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

Posts tagged ‘COVID’

First Wave or 64th: Does it Matter?

One Wave Merges Into the Next

negativity and turmoilEverywhere you look these days, there’s a graphic, a chart, or a link to an article about COVID. It got pushed to the side for maybe a minute when another worthy cause leapt to the front of our awareness, but frankly, what’s more important to the general public than their health, their livelihood, and whether or not they can get a haircut, or drink in a bar with their friends?

Still, people continue to believe what they want to, whether it’s that wearing a mask will suffocate you while doing nothing to protect anyone, or the numbers are coming down and the government is lying to you. My pet peeve, failure to fact check, is alive and well right now with people posting arguments “proving” all sides of the question. I finally had to put an end to the barrage by keeping social media closed most of the day when it became clear avoiding the news wasn’t going to be enough.

Let me state very clearly, I put my trust in science. I do NOT trust anyone who’s in it solely for the money. I trust less those who attempt to besmirch the reputation of someone who not only has money, but an altruistic bent, and is actually trying to help the situation rather than simply using it to their own ends. Not everyone who has a hugely successful business empire is a selfish, egotistical bastard. (Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffet are at the top of my personal list. In case you’re wondering, Elon Musk is near, though hardly at the bottom).

Keeping My Distance Voluntarily

In any case, I refuse to become one of the frantic lemmings running from one “absolutely true” article or news story to the next, wringing my hands in distress because I can’t get a haircut or massage, and have spent all my grocery money on a garage full of toilet paper. My freezer and shelves might be slightly better stocked than normal, but more because I shop less than half as often as I used to, and make fewer stops when I do go out. The preponderance of people eschewing masks, and getting too close for my comfort are discouragement enough.

For the most part, I keep my contacts limited because, unlike many, I believe we’ve barely started into the first wave, and there will be more, as more people demand access to goods and services because they still believe God, or some nebulous deity is going to protect them. Good luck with that! My heart goes out to those who are being forced to return to work, or risk losing both job and unemployment benefits because some nitwits have made enough noise, and big businesses are feeling too pinched to have to continue operating at lower capacities, and under tighter restrictions.

I’d love to get all of those people into a room and ask: What happens when someone close to you sickens or even dies? How will you feel when that hairdresser or manicurist falls ill despite their own precautions, and the infection is traced to you? Believe me, the odds point to it happening at some point. But I know they’re too deeply entrenched in denial to even hear my words, much less, understand the implications.

Picking Your Level of Risk

In some ways I’ve become as selfish as they, but at least in so doing, I’m not endangering others. I keep my distance, and my expectations of others low. I appreciate the delivery drivers, but make no attempt to get close, instead standing a respectful distance away until they’ve delivered my latest order. They have families themselves, and deserve as much protection as I can give them. I know not everyone is offering them the same consideration, and some are being less cautious than they should as well.

I’m not one to avoid risk, but I am very selective about where and when to assume it. As such, I take the charts showing levels of risk for various activities very seriously. I read news reports of increasing numbers where cities have allowed business to resume as normal with both an open mind, and a critical eye. I recognize the pandemic has offered ample opportunity for those who seek to control the masses to indulge in rampant propaganda flinging. This is a time to push emotions to the background and engage an analytical and skeptical mind.

One thing I do believe is, whether or not you choose to abide by CDC’s recommended guidelines, you do not have the right to endanger other people for your convenience. I’ll continue to speak out for the rights of people who offer personal care services, whether it’s insisting on making customers wear masks, or, if adequate precautions aren’t viable, refraining from offering those services. I also support financial assistance until such time as their health can be effectively protected. Is that really too much to ask?

The Battle for Power Has Deadly Consequences

The way politicians and business owners are tugging at people’s emotional hot buttons, not because they care about the population, but because they care about their own pockets sickens me. They’ve created more anger and hate where cooperation and compassion are desperately needed. In the process, they’re further endangering people as fear and stress levels continue to rise—and weaken immune systems already heavily compromised. If they want to cull the masses, they’re heading in the right direction, but risk culling themselves as well.

The worst part is, many go willingly, like lambs to the slaughter; putting their trust in the hangman who wears a smiling mask to cover the putrid, mouldering face of greed and avarice that feeds on the ignorant. It pains me I can’t make people see they’re being used, abused, and tossed aside by those who see them as pawns who are only important while they’re useful. Otherwise, they can be tossed into the rubbish heap with the hordes of other nameless, faceless souls who’ve been replaced by the next batch of disposable ones.

We’re Not Interchangeable Cogs in the Wheel of Commerce I was working for larger corporations, I used to hear the oft-repeated phrase: “no one is irreplaceable”. It was a kind of mantra for the constant shifting and shuffling of bodies around the cube jungle. If one happened to leave, whether voluntarily or not, it was often met with a shrug of the shoulders. Why try to make a difference and do the best job you could with that kind of attitude? Some people did, truly believing they could climb the corporate ladder and make a difference. Most eventually left the company in search of a place where their efforts might be appreciated and recognized a little more.

In many ways, I think that attitude is mirrored in many sections of society. If one worker unit breaks down, you replace it with another of equal skill-set and rank. Now, the stakes are much higher. If one worker unity catches COVID, you can’t just toss them aside because chances are good by the time anyone notices, they’ve already infected dozens of others.

If you ask me, our society cannot sustain the true potential for contagion opening the cities too soon will  unleash. Yet numbers coming out of Arizona, Texas, Georgia, and Florida are falling on deaf ears, or worse, denial. As for me, I’m settling in for the long haul, and awaiting similar reports from San Diego and Los Angeles with more than a little trepidation and grief.

Recognizing the Blessings That Allow Me To Isolate

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’m able to remain isolated and in relative safety for the time being.
  2. I’m grateful many are still choosing to avoid adding to the masses taking their lives and those of many others into their hands.
  3. I’m grateful I can exercise mind, body, and spirit without endangering myself or others.
  4. I’m grateful for those who continue to make dance nights and lessons available to those of us who don’t trust the premature openings, even of our beloved hangouts.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; common sense, compassion, consideration, caution, adaptability, strength, hope, love, 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

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

Staying Afloat in a Typhoon of Emotions

Drowning in a Sea of Emotions

Lately, the rush of emotions comes on suddenly. The fear, the anger, the frustration, and worst of all, the loneliness. For the most part, these feelings aren’t mine, but they engulf me on those occasions when I have to leave the house to run a few errands I couldn’t accomplish with my phone or the internet.

While I’m drowning in the flood, I don’t always take the time to step back and ask if the feelings are mine. I flounder through, singularly focused on finishing what I have to, and rushing back home to the warmth of my personal cocoon. There I can hug a cat or three, and take the time to analyze the feelings overwhelming me.

Sometimes I realize right away I’ve been absorbing the unfiltered emotions of the people around me. Others, it takes a few days, and comments from friends who understand before I recognize what actually happened. The truth is, anywhere people gather, socially distancing or no, there’s a shit storm of emotions no one is trying to mask. It reminds me of someone intoxicated who broadcasts every joy, every hurt, every ounce of pain they normally keep buried.

Emotional Overload Isn’t Just for Empaths

Everyone is overwhelmed right now whether they realize it or not. Heaven knows I didn’t for emotional overloadawhile until it smacked me in the face. I started getting migraines again for no apparent reason. My heart would pound though I had done nothing more than walk around the house. My body would tense up making me afraid to even move.

I’m one of the lucky ones. When I feel those unpleasant feelings, I can write, or go work in the yard. I can clean house, or declutter the garage. I have no end of projects to clear my mind and soul. I think of people closed up in an apartment or condominium with waves of other peoples’ emotions flooding them without respite, and my heart aches. What saves me right now is being able to detach from everyone else’s emotions, and work through mine by doing something physical. There are only so many times you can clean an apartment or condo, or declutter closets.

Combating Emotional Overload With Hard Labor

I have a wealth of opportunities to clean, organize, or be productive. I’ve yet to create any sort of list, aside from my blog schedule. I’ve been overwhelmed by a yard that was becoming a forest until my friend brought over lawn equipment that’s been sitting in a garage unused for several years. There are no lawns to tend in a condo.

Getting my yard back in shape, even with  help is going to take awhile, but it provides me with ample opportunity to work off a lot of this heavy energy. When I get tired of whacking away at weeds or trying to make them resemble a lawn, there are still blogs to write, a house to clean, and even a bathroom to paint.

I also have a huge library of books to read, and more in the electronic libraries of my daughter and me. So no, I won’t run out of things to keep my mind and body busy in between Zoom ballet classes and line dance nights.

A Healthy Dose of Human Connection

I’ve learned though that the one thing I can’t get from my projects and books is the connection people I’ve learned to appreciate in recent years. I need chats on the porch and Saturday night gatherings for my mental as well as physical health. I’m learning that connection isn’t an option if I want to stay healthy. When I see people wandering through a store with no real sense of purpose or direction, I remember that was me not too many years ago, and my heart breaks a little.

I remember my dad and his buddies wandering through the Costco near them, not because they needed anything, but to get out of the house and around people. I used to laugh about it. I’m not laughing now, because I’m beginning to understand.

The worst part of the COVID virus isn’t the number of people who are going to get sick, and even die. It isn’t the businesses who are floundering and may not make it until things start to open up again. Being disconnected from each other; unable to share a meal; unable to hug; unable to combine our individual energy into one big ball of amazing…that’s the worst part. I shudder to think of the casualties caused by lack of connection. They won’t be as obvious, and they, too will take more lives.

Finding New Ways to Feed Your Social Animal

I can’t begin to count the number of times a night out dancing pulled me out of my doldrums and quelled my feelings of worthlessness. Exchanging hugs with my friends, or laughing on the dance floor lifted me back up when I needed it most. How many others depended on a regular social schedule to maintain their sanity? Add financial woes to the mix for many, and the picture isn’t pretty. Is it any wonder many are running afoul of the social distancing orders?

The truth is, when your mental health is on shaky ground, you start to lose interest in maintaining your physical health. Why bother? You ask yourself. Nobody will notice if I gain a few pounds or let my hair get shaggy. So what if I don’t shower for a week or two, or put on clean clothes? You can’t see how many really do care while you’re holed up in your house alone, either by choice, or by necessity. The reason doesn’t matter.

Paying Attention to the Ones You Love

People do care though. Sometimes we don’t recognize it as caring, but they really do. And sometimes it takes a good shaking to remind some to show that caring before it’s too late. I see now I’m one who needed a shaking, and at times, I wallow in the realization I let my parents down by not showing them I cared when they were still around.

I’m getting a little of it back from my daughter Jenni now. I pushed my mom away when I was in my 20’s. Jenni has done the same, and now, in her 30’s with 3 children I doubt I’ll ever get to know, she’s pushed me away harder and further than I ever pushed my mom.

The difference is, I stopped trying to pretend I was OK all the time and let people see the real me. I developed real friendships with give and take. Sometimes I’m the one who uplifts and supports someone, and others, I receive the support. I’ve learned a healthy relationship is synergistic; everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but together, everyone is stronger, more resilient, and most of all, important to the whole.

What’s most important is learning from all the falls I’ve taken over the years. Wallowing in regret won’t make the world a better place, and it won’t make my own life better. What will make a difference is recognizing places where I could have done better, or where I should have asked for help instead of bulldozing my way through until I destroyed the entire structure.

So I notice things like lonely people wandering Costco trying to find a connection. Once upon a time, that person was me.

Ever Grateful for the Many Blessings in My Life

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for lessons learned.
  2. I’m grateful for the trials and tribulations I’ve faced; for the traumas and the challenges that taught me to stop keeping everything to myself, and to trust other people.
  3. I’m grateful for my community which is working overtime to help it’s member stay safe and sane.
  4. I’m grateful for human connection, even from a distance. I’ve tried isolation, and realize even I need people, if in smaller doses than others.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, motivation, inspiration, love, joy, community, friendship, connection, balance, peace, 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

Going Stir-Crazy Without My People

Even an Introvert Needs Regular Doses of People

About 4 weeks into no human contact, I started to lose it. Introvert or no, I found out I need people, and not just once every couple of weeks when I make quick, low contact trips to the grocery store. I miss hugs, and couples dancing, and standing close to talk in someone’s ear because the music is loud. I miss sitting close at movies or dinner. I miss razzing my friend Bill at the gym. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

More and more I feel like I need to fill the silence. Either Pandora or the TV are my near-constant companions. Perhaps it’s a weak attempt to inject a little humanity into my world that Zoom, Facetime, Social Media and the telephone aren’t quite managing to fill. Yet there was a time I reveled in long periods of silence. Once I enjoyed the peace. Now, I find it oppressive and lonely.

Life as I knew it is changing. Who and what I was before COVID, while not entirely things of the past, will surely have evolved when everyone emerges from their personal cocoons at some as yet unspecified date. Will it be harder to give those unrestrained hugs that were such an integral part of the dance community? Or will we cling to each other like the lifelines we truly are?

How Quickly Will We Evolve?

I suspect the return to whatever the new normal will be is going to be gradual for some, and instantaneous for others. The more cautious will ease into it slowly. Those who missed human contact the most will likely throw caution to the wind and hug as if their life depended on the contact and connection. Maybe it does.

As I wilt a little some days, I wonder about those for whom contact with other people is necessary to keep them energized; make them feel alive. In many ways, I’m one of the lucky ones as I don’t normally need energy from others to inspire or uplift me. If I’m faltering after a few weeks alone, what of others? Is their absence from social media and Zoom gatherings a silent sign of their distress?

It’s becoming more evident I don’t truly understand how to help the extroverts who thrive on human energy. I suspect my efforts to motivate and uplift fall flat for them because they lack the one element they need nearly as much as the air they breathe. How can I provide that with the means I have at my disposal?

Contact While Observing Social Distance

One friend suggested meeting in the street at a safe distance from each other, but her neighbors are also her friends. Even if I knew more of my neighbors better, I live on a street that runs through the neighborhood so even in times of less movement, there are always cars passing through at some point. Public places are also not an option with parks, beaches, and trails closed. I suspect others are similarly limited right now too.

My mind is screaming You’re a creative! Surely you can come up with creative ideas for reaching out and helping people stay connected and mentally healthy! It’s all well and fine to be a creative person by nature (and frankly, I believe we all are, if we learn to get out of our own way), but as I struggle to get back on my blog-writing schedule, I know it’s not exactly a switch that can be turned on at will.

Creativity is a lot like feelings. It is at its best when we let down our guard and stop trying to control things. It’s also human nature to grab on and hold tight when your world is in chaos. That doesn’t mean the walls are tumbling down, or storms are ravaging the land. Sometimes that chaos is simply a major alteration to the neat, orderly life you’ve become used to.

Adjusting to Temporary Limitations

For me, neat and orderly meant being able to go to the gym 3 times a week, do my grocery shopping and errands on Wednesdays, and getting out for regular dance nights. In between, I wrote, cleaned house, and everything else that for me meant a well-rounded life. I ordered a lot of things (but not everything) online, and usually got it within a day or two. Now, it’s a week or more, and I often find some of what I ordered is cancelled in the interim. Stock dwindles as others are ordering more and more of their necessities online rather than venturing into stores which may not even be open any more.

Meals are another area I’ve seen altered. I’m now eating almost exclusively out of my refrigerator and freezer which, while well-stocked, gets somewhat monotonous after awhile. A couple of attempts at ordering in yielded unsatisfactory results, so I’m settling into my own cooking for the duration. I have gotten a bit more creative, supplementing my usual yogurt and blueberries breakfasts with oatmeal, proznick (basically cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, eggs, and spinach), and pancakes. Lunch and dinner have become one meal as I often get busy and don’t feel hungry until late afternoon.

Coffee consumption has increased (OK, so I’ve only gone from one to two cups a day) as I spend many of my waking hours in front of the computer which I moved to the dining room to better accommodate the Zoom dance nights. But I also throw the blinds in the living room wide as soon as I move to the front of the house in the morning. There’s something about having natural light (even filtered through heavy clouds and rain) that raises my spirits and makes me feel more connected, if not to people, at least to the world outside my four walls.

Releasing Expectations’m learning the best way to maintain my sanity is to remain flexible; to adjust and adapt to the many things I can neither control nor change right now. It doesn’t mean I keep it together every day. I don’t even feel obligated to make every post; every article airy fairy and upbeat. Instead, I allow myself to be real, though even at my darkest, I somehow manage to find a ray of hope, or at least a lesson in my struggles.

When my daughters were young, I did everything in my power to remain strong and stoic around them. I never cried in front of them, no matter how bad things got. But in hindsight, I realize I wasn’t as loving and giving either because I kept everything bottled up inside. One night when they were about 10, I had a meltdown on my office floor after several unsuccessful attempts to refill some inkjet cartridges. Jenni wrote me a little letter telling me it was OK to cry in front of them, and though I still tried hard to remain strong, her words had a profound effect, made more poignant as they came from a 10-year-old.

Finding a New Kind of Balance

Years later, I still vacillate between being strong and positive, and being real. Real wins more and more often, even if I do my best to inject a note of positivity or inspiration into my low times. If nothing else, it’s my way of refusing to ever be the miserable, angry, pain-filled woman I once was, and not because I disavow my less attractive feelings.

In truth, I’m pretty terrified of going down that dark hole again, as I never, ever want to follow my mother’s example and let it consume me. I try to trust that I’ve healed a lot of wounds in myself she never even addressed in herself, but two suicides in one immediate family are one of the harshest lessons life can give. I know I’ve healed and forgiven a lot of things, not only in my parents, but in myself. But I also know there are depths I’ve yet to delve. As such, I keep protections in place to keep myself from falling too deeply down my personal rabbit hole. It’s a lot more challenging while in isolation, but I’m learning as I go, just like everyone else.

Using Gratitude to Remind Myself of All the Good Things

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people who check on me, and let me check in on them regularly.
  2. I’m grateful for the gift of line dancing. It’s always been one of the things that kept me sane, but right now, it and the people who keep it going are one of my strongest lifelines.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities to learn new things, whether it’s dances, computer programs, or anything else. Keeping my mind sharp keeps me from wallowing.
  4. I’m grateful for an entire room filled with books. When all else fails, I can lose myself between pages wrought by someone else’s imagination.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; motivation, inspiration, dancing, joy, love, friendship, community, kitty love, health, peace, harmony, balance, 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

Finding Blessings in Negative Diagnoses

Diagnosing by Elimination

In October of 2019 I was beyond frustrated. Western medicine had let me down—or so I believed at the time. Months of being shuffled from doctor to doctor; specialist to specialist had yielded a fistful of negative diagnoses. My heart was strong. My lungs were clear. My GI tract was obstruction-free. Yet I was still experiencing the symptoms: shortness of breath and palpitations after eating.

In desperation, I followed a friend’s recommendation and sought out the services of holistic practitioner, Nancy Sacks. Nancy was able to determine what the doctors and their tests could not, and put me on a course of treatments and supplements which would, as long as I watched my diet, eliminate the symptoms entirely.

Fast-forward a few months, and I’m better able to appreciate those negative diagnoses. In light of COVID-19, people with lung or heart issues are higher risk, as the organs affected are already compromised. It means I’m less susceptible (though certainly not immune) from the more serious aspects of the pandemic. It’s a small thing, to be sure, as I settle in for what could be a month or more of my personal retreat, but at this point, I’m grateful for those small things.

Small Comfort

It doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous about going out in public for a couple of previously scheduled doctor visits, or to acquire some groceries I didn’t currently have in stock. In fact, I know my nervousness  was directly related to those forays out into a world of people where anyone could be a carrier; even me.

It’s a strange world when human contact is limited to 6 feet or more and we’re looking at ways to do as much as we can virtually. Fortunately, line dancing can be done without a partner, or even other people, but I’ve learned it’s a lot more fun with others, even if we have to gather virtually.

Our dance community has weathered some pretty rough storms the past couple of years. In the process, we’ve learned we’re better together. Already, several of the line dance instructors are doing virtual lessons using Facebook Live and Zoom. The DJ who kept us going the long 14 months we were homeless will be keeping us dancing on Friday and Saturday nights for now. It isn’t perfect, nor is it the same, but as we did when we lost our home in 2018, we make do with what we have.

Staying Home Together artists as well as others like John Legend are doing virtual concerts from their homes. The rest of us are setting up virtual happy hours and coffee dates. There’s a lot to be said for being able to see facial expressions and hear voice inflections when we talk to friends and family. If nothing else, it makes us feel less disconnected.

Even an introvert like me can only handle so much solitude before I start going nuts. I’d like to have joined some of the hikes people planned; a bit of exercise and a bit of social connection, albeit from 6 feet away, but too many people on the trails caused them to be closed too. For now, I’ll walk the neighborhood as I’ve seen some of my neighbors doing, or sit on my patio with my outside cats, Max and Cinders to write.

There are times I’m actually grateful I’ve had to figure out work-arounds while I’m without a laptop. Getting away from the electronics isn’t a bad thing, and I’m getting a project that is supposed to be handwritten done in the process.

Filling the Gaps

Speaking of manual labor, it’s a good time to do some Spring cleaning, or clean out the garage, or even dig up weeds in the yard. I’m thinking about getting some bell pepper plants and putting them in next to my front porch. They’ll be colorful and practical at the same time, assuming I remember to water and tend them, and my black thumbs don’t kill them in the process.

Humans are a resilient bunch. With all the catastrophes and horrors in our history, we somehow manage to survive and even thrive. Every day, I see creative ways people have found to stay connected while distancing themselves physically. We use social media, messaging apps, text, and email to share our lives, our thoughts, and even our frustrations. I use it to share uplifting things, and do my best to stay out of judgement.

Compassion, Not Judgement Will Heal Us realize there are plenty of people who can’t or won’t distance themselves from others. They don’t understand the importance, and frankly, the unfortunate truth is they may have to learn the hard way. I can only hope enough of us stay out of their way while they’re learning, and that their ignorance minimally impacts the immunocompromised. But ranting on social media about their selfishness isn’t going to change their behavior. Educating them might, but they have to be open to being educated. Many are going to tune it out, perhaps until it’s too late for them or someone they love.

One thing I’ve learned through my own healing journey is you can’t heal someone else. All you can do is hold space. The same is true of education. If someone isn’t open to taking a lesson in, no amount of putting it in front of them is going to make them absorb it. The best anyone can do is to offer with no expectations or conditions. With so much misinformation floating around right now, I can understand why many are skeptical.

Between the plethora of misinformation and an unwillingness to give up a deeply embedded lifestyle, I can, in a way, understand why many are still gathering in groups; at least insofar as state and local governments are leaving options and loopholes open. Short of locking people in their homes as they did in Wuhan, the behaviors will continue until people who are still gathering start getting ill or dying. In a way, there will be a natural culling of those who are unwilling to change, even temporarily.

Collectively, We’re Stronger, Even From a Distance

Thankfully, plenty of people are taking COVID-19 seriously. They’re staying at home, ordering as much as they can online (thank you delivery drivers and warehouse workers), ordering food in, and getting creative about connecting. I’ve seen many doing concerts, line dance classes, ballet classes, happy hours, and coffee dates online. Others are doing neighborhood gatherings where everyone supplies their own beverage of choice, and stays outside the prescribed limits distance-wise.

It’s going to get harder as the days become weeks; the weeks become months. Our resiliency and creativity will be tested over and over. I believe collectively we’re up to the challenge.

Finding Strength in Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the underlying resiliency all humans have, and are capable of accessing at will.
  2. I’m grateful for the creative approaches people are taking to maintain an essential part of humanity; connection.
  3. I’m grateful for all who remain on the front lines because the rest of us depend on them for our own health and welfare and that of our pets.
  4. I’m grateful for music. Of all things, it’s a universal connector.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, faith, health, joy, music, dancing, healing, inspiration, motivation, resiliency, strength, 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

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