst this pack of wolves who are fighting over the same dwindling and disease-ridden piece of meat. They do so at their own personal peril.

Corrupted by Power’s Unholy Grip

History has proven that power drives men mad. The more they have, the more they want, and they Created with Canvareach a point where they’ll stop at nothing to feed their unholy passion. Sadly, the list of casualties is growing, mostly among the innocents. The lust for power is, in my mind, no different than blood magick. It needs to feed on the pain and misery of others to grow stronger.

Personal power builds its foundation out of the bodies of innocents. Some of them, even sacrificing themselves willingly as they’re convinced the cause is right and just. Perhaps those fall harder and lose more in the end.

We have been a proud nation for more than 200 years, and maybe that’s why we’ve been so easy to subvert. After all, pride goes before a fall, right? We’ve seen ourselves as the greatest nation, yet how many of us can actually explain what that means, now, or at any time in the past? Other nations are better educated, have less poverty, better health care, and lower crime rates. Freedoms we consider unique are not only available elsewhere, but are, in all likelihood, better protected than they are here at the moment.

Loving Our Country, Warts and All

I won’t deny we are still a decent place to live, grow, and raise a family, but much of what we take for granted has eroded without our even noticing. In short, we’ve become a nation where passive oblivion is prevalent. Of course, I can’t speak for the circumstances in other countries as I’ve never visited those whose rankings are higher than ours. I know many of the social problems which exist here aren’t unique. How they’re addressed might be, and that’s not necessarily positive.

Created with CanvaThe trouble is, we’re allowing our patriotism to be fouled, and waving our flag is causing laughter and derision rather than respect. Where once we were counted on by those who needed help, I feel like the same ones who once took advantage of our philanthropy have become vultures circling our slowly dying carcass.

What makes a country great, when all is said and done? I think it’s the people working together to build something strong and resilient, but most of all, compassionate. The compassion is the mortar which binds the bricks together. It makes us one with each other rather than a bunch of islands floating on an unforgiving, storm-tossed sea. It helps those who are struggling so they can once again become an active part of the community.

Yes, We’re Broken, But Can We Fix Ourselves Before It’s Too Late?

In that regard, we’re broken, and our patriotic cries are little more than idle chatter mixed with bravado. People are dying every day from neglect, abuse, and downright hate. We live in neighborhoods where we don’t know most of our neighbors, and when new people move in, they are already hard-wired to self-isolate. It takes a major trauma to bring us together and believe me, the last two aren’t something I want to see repeated any time soon. Their positive effects wore off soon enough anyway.

You might think if you’ve read this far that I’ve given up all hope for our nation to come back together; to work as a team; to be a great, productive, compassionate community again. In fact, I believe just the opposite. I see people doing amazing things, and despite the derogatory comments made about this generation or that, those positive, uplifting acts know no age barriers.

Creating Artificial Segregation recently pointed out that the names given to various generations are meaningless anyway, and solely for the purpose of market research (thus the advertising industry and media put us in yet another choke hold). I tend to agree. I’ve been hearing complaints blaming one generation or another most of my life, and I have to cry bullshit.

There’s simply no justification for attributing a particular type of behavior to an entire group of people born within a given span of years. We are unique individuals who’ve grown up with our own cross-section of stimuli. Even two people raised in the same household, heck, even twins will respond to the stimuli differently and grow up with different values and expectations.

My own twin daughters are as different as it’s possible for two people to be. One is socially conscious to a fault, loving, giving, and compassionate. She takes responsibility for her actions, sometimes excessively, and finds pleasure in giving back. The other is, in a word, entitled. She believes the world owes her, that I am responsible for all the trials and tribulations in her life, and uses anger, venom, and manipulation to get what she wants. The first is by far the stronger of the two, though growing up, it seemed like she was the weaker, the more compliant. In truth the deep-seated anger in my youngest daughter hides a very soft, frightened little girl who is, much like I used to be, afraid to let people see she’s not as strong as she wants them to believe.

Disengaging Our Emotions So We Respond Instead of Reacting

My own experiences have taught me to step back as much as possible when confronted by anger, hate, or worse, the deep depressive sadness of those who’ve given up hope. I’m learning to listen carefully, not only to the words, but to the emotions so I can try to understand what has led them to their emotionally charged and often logic-less beliefs in the first place. Why do they distrust a certain cultural or religious group who’s done nothing to deserve that distrust. Why do they, in fact, lump everyone in that group together instead of realizing they’re individuals with their own unique set of beliefs, qualities, and faults?

Where is the truth embedded in a series of emotionally charged lies and half-truths, and why are we being encouraged to jump on one emotional runaway train after another these days? Our reality has gotten so painful, I find I can’t even watch some of the TV shows I used to any more. I recently deleted shows like NCIS and Major Crimes from my DVR after trying to watch one episode, and shutting it off halfway as it made me feel so sick.

Making the Choice to Create a Compassionate World

What kind of world are we creating? What kind of nation are we living in where reality is harder to take than fiction? Where we escape into thrill-based fiction to make our reality seem less ugly. And why do symbols of patriotism; once a source of pride and gratitude now make me feel somehow soiled and embarrassed?

It seems I need to spend more time watching and reading stories about people who are taking steps to make things better instead of accepting the reality or joining marches. If you ask me, all of the “little guys and gals” who are quietly doing things to improve morale or living conditions, or building communities are the ones who will turn the tide and make patriotism meaningful again. They’re the ones who will wash out the stains, mend the tears, and create what we once were and can be again; strong, resilient, and compassionate. “With Liberty and Justice for All” with no exceptions.

Finding Gratitude No Matter What

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I can still speak my mind, even when it’s unpopular. Mine might not bring hate-filled messages like some who are standing up for inequities, but each voice for positive change matters.
  2. I am grateful for the insights I receive from seemingly innocuous stimuli.
  3. I am grateful for quiet days spent writing and thinking.
  4. I am grateful for a career which allows me to decide how I’m going to spend my day, and allows for a few side trips and distractions along the way.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, harmony, compassion, freedom, productivity, opportunities, incentives, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch my Facebook Live about Patriotism.

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.


Memories Stored On Calendars

Memories Give Us Pause

Every year at this time, I write a post of remembrance, but this year is a little different. On September 10th, I began thinking about all the dates on the calendar which make me stop for a moment and remember, not necessarily what is good and right in my world, but what I’ve lost, and how it has impacted the woman I am today.

March 12th was my mother’s birthday. She would be 84.

December 27th was the day she took her life. It will be 25 years this December.

September 28th was my father’s birthday. He would have been 87 this year.

And September 11th—for most people, the day we remember when terrorists took down the World Trade Center with a passenger plane full of people, and targeted the Pentagon with another. But for me and my daughters, the memory is quite different, and far more painful because for us, it’s personal.

Our Personal Sadness

On September 11, 2003, my father wrote a note to his girlfriend, smoked one last cigarette, put a gun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. His girlfriend and best friend found him a couple of hours later when he missed the daily check-in call from the girlfriend and wasn’t answering her increasingly frantic voice mails.

Some people read my words and assure me the anger will pass, and that diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer he received 2 days before his death meant he wasn’t in his right mind. To them, I can honestly say, my anger over him leaving without saying goodbye to me, my daughters, my sister and my nephew has long passed. I understand why he did it. The only time I ever saw my father cry was after the long ordeal of watching his mother die of the same disease. In his position, I can’t say I’d have made a different choice.

At the time, I was less angry about the act, and more with the fact that it was just under 10 years since my mom had also checked out by her own hand. Her reasons have never really been as clear-cut as dad’s, but I’ve accepted the fact that she, too had her reasons. I’ve had nearly 25 years to learn, and at this point, probably millions of words I’ve penned to facilitate the healing process.

Time Heals, But Brings Clarity With It

My anger with my father takes a different direction now, and yet, it too is tempered with understanding. know he did the best he could with what he had and where he came from. In truth, I’m angrier with myself for playing his warped and twisted game for so long.

For most of my life, I was certain my dad not only loved me, but favored me over my sister. Maybe he did, but if so, it was for all the wrong reasons. My sister was wise to his manipulative games decades before I ever figured it out, and went her own way. She understood him better than I as she’s the one who is more like him. I mistakenly believed she favored mom until recently.

Both she and dad wore their cold, hard exteriors like armor, and used sarcasm as a shield. But there was (and in my sister’s case, probably still is) a level of bitterness beneath the armor which further shields from honest, messy emotions. As I’ve learned, though, it also shields from the good stuff; the love, joy, compassion, and empathy I’ve come to appreciate in myself.

Mom wore her heart on her sleeve, though she tried very hard to cover it up. Her efforts to belong, to fit in, to be accepted were often heartbreaking to watch. I hardened my own heart so I wouldn’t have to watch hers break over and over again. Maybe Dad did too?

A Conglomeration of All Who Came Before

As time goes on and the dates come and go bringing memories and new insights, I realize I’m a little like both of my parents, and a lot like neither. Much of the deviation though, has occurred in the last 10 years. Until then, I held everything in and stumbled through life with my feelings treated as unwelcome guests. That’s the way I was brought up, and the only way I knew.

But when I started writing; when the feelings I’d held in check at great cost came tumbling out onto the computer screen, I found a part of myself that resembled not only neither parent, but none of the family I’d once been close to either. I became an enigma, not because I had always been different, but because I was the first and maybe the only one to break out of the mold into which we’d all been cast.

I let go of the blame, the bitterness, and the need to hold a grudge. I forgave and learned to recognize the need to forgive myself most of all. Even now when I drag out old feelings and find they were buried in lies, I allow them to flow, then forgive all over again.

Letting My Pen Lance the Boils of My Hidden Emotions revelation about my relationship with Dad came during a free-writing session which began with a writing prompt. An otherwise benign prompt became a tear- and anger-filled rant about how badly he’d treated me all my life. It churned and boiled inside me for a little while. Now I realize he not only behaved as he’d been taught, but loved me as best he could. He made me strong and independent, maybe in the extreme. It has been up to me to find the balance. I had no good example to follow.

I’ve hypothesized I come from a long line of Empaths who closed themselves off rather than feel everything that bombarded them. The choice was made more from fear and lack of understanding than a lack of desire or inability to embrace the sensitivity and accept the responsibility this sometimes dubious gift requires.  More and more, I’m convinced that’s true. I’m certain Dad would have been a wreck trying to deal with all the angst I had as a teenager, or the misery I tried to hide during my marriage and divorce. He already knew how to close himself off, and used it to good purpose to protect his own delicate psyche. Mom spent her whole lifetime trying to fit in, yet always sensing negative thoughts and feelings, especially those directed at her personally.

Lack of understanding and an inability to filter out the negativity and even anger emitting from her close family must have been painful in the extreme. The alternate spirituality she tried to turn to and draw my sister into as well makes more sense as I continue clearing the muck from my own mind. In her own way she sought what I found when I learned, first to shield with outward facing mirrors, and later to filter with elemental assistance. My own early extreme shielding gives evidence to my early need to shut the outside voices and emotions off completely until I learned how to be selective about it.

Remembrance and Healing

The dates bring an upsurge of feelings and thoughts. But more than that, they bring opportunities for more healing, more understanding, and more forgiving. My parents weren’t perfect. Nobody’s are. But they weren’t horrific either. In some ways, they might have been ignorant to what they were doing to their offspring, but again, I think most parents are to some degree. They all do the best they can with what they’re given, and both of mine weren’t given a full toolbox in the first place. There were more empty spaces than full ones, and I don’t think they had a clue what was missing or how to find it. You can’t miss what you don’t know exists in the first place, right?

I’ve gone, in the last decade from angry to compassionate, to understanding to resigned, and a bunch of other things in between along the way. My journey won’t be done until I lay my own head down for the final sleep. That, too is as it should be.

We learn, we grow, we become stronger, and we become lighter Beings because of the experiences we have and how we learn to adapt and thrive from each one. When we allow the journey to continue unthwarted and to share what we’ve learned along the way, no matter how painful, we shine a light for others to follow, and perhaps learn and grow themselves. Throwing up walls as I did for so many years put the process on hold, and perhaps even gave me additional barriers to cross and lessons to learn.

I don’t regret any of the challenges life has thrown me. I don’t think I’d have ever come out from behind my walls without the gigantic kick in the pants my parents’ suicides gave me. I was lodged pretty solidly and needed what amounted to a volcanic eruption to get out of my own way. It wasn’t pretty, but then, most eruptions aren’t. It was exactly what I needed to become the person I was meant to be.

No regrets, no anger, no blame, and no illusions.

Infinitely Grateful For What I’ve Been Given; The Good, The Bad, and The Horrific

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve been given; the easy and the painful, they all made me grow.
  2. I am grateful I can take what I’ve learned and share it with others who might need to hear what I have to say.
  3. I am grateful for understanding friends, and even virtual strangers who find value in the sharing of my own life’s convoluted path.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to write at length on things which at one time (and sometimes still do) reduce me to a puddle of tears and misery. Only by continually wading through the emotional swamp can I clear it and make the land clean and ready for fresh growth.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; caring friends, loving children, a life that’s as people-y or non-people-y as I want it to be, days of quiet contemplation, joy, time spent with friends where love flows, and sadness is shared, inspiration, motivation, peace, health, 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.

Elder Care: Privilege or Obligation?

The Child Becomes the Parent

These days as I watch friends and family addressing the challenges of caring for aging parents and all it entails I find myself listening to their words. The words they speak while caring for their parents become more poignant when the time for care taking ends and the time for grieving begins.

For some, it is truly an honor and a privilege to care for their parents in their final days, months, or years. Others seem to want accolades for being good sons or daughters. They want people to gather around as they expound on all they gave up to care for their parents. Some seek to justify their own self-care as a necessary part of the heavy load they’ve shouldered, as if self-care needs justification at any point in our lives. In fact, I believe it becomes more important when your energy is drained both emotionally and physically with elder care.

The words they use may sound the same, but the difference is in the inflection. For example.

“I gotta take care of them” vs “ I got to take care of them.”

The Holding Pattern of Terminal Illness and Infirmity

I understand in many cases someone has to put their own life on hold to see to the mountain of responsibility an aging and often physically or mentally ill parent requires. Some are able to share the load and are, I’m sure grateful for the help. Others take it all upon themselves, either by choice or financial considerations. Still, for some the choice is thrust upon them.

It’s not that those who need recognition love their parents any less. They simply have a tougher time coping with the loss of freedom.

My parents both spared me the need to make such a choice. As my sister has health issues of her own, it would all have fallen on me, and my life would have been significantly different than it is now. I admit I’d have been resentful of the intrusion and disruption of my life at a time when I was finally free of the responsibilities of raising my children. Having taken care of my mother when she had knee surgery years ago, I know what a pain in the ass she could be when ill. I shudder to think what she’d have been like if dementia was added to her already toxic mix of depression and what we suspect was bi-polar disorder.

A Lifelong Contentious Relationship Makes Resentment the Obvious Choice

I’d have been quite happy to put my mom in a home and visit her as infrequently as possible. At this, I really can’t say how I’d have felt about caring for my dad. His choice when faced with that eventuality makes it clear he’d have liked the arrangement even less than me.

Still, I have a great deal of respect for friends who, in their 50’s and 60’s have been thrust into a position as care taker just when they thought they could relax and enjoy their lives a little more. It has to be heartbreaking to watch once strong, capable people reverting to the helplessness of a child. It makes me especially grateful my parents spared me this life lesson. I’m not sure I’d have been up to the challenge, and the years I’ve spent turning my attitude around would certainly have taken a beating.

I’m also convinced I need to spare my own children the challenges and heartaches of caring for me if and when I go on a long, slow decline health-wise. Granted, I won’t make the rather drastic choice my dad did. I think two suicides are quite enough for this family to recover from. But I hope I’ll make some plans long before they’re necessary to take care of my own needs so my children can continue to live and enjoy their lives, visiting when they can, but not responsible for my health and well-being.

Doing Our Best to Spare Our Kids

I’m sure as parents, many try to plan for this eventuality. Many factors get in the way, most of them involving money. I see how all too often it martyrs one sibling or another. I don’t want that to happen to my daughters who even now don’t have much of a relationship despite being twins. I know which one would end up saddled with my care, and which would wait around for me to die so she could collect the inheritance she thinks she deserves.

It all makes me especially conscious of the ones who are taking the care of their parents seriously, and as a privilege. They willingly give up a lot, but still, I know it takes its toll. Old habits do die hard, and I was trained almost from the womb to never be a burden. Being one for my kids would probably kill me quickly anyway, so there is a bright side. They’d only have to bear the burden for a short time. It makes me see the loss of independence from both sides. I empathize not only with the children who must now care for parents, no longer the strong adults who have supported them all their lives. My heart also goes out to the parents who must depend on their children; must, whether they like it or not, be a burden. I’m sure it weighs on them heavily, and perhaps adversely effects their mood and personality in the process.

Understanding the Role We’re Given is the One We’re Best Equipped to Handle

The cycle of life can be unutterably cruel, even when it’s played out relatively normally. Some have the pleasure and privilege of having warm, supportive parents in their lives for many years. They ultimately have to watch their health decline towards the end with nothing to do but be loving and supportive. Others have parents who, like my mom thought criticism was how you showed you cared. I’ve seen friends trying to cope with old age and crankiness which worsens as mind and body fail. It’s not pretty and is emotionally devastating for the child. The parent will ultimately die. How long does it take for the children who did their best to make those last months or years comfortable to recover from the effects?

Not only do they subjugate their own needs while their parent needs help with practically everything, but the emotional strain of watching someone you’ve loved your entire life fade and suffer before your eyes adds to an already difficult situation. Sure, you could put them in a nursing home where their basic needs are met, but I haven’t talked to a single friend who went that route who didn’t end up spending a lot of time visiting and seeing to needs and wants nursing homes aren’t equipped to address. Some, I hear are worse than others in that respect. Again, money is often the driving force, and the indicator of time required on the part of the family.

Sometimes, There isn’t a Choice

And there are people like me who lose their parents before they’re old enough to need care. It might be disease, or accident. Both leave their own brand of emotional wreckage behind. Then, there are those who left of their own volition like my parents. That wound heals and reopens numerous times. In the end though, I’m filled with gratitude that the only life I’m going to be responsible for from here on out is my own, unless there’s someone in my future I’ve yet to recognize as partner material. In that case though it would be my choice, not an obligation.

Finding Reasons To Be Grateful No Matter What

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the hand I was dealt. I got to spend the last couple of decades learning compassion instead of harboring resentment.
  2. I am grateful for the example set by loving, compassionate friends.
  3. I am grateful for the balance I’ve found in my life. I may not be wildly successful, but I will never be a failure as long as I keep trying.
  4. I am grateful for ideas that flood my morning pages, the Notes app on my phone, and random bits of paper and sticky notes on my desk. I’ll never lack for something to write about.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, joy, compassion, love, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, peace, health, 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.

Pain Won’t Respect Our Walls

Pain and Trauma Make Repeat Performances

At one time or another, we all suffer some kind of pain or trauma. It might be a broken friendship or relationship, the death of a beloved family member. For many, it’s far worse, and to many of us unimaginable. Yet regardless of what caused our suffering, most of us have one thing in common; we try to wall away the pain and get on with our lives.

We might or might know the best thing to do is work through the painful event, but life and society, and a host of other excuses make it easier to shove our feelings into a box, and get on with our lives—or so we’d like to believe.

The trouble with pain is it has a nasty habit of re-introducing itself into our lives at inconvenient moments, and it does it with insidious regularity. It isn’t really coming back at us to punish us though. We are meant to both deal with our painful moments and learn from them. When we wall them away, we guarantee we’ll be revisited; our own personal version of the Ghosts of Traumas Past.

The Masks We Wear are so many people we meet who seem to continuously wear a smile on their faces. Some of them even make us smile just to see them. But what’s really behind those smiles? The positive exterior? What does it cost them to maintain the mask and the ruse that everything in their life is perfect?

I’ve learned so much about that in recent years. We all have our secrets and things we choose to hold in rather than inflict on others. We all smile when we’re hurting inside at one time or another, telling anyone who asks we’re “fine”. The general public accepts our words and looks no further, but what about the people closest to us? Do they listen to the words and ignore what lies closer to the surface than we’d like? Do they look into our eyes, see the pain lurking in their depths and offer comfort though we don’t, and would never ask?

Letting People Down When We Hide From Our Pain

I think about my dad and all the times he ignored my mom’s pain while at the same time, walling away his own. Some, I know was years of habit. I think at one time, he was conscious of her inner turmoil, her need to be loved and accepted without qualification. But when her need wasn’t met by her family, she sank deeper into herself and only in those moments when they were alone together and her defenses dropped, albeit deeply, might he have seen the quagmire of her soul beneath the carefully constructed facade.

Coming from a family where emotions were rarely displayed and where stoicism was highly valued, I don’t think he knew how to deal with raw emotion in himself or anyone else. I suspect it was even terrifying for him when mom’s masks slipped and he saw the raw and bleeding soul beneath. I’m not surprised he developed defense mechanisms and responded with anger or disgust. So much of the way he responded was self-directed too.

The tendency to hide from our emotions and pain is perpetuated into adulthood. I remember a female manager taking me under her wing when I was working in aerospace. One of her most oft-repeated lessons had to do with hiding your emotions. Women had to work harder to be taken seriously in that environment, and showing emotion was the quickest way to kill any upward momentum you might have achieved. I took her message to heart, embracing the lesson with the zealousness of a religious fanatic.

Hiding and Re-living: An Endless Cycle Until We Learn and Accept

Through a divorce, the death of my mother, and the challenges of juggling career, self-care, and two young children, I kept my struggles to myself. The result was what appeared to be a rock-hard exterior and few I could call “friend”. The false front prevented anyone from getting close. No one ever figured out that a slight tap on that exterior would have cracked it into a million pieces. I even convinced myself I preferred the solitude and the isolation.

As the years have passed, the painful moments were triggered over and over. Often they led to periods of even more isolation as I tried vainly to shore up the eroding walls. Ultimately I learned to face the reminders head on and find the lesson in the pain. And I learned to be more understanding and compassionate of others.

We Are Never Truly Alone

Part of learning to manage and accept our own painful past is the realization we’re not alone. Everyone suffered a setback, a loss, or a trauma at some point in their lives. Yet comparing ours to theirs isn’t the answer either. It’s easy to say “I shouldn’t feel so bad. This other person has suffered far more than I.” But we all suffer within our own contract; our own capabilities. We all have challenges which help us learn to become the person we were meant to be.

It’s not a matter of comparing. It’s a matter of empathizing and connecting. Sometimes we connect through our propensity to wall away the pain. Other times, we connect because of similarities in our experiences. The best connections, in my opinion, are those made when we understand it’s not the level of pain or how we’ve worked through it, but that we all have. It’s an unspoken understanding that at one time or another, we all need to straighten our spine and go on, even when we’d rather crawl into a hole.

Yet, it’s also that moment when we truly accept we weren’t meant to soldier through alone. Sometimes, it takes some life-shattering moments, much like the ones I experienced before we accept that we deserve to ask for and receive help. Even there, we find connection with others who believed themselves unworthy. We connect with the isolated, the hermits, the ones who for years believed themselves to be oddballs. We find our community where we least expected it—with the ones who are connected through being different.

Finding Our Community in Our Differences

Perhaps it’s easier to find comfort in a community where everyone thinks like we do, and shares all the same values, beliefs, and visions. It’s harder when your world-view is a unique combination of pieces and parts gleaned from what you’ve read, seen, and experienced as an isolated soul on its own journey. But the very fact we hide our feelings and thoughts away to blend in is what ultimately brings us together. When we have the epiphany and realize we were never meant to blend in and doing so is stifling the unique and beautiful butterfly of our soul, we find ourselves in a garden with thousands of other unique and beautiful souls.

The hardest thing in the world is to come out from behind the walls we spent a lifetime building—the walls which make us appear to belong. Yet there comes a point when we can no longer maintain a construction which was never structurally sound. For some, it comes with the force of an earthquake, stone, mortar, blood, and tears flying everywhere with no hope for containment. Others may voluntarily take down their walls as they allow themselves to see past the smokescreens and preconceived notions.

However it happens, finding the garden beyond where uniqueness is valued instead of squashed is worth the effort and even the pain of the journey.

Do we ever completely release our painful and traumatic moments? Probably not. There will always be some which come back to haunt us in one way or another. But there will also be those which fade into distant memory as we deal with the pain, embrace the lesson, and move onto other things. Some of those become our ability to relate and help others through their own which I believe was the purpose of the experience in the first place. I know my own life is richer for the opportunities I’ve been given to be there for someone with whom an experience we in some way share is still fresh, or returning in full force to bring them to their knees as it once brought me to mine.

Knowing We Always Have Something to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the experiences which have made me stronger, but even more for the ones which taught me compassion.
  2. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back now that I’ve learned my walls only kept me from experiencing joy and connection.
  3. I’m grateful for my friends and family who teach me every day to be a kinder, more compassionate Divine Being having a Human experience.
  4. I’m grateful for love. Without it, we’re incomplete.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, lessons, compassion, kindness, beauty, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats, suicide survivors, mental health, and depression. 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

Leaking Moral and Ethical Behavior Through Telecommunication

Fielding Unwanted Callers daughter gets a lot of calls from sales people for her sister, her long-deceased step-monster, and the owner of my house. We’re not entirely sure how her number got on lists for any of these. While I send any and all unrecognized numbers to voicemail where most never leave a message, she, for reasons I’m not at liberty to disclose, answers a lot of them.

Like her with the deceased, I got tons of mail for my dad years after his death. In my case though, it made sense as I was the executor of his estate and had forwarded all his mail to my house. In her case, she hadn’t even seen the deceased for several years prior to her death in about 2006.

In a moment of morbid humor while dealing with multiple calls from  a thickly accented employment agency hack, I suggested she change her outgoing voice mail message to something like “if you’re calling for H, please leave your number and a brief message. If you’re calling for J, her number is… If you’re calling for E, please call {Insert number for a cemetery} and ask for plot 357B.” With luck word would get around to all the cold calling sales hacks who buy lists of telephone numbers and at least the ones for a woman long-dead will cease.

Shutting Down Cold Callers and Bots

We all get those random calls, not only from people trying to sell us something (and clearly haven’t of #GorillaNation, aka “Getting Clients Without Being Salesy”) but from automated bots who steal phone numbers to make it look like a local number we just don’t recognize. The practice has given rise to apps like Hiya, TrueCaller, and Should I Answer? to name a few. If nothing else, the phone hackers keep some of the computer hackers busy trying to create better apps to reduce the annoyance factor for users like you and me.

People have different ways of dealing with the random, and unwelcome callers. Some of us rely on both not answering unrecognized numbers, and apps to alert us when a call is registered as a telemarketer or spam. Others like a few I’ve seen on social media will engage the telemarketer and turn the tables, annoying the annoyer. I doubt it stops them from annoying someone else, but it does keep them busy for a few minutes when there’s zero possibility of making a sale.

I understand there are also ways to tie up their phone line for long periods of time. Again, a method for those who are far more tech savvy than me.

In the end, we all fall back on what we’re best at. For me it’s a combination of blocking, ignoring, and a dose of my twisted sense of humor.

When Ethics and Morals Are Lost in a Sea of Greed

Sadly, especially with elderly victims, these unethical practices generate enough business to justify their existence, at least to those whose moral compass points straight down. It baffles me that people can take advantage of others, all too often, causing irreparable damage and not blink an eye. How they can look at themselves in the mirror is beyond my comprehension. Even in my worst days when I lacked compassion for most of humanity, the idea of stealing from another, especially one who could ill-afford the loss was incomprehensible.

I have to wonder what drives a person to bury their morality under layers of rationalization which says what their doing is morally and ethically OK? How black the soul of someone who steals from the poor, not to help someone else, but to line their own pockets with their ill-gotten gains?

Bringing Back Morality and Compassion

As the morality of our world takes beating after beating in the public eye, I have to wonder where it will all end? At what point will we have reached the very bottom of our tolerance; the point where we can no longer turn our heads or stifle our sensitivity to the suffering of others? Or even, is there such a point?

History has shown we can, in large numbers turn our heads for extended periods of time before our hearts are freed from an extended legacy of service only to ourselves. Sometimes, the pendulum swings and we see massive outbreaks where righteous outrage flies banners denouncing the indignities and abuses. I’m starting to see that isn’t entirely a bad thing.

Using Smoke Screens for Good as Well as Evil we are inundated with news of indignities every day, dragging our attention away from the purpose beneath the smoke screen, could the morally righteous be using the methodology for their own agenda as well? Could they be using the marches, the email campaigns, the blistering messages on Social Media to mask their own activities behind  the scenes? Could there be more examples of sleight of hand occurring beneath the noses of those who seek to oppress and overpower?

The brilliance of this concept gives me goosebumps. Imagine allowing someone to believe you’re losing at their own game, while hiding your true actions in plain sight!

Responding as Expected for Dramatic Effect

I’ve been ranting and raving for a while about how we can’t beat them at their own game of hate by throwing back hate in return. But what if we’re giving them exactly what they want so that underground railroad I’ve spoken of can operate freely and openly? What if the masses who oppose immorality and oppression have manged to create their own Platform 9 3/4?

There is an advantage to sitting in my hermit hole watching what goes on around me, and only commenting on occasion. I sift through what I see and hear, research the rhetoric, look for the concepts which are collaborated in the media all along the conservative to liberal continuum before (if ever) taking a stand and speaking out on one side or the other. I’ve learned a lot in recent months. Not only about how hate kills and emotional belief is unshakable, but that the human mind and heart are incredibly resilient. They may not recognize a trickster or thief at first, but given time to step back and think about it; to search inside for truth, they’ll allow doubts to surface and see the evil grin beneath the smiling face.

Hoisting Them on Their Own Petard

I am beginning to feel people aren’t sitting on the sidelines or accepting from an ingrained belief system as much as they want the world to believe. Many have cast a “you can’t see me” spell without benefit of magic. Instead, they use technology and the media to their own advantage, and the heartless megamonster is happily swallowing the bait and spewing forth fodder for a premature and soon-to-be exposed, unwarranted victory dance.

As with many of the observations I’ve made in the last 5 years or so which eventually became “common knowledge”, or at least were publicly accepted as valid, I’ll sit back and watch to see where this one goes. My money is on the brilliant, heart-centered, compassionate ones whose moral compasses are destined to fight for truth and harmony.

Gratitude Begets Something to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my daughter Heather who continues to inspire me and make me reach for the stars.
  2. I am grateful for Hallmark movies. Their feel-good themes encourage my pursuit of compassion and kindness.
  3. I am grateful for love. Without it, we’d lose our moral compasses.
  4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned about writing and how they’ve taught me to allow the words to flow without trying to force a direction.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, companionship, joy, dancing, peace, harmony, 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

Where Has All the Compassion Gone?

Acts of Violence Often Send Compassion in Only One Direction

As the world reels from yet another senseless act of violence, it’s easy to be angry at the perpetrator. It’s easy to cast blame and aspersions on his character despite the fact that prior to his most horrific and final act, most of us didn’t even know the man existed. And perhaps that’s part of the problem.

As human beings, it is inherent in our nature to need love. Yet so many live without such a basic part of life. So many never know the care, the nurturing, the kindness, the compassion that goes with a love which expects nothing in return.

Turning Adversity into Helping and Healing

Last week, I attended the 1000 Speakers Academy and listened to some amazing and talented speakers. Many spoke of the service they offered and how they help other people achieve their dreams. But several told stories of less-than-idyllic childhoods which ultimately led them to their current path, coaching others and helping them achieve their dreams.

Too many of those stories were examples of neglect, abuse, molestation and worse. I won’t lie. I came away from the experience exhausted on a physical, mental, emotional and energetic level. Yet my belief that perpetrators of heinous acts are some of the most desperately lonely, love-starved people on the planet.

I’m not going to tell you they don’t deserve to be punished for their acts, but I will say we need to look deeper into how they came to do what they did.

While many of the people I heard speak last week took truly horrible childhoods and used them as a launching point to help build a better world, too many who’ve experienced what they have simply become the next generation of abusers, molesters, and outright criminals. Their earliest imprinting taught them this behavior was normal.

Breaking a Cycle of Hate With Love

We can’t break the cycle of abuse, of criminal behavior if we don’t find it in our hearts to feel compassion for the child within. How often do you see a child act out, hitting, biting, or throwing a tantrum just to get some attention. Isn’t assaulting or even murdering someone just another example of that love-starved child acting out? Certainly the consequences are magnified as the child becomes an adult. The acts become larger as the need for attention escalates.

If the situation were different. If the perpetrators were taking out their lack of love on themselves as many do, how would our reactions differ? How do we respond when someone perpetually injures themself; when they succumb to the ultimate abuse and end their own life? Even then, we often try to blame someone else rather than looking at the victim with compassion, but there’s a huge gap between how we react to someone who injures or kills themself versus someone who takes others with them. Are they really very different in the overall scheme of things?

I implore you, the next time you hear of someone shooting a bunch of strangers in a crowd, or driving a truck into a peaceful demonstration or blowing up a train to take a step back and recognize that it’s a sad, lonely, desperate human being underneath the heinous act. It is a human being who lacks what so many of us take for granted; love and acceptance. Condemn the act if you will, but find it in your heart to show compassion for one of the most broken individuals our society has produced. I guarantee they didn’t ask for whatever happened to turn them into the monster you perceive them to be.


Please visit Light and Life for another treatise on compassion.

This post was inspired by a daily prompt found here.

With Every Heinous Act, It’s Important to Express Gratitude for All the Rest

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the reasonably normal childhood my parents gave me.
  2. I am grateful my life is filled with love and compassion, even when I’m too closed off to see it.
  3. I am grateful for a heart which can find compassion, even for the roughest among us.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to be compassionate, especially in cases where it is the hardest.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, charity, philanthropy, social consciousness, peace, hope, harmony, prosperity, and blessings.

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.

Sometimes You Just Have to Be Sad

Sadness Unexplained

There isn’t anything wrong. There isn’t even anything particularly not right. Yet sometimes, the sadness hits for no particular reason. Most of the time, you get busy working or cleaning or something that doesn’t require much thinking. Or you watch a funny movie. Or you make a list of gratitudes. But sometimes, you really need to let the sadness run it’s course.

Life is a balance. We have to be sad to appreciate happy, low to appreciate high, sick to appreciate healthy, and so on. If we stifle one, we diminish the other. As an artist, some of my most productive times are the sad ones. They’re the ones which let me spill raw emotions onto the page or craft a character who makes the reader ache for them. A song writer might write an achingly sweet ballad, a painter, a painting which rips deep into your soul. Where would art be if the artist didn’t allow herself to experience these inexplicable periods of sadness?

Fighting the Sadness is a Losing Battle

When I was younger, I did everything in my power to talk myself out of being sad, even to the point of getting angry with myself. Unfortunately, it often left me angry and feeling unfulfilled for a long time afterwards. Yet the reasons I shoved it aside were valid. I had a job to perform so I could earn my paycheck and support my two daughters. I had a household to maintain, chores to do, groceries to buy, and all of the things that go into surviving as a single mother. Heaven knows, I didn’t always get it right and I came into a lot of criticism from well-meaning friends who disagreed with my priorities.

In years when my life was slightly slower, I’d sometimes allow the sadness to overtake me, obliterating all memories of happier things. I’d spend too many hours in my sweats, curled up in bed sleeping. In hindsight, I’d probably internalized things like my divorce, my parents deaths and a thousand other things for so long, I’d fallen into a depression I didn’t even recognize as such. I know those times were hardest of all on my daughters. But as bad as it got, I’m one of the lucky ones because I didn’t stay there.

Finding My Way into the Darkness and Out Again

Eventually, I found my happy place again. I also found a way to stop walling myself in behind a wall of misery. At first, I wrote only for myself. I created Word documents meant only for my eyes, though many of them remain in my archives. I wrote about my unhappiness, but more, I wrote about the things I could not change; my parents’ suicides, my guilt over feeling I didn’t do enough or care enough. In a nutshell, my past.

Only when the Notes function on Facebook proved insufficient to hold all of the thoughts, questions, Tarot readings, and random thoughts I’d begun to share did I move to a more public arena with my first blog. Little did I know where it would take me. What started as a way to talk about family suicide and maybe reach a couple of people who, like me had bottled up their feelings has become so much more.

Giving Society’s Misguided Standards the Finger

Just as our society isn’t very understanding about just needing to be sad, it lacks compassion for people who have lost someone to suicide. The things we are taught in order to function in that society also teach us some incredibly unhealthy things. Funny little catch phrases like “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.” or “Suck it up, Buttercup” may sound cute and funny…if you’re not the one being told to box up your feelings and just deal with it.

Yet, we’re only human. We have feelings and if we don’t get to express them when they’re small and manageable, we will eventually break under the pressure of everything we’re stifling, and something small will make us crumble into a million pieces. By then, we’ve been so outwardly strong that nobody understands why we could possibly get upset over something which, on the outside, appears quite small.

In sharing my own ups and downs, struggles and successes, I’ve learned a lot of lessons, but the greatest lesson of all is that I am not alone. Others have been where I am. They may have dealt with it differently, but they can relate. Sometimes, what I write about comes at just the right time for someone who is having a tough time. More than once, I’ve heard from someone that just reading that someone else shares what they’re going through takes their pain down a notch.

Sharing Our Struggles Can Be Someone Else’s Gift

We can’t take away someone else’s pain. We can’t cure their ailing parent, or make the loss of a child, a parent, a dear friend, or a beloved pet less sad and painful for them. And feeding them platitudes like “it’s going to be OK” or “time will heal this” or my personal least favorite, “it’s God’s will” don’t help. All you’re doing with those little catch phrases is invalidating someone’s feelings. You’re telling them they don’t “need” to be sad.

Feelings have nothing to do with need. They just are. We can’t turn them on and off like a faucet. Yes, we can shove them into a box in our heart for a little while, but the box is not infinite. Eventually it will burst. Which is why I encourage you to feel your feelings. After awhile, you can step back and simply observe them, but can you really observe something you don’t understand? That you haven’t allowed yourself or been allowed to feel? Sure, time does heal in its own way. Even that is different for each of us. But when the pain of loss is fresh, when whatever made us feel lonely, or ostracized, or ashamed, or hurt is still new, it’s important that we accept the feelings without judgment.

We’ll have the rest of our lives, if we choose, to rehash the feelings. We may even discover, in some cases, that we’ve misunderstood or overreacted. But in the moment, the feelings are as real as we are, and deserve to be acknowledged and felt.

Following My Inner Compass

I started writing this a good 12 hours ago, and have kept myself moving and interacting while the sadness ran its course. I kept a commitment to myself to go to the gym. It wasn’t my best workout, but it wasn’t my worst either. I felt a lot better for having done it, and removed the possibility of feeling guilty for having dishonored a commitment to myself. I was lazy and picked up dinner after my workout. It could have been better, but it could also have been far worse. Again, no guilt. I watched a movie and cuddled with my cats who have been extremely attentive the last few days. Finally, I sat down to finish this post. Still a little sad, but less so than this morning.

The sadness is passing because I didn’t make a big deal of it. I didn’t try to whitewash it or bury it under a load of platitudes. It’s taken a long time, and I still have a lot to learn, but accepting myself, my moods, my screw-ups, and my successes gets easier every day. I realize I am the sum of all of the things which make me the person I am; some good, some not so much. But if those parts were different, I wouldn’t be me.

In Sadness or in Joy, I Can Still Find Something to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my imperfections.
  2. I am grateful I’ve learned to let things out instead of holding them in.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned to accept myself, imperfections and all.
  4. I am grateful I have friends who sometimes need to see those imperfections.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, acceptance, friendship, lessons, challenges, imperfections, joy, sorrow, dreams, failures, successes, and words. Lots and lots of words!

Love and Light

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. 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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