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

Posts tagged ‘compassion’

Express Your Opinion With Kindness

Whatever Your Opinion, Be Kind

kindnessSome people feel the need to rant, or to meet every opinion that contradicts theirs with an argument. I’ve decided I need to let them rant or fume, but save my own sanity, and refrain from adding my opinion to their rant; which often means fuel to their fire. It’s taking me a long time to learn I don’t need to push my opinion on others, and especially when we are on opposite sides of an emotionally charged issue. Neither of us is going to change our view by being shouted at, preached at, or browbeaten, so why engage at all?

Each person has their own wants, needs, beliefs, and desires. They won’t all match yours. Be kind. You can’t possibly know all the reasons someone else believes as they do, any more than they can be privy to yours. I’ve learned through a few hard lessons the best thing to do is disarm your own triggers, and recognize when someone else’s are armed and ready to fire. In most cases, their battle isn’t yours to fight anyway.

Once upon a time, I dove into every fray with cannons ablaze, ready to fight for what I perceived to be the underdog. In at least 95% of the cases, I learned after I’d been bruised and battered myself that I’d been manipulated, and I dove into someone else’s fight with the sketchiest of information. It took several repetitions of the same lesson before I realized it wasn’t my job to fight someone else’s battles, or to succumb to their entreaties and altered perceptions about how they’d been wronged.

Picking My Battles on the Road to Compassion

I have strong opinions of my own about some topics, while others leave me feeling detached, battlesor worse, scratching my head in confusion. Learning to sit back and wait until I see a more complete picture, or, if it’s important enough to me, doing my own research has kept me out of many battles I wasn’t meant to fight in the first place.

Sure, there have been people who attacked me for remaining neutral, mostly because they were of the mistaken opinion everyone should believe as they did, and respond with equal parts outrage and chest pounding. Those who became abusive in the bargain are now history as far as my life is concerned.

As I continue adding years to my stay in this form (for which I continue to be grateful), I become more aware of what really matters. It isn’t joining every battle, or even those of the people I love and respect. The best way for me to show them my love and respect is to be supportive quietly, and to show as much kindness as I can to everyone—especially the ones I disagree with.

Leaving Regrets Behind While Taking the Lessons to Heart

Trust me, I’m no angel, and I’ve been unkind my share of the time. In my 6 1/2 decades, I’ve hurt share of people, and try to see those episodes as lessons rather than adding them to a list of regrets that will only keep me from doing better next time. Of the many things I’ve jettisoned over the years, my own duffel bag full of regrets is the one I’m happiest to be rid of. It’s a heavy load I could never possibly fix or change, so it’s only purpose was to weigh me down, and slow my forward progress; sometimes bringing it to a standstill until I remembered to drop the heavy stuff.

It’s not that I don’t have people I’d apologize to if I were ever to encounter them again, which is unlikely, but I’ve learned to recognize my own unkind behavior as lessons I needed to go through. Most of all, they’re in the past. They happened. I may have been guilty at the time, but in all likelihood, most of the people I harmed weren’t permanently affected, and have long since forgotten not only the event, but the person involved. Of course, there is one exception, but she not only remembers the times I was unkind, but also some of my better moments I, myself had forgotten.

It’s been decades since I threw a block at a classmate, or said mean things to a fellow middle schooler. In hindsight, I know I was an unhappy child myself who was often verbally berated by both family and peers. I didn’t know how to do anything but pass the unkindness I experienced on to someone else. I certainly didn’t understand the behavior could stop with me. How many children and teenagers do?

Impacting the Ripples You Make

In truth, it took me several decades to finally learn how much power I had to shift the script, and in fact, how much I was responsible for doing exactly that; for my family, for the people I’ve wronged in the past, and for those who will cross my path in the future. I’m even doing it for people I will never connect with in person. In short, I’m changing the ripples I create by my own actions.

As I travel down life’s path, following some existing trails, and forging a lot of new ones, I realize how little kindness there was in my life for about 2/3’s of it. I probably could have changed things sooner, but I had to break free of a lot of the choices I’d made based on my own skewed perceptions. I had to heal some of the damage, but more importantly, learn there were better ways, and especially, better people I needed to allow into my life.

All in all, I think everyone has choices. You can be kind or not, as you see fit, or as your experiences dictate. It isn’t going to change what I believe I need to do, nor how I act upon those beliefs. I may comment on the occasional post when I think someone is being particularly unkind, or thinks shaming is OK, but I also respect the fact that they’re operating from their own set of paradigms. I don’t know what their life is like now, nor what they’ve had to endure, or compensate for up to this point.

Guidance by Affirmation live by a lot of adages and affirmations these days:

  • I am Enough
  • What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business
  • There’s Always Something to be Grateful For

To name a few. But the one that really keeps me, and the things I say and do in check is:

  • Until I walk in your shoes, it’s not my place to judge what you do or say, and why you do or say it.

I can have an opinion, and in many cases, I do. Shouting you down, trying to change your mind, or making you feel bad about it isn’t my job, and it really isn’t my right either. If I can’t express my opinion with kindness, I’ve finally, after many missteps, learned to keep my mouth shut—most of the time anyway.

Recognizing My Blessings With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for the healthier habits I’ve been forming, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  3. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I learned to be kinder, and less hard on myself.
  4. I’m grateful for choices: we don’t have to stick to the path we fell onto by default, and sometimes we tread that path so we learn what we need to to make significant changes.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, kindness, compassion, lessons, dancing, fur children, acceptance, understanding, peace, balance, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

Kindness is Not Overrated

Learning Kindness While Isolated

Sometimes you get so caught up in all your duties, responsibilities, and self-imposed challenges you forget to be kind; to your family, your friends, people you encounter at work or while running errands, and most of all, to yourself. In the limitless agenda you set for yourself, you barely leave room to breathe much less, for taking time to be kind.

You don’t mean to be short with the cashier, or snappy with your child but you set expectations so high that even at your most superhuman, you can’t possible accomplish them all, much less, do them well. So you get frustrated; angry, and in the process, you forget how to simply Be. You lose sight of the fact that you could actually accomplish more, and even do a better job of it if you stopped rushing around like a headless chicken.

COVID has, in some ways, done us all a favor. It’s forced us to stop the crazy, pointless rushing around, and spend more time with the people we love, be it physically or virtually. Social lives are conducted in living rooms, on patios, in garages, and dens instead of in restaurants, clubs, and bars. Families are being forced to get to know each other, perhaps for some, more deeply than ever before.

Taking the Opportunity to Evict Your Demons

Some are struggling worse than ever because isolation is forcing them to face their demons on without the masks they’re used to wearing in public; without the shielding of other people that takes them, albeit temporarily, outside themselves. Those demons have been waiting a long time to be acknowledged, and will do their best to consume if they’re not faced head-on, acknowledged, and defused.

As someone who stuffed and avoided her demons for decades, I can assure you, this is the worst possible scenario, though if approached with the right attitude, it can also be the best. I used the distractions of work, social gatherings, and an endless list of responsibilities to hide from mine. Even so, I was isolated in all the ways that counted; my only real community was my daughters. I neither asked for nor was I offered support from the people I saw while dancing, my fellow band moms, or the parents of the girls’ teammates when they played soccer or ran track.

Thankfully, something woke me, not only to what I was avoiding, but to what I was missing as well. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was, at times, a pretty painful process, but I’ve learned, little by little, to start being kind to myself by allowing my demons to have their say, to acknowledge them, then let them go. I’ve learned what they have to say isn’t really true, but the result of people and situations as I stumbled through life which made me doubt myself.

I’d created a system of false beliefs I had to face down. Above all, I needed to learn to form relationships with people who could help me recognize the lies those demons told. In the process, I learned to recognize when others were struggling with their own demons.

Kindness Begins With You forgiveness, kindness has to start with yourself. Until you can be kind to yourself; quell the anger and hurt you’ve carried inside for years; maybe even decades, you can’t be truly kind to others. In the first place, kindness has to come without reservations or expectations of something in return. In the second, it has to come from a heart that’s truly open. As long as you’re beating yourself up over imagined past transgressions, you’re locking the door on the part of your heart that knows how to give unconditionally.

I grew up believing love was expressed by teasing someone unmercifully. Until I became a parent myself, I was usually the target of the teasing, and my family was expert at going for the jugular. I grew up believing I was fat, wasting my talents (whatever they were), and a disappointment to everyone. I carried that burden long into my adulthood, and unknowingly practiced the same behavior with my children.

Not all the time of course. I vacillated between the cruelty I’d learned from the cradle, and being overprotective. Neither extreme was healthy for me or my daughters. Once I started facing my own demons, and treating myself with more kindness and respect, I recognized the way I’d been mistreating  my own children, and was horrified.

A Second Chance to Be Kinder

I could claim I didn’t know any better, and in some ways that’s true but it’s no excuse. I see the times I sent my daughter Heather off in tears, or worse, gave her the silent treatment when she displeased me, and I cringe in horror. I hope and pray she learned from my mistakes, and will see that horrific family pattern end with her generation. I would rather her children grow up knowing only kindness, compassion, and even a little patience (something both Heather and I struggle with).

The Universe has blessed me with what I consider a second chance. The community which now embraces me has yielded many wonderful examples of loving kindness, compassion, and a level of love and caring I never saw growing up, nor in my ill-fated, and short-lived marriage. In fact, if I’m honest, leaving my ex was the first kind thing I did for myself. It was the first step in learning to face my demons, even if it took nearly a decade to take the next, and frankly more cataclysmic steps. In deciding to end the marriage, my primary thought was: “Life is too short to be this unhappy”. And yet, I’d lived in a state of unhappiness and even misery most of my life without even realizing it. From the examples I’d been set, it was not only normal, but the best I could expect.

Everything comes to you in right timing, or so I’ve come to believe. I try not to look back at all the years I struggled before I awoke, and at all the people now who are suffering and struggling through pain and misery. That they express their pain in the form of hate and cruelty is part of their own path, and not mine to change or judge.

Turning Crisis into Opportunity

COVID is giving so many a chance to be kinder and more compassionate. For many. this could be the cataclysmic event that gives them a chance to turn around, face their demons, and tell them to get lost. But so many others will get stuck and succumb to the lies. If you’ve learned to face your own, you can’t help but recognize the signs and symptoms. Exercising the kindness you learned when your own feet were to the fire is essential now. It truly is your responsibility to help those who struggle, and above all, to avoid responding to the outward cruelty and hate with unkindness of your own, unless your goal is to add fuel to the fire. If so, you’ll only become part of the inevitable forest fire, consuming everything and everyone in your path who doesn’t wield the sword of kindness and the shield of compassion.

Everyone has a choice. Love or hate. Kindness or cruelty. Abuse or compassion. Look carefully at what you’re giving yourself, and take this time of forced isolation to make a few course corrections. Look into the mirror and see where, and how you can treat yourself better. From there, it’s but a baby step to treating those around you with equal kindness and respect. Call me an idealist, but I believe all humanity has a stronger propensity to kindness than cruelty. It’s about breaking old, outworn patterns and replacing them with those capable of withstanding time’s ultimate tests.

Using Gratitude to Fuel Kindness

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people and circumstances that have taught me kindness is a simple thing.
  2. I’m grateful for all the good, hard looks I’ve been allowed, or forced to take at myself. May I continue to look closely and make more changes for the better.
  3. I’m grateful for friendships closer than I ever thought I deserved, much less would see in my lifetime.
  4. I’m grateful for laughter, for tears, for honest, unfettered emotion.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, community, heartbreak, connection, kindness, compassion, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, dedication, peace, balance, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

Compassion Learned by Experiencing Trauma

Minimizing External Trauma ago, I stopped watching or listening to the news, not because I don’t want to know what’s going on with the world, but because, quite frankly, I don’t want or need to hear about the horrific parts; the murders, the hate crimes, the politicians who use their positions to lie, cheat, and steal; the evil I know full well exists in the world. I also reject those who put their own spin on things until the facts become more the evolution of a  dystopian society comprised of the most horrific qualities ever exhibited by humans than anything resembling the highs, lows, and everything in between evident in the world at any given time.

In our digital society, the issue isn’t really staying informed. Everyone and their brother is happy to share their views of reality with you through every method available (heaven knows I’ve unfollowed quite a few who don’t take my more subtle hints, or fill their own news feed with obviously slanted rhetoric and downright lies). The challenge comes in filtering those messages so I see things that are:

  • Factual
  • Relevant
  • Non-partisan
  • Hopeful rather than hateful
  • Uplifting
  • Useful
  • Interesting
  • Kind

Granted, what fits into these categories is often a moving target, and especially with the first one, often requires some extra digging on my part before I accept what I read as true or valuable. All publications and sites are slanted at least a little. When in doubt, I’ll consult one (or more) of the sites that tells me which way the author of what I’m reading leans. If the topic is important enough to me, I’ll dig further to find accounts on both sides of the fence.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

One thing I don’t want to read are obviously agenda-based accounts from would-be medical who lack the experience, the education, and the true desire to help others with no purpose other than genuine compassion. Sure, even doctors, nurses, and everyone else who chooses the medical profession has their own agenda, but in certain cases, I have to trust they’ve put it aside while they’re doing their job, else why take the Hippocratic Oath in the first place?.

Yes, I’ve had my own less-than-stellar experiences with Western Medicine lately, and I’m not a fan of Big Pharma, but I also agree there’s a time and a place to trust them, if not implicitly, at least far enough to stay out of their way while they’re doing their best to save lives.

Overall, I’m not a fan of bashing, even if I agree with you. I may vehemently dislike a public figure and everything they stand for, but calling them names, ridiculing them, or making mockery of them is neither productive nor does it improve matters. In fact, I believe it adds fuel to their fire. After all, even bad publicity is better than none. Many who are in the public eye thrive on attention. How better to reduce their influence than to avoid mentioning them at all?

Sure, there are times I’ll share something without researching it thoroughly because it makes sense to me, and focuses on an issue rather than emotions. There have even been times I ended up with egg on my face by failing to do my due diligence. Still, I’ll continue to share things which speak of hope, compassion, and humanity’s many beautiful qualities. I believe we need more reason to look upon each other with eyes filled with kindness, compassion, and love.

Interpersonal Relations Don’t Need to be Complicated

I suspect there are some who’ve unfollowed me as well. Some because they believe I’m uninformed, others because I won’t jump on their bandwagon over every issue on their lengthy agenda. There might even be some who find my outlook too hopeful; too positive. That’s OK with me. If I don’t inspire and uplift you; if my outlook is too airy fairy for your cynical heart, we’re clearly not a good fit anyway.

Past experiences influence who you are at any point in your life. I’ve had my share of trauma, misfortune, and loss. There was a time I let it influence what I did, said, and thought, and how I treated others. If I met the woman I was 15 or 20 years ago on the street today, I’d feel sad, and filled with pity for her. I don’t know that I’d engage her though. Her walls were high and negative energy flowed off her in waves. It took me a long time to let go of the anger and pain, and I’m not willing to allow myself to be sucked back into that teeming morass of misery.

I also know I am still easily triggered by certain things, and have to safeguard the progress I’ve made. It’s far too easy to let emotions take over, and to become that hateful version of myself I’ve worked so hard to heal. Thankfully, the healing process also gave me tools and the ability to see past the ugly behavior to the open, seeping wounds which make it so hard for some people to let go of conditioned behavior.

Humans Thrive on Hope and Compassion

More and more, I see people sharing messages of hope, community, and a shared journey. In short, we’re all in this together, and none of us is getting out of here alive, so why not find places where we can, if nothing else, meet in the middle? Hateful behavior only makes your own world darker and more miserable. I know this from my own experiences, though it took me a long time to realize the misery I floated in was self-inflicted. It might, at times have seemed like it was someone else’s doing, but it was more a case of attracting exactly what I was emitting.

If it seems like I’m ignoring the sadness; the suffering; the inequalities; the misery running rampant in the world, know nothing is further from the truth. I’ve simply made a conscious choice to refrain from adding to it by giving it my direct attention. I’m making small but consistent changes to myself which includes both the way I treat others, and the energy I emit into this sea of souls we occupy.

A pebble dropped into a lake sends out ripples which touch an infinite number of others as they spread, merge, and flow. You can choose to drop pebbles of misery and hate, and add to the putrid cesspool others have already filled. Or you can add the tiniest droplets of pure, clear water to the seemingly impenetrable mess. It might take awhile, but in time, the droplets of clean, pure water will make headway. I simply choose to be the change. What you do, and how you proceed is entirely up to you. Let your conscience lead the way.

Gratitude Heals Our Pain

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for choices.
  2. I’m grateful I’m able to filter what I hear, read, and see.
  3. I’m grateful I can follow my own path, respecting other people’s beliefs and attitudes, but ultimately staying true to myself.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who can hold opposing views, but respect each other enough to refrain from mistreating those whose views might differ.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, choice, positivity, compassion, support, community, health, peace, harmony, hope, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

When Life Gets Harder, Try a Little Kindness

Recognizing Selfishness; Replacing it with Kindess after day, I see people making disparaging remarks about other people’s behavior. They make the remarks from their omniscient positions. with complete information as to the other person’s motives, challenges, and choices. Or so they believe. At a time when we need as much compassion and kindness as we can muster, making snap judgements and decisions about someone else’s lack of consideration is becoming a sport of Olympic proportions.

I don’t claim to be innocent, but I do try to catch myself, and succeed a large portion of the time. I realize the person doing the judging may have family members on the front lines as medical personnel, truck drivers, grocery clerks, and such who are putting themselves at risk to keep the rest of us fed and healthy. They may have a loved one who is immunocompromised, making them especially sensitive to those who are out and about for no reason they can see, and worse, without wearing what they consider mandatory protective gear.

What most of us won’t see is the father who’s putting himself at risk seemingly unnecessarily because his job is unavailable and his kids are hungry, or at risk of losing the roof over their heads. We don’t see the person who is grocery shopping for aging parents, and may have to drive 50 miles one way to ensure their parents are taken care of because moving them into their own home isn’t an option.

Everyone Struggles in Some Way

There are so many scenarios which explain why people are on the streets or highways during a when we’re supposed to be staying home for the sake of everyone’s health and safety. The choices many have to make are difficult, yet often obvious too. As one of the lucky ones with a full freezer, a roof over my head, and an internet connection, I try really hard to put myself in the shoes of those who, to my untrained eyes, seem to be putting the rest of us in danger of a longer quarantine period. I don’t always succeed, but at least I’m learning not to jump to conclusions often enough to meet my daily exercise requirements.

I read somewhere recently that when someone does something unkind or hurtful, it’s because they’re experiencing their own pain or fear, and are mired within it. I’m sure that’s true of those who are quick to judge as well. They have their own fears and pains which they can’t get past in order to look at others kindly. Instead, they focus outward to someone who, in their minds deserves some of that fear and pain.

Put Aside Fear for Your Own Health’m not going to say it’s easy to put aside our own pain and fear, much less the frustrations many are beginning to experience as the quarantine period drags on, and the number of people infected rises. I will say some of the most rewarding experiences of my life have been those which required me to raise the bar a little higher, and more importantly, to be a better person than I was used to being.

Things will be challenging for everyone for awhile. You’ll continue to have your freedom limited, and do without many things you thought you couldn’t live without. If you haven’t already, you’ll ultimately know someone who gets sick—maybe even someone who dies from COVID-19 or complications thereof. Acting as some omnipotent judge and jury over other peoples’ behavior isn’t going to change the ultimate outcome.

Call me idealistic, but I believe showing each other love, compassion, and understanding will; if only to bring our hearts together instead of pitting them against each other. Let’s look for a minute at what compassion is not. I choose to believe everyone means well, but sometimes taking care of yourself and your family blinds you to the plight of others.

Making a Case for Compassion

I believe Compassion is not:

  • Selective
  • Judgemental
  • Only for those each individual might deem “deserving”
  • Cultural
  • Religious

I believe Compassion is:

  • Sometimes challenging when our family and friends are at risk
  • Backed by love and hope
  • Equal opportunity
  • Something we have to work at applying liberally and non-selectively
  • Available to everyone

I have to stop myself time after time, whether it’s because someone is acting in a way I think is irresponsible, inconsiderate, or reckless, or someone else is speaking judgmentally about another’s behavior. It’s probably easier for me to jump on my soapbox when I think someone is being unkind, yet I know intrinsically they are speaking out because they believe they have to for the sake of someone they love.

To Fight, To Defend, or To Support

Heaven knows I’ve defended my children unnecessarily over the years. I’ve gone to bat for them on many occasions, only to find it was unwarranted for one reason or another, and often unwelcome by the recipient. In the end, the only behavior you can control is your own. The only consequences you suffer are the ones attached to your own actions.

One of the best images I’ve seen is THINK:

  • Is it True?
  • Is it Helpful?
  • Is it Inspiring?
  • Is it Necessary?
  • Is it Kind?

If everyone stopped to ask themselves these questions before speaking (or posting on Social Media), it would go a long way towards ensuring each person speaks from a kinder, more loving place. It would give people better things to do than bash political candidates, hate on a group that’s different from their own, or blame others for their current situation. You’d find more people reaching out in understanding, recognizing when someone was struggling, yet doing the very best they could, and would open up all sorts of opportunities to give back, or better still, pay it forward.

In the process, I honestly believe we’d continue healing our poor, mistreated planet. Getting into the habit of being kinder and more sensitive to each other has a snowball effect. Soon, you’re noticing the flock of butterflies I saw today, or hearing the birds singing, or even seeing rainbows. Best of all, you realize how beautiful the world really is when things and people are allowed to bloom and grow without expectations or restrictions. Can’t we give it a try?

When All Else Fails, Try Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the little things; sunny days, butterflies, birds singing, and children laughing.
  2. I’m grateful for opportunities to get outside and play in the dirt.
  3. I’m grateful for a slower pace, even if it’s only temporary.
  4. I’m grateful for connections that are challenged to get more creative, and more consistent.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, kindness, understanding, sensitivity, acceptance, forgiveness, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

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

Self-Care While Isolating

Self-Care is the Little Things

Self-careAs days stretch into weeks with no direct human contact, I realize one of the most important things you can do is pay attention to self-care. It goes further than simply trying to eat right, get some exercise, and plenty of rest. Those things feed your physical body, but do nothing for the parts of you which derive energy from the seemingly meaningless interactions you have with others, and for which you, without realizing it, take better care of yourself.

In the first few days, I found it easy to skip the simple things:

  • Washing my face
  • Brushing my teeth
  • Showering
  • Washing my hair
  • Getting dressed

The advent of regular dance nights via Zoom made me more conscious of my personal hygiene even though I was one of many images on everyone’s screens. But I also discovered I was more productive and positive when I spent a few minutes taking care of myself.

Keeping Up Normal Activities in Creative Ways

It isn’t just the hygienic practices that need to continue. It’s things like sitting on the floor and doing a nice, long stretch; showing up on Facebook Live to encourage my friends; spending time out on the patio getting some fresh air, and listening to bird song. I’m quickly realizing how much I’ve taken for granted over the years. Even the attention my cats both give and demand has become more meaningful; more intense.

Even from the seeming solitude of my own home, I’m learning I can reach out to friends and offer support, encouragement, and connection. Many are doing the same for me. Not a single day goes by when I don’t at least talk to someone via Facebook Messenger, if not by phone or Zoom. My friends and I are in and out of each others’ homes, in much the same manner as I did as a child when doors weren’t locked, and all the kids in the neighborhood wandered in and out of several of the houses.

Necessity is causing a new normal to emerge; not one that will continue in the same form once restrictions are lifted, but one which gives a new appreciation for the value of human contact. It’s a case of not knowing what you had until you lost it, though in this case, it’s a temporary loss. I know I’ll hug longer and tighter, pay more compliments to strangers, and even find the patience I’ve long thought elusive when I go out into the world unrestricted once again.

Hoping for A Pandemic of Kindness and Compassion others be kinder and more patient too? That’s not for me to say, but I tend to hope for the best most of the time. Will I see more of the good in people, and be less likely to see insensitivity and selfishness? I think so. I’m already trying to look past those who do things which seem selfish and uncaring, trying to understand what drives people to do what appears to me to be, if not morally, then ethically wrong.

More and more, I’m seeing peoples’ judgemental remarks as simply frustration, and a lack of understanding for what someone else is going through. For some, it might be an inability to find toilet paper. For others, it’s the real fear of losing their home. Somehow, in the minds of each, the problem is insurmountable and frightening.

I’m learning by watching and reading that everyone has their trigger point. Everyone’s ire raises at different levels. When I worked in an office, I called it my “bullshit meter”, but I’m learning it’s more than that. It’s what we are able to tolerate based on our own past experiences.

We Each See Lack Differently

I once had a friend who would tell stories about how his mother only bought him a limited amount of underwear and socks, but spent thousands on face creams and clothes for herself. As an adult, he hoarded socks and underwear because that was his trigger point indicating lack. My own mother didn’t allow us to have pillows as she believed it was bad for our necks. Today, I have more pillows on my bed than I need, though I often take full advantage of the abundance when I’m having trouble getting comfortable.

Who am I to say there aren’t those who lived in a household where toilet paper was in short supply and they had to make do with something else? How can I possibly know if someone lived where cleanliness and hygiene were ignored, and where members of the household were often ill as a result? If I learn nothing else from spending far too many hours in my own company, it’s that compassion and kindness can’t be limited to those I believe, based on my own experiences, deserve it. If I’m going to err, it has to be on the side of abundance; abundance of compassion with no restrictions or exclusions.

Compassion for Those Unable to Shelter in Place saw a man walking down the street carrying a large duffel bag and checking car doors as he walked. I called the police for the sake of my neighbors, though most these days lock their cars. It wasn’t that I wanted the man arrested. There had to be something very wrong in his life for him to walk around in broad daylight doing something that could be construed as looking for something to steal. By the same token, the people in the neighborhood didn’t deserve to be robbed simply because they might have what he lacked; a home and a working vehicle.

I was gratified to see a police car going down my street mere minutes later, not because it increased the chances of them finding him and talking to him; perhaps offering him assistance if he seemed to be in distress, but because it meant people were staying inside like they’re supposed to instead of being out on the streets, making work for the police officers. It proved my belief that people are basically good, caring, and considerate of others.

I know I won’t come through this unscathed; unchanged, nor will anyone else. With compassion guiding me, my hope is I’ll come out the other side a little kinder; a lot more compassionate; and a lot more willing to give of myself for the sake of others.

Finding More to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers.
  2. I am grateful for the givers who set an example for the rest of us.
  3. I am grateful for friends who are making an effort to see the good in a difficult situation.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to reach out to others in any way I can.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, inspiration, motivation, self-care, love, friendship, dancing, kitty loves, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

Masking Honest Emotions With Outward Perfection

What Lurks Behind Those Groomed to Perfection?

Groomed to PerfectionI like to see men who aren’t afraid to sweat or get dirty. When I see one at the gym who’s always perfectly coiffed, it makes me suspicious (is it real, or a rug?). Having been one of those whose outward appearance didn’t match my inner turmoil, I know that extreme perfection likely hides a teeming maelstrom of unhandled emotions and trauma.

They show up at the gym nearly every day, neat as the proverbial pin, not a hair out of place, and though they use the equipment, they never seem to break a sweat, nor muss their perfectly pressed gym attire. It makes me wonder what hides behind their need to appear perfect even in gym clothes?

Is controlling their appearance a sign there’s a lack? A world in chaos they’re desperately trying to control? Is their outer perfection a fragile shell containing a swirling mass of broken parts? Are they one trauma way from shattering completely, just as I once did?

Dropping the Well-Groomed Facade

One of the things I gave up when I started letting my authentic self show was the need to be perfectly groomed. Half the time I wouldn’t call myself groomed at all these days. More like “comfortable” if I’m being kind, and sloppy if I’m being honest. But I love my comfortable sloppy self now. To be honest, I was never a fan of the me who got up early to fix my hair, and put on makeup, hose, and heels. It was never truly me, and the shell in which I contained myself chafed and bound my true spirit, even if I didn’t know what that was at the time.

The truth is, all I really did was glue myself back together with the outer trappings so I could somehow make it through another day with parts, if not connected, at least intact. Is that what those perfectly groomed men are doing? Gluing all their broken parts back together so they, like the old me, can make it through just one more day? Going through the motions of doing what’s supposed to be good for them? I’ve seen some of them for years, yet they haven’t changed one iota. How do they do it? (other than the obvious toupee one wears.)

After releasing some of my own baggage and feeling the relief I felt in doing so, I can’t imagine carrying it around like that any more. I’m learning from watching, listening, and talking to others that my family wasn’t alone in training their children to bury their feelings deep inside. There are many who still believe it’s right; who go home every night and have a few drinks to numb the pain they don’t know how to release; who might indulge in a brutal workout of some kind to try to ease the pressure; to keep from actually reaching the point where they can no longer hold it all in. To prevent at all costs having to deal with their own melt down when it all comes pouring out in one ugly, messy explosion.

The Fallacy That Emotions Are Messy

Too many have been brought up to believe feelings and emotions are just that; ugly and messy. After going through my own explosions; my own shattering, and ultimately rebuilding into a better, stronger me, I’ll take the one who can express their emotions honestly over someone who hides them behind masks and walls every day. If nothing else, I know how volatile they are behind the masks and walls, and how close they are to an explosion and melt down of their own. I’d rather not be in the way when their emotional lava begins to flow; covering everything and everyone in range with years of pent-up toxicity.

In hindsight, I see why I struggled so much during my tenure in Corporate America. It was a roiling, seething mass of people struggling to keep it all together, and achieve what they thought was success. They held that beautiful, unique kernel of themselves under tight control so they could be what they thought they had to to climb the corporate ladder. No one seemed to notice it came out in the way they treated their co-workers, and even their families. Compassion was a commodity they believed they couldn’t afford. Relationships were built with those they believed could be helpful or of use to them. But in the end, they stood alone on their own abyss.

Replacing Masks With Compassion

Yet when the ground fell away beneath them, it was always someone else’s fault, and they looked for a scapegoat. All too often, it was someone like me who had no hidden agenda, and saw no reason to use others to improve my position. It took a few times of finding myself at the bottom of someone else’s rubble heap before I finally decided I’d had enough, and realized I had the strength to walk away. By then, I’d already started letting some of those walls down, and in hindsight, I think it made others who hadn’t feel threatened. They needed to lash out, and had a good reason, in their minds, to blame me for their discomfort.

I was angry and hurt at the time, and in fact, still harbor some ill feelings towards one person from my old life which I need to work out and release. For most of them, I can look back now with compassion and realize they acted not out of a need to hurt me personally, but because it was the only way they knew to deal with their uncomfortable and unwelcome feelings. Seeing someone like me shedding the masks and walls reminded them of how much energy they put into maintaining theirs.

I can see why terms like “corporate jungle” came into being. It truly is a place where people bite, claw, and scratch to either hold their position, or move up the food chain. They bury themselves in work, but also in a game whose rules change from minute to minute. Already on unstable ground personally, the ground gets even less stable while they try to keep abreast of the rules, and on constant alert for which asses they need to kiss, and which they need to kick out of their way. It has to be exhausting, and when the dust clears, is it really worth it?

Living a Life Based on Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the work I’ve done to eliminate walls and masks.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who surround me now. They have no need to be anything but themselves.
  3. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the challenges I’ve faced, and for shattering so I could rebuild on more solid ground.
  4. I’m grateful for opportunities that arrive from unexpected sources.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, authenticity, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, persistence, patience, happiness, peace, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

Making Perception Match the Changed Self

Your Own Perception Can Be More Enemy Than Friend

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last decade or two undoing a lot of my early conditioning and beliefs. I truly like the me I’ve become in the process, but didn’t realize I’d skipped a huge step in my internal renovations. While I’d changed how I presented myself to the word, and shown more of my perfectly imperfect self, I’d failed to alter my thinking regarding how others perceived me.

In other words, deep inside, I still believed people saw me as the reserved, closed off woman who never let anyone see her flaws, and as a result was unapproachable and cold. Though I’ve been enjoying the connection with other people, I had yet to truly believe others saw me as someone they looked forward to seeing, or felt comfortable with. The job of becoming a warmer, more compassionate person was only half done because I was unable to see how much I’d changed not only in how I felt about me, but in how others saw me too.

Realization began to dawn when I did one of those personality games on Facebook. The result I got is in the image. I shared it with the comment “this one made me laugh”. To my surprise, a woman I’d met in the last year or so commented that she agreed with the result. Not  only that, she said I put her at ease. Of course, I was touched, but I was also stunned. Someone feels comfortable with me, and thinks I put them at ease? How can that be? My inner voice started clamoring.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Someone else I only get to see occasionally told me they always look forward to seeing me, and made it clear we have a connection that goes both ways. Wow! It seems I’ve been so focused on my inner work, I’d completely missed seeing how much it was becoming a part of my outer self as well.

Letting Others Decide What They Think

I realize you never really know how you’re perceived unless someone comes out and tells you, Created with Canvabut it’s become abundantly clear I haven’t learned to believe people are truly and honestly happy to see me and include me in their lives. I’ve been so used to being on the outskirts of any group, or worse, tolerated, I failed to recognize it was no longer true. Deep down, I’m still waiting for that moment when I say or do something wrong, and am back on the outside looking in.

There’s a position on the Celtic Cross Tarot spread I’ve used for years entitled “how others see you”. I’m learning I have a lot of work to do as far as reading this one correctly. My inner child spent long years believing she could never belong; that she was destined to be an outsider for the rest of her life.

It didn’t matter how many positive changes I made. They would all be for me, and would go unnoticed, even by those I called “friend”; not because I was still trying to fit in instead of being myself, but because I’d falsely accepted a role as an outsider, and never realized I’d been projecting my insecurities and false beliefs on the people around me. Just as I’ll occasionally hear an inner dialogue where someone I see is viewing all my imperfections with disgust, when they’re likely thinking nothing of the sort, and probably, aren’t aware of me at all, I put thoughts based on my lifelong insecurities into the unknowing, unwilling minds of my friends and acquaintances.

Learning to Set Judgement Aside I’m honored, blessed, and grateful for what is clearly a much more positive impact than I gave myself credit for, I’m a bit ashamed for misjudging the people I started attracting when I stopped trying so hard to fit in, and began letting them see who and what I truly am.

Like everything else in life, I know things happen for a reason, and in their own time. This is no chicken and egg situation. I had to make the changes in myself first. The next step is learning to believe the effort I’ve put into making those changes is clearly visible to those who’ve given me a chance to not only be my authentic self, but to belong for the first time in my life. In truth, I need to have a lot more faith in the people who are in my world now by choice. Not one of them is the cruel, unhappy person I used to attract, not because I found comfort there, but because I attracted what fit my own self-image.

Given the Chance, People Will Surprise You

In the past, I was constantly surprised (and not pleasantly) by how mean and hurtful people could be. Today, the people I know and love surprise me with the depths of compassion and acceptance they constantly exhibit without hesitation or prejudice.

I’m still fumbling around; dismissing some who deserve my compassion and openness, trusting some who don’t. I’m working hard to be more trusting and accepting. I feel better about myself, and frankly, the amount of damage those who don’t deserve my trust can do these days is minimal, and easily cast off. I know their unkindness is a reflection of their own pain, and is neither personally directed at me, nor even conscious all the time. I keep my bucket of imaginary heart- or star-shaped confetti handy for those people, and administer it abundantly.

I’m also working on that inner dialogue that erroneously sees others remarking on those flaws to which I continue to give overmuch credit in my own head. I’m learning no matter how much you do to change your beliefs of yourself, the job isn’t complete until you stop allowing yourself to believe others still see the person you used to be. Sometimes, that’s the toughest change of all.


Looking at the World With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who offer feedback which debunks my own mistaken beliefs.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who are attracted to the new, authentic person I’ve worked so hard to become.
  3. I’m grateful for being proven wrong.
  4. I’m grateful for a warm, loving, compassionate community which opened its arms to me without judgement, reservations, or expectations.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, compassion, lessons, dancing, energy, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, peace, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

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