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

Posts tagged ‘dance’

Weathering the Solitude

The Solitude of Social Distancing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpI’m thinking about the hours, weeks, and days that stretch ahead, alone in my house with my cats. Don’t get me wrong. I love my furballs, and they’ve always been a great source of comfort. But face it. People need people, and much as I might try to deny it, I’m no exception.

Over the last couple of years, I put a lot of time and energy into creating a new normal which included leaving the house three days a week to go to the gym, and running errands afterwards on Wednesdays. The first week of my self-imposed retreat left me wandering the house, unsure what to do with myself. The first couple of days were actually spent resting though. I’d absorbed a lot of energy from people and places that left me utterly drained.

I got up in the morning, later than I was used to, only to wander from couch to couch, and often ending up on the guest room bed for a couple of hours, yet still sleeping in the next day. I realized I had worked myself up about my final Wednesday shopping trip and 2 doctor’s appointments I had scheduled later in the week, and was driving myself crazy. Lavender candles and essential oil plus what would become a nightly tea habit brought me down a few notches.

Finding My New Normal

I didn’t truly start to settle until after the first of what would be regular Thursday night line dances via Zoom. After that, I went into an almost manic state; cleaning, doing laundry, even vacuuming the garage. In my defense, I’d spilled some cat litter while transferring it from the bags it came in into more easily accessible buckets. Once I revved up the shop vac, it kind of pulled me along, sucking up grit and rubble that had accumulated on the garage floor around my car.

Slowly, the days have started taking on a new kind of normal. I rise earlier every day; getting closer to the time my Fitbit goes off. Morning pages are, of course, still the first thing I do after getting up, followed by making the bed, putting in my contacts, feeding the cats, and then myself. At least some things haven’t had to change.

I’m still playing with the rest of the day, though. Sometimes, I’ll go out on the patio and do some freehand writing. Sometimes I’ll pull up one of my writing projects and start working on it. when I do, the day seems to get away from me, and it’s late in the afternoon before I meditate (another non-negotiable), and eat what often becomes both lunch and dinner. But I also feel like I’ve actually done something productive. In my head, cleaning doesn’t count. And heaven knows I’ve been doing more cleaning than usual too!

Idleness is No Longer a Comfortable Place

Created with CanvaMy cats are becoming more spoiled than ever as they’re getting excessive lap time and tummy skritches with me home 24/7. That will slow down as I am compelled to spend more time at the computer or on the patio writing. I do, however, carry on long, deep conversations with them. If only they could contribute to the conversation instead of it being a long monologue. At some point, I might even run out of things to say.

TV got boring within the first few days. It’s all I can do to sit still and refrain from channel surfing. Nothing holds my attention for more than a few minutes, even if I’m playing games on my phone. And even the games aren’t holding my interest for long any more. Since I’ve moved my computer into the dining room to accommodate the Zoom dancing sessions, the TV may soon become occasional background noise, and nothing more.

Somehow, I’m slowly finding my way. Motivation and inspiration are starting to increase. After sitting at the computer for hours, I’m itching to move, so the house is slowly getting cleaned, and lightbulbs that have been out for weeks are now getting replaced. I do miss my friend Jesse who is so tall he doesn’t need a step ladder. I’d call him when I needed bulbs changed, and he’d have it done quickly and easily without having to drag the ladder all over the house. Guess I need to be more careful about saying I want to be self-sufficient, huh?

Dancing for Sanity and Connection

I know the one thing that will save my sanity is the Zoom-based dance nights being set up by our dance instructors and DJ’s. At this point, there are nights when I’ll even have to choose which event to attend! Even line dance lessons are continuing, which, if you ask me, is nothing short of amazing! The Borderline family and the Country dance community as a whole have been through hell and back the last couple of years, yet, like a phoenix, we keep rising to whatever occasion we have. We’ve danced in malls, barns, and parking lots. We’ve found new places where we were welcomed with open arms. Now, we dance in our own living rooms, garages, dens, and kitchens. But we’re still dancing.

Even the technologically challenged are learning how to use Zoom, Facebook Live, and other tools many of us once used only for marketing or productivity. I’m grateful I was ahead of the curve and already knew how to use them.

I’ve had to temporarily ditch habits like going to the gym and meeting my friends at BL Saloon or Oil Can Harry’s for some dancing. At times, I feel completely disconnected and lost. If the last couple of years have taught me nothing else, it’s how to create habits that make me more efficient, more motivated, and healthier. I’m nothing if not creative, so finding temporary replacements is merely a matter of pointing my nose towards what I need and figuring out new ways to get there.

Finding New Ways to Keep Myself Healthy and Fit

Whether it’s the cup of tea I’ve added to my nightly routine, the new regular dance nights, or finding exercise videos that will keep what I’ve achieved through strength training intact until I have access to heavier weights and machines again, I’ve learned my mind and body are used to a certain level of exercise and stimulation. I might need more rest at times because the energies are heavy right now. Ultimately, I need to move more than I realized, and I will find ways to get what I seem to have lost, albeit only until I figure out a workaround.

I’ve specialized in workarounds ever since my career path started requiring computer proficiency decades ago. What I learned about software and making it produce what I wanted works just as well for exercise and work routines. In all honesty, I’m looking forward to tackling the latest challenge the Universe has added to my life. In hindsight, I was falling into a rut, and though I wouldn’t exactly ask for a pandemic to change that, I did need something to boot me in the butt. As usual, the Universe pushes me out of my comfort zone in ways that guarantee I can’t return to where I’ve been.

The Healing Gift of Gratitude

One of the changes I’ve made during what I’m calling my retreat is to post daily gratitudes on Facebook; a practice I began years ago with my blog posts. Sometimes, expanding on an old habit is the only change needed to make something new and effective.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful to be part of a community which ensures we all stay connected.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who call to check up on me.
  3. I’m grateful I’ve learned to be kind to myself while settling into a new normal.
  4. I’m grateful for a strong, healthy body that demands I do more than sit on the couch watching TV for hours.
  5. I’m grateful for a large, essentially private yard where I can sit and write, or just hang out with my outside cats Max and Cinders.
  6. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, health, motivation, inspiration, healthy, precooked meals, solitude, peace, balance, 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

A Phoenix in Cowboy Boots: Borderline Family Thrives

Borderline Strong is More Than a Hashtag

Smiling faces and happy hearts filled the dance floor at what will soon be renovated to become BL Dancehall and Saloon.

Shortly after they got the keys, owners Brian Hynes and Troy Hale brought the Borderline family together in what will be our temporary home for the first time since the November 7, 2018 tragedy that closed the doors and scattered staff, as well as the dance family to the winds for over a year. Though most of us have found places to dance, and been given places with Borderline sponsored nights, it’s not the same as having a place filled with our own family energy; a place where once again we’re the hosts instead of the visitors.

The strength and resiliency of our community shows up in everything we do. Our family have been sorely tested, yet overall, it’s brought us closer together than ever. We see familiar faces at other locations and, though we don’t always know each other by name, hugs are shared because they’re familiar faces and family. We need no other reason.

Showing Our Love in Many Ways

Several people have invested time, money, and creative talents to protect and maintain the memorial which remains in front of our old home where we will one day return, even if it’s a couple of years off. The love and care they give, watering flowers, replacing candles, even cleaning up after vandals is a clear demonstration of a deep, enduring connection neither anger, hate, nor disrespect can weaken.

The waiting will be easier now we have a place which already feels like our old home; the walls resonating with the love and energy unique to Borderline. Like our original home, the new bar is a converted restaurant so instead of dark, blank walls, a row of windows faces the parking lot, giving the place a warm, welcoming feel. A large, glassed in patio gives us a place to cool off a bit after the DJ’s have kept us on the floor for song after song. (Think Garth Brooks’ “Long-necked Bottle) Familiar faces man the bar, the doors, and the DJ booth, playing the music and dances we all know and love.

I’m inspired and overjoyed by the pictures filling the Facebook groups created over the last year; faces aglow with joy and hope; a dance floor once again filled with “the usual suspects”. Photos overflow onto personal pages proving again that there are no strangers when the Borderline family gathers.

No Place Like Home

Brian Hynes

The efforts of Brian, Troy, and the Borderline staff over the last year or so are evident in the plans for a new dance floor and decor, and a feel that up to now, could be found nowhere else but Borderline. The months since the tragedy have to have been especially difficult for the people who have worked so hard to ensure we keep dancing; the owners and management, the instructors, the DJ’s, and the always smiling staff whose faces we saw at the front of the house every week.

Seeing everyone together again, some with small children in tow was, in my opinion, one of the most healing experiences we’ve had so far. Opening the place before renovations began so we could see where we’ll once again meet regularly, and in the very near future was an act which demonstrates how enormous and all-encompassing the heart and soul of Borderline truly is. In the immortal words of Judy Garland:

There’s no place like home!

The Family Who Stays Together Thrives Together

DJ Josh Kelly

So many people have contributed to keeping the family together; our unique connections alive. Instructors who opened their homes or found alternate venues for dancing and workshops, Brian who worked out an arrangement for Borderline nights at the Canyon, DJ Josh who set up his equipment in parking lots, malls, barns, and finally, BL Dancehall and Saloon to keep us dancing while Borderline undergoes major renovations. Not to be overlooked are fellow dancers who opened their homes and barns, or arranged for space, security, and whatever else we needed to both dance and feel safe.

Most of all, we have a family who pulled together, and never gave up hope that our home would be rebuilt. The fundraisers, the Healing Garden built in a ridiculously short amount of time, the lights and orbs on the oak tree in the Borderline parking lot, the beautiful memorial which, though damaged by weather and vandals, continues to be lovingly maintained; all give proof our family can be battered but never broken.

For over a year, the Borderline family has gathered in a multitude of places ranging from malls, to churches, to other clubs, and even private homes. Sometimes, we’ve talked, others, danced, but we’ve always shared hugs, laughter, and tears.

Celebrating Life and Lives with Dance

We marked the week of the one year anniversary with memorials and celebrations, but most notably by ceremonies and dancing in a beautiful garden dedicated, not only to the 12 souls we lost, but to the resiliency and cohesiveness of the country dance community, and specifically, the Borderline family. Supported by the City of Thousand Oaks, the garden was completed in a superhuman amount of time. The magnitude of the project would normally take years, but was completed in months. 

The bonds, the hopes, the continued belief that Borderline would return in physical form at some point remained alive without question. We all simply believed. As we became dancing vagabonds, traveling near and far to keep our love of dancing alive, and to remain connected with the rest of our family, we sometimes grew frustrated with always being the visitors and never the hosts, though many venues welcomed us with open arms.

A Home of Our Own Again

What we’ve most wanted; most needed over the last year was to be back in a home of our own. Brian, Troy, and the Borderline staff, displaced themselves, knew it was the missing piece in everyone’s healing process, and worked tirelessly to resolve what I can only think have been gargantuan issues standing between the dream and the reality. Rumors flew; hopes rose and fell, but we waited for the official word to come from Brian.

Brian along with his partner, Troy did not disappoint. Though it’s a good news-bad news scenario for now, they’ve given us something we never expected while what they’re saying could be a 2-year process to rebuild our home runs its course. They found an existing location which, with a few changes can be our temporary home. Where once again, we have a place we can be the hosts instead of the visitors.

Shortly after they got the keys, the new sign went up and the dance family was able to spend a few hours not only checking out our temporary home, but christening it in the best way we know how. While DJ Josh Kelly kept the music going, we tore up the floor (figuratively, of course) with 5 hours of dancing, re-connecting, hugging, laughter, and maybe a few tears. Knowing we’d have a home in a matter of weeks instead of months or years created a euphoria that continues long after the music stopped, the lights went out, and the doors were locked. 

Healing Hearts and Happy Faces

An undeniable energy permeated the bar; a euphoria arising from the knowledge we’d soon be back in a place of our own where the faces we’d seen nearly every week for years would once again fill every nook and cranny; where the staff we’d come to know and love would be serving drinks and food, keeping the place running smoothly, greeting regulars with hugs and smiles, and best of all, keeping us dancing.

I know I wasn’t alone with a smile that seemed permanently affixed to my face, and an inability to sit for more than a couple of minutes before jumping up to dance or greet another family member.

Our hearts might have been shattered on November 7, 2018, but on December 14, 2019, Brian and his tireless team showed us how hard they’ve been working to help put those collective hearts back together, perhaps broken and bruised, but overall, stronger and more resilient than anyone would have guessed.

A Bright Light Pierces the Darkness

The work on our temporary home has just begun but will soon ring with laughter, music, and stomping feet. Our original home will take awhile longer, but with a place to grow our healing energy in the best way we know how, the wait and sense of loss won’t feel as intense as it has up to now.

We have a place to once again celebrate birthdays, engagements, retirements, anniversaries, and everything else we’ve grown accustomed to sharing with our dance family. Every celebration missed over the last year left a hole in our hearts no amount of pictures from previous celebrations could fill. Thankfully, we don’t have to find alternative places to celebrate in the coming year, though I, for one won’t take having that special place for granted ever again. 

Above all, what Brian, Troy, and their team have done casts a much wider net. Amidst the anger and violence which has cast dark clouds on our society in the last few years, re-opening Borderline, and, in the interim, opening BL Dancehall and Saloon sets a precedent for clubs closed down by violence. As much as people have been forced to endure, love will always win.

 

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

The Unheralded Gift of Movement

Making Movement a Priority in My Life

As the time until I’m eligible for Medicare grows shorter, I often stop to think, not about the aches and pains that have come with age and a body well-used, but with gratitude for all the things I can still do, mostly without thinking twice.

Not only do I walk almost daily on purpose, but I still park farther from stores than I need to, both to avoid the usual bottleneck of people waiting for a closer parking spot, and to give myself a chance to add steps and make my Fitbit happier. I dance and do strength training regularly, do my own heavy cleaning, and fix what I can around the house.

Even 20 years ago, I had friends who’s mobility was impaired for one reason or another, and realized my own was not something to take for granted. It’s not that I don’t have limitations. I think everyone does in one area or another. I’ve simply chosen not to allow a little bit of pain or a temporary setback like knee surgery slow me down any longer than necessary.

Pushing Through Pain, But Doing it Smartly

Perhaps that’s the key to remaining, if not in perfect shape, at least more active https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpthan many in my age and weight class. I’m grateful for what I am able to do, but also unwilling to slow down for minor aches and pains.

Sure, when my knees resemble softballs, I’ll take a short break, but it’s only so I can get back out on the dance floor or take my daily walks without excessive discomfort. It rarely occurs to me I might do myself damage without the break. It’s merely a few harsh lessons that have taught me to listen to my body when it says it’s time to stop for a little while so I can go more later.

Habits We Start When We’re Young

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hanuska/16371662835/in/photolist-qWH3YT-h3KDEM-ewdvhp-e9cCB-6Wf1h7-9iRoH2-89tR5w-89tQSA-7skA4b-7pBtca-49z4DU-6TNaBU-otqsxk-4KAQus-7vuw6o-8afGXv-6hw7Tk-APopNz-AL6QNw-s54FqX-NmuqLf-2ix4T1-pQjPE7-TxLjHh-67Je8b-dDzvwJ-67Jesh-2WQ4zq-8z2ufX-7vuwP9-z1sx5G-oc8Axy-a6br61-hw2FTF-p16gZp-dTB5hW-nZBebF-gmjmkX-pEum5b-pErusD-obWc5n-fcvgnp-pWGBhX-eJNrGA-54tbDb-H8SaT-dRtQeu-qATRHy-hRTeai-2m98ecMy neighborhood is an interesting mix of age groups these days. My neighbors on three sides are in their 80’s. Some have slowed down quite a bit. Those who have, are often those who smoked a good part of their younger lives. The couple next door still takes daily walks, and he can be found in his garage building things regularly, if at a slower pace than a few years ago.

More and more, families are moving in with kids, or expanding with births or children moving back home. At one time, my girls were the only young ones around. Now I see packs of teenagers, mothers (and sometimes dads) pushing strollers, and backpack laden kids walking to and from one of the local schools. The cats and I see a real cross-section of society from my office window.

Watching them throws me back to my own teenage years when I walked or rode my bike most places. Even when I got my driver’s license, I didn’t have access to a car on a regular basis, so I either rode with friends, or relied on my own mobility. It wasn’t until recently I realized how lucky I was to have to stay reasonably fit so I could get around the neighborhood and roam the surrounding hills. Like most teenagers, I think I felt very deprived.

Healthy Habits I Tried Passing on to My Daughters

Things in my town aren’t spread out terribly far. I think the entire city is less https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/23800751269/in/photolist-yra2iG-DU6XM-r2jkSH-riCwfg-Cgc59v-25ZjvpP-Esa7bs-r2dktE-riCRw2-r2d16w-r2cjid-riFdFJ-r2jiQX-riJKAr-rgrJ5N-rgrymj-riJtfk-rgrtto-qmXTaB-qmXTUx-r2dc7j-riFiwf-r2cN57-rgrAKs-qmKZtd-qmKx5b-riCoxT-rgrkmb-r2bRy1-r2bSiC-rgrjHC-qmKN63-r2iWTr-qZqbLz-Jmhu1f-riJk4R-riJgvD-JNiQ5F-6fCa3j-TSPptN-R2stHj-FBknvd-yBNSqL-JNjenn-JixL6D-rgrBXC-riJFkc-riJtrT-qmKAfu-riF5aLthan 10 miles from end to end. My own kids used to traipse all over with their friends, though I learned later one of them would jump on the bus rather than walk the mile from school to home. Knee and back issues notwithstanding, I think we’re all better for it.

When my daughters were younger, I used to use Friday night dinner out as a reward for finishing all their homework without excessive nagging. As there were plenty of options within a couple of miles, we’d walk to the chosen restaurant. I found it served a couple of purposes. We could walk and talk, sharing our day, week, month, or whatever was on our minds, and we had more time to spend together focusing on each other. Of course, it was in the dark ages before cell phones!

The sidewalks posed fewer obstacles than the road, and moving slower gave us more time to see and avoid the few we encountered. In a way, I miss those slower, easier times. But we all have to evolve, even as adults. Evolution does not mean we have to give up our mobility though. Sure, some have no choice, which makes appreciating what we can do so important.

Limitations in Others: A Cautionary Tale

Long ago, I’d look to a friend who was walking with a cane before she was 45 whenever I started feeling sorry for myself. On a truly bad day, I could still do much more than she, and I’m only a few years younger. In fact, 20 years later, I can still do much more than she could in her 40’s! At the time, she was my one constant example. Today, there are so many more, including one of my daughter’s friends who has some major health issues.

Of all the challenges I’ve had to face in my life, health has never been on the list, and even more so since I’ve established healthy habits and above all, keep dancing. The best gift my mom ever gave me, though she never realized it, and I never thanked her for it, was the love of dance. It’s been a part of my life since I was 5, and has gotten me through some rough patches in my life, not the least of which were my contentious divorce and my parents’ suicides.

I won’t say I came through unscathed because of the dancing, but I did ultimately leave the pain behind and come away with a lesson well learned. One of those lessons was to keep moving no matter what. Even if that movement is limited for some reason, I’ve learned to do what I can do comfortably, then push it a little further.

Adjusting to the Inevitable Physical Changes

Sure, I’ve lost a bit over the years; flexibility, and stamina for two. I don’t allow what I’ve lost to stop me though. I don’t dwell on them. It’s a lot like fear. I acknowledge the limitations and tell them they are there for a reason, but have no voting rights; no driver’s license. I listen to what they have to say, then do what I want. If they slow me down, or try to stop me, I push them gently aside before proceeding. Then I proceed anyway.

It would be easy to look at what others around me can do that I can’t. Everyone has that choice. I’ve found doing so to be a losing proposition. It means focusing on all the can’ts until they become reality. Is that a choice anyone would make consciously? To live our limitations?

I think some people do it without realizing how self-sabotaging their thoughts can be. I know I did for a long time. I sat around the house, overeating, smoking, and letting my body slowly deteriorate. I can’t tell you when or where my turning point came, nor does it matter. I’m grateful it came and pushed me to fix what was broken or breaking before it was too late.

Keeping My Body in Motion

Sure, there are days when things hurt; knees, back, shoulders, joints in general. Once upon a time, I’d use the pain as an excuse to do nothing. I learned the hard way doing nothing increases the pain, and causes it to move around the body, and worse, the mind like inactivity. Those are now the days I get out and walk, or dance, or clean house because I’ve learned movement is quite often the best remedy for stiff joints and an aching back.

All too often, it’s not what I’ve done that makes me ache, it’s what I haven’t done. Sometimes it means pulling out the squishy orange exercise mat, the Miracle Ball, and the resistance bands to stretch out the achy parts before getting back to the business of living a life of using my body well. Often, it means getting up and taking full advantage of my ability to move as well as I still can.

Some may choose to plod slowly through life. I choose to dance joyously through the rest of my mine.

Giving My Body the Gratitude it Deserves

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the contrast I’m able to see in the life I lived previously; without movement, without dance, and without joy.
  2. I’m grateful for an abnormally high threshold for pain which allows me to push pain aside and keep moving.
  3. I’m grateful for the gift of dance my mother unwittingly gave me. It has brought me through the worst times in my life still relatively sane, and ready to take on whatever life throws me. Nothing is as bad as it could be when overlaid by the joy of dancing.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who understand where I’ve been, and how important dancing and moving are to a life well spent.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, movement, mobility, dancing, community, health, harmony, peace, friendship, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Life

 

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

What’s in a Word?

Choosing Each Word With Care

https://www.flickr.com/photos/47662183@N04/4564071101/in/photolist-7Xj4k4-4kvmAM-TMnQcJ-r3GViw-2hfQFC7-beCWYD-CGz9-5JNbw-9YuZj-aP3gAB-bcUdqt-K4CqQ7-25grp2D-AN7TXi-8zDAe2-3X5YC-tUzR-78uEky-bcW75M-78qJkK-4BHp7g-tG35Jq-ebDxNE-2hvX9Eg-6A2jWp-4qDR25-aSaQCF-2dXbteV-6A6td7-uFtH3V-jbntgU-xdtEmw-6A2k3k-YALSe-78qKYZ-24gWEPb-HgyCZB-4w1ReJ-PdAPhu-bzzPff-78uCTm-o1SQsA-9hrRBH-78qFVz-pg3yqE-qKuAde-78qJGt-uF355y-5xBRUT-oinua2Words have power. Which one we choose will often have an emotional effect on the reader. It’s important to consider not only the basic meaning of the word, but the emotional triggers it might set off.

One day I sat down to do one of my guided meditations. Something didn’t feel quite right, but I didn’t figure it out until I was a few minutes in. I realized I’d started listening to the previous week’s audio instead of the one I needed to listen to. After switching to the right one, my mind started playing a semantics game. At first I thought of what I’d done as a mistake, but quickly changed it in my mind to “error”. Somehow, there’s a different energy in the two words. “Mistake” seems to feel negative and harsh while “error” is more of an “oopsie. that wasn’t what I meant to say/do. Let’s back up a bit and get back on track”;  a feeling where there’s no harm, no foul. Just a step back to regroup before moving forward again.

Once I’d clarified semantics in my head, I realized I need to be more aware of how the two words make me feel next time I decide to use one or the other. Words definitely have power, whether I use them inside my head, or vocally. It makes sense since I’ve learned the importance of speaking kindly and lovingly to myself. Not only tone, but the words I choose are so much more important than I’d ever noticed before.

To Err is Human

Everyone errs from time to time. It’s how the human brain learns. Usually, they’re merely missteps; taking off in a direction that’s less likely to allow you to reach your desired destination. It doesn’t mean it’s the wrong direction; merely a more circuitous one that will make the journey longer. It’s not necessarily even a bad thing as the long way around often teaches you lessons, and gives you tools you might otherwise fail to acquire. Those tools and lessons could actually come in handy further down the road, meaning the side trip was actually the right road in the first place despite all the switchbacks and surprises you encountered.

“Mistake” implies you got it all wrong and the direction taken might never get you where you wanted to go. Your goals and dreams would crumble around your feet unless you went all the way back to the beginning, cleared the slate, and started anew. “Mistake” brings with it a feeling of defeat; a feeling of failure. It makes me realize it’s not a word I want to keep in my vocabulary. I don’t want to use it with other people, and I’d classify it as negative self-talk if I used it on myself.

The sometimes subtle but often overt nature inherent in the words I choose serves as a not-so-gentle reminder to me to think before I speak. Often enough I’ll have my words misinterpreted, not intentionally or out of malice, but because the person who hears or reads them comes from a different set of experiences. While I know I’ll never avoid those misinterpretations completely, developing a consciousness not only about the words I choose in a moment, but those I use consistently in certain circumstances is an essential part of developing a life of compassion and love rather then my old, disengaged and lonely one.

Flipping the Script

I’ve learned a lot from my #Borderline family of love, compassion, and most of all, authenticity. The people I interact with every week, both on and off the dance floor helped me break through the hard shell I’d learned from childhood to believe was essential—only to discover it’s a hindrance rather than a help. They’ve shown me through actions more than words that being myself is perfectly OK when I have a group of friends who’ve become closer than family ever was, and who have made it clear I’m loved because of my imperfections; because of my uniqueness. The mistakes my family saw; the flaws they found abhorrent solely because they made me different are the things my family of choice finds attractive in me.

It took me a long time to learn to trust; to believe I could be myself, err at times, and ask forgiveness when I inadvertently hurt someone. I first had to learn conformity and perfection are tools of the insecure. They belong to people who are so uncertain of their own strength that they believe they must control their world with sameness. No wonder I never fit in. I wore myself out trying to belong, when my truth, power, and purpose was in breaking free of the familial bonds to be myself. I had to learn to be wrong before I could figure out where I was not only right, but perfectly imperfect.

Those Who Thought They Knew Me Best Used Words Most Cutting

It wasn’t friends and acquaintances who first taught me words could cut deep. My initial lessons were part of what was considered a normal family upbringing; parents showing me the harshness of the outside world so I’d stay within the safe, albeit constraining family circle. It was hard being a rebel when I was a child and teenager. It seems I was always in trouble or at odds with my parents. I learned I couldn’t do anything right until, in my early 20’s, I stopped trying.

In hindsight, I burned down the barn when I would have been better served bringing in a couple of cats to clear out the rodents. But the only way to break free of expectations I could never hope to meet was by making a clean, if painful break, killing off anything that tried to follow me into my new life. Unfortunately, in the process, I killed my own spirit too. It was another 2 decades before I’d crawled out from under more limitations, both external and internal to finally pull a frightened and shaking little piece of myself out of the rubble to start feeding it kindness instead of abuse.

Pain is Inflicted Because You Allow It; Often Unknowingly

Needless to say, words had a major impact. It made me aware of how much damage words can do, especially to the psyche of a child, or someone who had been broken into as many pieces as I had. Discovering “The Secret” and “Laws of Attraction” became my lifeline because they taught me new, empowering words I could use to not only replace the old vocabulary which left me feeling like an unarmed knight facing an angry horde, but to change my story and make me stronger. I learned, with the help of a friend to delete any thoughts that didn’t communicate positivity, love, and support for myself.

Later, after reading Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now”, I learned to dismiss words from others that cut and bruised. I discovered those words were not really meant to hurt me or anyone else, but to unsuccessfully take the speaker out of his own pain.

When all’s said and done, words never could hurt me. They only hurt when I allowed them to. Still, I take my own lessons and pain and use them to use words less likely to cause pain to others. I know I’ll never be 100% successful, but if I avoid causing pain to a single person through taking care with my vocabulary, I’ll deem the exercise a complete success.

Making My World Better With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friend/family bonds which grow ever stronger. It might have taken a tragedy to find some of them, but finding each other is the most important part.
  2. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned to make me take more care with others who carry their own pain.
  3. I am grateful for my morning pages which are responsible for the first few paragraphs of this post.
  4. I am grateful for Amtrak which brought my daughter safely to me, even if only for a day or so.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, caring, compassion, connection, lessons, challenges, joy, sorrow, healing, 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

Healing Through Laughter

Finding New Ways to Heal

Created with CanvaAfter spending an evening with friends playing a rather raucous game of Mexican Train, it occurred to me, especially in light of recent events in our neck of the woods, that we all need more laughter. I didn’t even mind being a last-minute addition to the party. The company was warm and loving, and the banter kept us all laughing and playing along. I left feeling warm, loved, and most of all, uplifted.

Of late, I’ve been feeling especially worn out, fatigued, drained, and even short of breath. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with handling the emotional trauma both within and around me. Some gatherings seem to be more of a chore to stay positive and upbeat, and I can see how others around me are forcing more than allowing. I feel it as a drain on my own energy, and haven’t been good about protecting my own space. I want to help those around me, but realize I’ve let my own resources run down.

The answer is more time spent just being, and finding humor in the little things. Laughter, after all is the greatest healer.

Continued Support From Our Community

For my extended family, dancing has been our happy place, with some of us, for decades. We are still dancing and hugging and sharing, but deep down inside, we all feel it; it’s not the same. Our home is unavailable and we’re, as one woman put it, always the visiting team. Some wonderful people have opened doors and arms to us, and we’re extremely grateful to them for their generosity. But as the weeks stretch to months, the feeling is unanimous. We want to go home.

It still remains to be seen, if, when, and even where that might happen. In the meantime, a couple of clubs have been opened up to accommodate two of our regular nights. The Sunland Winery, which welcomed us in December is on our schedule once a month (though many of us wish it were more). Road trips to more distant venues are planned and well-attended. Larger and larger groups are making time to go to a smaller local club to line dance and even get in a little two-stepping and West Coast Swing.

Small, Intimate Gatherings Speed the Healing

But I think the ones which help the most are the smaller, more intimate gatherings which seem to be gaining in popularity. They’re times when we seem to allow ourselves to feel whatever we’re feeling, express our hopes, doubts, and concerns, and care about each other unreservedly.

They’re nights filled with laughter and good humor. With listening to each others’ struggles and offering support. Even a few light-hearted matchmaking attempts are starting to surface. It all expresses the love and caring of a family that’s been torn asunder by tragedy, but refuses to be kept down.

As I type this, I’m thinking about scheduling a night of my own, and of course, my mind flips over to the menu. (I do love to cook for friends). At a recent event, the fare was simple but delicious; a chicken and noodle casserole, garlic bread, salad, and garlic sauteed green beans. I particularly liked the idea of something in a pan, and my mind turned to lasagna.

The recipe I use typically takes a couple of days as the sauce has to be made first, but it’s been a long time since I made it, and wouldn’t typically make a pan just for me. It’s a great excuse to do something I love for the people I love, and to host an evening of laughter and companionship. Thought becomes things, and by the time this publishes, the event will have been scheduled, come, and gone. The details and the laughs will likely prove fodder for another post.

Sometimes, You Just Have to Make the Effort

I’m trying hard to get out more, even if it’s to places I’m not especially fond of. It’s really not about the venue right now, but about the people and of course, the dancing. I’m finding I don’t even mind standing on the sidelines, listening to the music, chatting with the people nearby, and only dancing a couple of dances. I just need to be out being, doing, living.

Still, there are days when I need to stay inside with my cats, away from people and the energy they emit. I’m still tiring easily, and I know part of it is my screwed up dance schedule. But some of it could simply be what we all struggle with: letting go of what no longer serves us.

Sometimes, You Have to Let Go

We had a beautiful lunar eclipse with January’s full moon. It left me thinking about what I need to release (after a night of crazy, disturbing dreams). I guess I should be grateful the night was overcast so the moon didn’t keep me awake half the night. Typically, with the full moon, I have to turn and sleep with my head at the foot of the bed because the brightness shines through my window and makes my eyes pop back open every few minutes.

With regard to current circumstances, here are a few things I can release which are getting in the way of my happiness:

  • Dependence on a specific place to dance to be happy just dancing
  • Unwillingness to go out on nights which weren’t my regular dance nights
  • Excessive concern over inviting people into my less-than-perfect home
  • Resistance to cleaning
  • Laziness in general

It may not seem like a lot to many, but they are things I know stand in my way. There are plenty of other things I need to release regarding my writing and my business, but that’s not the reason for this post, so I’ll leave it for another (and heaven knows, I need ideas for February now that January is “in the can”, to borrow a line from old movie speak).

Making the Most of Our Opportunities

Releasing anything which keeps us from finding joy in laughter, companionship, intimate and not-so-intimate gatherings, and even embracing change are essential when we’re dealing with circumstances beyond our control. We need to accept that we can’t return to what we know, at least for the moment, and do our best to create new spaces, new activities in which to find the joy, laughter, and exercise we currently lack.

I’m grateful for two of the dance instructors who’ve opened their homes to us in the last couple of months. Without them, we’d have had many more dance-less weeks in those immediately following the shooting at Borderline. They’ve kept us together in mind, body, and spirit at a time when we all needed it most.

We’ve celebrated many occasions inside the walls of Borderline; birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births; and those memories won’t fade away. But when we put it all together, we’ve created a family who is strong and resilient, and will find ways to stay together, not only for the short time we’re scattered to the winds, but for the long haul as well. We have so much more laughter, joy, hugs, and dancing to give and do. And maybe we needed to get shaken out of those four walls to discover how much we truly have? (though it sure could have happened in a less horrific way!)

Facing Each Day With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the family which is finding new and unique ways to stay together.
  2. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve formed which fill me rather than draining me.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned that being myself is far more attractive than trying to be someone I think people would like.
  4. I am grateful for all the people who are keeping the love, laughter, and dancing going during a truly difficult time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, laughter, dancing, loving, health, harmony, peace, inspiration, motivation, energy, synergy, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

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