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Posts tagged ‘confidence’

Unleashing Our Tenacity

What is Tenacity, Really?

(Note: This post is written in conjunction with my May 11th Facebook Live which can be found by clicking the link.)

Recent events and my current lifestyle had convinced me I lacked a key component for success. That component is tenacity. Dictionary.com defines tenacity as:

noun

1.the quality of being tenacious, or of holding fast; persistence:
the amazing tenacity of rumors.

2.the quality of retaining something:
the tenacity of memory.

3. the quality or property of holding together firmly:
testing the tenacity of the old book’s binding.

As a result, I’ve been holding myself back from finishing projects or propelling my business to the next level. In short, I had succumbed to a mentality of lack and though I wasn’t consciously shooting myself in the foot, my internal beliefs were doing it for me. And the culprit was a program which was meant to build me up, not tear me down. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the writers of Winning the Game of Money did not intend to give me another limiting belief, but then, the majority of their members are a lot closer to their childhood years than I.

A Constant Internal Battle to Undermine Our Tenacity
One of the modules asks the listener to think of a time during their childhood when they were tenacious. I’m sure there were times I was, but holy crap! My childhood was decades ago! I’m hard-pressed to remember things that happened yesterday, much less 45 or 50 years ago! And yet, my mind latched onto the idea that I lacked tenacity like a drowning man clings to a buoyant object. My mind, it turns out, liked the idea of having an excuse for not succeeding.
The rest of me, however, wanted more. It took a while for that part of me to fight its way back to the top of the hill but ultimately, it did. The part of me that wants to succeed; wants to help other people succeed is one tenacious little beast. Once it achieved superiority over the many facets of my personality, it sent a veritable flood of instances where I was both tenacious and persistent in my pursuit of success. Certainly, none of those instances dated back to the less retrievable portions of my history known as “childhood”, but in my opinion, the memories were far stronger than any immature pursuits of a favored toy or some such thing.
My tenacity has tended to exert itself more in two distinct places: survival and the greater good. I realize the latter seems like personal aggrandizement, but hear me out.
Having the Tenacity to Pursue Something When the Odds Are Stacked Against You
There have been a few cases in my life when a person or corporation tried to take advantage of me or sweep my concerns under the table. Had I allowed them to succeed, I believe I would have given them permission to do so to another poor, unsuspecting soul. Thus, I spent over a year fighting with GM over an unfixable problem with my 1998 Chevy Malibu. My tenacity was fueled by a call between GM and the Better Business Bureau in which the GM representative claimed that to them, steering was not a safety issue. To add insult to injury, the BBB found in favor of GM! I can’t be blamed for finding the whole thing distinctly…well, stinky.
Needless to say, I took advantage of my right to appeal as well as my right to involve the General Manager for the dealerships in the area. I fought through the frustration, the bureaucracy, and the outright nastiness of the service manager at the dealership in my town, ultimately getting a check for all of my payments including interest, less a small amount of depreciation for the period of time before I noticed the problem. The service manager earned at least two severe reprimands from the GM given the distinct alteration in his behavior when he handed me the check. My hope is that he was either removed from the position entirely or learned to treat customers, and especially female customers with more attention to the “service” than the “manager” in his title.
Let Your Tenacity Shine
Large wins like this one aside, I realized it took tenacity to leave a bad marriage, raise my daughters alone, survive and thrive as my career took some interesting turns, and even complete my degree in accounting while working full-time and handling the ups and downs of child-rearing, both with my own kids and my ex’s. Did I make more than my share of mistakes in the process? Heck yes! If I put my mind to it, I can come up with at least a million things I did with my kids and his that I regret. But somehow they all survived my parental clumsiness and have grown into reasonably responsible and well-adjusted adults.
What I’m trying to say here is that tenacity doesn’t mean perfection. It means continuing to strive even when you feel ill-equipped for the job. Continuing to take another step forward, and another, and another even when the odds seem stacked in your favor. It’s believing when you have no reason to believe, and doing what’s necessary anyway.
More importantly, it’s something each and every one of us does day in and day out. We don’t have to be a J.K. Rowling who was destitute and suicidal before she exhibited her tenacity. Nor do we have to be tenacious only when something huge and important enters our lives. Sometimes it’s the little things like getting up every morning and making the bed. Or it could be making the effort to embark on a healthier set of habits. It’s all the things we do because we feel we should even though doing so is hard or frustrating, or fraught with failure after failure. Tenacity is what makes us see those things through until the failures become lessons which ultimately allow us to succeed, often more spectacularly than we imagined we could.
I think tenacity is a muscle which needs to be exercised. The small successes serve as encouragement for us to exercise more. So master a couple of small things, be it making the bed every morning, or getting up 30 minutes early to write your morning pages, or adding a healthier habit to your routine. Let go of the limiting beliefs telling you you can’t.
I Can
Though it took another couple of weeks, I think my turning point came the day I replaced the words “it’s too hard” and “I can’t do this” with two simple words: “I can”. Since then, whenever I feel frustrated or aimless or discouraged, I say “I can”, sometimes loudly, and sometimes just in my head. It’s become my mantra and fits every circumstance. It takes those pesky limiting beliefs and kicks them to the curb, then stomps them into oblivion.
I urge you to accept the strong voice inside you clamoring to be heard. Find your own mantra, your own version of “I can” and sprinkle it liberally throughout your day. I guarantee you’ll find yourself standing taller and smiling more. You’ll stop running from things because they require more effort. You’ll start seeing your failures as lessons and stepping stones; as necessary effort to achieve your heart’s desires.

Unending gratitude

My gratitudes today are:
  1. I am grateful for epiphanies.
  2. I am grateful I found my tenacity.
  3. I am grateful for the courage and determination I realize I’ve had all along.
  4. I’m grateful for the strength of my Presence and it’s unending ability to overcome my ego.
  5. I’m grateful for friends and family who encourage and uplift me every day.
  6. I’m grateful for abundance: friends, family, opportunities, tenacity, encouragement, love, kindness, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, 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!

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Undermining Self-Esteem for Profit

Knowing when something needs to be said

I’ve been mulling over posting about this for a couple of weeks, but after careful consideration, believe it needs to be said.

A couple of weeks ago, a member of the dance community decided I needed some beauty advice and proceeded to offer it, though I’d never asked for it, nor realized I needed her help.

But a little background, first. When I go dancing, I wear shorts for a couple of reasons. Aside from the obvious fact that it’s cooler, I’ve yet to feel comfortable or attractive in my extensive collection of skirts as the weight I’ve lost so far has yet to retreat from my midsection. Thus, a skirt tends to make me look like a barrel. I just don’t feel the shape is flattering or attractive.

Beware the well-meaning who offer unasked for advice

All women have areas of their body they like and some they don’t. Even the ones we look at and find beautiful. Trust me on this. There’s something about themselves they’d like to change. But at the same time, we all have something we just know in our hearts is fine or even perfect the way it is. It might be eyes, or hair, length of our torso or our profile. For me, thanks to having danced most of my life, it’s my legs. Even when I was carrying enough weight to be considered obese, my legs weren’t half bad.

Unfortunately for the self-professed beauty consultant, that’s the area she chose as needing improvement, or, in her opinion covering up. Her first attempt was to encase them in a pair of baggy black pants. She even added a wide belt to my afore-mentioned broad mid-section; a real fashion faux pas on one as short-waisted as I.

It wasn’t enough that I told her the pants and belt were a bad idea. She had to approach me a few days later to tell me how much better I’d look in a pair of cheap tights like the ones she was wearing. I tried to tell her, somewhat politely that I wasn’t interested in her help. She demanded an explanation to which I replied “all you need to know is that I’m not interested.” But she was as persistent as a fly at a picnic.

When I continued to refuse her an explanation, she stomped off in disgust, hurling back in a voice loud enough to drown out the music, “if you realized how awful your legs look! I’m a beauty consultant!”

Women supporting women; more important now than ever

Which leads me to the reason I feel the need to write this post. Many people and companies have been working overtime to help women feel better about themselves and to celebrate our differences rather than trying to force us all into impossible molds of preconceived beauty. The cause is facing an uphill battle against powerful foes including the weight loss industry and those who seek to help us reach perfection with a few nips and tucks. Sadly, these industries and people like the woman who approached me believe they have the right to bully others.

My question is, why would women continue to use such underhanded tactics to bring business to themselves? Why would they think it’s OK to attack another woman’s self-esteem for their own personal gain?

Isn’t it the job of a beauty consultant to emphasize a woman’s attributes and minimize her flaws through simple techniques like clothing choices and natural looking makeup techniques?

Turning a mis-fired shot into a campaign to help others

Though in this case, the ostensible consultant chose her target and the presumed flaw very badly indeed. In the first place, I’ve put a lot of effort into learning to love and accept myself, warts and all. And my legs are and always have been my favorite feature. Even my hyper-critical mother could find no fault there! The only people who have ever taken issue with my legs have been those who believe a woman should keep that appendage covered no matter what. I have also taken it upon myself to set those who believe it’s acceptable to bully others straight.

In this world where tearing down and demeaning women is becoming more and more accepted after years of effort to encourage fair treatment, it is imperative that every industry where woman have influence be conscious of treating women, not like objects which are simply on earth to please the male of the species, but as individuals with their own wants and needs, qualities and flaws. It is up to us to build each other up, not tear each other down.

Turning our backs on conformity

One way to do that is to discourage those who use such underhanded techniques to fill their bank account. We must turn our backs on them and their business practices which profit from women’s insecurities.

By the same token, we must support those businesses which seek to celebrate women and their differences. Celebrate the women who don’t need perfect bodies to celebrate their femininity. Who don’t need the approval of others to wear what makes them feel good. And we must help other women appreciate their own qualities and accept the flaws as part of what makes them unique.

And please, can’t we convince all of the women who parade around looking like plain vanilla, demure Barbie Dolls that they’re not doing anyone any favors? You with your figures starved to unnatural slimness, your beige, gray, and black clothing, your air of conventionality and conservatism. We know that once you’ve snagged your man, the real you comes out. So why play the game? It’s only going to attract the type who thinks they want that blandness, which forces you to at least try to fit a mold which really isn’t you.

Let your hair blow wild and crazy once in awhile. Stop covering up those falsely perceived flaws with makeup. Celebrate your individuality instead of stuffing it down so far, even its screams for mercy are stifled.

Setting strong examples

I’ve always been drawn to women like Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand who used what some might call flaws to stand out from the crowd. So what if your hips are wider than what society tells you is perfection? So what if your nose isn’t in perfect proportion to your face? Or if your hair blows in wild disarray around your face instead of hanging in a polite, straight stream unlike any waterfall I’ve ever seen.

Above all, revel in all that makes you unique. Yes, there are women who will dislike you on sight, not because you’re different, but because you’re brave enough to be while they live in a bubble of their own making. They don’t envy your looks or your confidence. They envy your ability to ignore all of the overt and subliminal messages filling our lives, encouraging us to be something we’re not; something we were never meant to be.

Even more, find something in every woman you meet to compliment. We truly can help each other, one compliment at a time.

Otherwise, we’ll all eventually just be a society of Stepford Wives.

Our strongest weapon is gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I learned to revel in my uniqueness.
  2. I’m grateful I need validation from no one to accept and love myself.
  3. I’m grateful I can be a voice for other women who can be blind-sided by “well-meaning” people who offer their assistance at the expense of someone else’s self-esteem.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who are as unique and self-confident as I’ve always striven to be.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: self-confidence, integrity, beauty of all sizes, shapes and colors, health, joy, happiness, friendship, love (of self too!), 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!
 

Photo courtesy of J. Lightning via Flickr

January 11, 2015 The Trouble With Leaps of Faith-5 Ways to Keep it Going

Beware the Gremlins of Doubt. They’ll do their best to thwart you!

As I sift through the clutter of my life today, I realize that, on the one hand, I’m trying to formulate a plan for moving forward, while on the other, I’m wondering if I should throw in the towel and start looking for another (shudder) accounting job. Yet, despite the doubts, I have to admit to myself that I’ve made some progress, even if that progress is not of the kind which keeps the roof over my head and the vet and food bills paid for my furry and oh-so-supportive roommates.

Encouragement from friends to keep going are great, and I appreciate them, but they don’t see the mountain of debt or the dwindling funds which haunt me, not every day, but more often than I’d like. At my age, the image of a starving artist has long since ceased to be romantic.

Yet, I have to wonder if these doubts are simply part of the challenge; part of the question I ask myself every day; do I really have what it takes? Do I really think I can make a difference with my writing? And more importantly, if I can make a difference, how do I reach more than a couple of hundred people?

Making Decisions…er, Choices

One thing which has come to me during this period of soul searching which, as it happens, coincides with the beginning of the new year is that I need to stick to the theme of this blog as much as possible. I need to spend time seeking out leaps of faith; stories where people like me took risks and made them work despite the doubt gremlins and other assorted types designed to test the mettle of the leaper.

Meanwhile, I’m resuming work on the novel I began in November and keeping my eyes and mind open for other opportunities to write. Though I’ve offered it out there a few times in the last year, I need to be more assertive about it, and definitely get that website started. So here is my plan for my second year as a writer:

1. Keep writing
2. Aggressively seek out opportunities to share my writing in public places other than my own.
3. Get my website up and running.
4. Continue to learn about improving my blog and website traffic.
5. Ask for help when I get in over my head, or just don’t know which way to go next.

These may not seem like world shaking ideas, or even a solid plan, but it’s a start, just like everything else I’ve done has been. Some of those starts have fizzled out and that’s ok, as long as I keep looking for new starts, and keep those which seem to be yielding results of some sort going.

I look forward, this year, to both sharing my journey and learning about and from others who have given themselves a chance to live their dream.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for reminders that perseverance is the key to success.
2. I am grateful for that little bit of remaining confidence that tells me I can make this work.
3. I am grateful for friends who, whether they realize it or not, really are helping me keep my flagging spirit alive.
4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the ability to let go of things which are hindering rather than helping.
5. I am grateful for abundance; courage, tenacity, ingenuity, imagination, love, friendship, joy, health, harmony and prosperity.

Blessed Be.

September 22, 2014. The more things change…

Must we super-size everything?

Twenty years ago, I had a phone in my car which I fondly referred to as “the brick”. It was large and cumbersome and only worked in the car. As time went by, technology improved and companies worked diligently to make phones both smaller and more portable. Tonight while half listening to the television I caught part of an Apple commercial touting its “huge” new phone.  I realize the phone manufacturers are trying to meld the qualities of both phone and tablet, but I see a certain irony in how things have come full circle. With the aging of our society, our weakening eyesight will require larger screens so, while slimmer and more compact, we will soon find ourselves, at the current rate of development, with cell phones as large or larger than that fondly remembered brick!

Will we now have to super-size our pockets?

I have a preference for carrying my phone in the pocket of my pants. If they keep growing our phones, will the fashion industry have to make pockets to accommodate them? I would be particularly amused to see what they do with the daisy dukes currently in fashion with the younger set. Those things are barely as big as a dinner napkin as it is and I see a phone in a lot of those hip pockets! I suspect that when the girls get dressed to go out they have a check list that goes something like this:

Makeup? Check
Earrings? Check
Necklace? Check
Cell phone? Check
Keys? Check
Credit card? Check

The cell phone is clearly a fashion accessory nowadays. I see a larger phone in about the same light as the giant dollar sign shaped pendants favored by the rappers. Either way, I don’t find it attractive, much less, particularly useful! We seem to be switching back and forth between bigger and smaller faster than Alice and her potions and cakes instructing the observer to “eat me” or “drink me”! I may find myself with an iPhone 4 when everyone else has version 20, but at least I won’t be carrying around another brick!

Since posting on only one topic is usually outside my comfort zone, I’ll yield to temptation again tonight. The next topic is the writing and revising process and the things I’m learning. First of all, while working hard to overcome taking any criticism personally, I’m also learning that it’s very important to line it all up, read it carefully several times, and be very selective about what you do and do not incorporate into those revisions. Yes, I knew this on a cognitive level, but putting it into practice is an entirely different animal.

I’ve received a lot of suggestions, and many of them have been spot on, including recommendations for areas of further study. But as I reach out to other writers, I’m also finding that it’s like anything else. You need to shop around until you find the right fit. By right fit, I don’t mean the one where everyone tells me it’s wonderful and moves on. I want honest input. If it’s crap, tell me, nicely of course, but tell me. If I’m wandering down a path which will have readers running the other way, please let me know. If I bore you in the first page or two, don’t you think I need to know that? And I certainly need to know if I’m using archaic punctuation. If I wanted someone to rubber stamp my work, I’d just give it to my cat!

Granted, I might take some suggestions personally at first, but I am already learning to take what I’m told, go home and give it a day or two to just bounce around in my head. By then, I’ve taken the personal out and found myself with just the suggestions as they relate to the words I’ve written. During that time, I might also pick up a couple of other books to see if what was suggested holds true in work that’s been published and actually sold to people. If so, I’m that much more likely to take the suggestions seriously and do what I can to make my writing better.

None of us are born knowing it all, and putting our efforts out there for someone who (hopefully) knows more to review is how we improve. I’ve written in a void for far too many years. I’m coming out of the closet now, so to speak, and in so doing, want, need, even crave that input that will help make me a better writer.

I seem to have misplaced my comfort zone

Putting my work out there for criticism means leaving that warm, safe little hovel of mine further and further behind. As I bid it good-bye, my feelings are somewhat mixed, but the stronger one is relief. I no longer need to do things as I used to. The road is clear to find my own way, without restrictions. Yes, I’ll encounter new sets of rules, but it will be another opportunity to learn them well enough to break them. That, in and of itself, is an adventure!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new adventures.
2. I am grateful for things that make me go hmmmm.
3. I am grateful for good friends who listen and help me find my way when I’m feeling lost and confused.
4. I am grateful each and every day for the leap of faith I took late last year. It may not be a financial success as yet, but the intrinsic rewards are infinite.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, motivation, energy, life, joy, health and prosperity.

Namaste

September 20, 2014 In the waning hours before the dark dawn of a new day.

Tonight’s title sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it? But all I really mean is that I began tonight’s post at 11:57, just before my computer and WordPress will tell me that it is now tomorrow, despite the fact that it is dark as pitch outside, hardly what I would consider the dawn of a new day! As often happens, I sat down to write tonight’s post, my mind a blank as to what the topic would be or what might come from my fingers. But today has been a good day for writing and idea flow, so why should my blog be exempt from such fortuitous energy?

I finally sat myself down in front of the computer, a picture in my mind of the scene I wished to set, and lo and behold, the words flowed! (That was accidental poetry, I assure you. My poetic talents are the stuff of which literary nightmares are made which is why I stick with prose.) Suddenly, I found that ideas where coming so hard and fast, it was all I could do to keep up, much less put them in an order which resembled sensible. Even while I meditated, drove to my Saturday night dance spot, and sat chatting with friends, the ideas still flowed. Thank goodness for the notes function in my phone, else some of those ideas would now be lost in the ether. I’ve learned that if I want to save something that just pops into my head, I’d best jot it down somewhere before it is overtaken by 27 more random thoughts and ideas. Though for some reason, the ones which came when I was trying to meditate managed to stick with me until I once again sat before the computer and got them down. Persistent little devils they were!

At any rate, I believe I resolved my editorial issues with obsolescence, but will know more over the next couple of days. That isn’t to say that I won’t override opposition to my solution, if I feel strongly enough about it. Clearly, the things I’ve re-done, when met with criticism/opposition were not strong enough to justify my full and complete support of their continued existence. Such is the writer’s life. Constantly having to justify our logic in including this detail or that.

I’m also learning that the reader’s perspective, especially when that reader is critiquing my work, is definitely relevant. A reader who read very little as a child will have a very different perspective on things than I, who read as voraciously then as I do now, would. They may have little experience with the type of story I’m choosing to write, so I must take that into consideration when sifting through their critique and suggestions. Regardless of their perspective, I am sure to glean a few gems from what they have to say, and as such, am working hard to keep my mind and eyes open to be sure I don’t overlook anything which might be useful now or somewhere down the line.

To be sure, in just the last week, I have learned a great deal, including the realization that the seeming compliment about my editorial abilities was probably not a compliment at all, but the speaker’s attempt at humor because he was unimpressed with my contribution to the read and critique. Even when I’ve had several books published, there will always be those who are unimpressed with my work, and that is very much their right. It is also my right to refrain from taking what they say to heart, so we both leave happy.

For now, the biggest lesson I’m learning is to listen a lot, take a few notes and walk away a little wiser. Then, take what I’ve learned and try to implement what will make my own work better. At this point in my process, I do not expect rave reviews over what is clearly still a rough draft of the final product. What I do expect is honesty. If I let my feelings be hurt by someone who is notably unimpressed by my first serious efforts, I am not only following the wrong path, but I’m taking their words personally. The topic under discussion is the words I’ve put on paper, not me as a human being. And while I’m on the subject, what others think of me as a human being is really none of my business. They are entitled to their thoughts, no matter how unflattering they might be to me. I only have a problem if I start believing those unflattering thoughts!

One lesson I have learned very well is to look myself in the mirror several times a day and remind me how special and wonderful I am. I might, at times, also accompany my words with a “You’re looking especially good today!” despite the fact that I know full well that appearances are merely illusions. But as I immerse myself in the mindset of “Author”, why not also immerse myself in the mindset of “You look Mah-velous, Dahlink!”

There was a song in the play “The King and I” which has taken on new meaning for me lately. In the song, she sings “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold myself erect, and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.” It goes on to say “…the happiness in my tune convinces me that I’m not afraid.” That pretty much sums up my current attitude. I convince myself that I am an author or I’m worthy or any number of things, and before I know it, I have risen to the occasion. Not only that, as I, like a butterfly, emerge from the cocoon of disbelieving, I find that my energy is better, my posture improves and I just feel taller, lighter, stronger…all of the things which go along with the self-portrait I allowed myself to grow into.

Confidence is a funny thing. In order to have it, you have to be confident, but to be confident, you must have confidence in yourself. Rather a Catch-22 if you ask me. What is happening in your life at a particular moment might not be the best confidence booster, but the key, I believe, is not to focus on what is going on in the moment, but on what you expect to be going on in another moment or two. In other words, you create a reason to be confident and the confidence itself will follow.

Thus, I am confident in my ability to be a successful writer/author, and abracadabra, it is done! Try it yourself! You’ll be amazed at the results. All you really have to do is believe!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I have learned to believe.
2. I am grateful for criticism as it teaches me about what I’m doing as well as more about myself as a person. It’s all in how we respond to suggestions for improvement, regardless of how they might be wrapped.
3. I am grateful for a wonderful night of dancing with my friends.
4. I am grateful that the words have begun to flow more readily, and that I realized I needed to take a couple of steps back to allow the blocks to clear.
5. I am grateful for abundance: inspiration, creativity, friendship, love, support, imagination, confidence, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Namaste

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