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

Posts tagged ‘dancing’

Adaptability: Going With the Flow

Adaptability Makes Change Flow Smoothly

Life changes. People come and people go. Friendships blossom. Some seem to bloom and grow while others wither and die; often inexplicably.

Perhaps we’re changing and fail to see it. Or maybe circumstances change. We move, or find a new interest, or find alternatives when a place or event becomes unavailable. Maybe it’s simply a life event; births, deaths, marriages, new jobs, big moves. We all experience them, like it or no. The only way to avoid change is to wall ourselves up in a cave and never come out. Even so, we’d change as we age, alone and cut off from the rest of the world.

Change is inevitable. We have two choices: adapt or fight it. Most of us, by the time we reach adulthood, have discovered the futility of fighting it. We’ve probably exhausted ourselves fruitlessly on more than one occasion trying to hold onto something which has served its time. But letting go and opening ourselves up to new possibilities is hard. It’s scary.

Like it or Not, We Must Move Out of Our Comfort Zone

Stepping out into the unknown; leaving our comfort zone; allowing ourselves to be immersed in https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvnew things can be, for some, a frightening and daunting experience. The smart ones (and also the successful ones) learn to not only adapt, but to embrace those moments when you feel like you’re free-falling. They thrive on the adrenaline rush of not knowing how or where they’ll land, or even if the landing will be safe, or leave them broken and bruised.

For those people, a life without change is as frightening as it is for people for whom change is something to be avoided at all costs. They can’t imagine a life full of mind-numbing sameness where everything is predictable and expected.

Most of us, I believe, fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. We sometimes struggle to leave our cozy, predictable existence to try something new; a restaurant, a vacation spot, a new group of people. Yet when we do take a leap and broaden our horizons, we’re usually pleasantly surprised at the outcome, and thus, encouraged to spread our wings even further.

Adapting Doesn’t Have to be Complicated

For me it’s been as simple as going to new places to dance, and to dance differently than I’m used to. My typical hangouts provide a mix of two-step, line dances, couples dances, and a smattering of West Coast Swing and Nightclub Two-Step. I’m comfortable with the mix, and if I don’t get to do the occasional WCS or NC2, I’m not terribly disappointed. Those dances are not what draws me to a club or lately, someone’s in-home studio.

But as my options narrow and I start hanging with a younger, more adventurous crowd, I find my willingness to leave my comfort zone (especially since I have people willing to go with me) increasing. In fact, I’m often the one to suggest someplace new.

To my utter and complete surprise, I looked back at the last few weeks and realized I’d spent far less evenings alone than was my wont. I’d ventured further out, stayed later, and picked up a couple new tricks along the way. Though I’m not ready to go to the newer places alone yet, I suspect even the minor resistance will soon disappear, and I’ll find my way to the new venues whether alone or with friends.

Adapting Happens When We’re Not Even Looking

In short, I’m adapting. Circumstances have changed. Options have, at least temporarily disappeared, and the amount of dancing I get in a single night has lessened. I’ve convinced myself more nights will bring me back up to my usual levels, and find it easier to win the argument when my brain tries going back into hermit mode.

Life does that. It gives and it takes away, forcing us to adjust to new circumstances whether we like it or not. Forcing us to grow into better, stronger versions of ourselves.

But there was a time I fought it, and fought it hard. I stayed tucked cozily inside myself, little realizing I’d locked myself in with some pretty voracious and unpleasant demons. They gnawed away at my guts, and I responded by becoming an angry, unpleasant human being. There came a point when I didn’t even like my own company.

Help Comes When We Need it Most

Even so, there were people who found me tolerable, and because they took the time to look beneath my crotchety surface, found something worth saving. Maybe they saw someone who reminded them of their former self. Maybe in our own broken way we created a support group, helping each other build the ladders out of our own pits of despair. Whatever the reasons, and however they found me, I’ll always be eternally grateful that the Universe saw fit to find people to help instead of giving up on me as a lost cause. I know I’d pretty much given up on myself by then.

So many people at one time or another find themselves in a place they neither want or know how to get out of. They convince themselves it’s the life they deserve and slog through each day with no real interest in anyone or anything. They spend their days at jobs they hate, and their nights in front of a computer or TV, disconnected from the world; disconnected from themselves.

Maybe life beat them down every time they stuck their nose out of their shell. Maybe they developed a misguided belief they didn’t deserve better. Or perhaps they simply feared what they didn’t know and couldn’t control. So they surround themselves with sameness, boring, destructive, stifling, and eventually, crumbling. Sameness can’t be maintained indefinitely so at some point it either falls apart, often devastatingly, or the person behind the self-made walls lives an illusion far-removed from reality.

Offering Gives Others a Choice, a Role in Their Own Lives

We can’t force others to adapt to change any more than others forced me. We can, however offer tools and support even if they’re rejected repeatedly. Like me, there will come a time when one of the tools resonates, and a willingness to at least try overcomes the fear of change.

The people who kept offering me tools in spite of my constant resistance are heroes in my eyes. They may not have changed the world, but they changed mine. We all have within us the ability to change a single person’s life for the better if we’re willing to accept their resistance and even rejection for awhile.

We can’t do it for the gratitude as that may never come. I know I never thanked the people who gave me my first leg up out of the darkness. We have to do it because it’s an integral part of our humanity. We’re not here to fix each other, only to fix ourselves; to be the best us we can be. But we can be there for those who are having trouble making the changes alone, and simply need a friendly face, a listening ear, a light in the darkness.

Will you be someone’s light?

Gratitude Isn’t Time-Sensitive

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who saw something in me worth saving.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to pay it forward and offer someone else a tool they might need to escape their own darkness.
  3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the bruises I’ve earned, the successes and the failures. They’ve made me stronger, more resilient, and more willing to adapt when my world gets turned upside down.
  4. I am grateful for friendship. They have changed over the years. Some have come, many have gone, but all have left me a better person.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, caring, compassion, friendship, joy, dancing, community, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

And special thanks to Danae Thomas who offered me the first of many tools, and months of support to help me start climbing out of my own pit of despair.

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

Suicide Affects Us All

Suicide Strikes

At some point in our lives, given the constantly increasing numbers, we will all experience suicide. It might be a friend, or an acquaintance, but chances are, at some point, it will be someone we know well, and perhaps love. Some of us might even be the ones considering or even attempting suicide.

Admittedly, I’m more aware of it having lost both parents to suicide. I’ve learned to recognize people who are hiding behind self-made walls and masks; who show little or no value for the life they’ve been given. Sometimes I can reach out to them, but more often than not, they’ve created safeguards preventing people like me who see and feel too much from getting too close. They want neither to be pitied nor judged and are unable to see some of us might just want to help them feel wanted and loved.

Freedom to Be Ourselves

Life these days is hard. There’s no pretty way to say it. For some, the daily challenges are overwhelming, and the stories they tell themselves about not being missed become a reality to be escaped at all costs. Many even become the person they believe themselves to be; withdrawn, angry, unpleasant to be around. They use their behavior to discourage others from reaching out or trying to help change their reality.

Others wrap themselves in false gaiety, often with the assistance of alcohol or drugs. They’re the life of the party on the outside, surrounded by smiling faces who are completely clueless about the turmoil the false front hides. Even those closest to them are oblivious to the cost of keeping the mask in place; of the loneliness they’re unable to break free from.

I talk to friends who’ve at one point in their lives contemplated suicide and understand. There were times I, too felt alone and unnecessary. Times when the only reason I’m still alive was my refusal to put my daughters through the pain and trauma I’ve had to live through twice. I remember being angry all the time, stewing over the slightest thing, and feeling abused and put down by everyone around me. Of course, a lot of it was their reaction to my prickliness and unfriendly demeanor.

Recognizing Our Value to Others

Fortunately, both my writing and the dancing were my saving grace. When I was at my angriest and most withdrawn, I had put the dancing on the back burner to involve myself in the girls’ high school activities. Perhaps not my best choice, but it was the right choice for them, if not for me. Shortly after those responsibilities ended, I got my butt back out on a dance floor. After awhile, the fog began to clear and I found my happy; bigger and brighter than it had been before.

Unfortunately, what may work for some of us, doesn’t help for others. There are plenty of writers and people who dance regularly who aren’t able to escape their pain or realize there are many people who want them around, and who would miss them if they were gone. It puts a lot of responsibility on the rest of us to pay attention to the ones who always seem happy, or who drink to excess and have a long drive home, or simply who share the barest snippets of themselves.

They’ll never say, nor admit to needing help, but they’re the ones we need to do our best to include and reassure we love them as they really are, and that they needn’t pretend for us.

Loving Each Other for Who We Are

I recently saw this graphic on Facebook of Eeyore (my favorite of the Winnie the Pooh https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbcharacters, coincidentally). I think this really says it all, and was published on the Canadian Mental Health Group Facebook page.

It speaks directly to what I’m saying. We all have friends who are depressed, and they need to be included anyway, and not expected to pretend everything is fine. They need to know it’s OK to be who they are without need for masks and walls, and that they’ll be accepted as they are all the time.

The biggest problem our society faces right now, and probably why suicide rates are climbing at such a frightening pace, is people think they need to pretend to be someone they’re not in order to be accepted or even liked.

I’ve learned people like, and even love you more if you’re yourself and nothing else. Those who don’t, quite frankly, don’t matter. We all have quirks, idiosyncrasies, broken parts, and imperfections. Rather than believing they make us wrong in some way, we need to realize they’re what make us unique, and even in tune with others. If we aren’t worrying about fitting in and matching some arbitrarily prescribed description of normal, we’ll find others are able to let down their guard and be themselves too. Not only that, the relief we get from not pretending might even lift some of the sadness and depression!

Dropping Our Disguises Ain’t Easy, But it’s Worth the Trouble

Learning to open up to my friends was, in all honesty, one of the toughest things I ever did. It went against everything I’d been taught from birth, and left me exposed to the ridicule and abuse I’d experienced most of my life, at least from my distorted recollection. I only saw people teasing and making fun of me, but never noticed when it went in the other direction, or when I was one of the perpetrators. Funny how our memories leave out the important parts, right?

Once I got to the other side, however, it became one of the most rewarding, kindest things I’ve ever done for myself. I have friends who are as imperfect as I am, but who accept themselves as they are. They have challenges with family, jobs, and a million other facets of a life well lived. We all know we have someone to talk to if we need to vent, but also to share successes and joys with. We gather in small groups and large, discussing everything from world events to personal frustrations.

When all is said and done, we feel better for the company and the opportunity to release some of the weight we carry around. What’s good for us is clearly good for those we might tend to overlook. They may not open up the first time or even the tenth, but after awhile, we can show them by our actions and our own sharing that they have a safe place to drop the pretenses and be themselves.

If we have the chance to keep suicide off the table for even one person, shouldn’t we take it?

Gratitude Helps Keep the Gloomies Away

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have come into my life the last few years who’ve made me feel accepted and loved for myself.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learned and the acceptance I gained while writing my memoir.
  3. I am grateful to my daughter, Heather, and my oldest friend, Candy who kept me moving forward with the memoir, even when I needed a few long breaks to get further along in my healing process.
  4. I am grateful for the dance community that lets me see we are all broken in some way, but that it isn’t a flaw, but a badge of honor.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, dancing, writing, inspiration, motivation, support, butt-kickings, ideas, dreams, goals, baby steps, philanthropy, peace, harmony, health, 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

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

Not a Part of the Drinking Crowd

Alcohol: The Balm of the Working Classes

I was raised in a family of drinkers. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all tossed down a few drinks to loosen up and have a good time. My parents drank pretty much daily. Just one or two to unwind from a stressful day, of course, but daily nonetheless. My mom sent me off to college with a giant bottle of Almaden wine, and happily kept me supplied, though it took me months to finish a single bottle.

Small wonder I married a man who’d been raised much the same. His family turned to the bottle for celebrations, to ward off pain and sadness, pretty much any excuse was a valid one. The only difference between our families was his preferred cheap wine and beer while mine drank the hard stuff with a beer or glass of wine thrown in for variety.

It took me years to realize, as I continued to attract people who drank heavily, why I always felt like an outsider. Perhaps disliking the feel of being out of control contributed to what people probably felt was my standoffish behavior. I’m not entirely sure, but eventually I realized I didn’t like being around drunk people, and for a while, simply retreated.

Finding My Tribe in the Moderate Drinkers

Eventually, I found my way into the Country dancing crowd who, for the most part, drank sparingly if at all while dancing. Even off the dance floor, the people I’m around these days never get sloppy drunk. We may have one more glass of wine, or can of beer than we should, but we’re extremely conscious of the times we have to drive, or the company we’re keeping. The truth is, we don’t need to hide from our lives like that in the first place. The solution to all of our problems is the dancing and the connections we make through our community.

The change in me was gradual, so it took a long time to recognize the changes I was making and the healthier, more connected lifestyle I’d chosen. When I dance, I rarely drink. It’s a combination of needing to have my balance so I can do the turns and crazy two-step moves my partners lead, and having to drive myself home. I may have my fair share of speeding tickets, but I’m proud to say I’ve never gotten a DUI, and the way I live now, I probably never will. I simply do not drink if I have to drive, or if I do, it’s one early in the evening and it’s long out of my system by the time I get behind the wheel.

Drinking to Oblivion Ain’t the Answer

https://www.flickr.com/photos/clevercupcakes/4576733748/in/photolist-7YqXuy-22jbZb8-XZte3w-2E38fh-dtp56c-3NUNY-3NUP3-3NSUZ-3NSUK-VUxVut-aMjLSn-dUKkRp-4JpM4a-abD91G-932Hmu-8fJSDf-62xx8V-3c4zza-dUKms6-5AZhfv-dUQT8y-cPLm-3aqeS9-4NhLC1-4zty2J-4ttyNi-6U4fPj-3akHYp-3e21kE-6T47EL-obfTpE-3dWA6R-h2wXwy-7drB1P-ostgj2-6ieis7-a1LDFH-21n5r2B-q2i6g3-XScYar-dXwB6L-gQahXg-8EdGQ2-qFJcdw-YuGC4s-Jy7Cf2-28d1ChD-PHSfjW-x3xs87-MXhQbuSure, I wasn’t always this conscientious. I remember more than one trip from UCLA to my parents’ home in Westlake Village after consuming more than enough cheap wine at a party. Clearly, the angels were on my shoulder then. They were there again each time my ex used to get stumbling down drunk then drive us home, oblivious to how he even got us there safely. My daughters, too have tales of him sucking down another beer before driving them home. I think that was the single biggest factor in their refusing to visit him by the time they were 11. They were terrified to get in the car with him, and put an end to it in the only way they knew how.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against a social drink or two at a party or even the bar where I dance. I do take issue with those who don’t know when to stop, or, in some cases, can’t. It’s no fun to dance with someone who’s three sheets to the wind, and even less fun to watch them stumble out to their car and, just by turning the key in the ignition, put strangers at risk.

I also understand that for many like my parents and my ex, alcoholism is a sickness which, like many ailments, needs professional help to cure. The trouble is, many alcoholics don’t think they have a problem, and don’t want to stop drinking—at least until or unless something awful happens. By then, for many it’s too late to fix what’s broken.

The Dark, Empty Side of Alcohol and Substance Abuse

I’ve seen marriages dissolved (mine for one), families estranged (also mine), and friendships lost because someone couldn’t break their dependence on alcohol, or for that matter, some other chemical means of coping with life. Though I haven’t seen it myself, I know people who lost a loved one who simply drank themselves to death. A slow suicide, yes, but in my eyes, a suicide nonetheless.

If I learned nothing else from watching my family and my ex’s, it’s that most things are OK or even good in moderation. Doing just about anything to excess can damage your health or even kill you—even exercise and drinking water.

Grateful for Once to be the Outsider

My family taught me by example that I’m one of the fortunate ones. I don’t need help from 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-jk3BYpdrugs or alcohol to cope with my life. I’ve found ways to enjoy it so I don’t need to just cope. Sure, there were steps along the way I thought I did, but as I stop hiding and start showing up, I’m learning my friends are a whole lot better than blurring my edges. Dancing is a much better outlet for my stress and frustration which thankfully show up much less frequently since I left the Corporate jungle.

And I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to sob your guts out and release all the built up crap inside. Tears are water and water washes away the dirt, grit and grime so it’s one of the most healing things we can do. I’ve also learned a phone call, text message, or PM asking “are you OK? Do you need anything?” is one of the most healing balms of all.

Breaking Old Habits

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about how some of us are here to break old family patterns. Often we’re the ones who never fit in with our own kin. I’m learning how many of those old patterns I’ve come here to break. And I’m doing my damndest to end some of them forever so those who come after me can truly make a difference without the shackles of our restrictive and confining heritage.

Are you the rebel child in your family? If so, did you ever wonder why? Try looking at some of the familial patterns which serve no one; addiction, negativity, depression. The list goes on, and will be different for every family. If you’ve shied away from the “family way”, you’re probably the rebel who will make positive changes. Know there are many of us out here in the same boat who can and will support you in a very difficult and often lonely mission.

Gratitude is One of Our Greatest Tools

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I was born to be the family rebel; the one who was cast out because she wouldn’t conform to the patterns and beliefs which had long outlived their usefulness.
  2. I am grateful for the friendships I’m forming with people who don’t share the negative attributes I left behind.
  3. I am grateful for my cats who are struggling to re-adjust to my changing work habits. I used to work while they were sleeping. Now, they’re awake and wanting attention when I’m just hitting my stride.
  4. I am grateful I’m learning my schedule doesn’t have to conform with the rest of the world. If my work schedule is from 2PM to midnight, and that’s when my productivity skyrockets, there’s no reason to fight it. TV is boring at night anyway.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, harmony, peace, sobriety, joy, friendship, dancing, compassion, dreaming, writing, inspiration, motivation, visibility, health, 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

Got the Music In Me

A Song for Every Reason

When I was in my teens and twenties life was fairly simple and there always seemed to be a song to fit the moment. Breakups were a good excuse for overplaying the perfect song, though which side of the equation I was on typically dictated my selection.

I remember playing Three Dog Night’s  “One Is the Loneliest Number” when I was the dumpee. I probably drove my sister crazy playing the song over and over again while wallowing in my misery.

One of the few times I did the dumping I felt a distinct connection with Lorrie Morgan’s “What Part of No Don’t You Understand?” Maybe a little heartless but at the time I believed a clean, rip off the band-aid kind of break was best. For me anyway. But because I so rarely had the opportunity to end things in those days, I found the fellow particularly resistant to the idea which is probably why the song came to mind.

Backup Music for All Life’s Ups and Downs

Breakups are only one example of opportunities to connect songs to events. In fact, my kids probably https://www.flickr.com/photos/willfolsom/7094471059/in/photolist-bNV25x-77UPSv-9tPRui-hY52Y-5RfP97-8iBJzZ-ffSKCZ-89DTEp-8MafAw-89DSMe-89H9JG-7fSeqV-dTPXDT-89H8x1-hQZfKq-89H7TY-89DT2i-89Hai7-63Qh4E-pnSKC-89H88L-vRpUr-89DUdH-89DTLt-9oEVmR-2w7XP-7gdck-5SNtVn-gtXnSa-aq8Vdg-5jK3c7-5FXzrT-9cNBdK-7iEieU-oK2nBU-7EKFFz-qz7Go-26Ys1Bk-5oFzFx-6upwHg-5uHBB8-6djGap-9NsAVB-2HW8-ohgAFe-7EKFAc-4BwGJp-29aXGWZ-nM4w1N-4gzvmchad several occasions to wish a case of laryngitis on me when I’d find a song for almost anything they said. I’m sure it was particularly annoying when they were stuck in the car for a long trip.

In some ways, I think our lives are defined by the music we’re attracted to at different points. How many times do we turn to sad songs or movies when we just need a good cry? Little did we know when we were younger how cathartic those song-induced cries could be? Or how often we’d forget the simple things as life and responsibilities kept us too busy for a sad song and a good, cleansing sob-fest?

For years I fought a kind of low-grade depression. I wasn’t dancing because the girls’ activities kept me too busy, so my social life was limited to band events and parent meetings. Being a single parent was hard enough from the inside, but for reasons unbeknownst to me and the other single moms, many of the married women saw us as a threat. As a result, they were unkind to us in numerous subtle ways. Most of them involved exclusion. Needless to say, I was friendliest with other single moms, but it’s a group which doesn’t have much time for a social life. So I spent what little time was left after work, the girls’ activities, and taking care of house and home alone. In hindsight, the music was silent too.

Finding My Life When the Music Returned

When I returned to the dance community and tuned back into the music which I’d inadvertently silenced while dancing waited on a back burner, my first steps were tentative. I’d lost touch and didn’t belong, or that’s how I saw it. I was closed down, so while my girlfriend’s quickly found dance partners, and ultimately, mates, I remained alone—until I learned a few things. Here again, music was an integral part of that lesson, courtesy of the dance community.

While music can be a solo affair; I use it a lot when I’m writing or working on client accounting, it lends itself far more to community and sharing. Whether it’s a concert in the park, a street fair, musical theater, or karaoke, music brings people together as nothing else I know can. And of course there’s dancing.

I can pull up songs on YouTube and dance around my living room, entertaining and amusing the cats. While fun and a good source of exercise, it isn’t like dancing in a room full of friends, playing off each other and entertaining the people who come to socialize over a few drinks, unfamiliar with the dances we do. Even so, I feel that the dancers pull the spectators in with more than a shared enjoyment of the music the DJ plays. The collective energy of dancers and observers fills the room with a joy which, in my opinion, couldn’t be had without the music.

Life Without Music is A Lonely Affair

There are songs we love, and even songs we hate. Artists who tug at our heartstrings and others who may annoy the bejeebers out of us. Whether they’re filling our hearts with joy, or reminding us of sad times when all we wanted to do was pull the covers over our head and have a good cry, or even making us want silence over their interpretation of music, we react, we feel. And through those emotions we connect with the rest of humanity, often without realizing we’re doing it.

I see now that when not only the dancing was missing, but the music was silent, my life was hollow. Even more, I was a non-contributor. We all have parts to play making the world better, maybe for only a few, and maybe for multitudes. When we sit on the sidelines, our music silent and our feet still, we’re short-changing the world as much as we cheat ourselves.

Finding Our Joy in Music

In connecting with other people through music, we complete the circle; a circle which is more than My personal peace makerhands joined or people congregating. It’s a circle of hearts connected on such a deep level the lines between us blur or even disappear.

These days, favorite songs are often connected to a favorite dance and those are no longer solo affairs. When I want to hear something over and over, it’s because of the way the tune gets me up off my feet and moving to the music with sweet abandon. Those are the moments when I’m dancing like nobody’s watching, or feeding on the energy of people who are bringing me a level of joy I lost completely for a little while. Because I lost sight of my joy for a few years, no, because I didn’t find it until recently, it is all the more precious.

Being the Example for a Joy-Filled Life

In some ways, I feel being on both sides of joy is a gift. I have the rare opportunity to understand those who never find it, or maybe need some help realizing they deserve it as much as me or anyone else who’s found it. Maybe all I need to do is help them find the right music. Perhaps it’s just leading by example and encouraging the baby steps.

Making Gratitude a Habit

As always, I end my post with 5 gratitudes. It’s one of the many factors contributing to the joy I finally brought into my life.

  1. I am grateful for music. It tells the stories of my life, though I may not have penned the words.
  2. I am grateful for community. Having people in my life I can turn to for advice, a shoulder, or just plain fun is still a novel experience for me. It has enhanced my life in ways I’d never have imagined.
  3. I am grateful for ideas popping into my head like corn in a bag in the microwave. My challenge now is to catch them before they escape.
  4. I am grateful for my ability to let loose and be silly; to dance like nobody’s watching, and to be myself without concern for consequences or negative reactions.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, dancing, music, friendship, joy, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

The Comfort of Familiarity

Understanding the Attraction of Certain Types

Years ago, I embarked on a friendship with a woman who I’ve come to realize has certain characteristics she shares with an unusually large cross section of females. She isn’t stunningly gorgeous, nor does she stand out in a crowd. In fact, over the years, I’ve seen many who remind me of her. The similarities are really rather striking when observed from a distance.

These women are attractive and take care with their appearance. They tend to dress a bit more conservatively than those around them. They all seem to wear their hair in what we used to call a flip, or other basically straight but casual looking style: one which looks like they just pulled a quick brush through it, but in reality probably took them an hour in front of the mirror with curling iron and blow dryer. They’re typically found with two or three other women, none of whom seems interested in anything but the conversation between each other.

But here’s where things change. No matter where they are or how many women they’re standing with, the men in the clubs I’ve frequented always single them out. First, they ask them to dance. Then, they continue their conversation off the dance floor, often culling this woman from her pack. Even so, she’ll often be found in a circle of men, buzzing around her like she’s the Queen Bee. It’s gotten to the point where I can accurately predict who will approach her and who will be one of the hoverers.

For years, this puzzled me. What was it that these almost cookie cutter women had which caused the men to approach with confidence and interest? Tonight, after watching one such woman dance with several of the men, eventually leave her pack to stand alone, and even attract the attention of a man who is more of a loner, I had one of those ‘Aha moments’.

Birds of a Feather May Flock Together, But They Also Flock to What they Believe to be Safe

Because this type of woman is so common, men have come to believe they’re safe to approach. They represent a type from whom they can expect predictable and familiar behavior. They aren’t likely to be outrageous until they know him well. They are well-behaved and attentive. They are always well groomed and rarely break a sweat. They are also not the ones the men watch when they’re enjoying the free show being staged on the dance floor.

I used to dismiss as wishful thinking the feeling that someone was watching me dance. I’d give the usual excuses: “There are younger, prettier women than me out here.” “They’re not asking me to dance, so there’s no reason to be watching me.” “They’re probably watching the really good dancers.” The usual, self-effacing crap so many of us use to explain our single state.

I realized tonight that they are watching those of us who dance with unbridled passion and utter joy in the music and the steps. They watch as we laugh at something a dance partner said, or play off of the other dancers. But it’s that same passion and differentness which prevents them from approaching, from asking for a dance or just introducing themselves. Just as the women I described were a familiar type with whom they feel safe, I belong to the group who is unashamedly, unabashedly unique and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. And because I’m not afraid to be different, I terrify people who like their world to be neat and orderly.

What Price, Conformity?

This revelation does, of course, beg the question: Do I want or need to conform? In this case, the answer is clear and comes without thought or hesitation. Some people are meant to conform, to fit in, to be Corporate, if you will. And some of us are not. We are not meant to be gay and witty on the outside, nor match a particular theme. But we also don’t hold deep, dark shadows inside our bland, conformist selves. We wear our blazing reds and glaring neon pinks, greens and oranges on the outside for all the world to see. We are rainbows and fireworks, knowing not everyone will be comfortable around us, but in the end, we don’t care.

Tonight I came to the realization that I am, indeed, the one who’s meant to be watched; the one who exudes joy for anyone to grab a piece of and share. But I’m not comfortable or easy to approach. Only those who are strong and comfortable with themselves; who relish the hot pink Gerbera Daisy in the bowl of white chrysanthemums; who are disinclined to follow the flock, who will have what it takes to approach the passionately non-conforming, dare-to-be-different types like me. And I’m learning I like it that way.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful I’ve learned to appreciate and love who I am.
2. I am grateful to be rid of some of my self-effacing ways.
3. I am grateful for revelations which alter my outlook for the better.
4. I am grateful to be one who approaches whatever I do with passion, joy and wonder.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, differences, health, hope, happiness, peace, harmony, motivation, inspiration, friendship, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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

Putting it All in Perspective

Challenge or Opportunity?

A couple of months ago someone came back into my life who had been a brief but painful interlude during a time when I was making a lot of poor choices and spending a lot of time struggling; a time before I learned to think positive thoughts and allow. He showed up at a place where I go to be social, to hang with my friends and follow one of my passions, dancing.

At first, I was polite, but tried to make it clear he was my past and not particularly welcome in my present. Though he seemed to take the hint at first, his efforts to regain my attention were pitifully awkward, much like the man himself. Eventually, when I had resorted to simply ignoring his presence, he went away again, leaving me heaving a sigh of relief.

Yet, the incident has been on my mind. Why am I suddenly being forced to confront a very painful, best-forgotten time in my life? Last night, the answer came when I least expected it, and this morning, more answers came, unprovoked. When I left it to recede to the back of my mind, it seems I allowed the answers to come.

The epiphany last night was both comforting and inspiring because I was reminded that though the times were tough and I did some really stupid things, I got through it, played the cards I was dealt to the best of my ability and became stronger for it. I also found “The Secret” and “Laws of Attraction” not long afterwards and started changing my life for the better.

The second epiphany came this morning and followed a train of thought which began last night. A couple of new men have wandered into Borderline in the last week. One is a little geeky and awkward but adorable in his geeky-awkwardness. He can’t dance a bit, but that doesn’t stop him from trying his best, and I have to applaud him for it. Watching him talk to people and generally interact with the room, he reminds me of a cheerful, clumsy puppy who’s never met a stranger. I look forward to watching him blossom and smooth out some of those klutzy edges.

The second one is more self-confident on the outside, yet he stands on the sidelines drinking his beer and hardly interacting with anyone at all. My initial guess is that he’s in that group of men who are either recently divorced, in the middle of a divorce or recently out of a long-term relationship. In other words, wary and gun-shy, but fair game for those women who are aggressive, needy and don’t take no for an answer. I hope for his sake that one of the confident, self-assured type befriends him before that happens; someone who, like me, is comfortable in their own skin and doesn’t need someone else to validate them, but who, unlike me, can just walk up to a strange guy and start a conversation without being awkward.

Which really leads me to the actual epiphany. Between the 3 completely disconnected men and their entry into my world, albeit from afar, I realized that though my self-confidence and self-esteem have improved greatly, I’m still awkward around strangers, both men and women alike. In that regard, I’m too much like the man from my distant past; pitifully awkward.

One Plus One Equals Ninety-Seven

If I put the two pieces together, I realize that the message is a sort of encouragement. A kind of “You’ve got this, girl” with an added “Don’t be afraid. What’s the worst that could happen? And what’s the best?” kind of affair. I’ve even been given the opportunity to start slowly because the geeky awkward one will be an absolute joy to encourage. In the years I’ve been country dancing, I’ve seen my share of guys who started out clumsy and unsure and ended up being great dancers and a lot of fun to boot (pun intended). Call me a sap, but I find a guy who’s not afraid to make a bit of a fool of himself oddly endearing.

The other will be hard for me to casually approach, though I know I can count on some of my friends to smooth the path if he keeps showing up. There are a couple of women, one of whom I’ve known for over 20 years who simply have a knack for welcoming new people and making them feel comfortable. Once they’ve smoothed the way, I find it easier to be friendly and easy too. And yes, I know I need to get past that before my first book comes out. Getting out into the world and talking to strangers has to be more comfortable for me by then.

Fewer Blog Posts, More Lessons

This has been a week of getting out into the world, learning new things and getting some of the tasks I had handled and off my plate. My writing has suffered some. This is only the second post this week for me, though I wrote 2 for a client. But I’ve met with some people about possible work, gotten up-to-date on client work and even managed to edit a couple of chapters of Sasha’s Journey. And my own journey continues with surprises around a few turns. It keeps life interesting if nothing else.

So How Are You Going to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Today?

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the lessons the Universe sends me and the little prompts it gives me until I see the whole picture.
2. I am grateful for opportunities to step further from that comfort zone I wallowed in for so many years.
3. I am grateful for my friends and the examples they set.
4. I am grateful for dancing as it has helped me breach that comfort zone with a common bond I share with many others.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, music, dancing, money, friendship, joy, lessons, opportunities, challenges, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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

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