Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘compassion’

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, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Creeping Nostalgia

Letting the Mind Out for Spontaneous, Unfettered Play

After one of the busiest weekends in longer than I can remember, I finally found some down time, and my mind took the break like a kid who explodes out the classroom doors on the last day before summer vacation.

At last it was free to do what it does best; run amok. No line dances to try to memorize or two-step patterns to concentrate on. No trails to navigate, conversations to follow and participate in, memories to share. What’s an ADD brain on freedom to do?

One Thought Leads to Another in Typical Non-Linear Fashion

I tried turning on my Rascal Flatts station on Pandora in a futile attempt to corral it a bit. Not one of my better ideas. Each song made me more nostalgic. When “The Rose” came on, I felt tears pricking my eyes. It was the perfect song for my son-in-law’s grandmother who passed a couple of days ago. Elizabeth was the sweetest, most amazing lady I had the pleasure to know, even if it was only for a few short years. Through more than her share of life’s tragedies and heartaches, she was always cheerful, peaceful, charming, and witty. She left a lasting mark on everyone she met.

The one song and her memory made every subsequent song bittersweet, which struck me as odd because many of the songs on this station aren’t really nostalgic. But memories are funny things. So often, a song, a word, a person; unrelated yet somehow fitting sends us down a path of old experiences. Friends who’ve come and gone. Trips we’ve taken. The mistakes we’ve made…and the triumphs. It all comes rushing back like yesterday once more.

All We Really Need is Love to Make Us Better People

It all comes back, eventually, to love. The love I’ve felt but never expressed. The love I’ve yet to experience. The love I’m only now learning to open my heart to. And the love that’s been there all along, had I only crawled out of my shell to see it.

So I sit here listening to song after song, feeling just a little sad, and not entirely sure why.

Do I feel like I’ve missed out? If so, as the saying goes, I ain’t dead yet. I still have time to live my life and experience the things I think I’ve missed.

Do I feel I could have done more? See above.

Do I regret the unkind thoughts I’ve had and words I’ve spoken? That I can change. And should. And will.

I realize that part of what makes life good, gives us memories which give rise to the nostalgia is the sharing, the reaching out; but more, allowing ourselves to enjoy new experiences.

Comfort Zone Be Gone!

After making some enormous changes a few years ago, I settled back into a life so predictable you could have set a calendar by it. It’s no wonder my blog posts were few and far between for awhile. Life in a rut leaves nothing particularly interesting to impart.

Something inside me was clamoring for adventure, apparently. In the last few days, I’ve booked a cruise a year from now, spontaneously went to a day long dance event, and, the piece de resistance? I’ve agreed to start increasing my hikes until I’m ready to hike the Grand Canyon with some friends. Was it only a few weeks ago that a 3 mile hike on the flat path along the wash was enough to exhaust me? Or when 2 nights a week of dancing was plenty, both for the exercise and the exposure to people?

Is this blast of nostalgia for the comfort zone I’ve so casually kicked to the curb of late? One final good-bye to the person I was before embracing who I’m becoming?

Maybe in a small way, I’m wishing I’d let this person emerge years or even decades sooner. But as with everything else, I know this is exactly the right time. Along with the nostalgia, the questions, and even the edge of sadness is a great, heaping mound of gratitude.

Grateful for So Many Gifts

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who are leading me away from my comfortable but boring life.
  2. I am grateful for adventures and moving into areas I’d never have believed I’d be navigating.
  3. I am grateful for patience and encouragement; skills my friends these days possess in abundance. May I learn from them and give back the same to others.
  4. I am grateful for my ADD brain which travels to parts unknown on a regular basis, but never leaves me bored or without thoughts and questions to ponder and pursue.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, intelligence, friends, new experiences, reminders of my own imperfections, joy, health, happiness, peace, harmony, inspiration, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Emotions Disconnected

Feeling Disconnected Again

Tonight in the middle of a line dance, I suddenly felt what has become a frequent and familiar sensation. There, in the middle of a crowd, voices clashing with the music, a cacophony of sounds fighting for recognition, I was suddenly alone. The ties to people, to sounds, even to the steps I was executing were suddenly severed. I continued to go through the motions, but no longer felt like I was connected mentally, physically, or emotionally to the experience.

I’ve been here before. Suddenly a piece of jetsam floating rudderless above the sights and sounds. So often, I even have a standard behavior which executes on its own when the feeling of disconnection pervades my being.

Going Off of Auto-Pilot

But this time was different. For some reason I recognized I was about to launch the escape sequence and stopped for a split second. In that frozen moment in time, instead of allowing the self-executing program to engage, I stopped. I asked myself why I didn’t just allow myself to feel that disconnectedness instead of masking it like I usually do. I asked why I didn’t allow myself to feel the feelings which pervaded my being at moments like this. Why did I instead allow myself to be encased in a bubble of energy which gave me false stimulation I was unable to reach from the people around me?

And the self-executing program stopped, unsure whether to go forward or address this new set of queries because I couldn’t think of a single valid reason why those feelings should not be felt.

Of course the next thing I did was to start writing about it, allowing the feelings to flow onto the screen unedited. Much like a brain dump but one I knew I’d publish one place or another. The questions poured out of me like the Oroville Dam through its emergency spillway. Once the flow began, there was no way to stop it.

Questioning Old Habits

Should I do what I’ve become accustomed to doing and enclose myself in a golden egg-shaped ball of light, or instead, allow myself to feel the disconnectedness? Have I grown so accustomed to masking the disconnectedness that it’s more natural to mask my feelings from myself as well as everyone else? Has the defense mechanism I initiated while  learning to handle the feelings of pain, loss, anger, guilt and so forth outlived its usefulness?

And yet, the habit has become so ingrained I normally don’t even think twice about launching the escape sequence if I even launch it consciously any more. It’s pretty much on auto-pilot. I didn’t even recognize I was doing it until tonight. Experiencing this disconnectedness on the dance floor happens often enough I consider it commonplace.

Taking a Turn for the Better

While I stood on the sidelines typing furiously into my phone, someone asked me to dance and afterward,  I joined a conversation with people at the table next to mine. Yet I knew sooner or later I’d have to follow the flow. Something changed tonight. Suddenly, I was, if not giving myself permission, at least exploring the option of allowing my feelings to flow unchecked. Is this the next stage in my healing process? Acknowledging the feelings which have been so bottled up I didn’t even realize I’d been doing the bottling?

Turning the Protective Mechanisms Off

The mind is a very complicated apparatus which is directly responsible for the fight or flight behavior. But it also protects us in times of severe emotional trauma by doling out the experience in more manageable bits and pieces. It does this by blocking the feelings until we’re ready to handle them without imploding. And yet, there are times when our minds go a little overboard. They fail to give us credit for the strength we’ve developed through years of challenges and lessons. Or they simply get stuck in protective mode and forget to dole out a few more feelings for us to process.

In my case, I think I just got to the point where it was easier to deny any connection to those feelings. In true “out of sight, out of mind” fashion, I made no effort to retrieve the things which had been put away until I was stronger. In doing so, I lost part of my humanity. I lost kindness. I lost compassion. Until I found myself wondering at my inability to connect.

That’s when the hard outer shell which had grown around my heart and even the feeling part of my mind started to show signs of strain. It was no longer obvious to me why I should stifle and contain my feelings when I suddenly felt alone in a crowd for no apparent reason. With each new question, the walls cracked a little more. And in cracking, I was able to re-establish part of the connection. By giving myself permission to feel disconnected and alone, I no longer was.

Opening a New Door in the Healing Process

By acknowledging and allowing the feelings, I did something I’d been working towards for a long time. I allowed my vulnerability to show. Granted, it’s unlikely anyone around me even noticed. But I noticed. I felt vulnerable and didn’t do anything to stop the feeling.

This might seem insignificant to most, but to anyone who has guarded their heart with military precision, never allowing themselves to experience uncertainty or weakness, this is a major accomplishment. I learned tonight that until I can truly feel comfortable being vulnerable in my own space, I’ll never open up to others in that manner. But I also had to decide I was ready.

In all honesty, I’m still not completely certain I’m ready. But I am certain I’m ready to try, and that’s a step in the right direction.

For Each Experience, I Am Truly Grateful

Tonight’s gratitudes are:

  1. I am grateful for the cracks in my shell.
  2. I am grateful I could experience the vulnerability without an audience for now.
  3. I am grateful for the unanswered questions.
  4. I am grateful for new experiences. Especially the scarier ones.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, vulnerability, courage, connection, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Completing the Circle: Suicide’s Forgotten Victims

Remembering the Forgotten

I see a lot of posts lately about how people get depressed and contemplate suicide around the holidays. They’re typically followed by a number for the Suicide Hotline.

What I don’t see is any reference to those of us who may have lost someone to suicide during the holidays. I want to stand up and shout “Hey, we’re still here, and it still hurts, even 10, 20, 30 years later. What about us?”

There’s no hotline for survivors of suicide. No outpouring of love and concern. No admonitions to care more, love more, or give extra attention to suicide survivors. But in my opinion, there should be.

Suicide is Tragic, No Matter Which Side of the Fence You’re On, but it Doesn’t End with a Death

I’m not trying to minimize the fact that suicides and suicide attempts do increase during the holidays. If you’re already sad and depressed, all of the exhortations to be happy and joyful and to buy presents you might not be able to afford are certainly enough to drive one over the edge. What I am trying to do is raise awareness for those of us who didn’t recognize that sadness in someone we loved until it was too late.

What I am trying to say is that we who have lost someone to suicide, especially during the holidays suffer whenever we see one of those community service style posts. We suffer because we didn’t see the signs; because we didn’t call a hotline to help prevent our loved one’s act. But more, because we know first-hand that even if we had, it might not have helped.

Left Behind Should Never Mean Isolated

Someone who commits suicide during the holidays, especially an adult, is probably not new to the idea. The idea of ending it all doesn’t just pop into their head on a whim. Chances are, they’ve been feeling sad and unwanted or unneeded for a long time. The forced jollity of the holidays is simply the final straw, eliminating any second thoughts they might have had that they still have a purpose. It doesn’t matter what the people around them think. They feel extraneous, and they are in charge of the actions they take based on those feelings.

But those who are left behind, whether they found the lifeless body or simply dealt with the feelings of helplessness, guilt, and grief afterwards must revisit the death year after year. The holidays are just another reminder of someone who is no longer around to share the joys, the sorrows, and everything in between. They’re a reminder that we didn’t or couldn’t do enough to make someone feel they needed to hang around a little longer.

Opening Hearts to Suicide’s Forgotten Victims

Please, while you’re offering avenues to prevent suicide, also open your hearts to those who lost someone to suicide during the holidays; the most wonderful time of the year. You might not even know who we are as many won’t talk about it. If they do, they won’t open up unless they know someone who has suffered the same loss.

I suggest we make the holidays a time of more hugs, more compassion, greater understanding. Most of all, make it a time of paying more attention to the people around you. Notice when their smiles don’t reach their eyes. Notice when they seem to move more slowly. Notice when they retreat to a corner during celebrations and don’t seem to be getting into all of the joy and happiness we’re supposed to be feeling.

Give heartfelt hugs whenever you can. Not those almost embarrassed kind of hugs with the back patting you’d give a fussy child. A real hug where you hold someone, heart to heart, giving and receiving warmth. A hug that says “I may not know what you’re going through, but I care and I’m here for you, even if all I can offer is this hug.”

Remembering the Value of Family, Warts and All

I learned a lot this weekend when I saw my family for the first time in 20 years. I learned that even though they know my sister and I no longer have a relationship, they’re not judging, simply trying to understand. I learned that in many ways, my parents’ suicides will always be the elephant in the room, but we can still love each other in spite of it. I learned to appreciate how much my parents spared me as I watched cousins dealing with a mother whose mind is very child-like now, and a father who is crouched and bent and likely in a great deal of pain much of the time. I also learned how much it saddens me that my parents didn’t get to share the girls’ milestones and accomplishments.

The biggest thing I learned, though, was that my family is still there after all these years. For some, being around me might be awkward and uncomfortable but they’re willing to make the effort. For others, I truly believe they don’t hold me responsible for my parents’ actions, nor do those actions make it difficult for them to be near me. I don’t seem to serve as the constant and unwelcome reminder of their own loss I believed I did. And I met extended family who were warm and welcoming without prejudice.

Yet, I still feel sad that my parents aren’t here to share the holidays with us, with their granddaughters. Perhaps I always will. I have learned to fill my heart with love, my home with friends and my time with activity. Most of all, I express my gratitude for all of the blessings in my life right now, and still to come. I am here for a reason. I have a purpose. Most of all, I am worthy of love, success, and fulfillment.

Part of that fulfillment is being a haven for those who’ve lost someone to suicide. Won’t you help me extend that haven this holiday season?

Gratitude, the Greatest Healer

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I am able to help other forgotten victims of suicide and that so many have reached out to me in the last few years.
  2. I am grateful to be able to raise awareness of the struggles suicide survivors endure.
  3. I am grateful to have reconnected with my family. There are some seriously amazing people in my clan!
  4. I am grateful for the ability to express myself in writing and perhaps raise awareness where awareness is lacking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, family, hugs, compassion, kindness, sharing, caring, peace, harmony, success, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Moraleida via Flickr

It’s Not Nice to Neglect the Blog

This is Where the Whole Thing Started

This blog is where it all started. Well, not quite all as I’ve been scribbling for most of my life,but it’s where my online presence really began when the writing of Life After Suicide: Healing and Forgiving stalled. Yet I realized tonight that I’ve been horribly neglecting it lately.

Of course, I have my reasons. I’ve been writing articles for my website as well as sharing a chapter or so of the aforementioned book every week. I’ve attended events and have been helping family members who are going through a crisis. All of those normal life things.

But I’ve also been doing some writing for other sites and even pitching a bit. (I know, that one is hard to believe!) All in all, I’ve been relatively busy, but in all honesty, more lazy than busy about writing something in my poor, neglected, red-headed step-child of a blog.

Tonight, that neglect and abuse ends as I once again give you a little taste of my ADD brain with or without mass quantities of caffeine.

Peaceful Days do not an Interesting Blog Post Make

In a random moment of uncharacteristic calm, I find I have little to really share. Life is chugging along rather splendidly at the moment. My daughter and son-in-law (along with my grandpuppy, Gwennie) have been here for the last few days which means I’ve been running around with them quite a bit. We’ve met some family members we didn’t realize we had, and found them to be amazing, compassionate, kind, loving people. We are so blessed to be able to include them in future holidays, laced liberally with our own particular brand of insanity and fun.

My cats aren’t entirely thrilled about sharing their home with a gasp! dawg! Especially one who, for all of her 45 or 50 pounds, truly believes she’s a cat and can’t for the life of her understand why these cats won’t play and cuddle with her the way her own three felines will.

Pyewacket did get locked in the bedroom with her one night, though he ended up hiding under the bed for most of it. Now, he uses the safety of the closed door to bat at her through the gap at the bottom.

Scrappy is walking around with a bottle brush for a tail from running away from a dog who simply wants to say hello. The older three are somewhat blase about the whole thing. They’ve seen it all before and know that she’s not allowed in my bedroom or the kitchen and there’s always the safety of one of the two cat trees, when all else fails.

At any rate, the household should return to normal in a couple of days, or at least to what passes for normal around here.

Do You Pokemon Go?

And how about that Pokemon Go? I swore I wouldn’t succumb, especially since I never played the game in the first place. But then I saw the potential for getting me out and moving, aka walking the neighborhood looking for those recharging stations where you can get more balls, potions, eggs and more, and for finding the little creatures (I got a Pikachu today and my daughter was NOT happy as she hasn’t found one yet!). Some of their stories are a little out there, and I kept bugging the kids to show me how something worked, but otherwise, I am having a good time with it. And because of our little side trips to find various things, I hit almost 10,000 steps yesterday (I’m writing this after midnight, so I guess it was yesterday now!)

The one thing which bothers me is how it perpetuates the face-down-in-the-cell-phone behavior I’ve come to abhor. However, I also see how it creates a talking point and strangers are chatting and sharing as they chase down more balls with which to capture odd little creatures or find an unusual guy to add to their collection. It also inspires a little healthy competition (I chose the same team as my son-in-law instead of my daughter) but also cooperation.

It makes you wander a little more off the beaten path to find things so you’re moving and exploring. I’m loving the stories of people who find and rescue abandoned animals they found will playing, and look forward to more heart-warming tales as the game continues to grow in popularity.

Do you have a Pokemon story? Please share it! I’d love to know how others are finding this new fad.

There is so Much to be Grateful For. This Barely Scratches the Surface.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for moving and grooving.
2. I am grateful for time well spent with my kids.
3. I am grateful for all of the new people who are coming into my life.
4. I am grateful for positivity in all the forms it is appearing.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, positivity, friendship, family, inspiration, writing jobs, passion, working together, helping others, contributing, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Featured Photo courtesy of Happy Come via Flikr

 

August 17, 2015 My Generation Has Failed

Why Have We Not Passed On What We Learned So Painfully?

I could see it in her eyes. This young woman was in pain. Her body was failing to support her and the mountain of responsibilities she heaped upon herself. She pushed herself to inhumane levels, striving to support herself while honoring her passions. Yet her body failed her. Or did she fail her body? Her schedule doesn’t allow for down time or for doing things to honor and protect the vessel which carries her through this lifetime.

Have we taught our children nothing about quality of life? Do they not see that killing ourselves slowly, whether physically, mentally or emotionally is not a life? Yet, what chance do we give them to follow their passion and be independent? A decent apartment in a reasonably safe location can cost upwards of $1500 a month. $100 barely buys a bag of groceries. In most areas, public transportation is inadequate, yet cars, insurance and fuel nearly require a second job.

They’ve grown accustomed to smart phones and computers and internet connections that are available whenever they wish to connect. In fact, in many cases, such “luxuries” are practically essential to their lives and careers.

My generation discovered back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines and ulcers by their late 30’s or early 40’s. This generation is finding them in their 20’s.

Learning to Simplify Before We Can Teach It

I know I’m a crappy example with my single-family dwelling occupied by one woman and her cats. It would require at least one U-Haul truck just to move my books. And do not even think about disconnecting me from the Internet! On the other hand, I haven’t moved in over 30 years so my house payment (including insurance) is less than half of what many pay for a one bedroom apartment nowadays. I also buy my cars new and keep them for at least 10 years. I don’t know too many people who can say the same, so hoarding books is a small offense in comparison, if you ask me.

The Fine Art of Money Management

I tried to teach my daughters to live within their means, but I know my example hasn’t been exactly sterling in that regard. Many of us run up our credit cards, eat out when we should eat in, buy things we don’t need, and the list goes one. We’ve taught our children to be consumers instead of savers, debtors instead of conservationists. Where will it end? Is it any wonder so many are homeless? It takes just one devastating financial setback for someone to lose everything.

Seven years ago, at the height of the real estate boom, a young couple bought the house across the street for nearly half a million dollars; a 4 bedroom, 1200 square foot tract house built in 1961! I bought mine in 1980 for less than 1/5 the price, and my next door neighbors bought theirs new for less than $20,000! Craziness! But the story gets worse. The young man lost his job about 4 years ago and to add insult to injury, they lost the house to foreclosure because, by then, the real estate market had tanked and they were upside down in their loan. A few months later, another young couple bought the house for about half of the previous owners loan amount, and recently sold it again for almost what the previous owners had owed!

Once again, a 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, 1200 square foot house in an older neighborhood in a Southern California suburb is going for close to half a million dollars! The simple American Dream we’re all taught to believe in is making people kill themselves at jobs they hate just to get a place of their own. People today pay more for a car than my parents paid for their first house!

The Moon Gets Further Away Every Year

We teach our kids to reach for the moon; that pie in the sky, yet it keeps getting harder and harder to reach. They’re working two or three jobs just to get by and trying to launch their own business at the same time. Our beautiful, wonderful, talented, intelligent children are burning themselves up by the time they’re 30, yet they make themselves keep going because the dream we’ve instilled in them is still out there somewhere, even if it’s getting harder to see as it disappears into the distance.

I just hope that those same beautiful, wonderful, brilliant minds can find the time and the motivation to put an end to the downward spiral they’ve inherited from us; that they can figure out, before it’s too late that the American Dream we’ve passed onto them is more of a nightmare now. I hope they can re-think that dream and create something both sustainable and fulfilling instead of working at something they hate so they can have all of the stuff they’ve been taught they need to block out the life they hate.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that I created a simpler life than many do.
2. I am grateful that most of my needs can be met with a cat’s purr and a book.
3. I am grateful for the children who are already learning to be less the consumer, less the hoarder, and who find happiness with less and allow their true passion to rule.
4. I am grateful for my little forum where I can share concerns, ideas, positive affirmations and, of course, gratitude.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, life, freedom, happiness, joy, pleasure in the little things, motivation, inspiration, peace, harmony, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

August 3, 2015 Pain: Nature’s Productivity Killer

At Times, We Need a Reminder to Appreciate the Simple Things

In the last couple of months, I realized that I take a lot of things for granted. Things like being able to sit down at my computer and type for as long as I want to. Like doing my daily chores without having to think about lifting something without pain. About even smaller things like washing my hair.

These are just a few things I found difficult while my shoulders and neck were out of whack. There are so many more things I do on a daily basis which were difficult if not impossible without suffering excruciating pain. Thankfully, it was only temporary and it forced me to adopt better habits in order to prevent a recurrence. It also made me realize that some people I know are in such pain all the time with little or no relief. So regardless of my higher than normal pain threshold, there is still a point where I will take the drugs and sleep the day away until the condition passes.

But what if it didn’t? Would I be as able to carry on, enduring the pain like some people do? I was flattened by a temporary situation, limited in my daily activities. It was only today when I was able to do that one, last task I’d been putting off that I really came to realize how lucky I am. My pain stops. My independence is secure. In fact, I can get my lazy butt to the gym again and regain the muscle tone I’ve lost. My pain was not chronic. It ran its course and moved on.

When I look at my To Do list for the last week or so, there are far less gaps and far more added tasks than I had for the previous month. As that last task was checked off today, I knew I have a lot to be grateful for and that I need to spend a lot more time expressing that gratitude, not just in words but in actions.

An Act of Kindness is the Ultimate Expression of Gratitude

I’m reminded of my friend, Karyn, who stopped in the middle of a conversation to get up and offer assistance to a man on crutches; who was kind to the salesman who showed up at her door, despite the fact that she wasn’t interested in what he was selling. She does these things without a second thought, in fact, they’re simply second nature to her. With all I have to be grateful for, her actions inspire me to be a better person too.

Pain may have killed my productivity for a few short weeks, but it reminded me how lucky I am and how much I need to show it. That is a lesson and a reminder I needed.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to be back to full functionality.
2. I am grateful for lessons that remind me to be more compassionate.
3. I am grateful for the many friends I have who set wonderful examples.
4. I am grateful that I’ve resolved several issues and increased my workload in the last week.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, work, people, compassion, kindness, painlessness, peace, harmony, productivity, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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