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

Posts tagged ‘dreams’

6 Steps to Kick Procrastination

Kicking Procrastination in the Butt

Now that my Thanksgiving dinner for an intimate group of 30 is over, my house feels remarkably empty with just me and my furry roomies. It would be easy to  allow the sudden silence and lack of activity to lull me into a soporific stupor, and at times, I’ve been tempted.

Drowsing my days away won’t, however, help me achieve my goals, hopes and dreams. Yet, there are a multitude of excuses whereby I might delay my efforts. What to do?

One of the marks of a procrastinator is our ability to be easily distracted by, well, almost anything. In my case, it might be chores, or administrative tasks or a book that falls on my head. So I set out this week to eliminate all possible culprits.

I sit here now with my bookkeeping chores complete, my bills for the month paid, all piles of laundry washed, folded and put away, and the remnants of Thanksgiving tucked away until next year. I also have a freezer so packed with food I can’t even find room for single servings of another pot of chili. (and I’m down to my last 2 containers, so I need to make room soon!)

The issue now is how I’ll avoid going off on still more tangents which inhibit forward progress on those aforementioned goals, hopes and dreams. So, how do we keep ourselves on track towards achieving our goals, hopes and dreams?

Step 1: To Do Lists

I am a great list maker, and for awhile, I’ll even stick to them. The key is to make them simple and actionable. Too many long-term projects on the list and you’ll get discouraged. When you get discouraged, the list will go out the window like so many other things you’ve tried and given up on before you had a chance to see if they’d actually work.

Step 2: Break it Down

If you’re like me, you have a tendency to set huge projects for yourself, then wonder why nothing ever gets done. I liken it to being a hoarder who wants to reform. You stand in the doorway of a room full of stuff and feel overwhelmed by the project before you even start.

I’ve learned through a great deal of trial and error that every project can be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces. This way, you start seeing successes right away. By deciding how quickly you need to see results, you’ll know how much to break those projects down.

One of my biggest projects is to clean up my garage. Somehow, things always get tossed in there when I don’t know what else to do with them, and soon, everything is falling off shelves and onto the floor where it gets tripped on, stomped on and otherwise scattered around. Recently, while looking for my staple gun (which sadly, I still haven’t located) I faced down the mess which had accumulated in front of my tool box. In about 15 minutes, I had cleared the clutter, re-organized the bottom shelf where I keep the power tools, and swept up the crud which had been coating the floor for years. Yes, I did say years!

The best part is, the space in front of my storage room is now completely clean and clear, making it easier to get in and get to what I need (like, for example, the boxes of wrapping paper and paraphernalia necessary to make beautiful Christmas packages for my kids). I can even accomplish it without aggravating myself with false promises to someday clean up the mess. Why? Because the mess is gone!

Step 3: Set Goals

We all need something to strive for. Just like the hopes, dreams, and goals we have, there is a feeling of accomplishment when we achieve the simplest things; clear the clutter from the dresser, dump the cat food into the bin and put the bag in the recycle barrel, wash the load of towels that’s been accumulating in the garage. Get the picture? It isn’t about getting the whole house clean or all the laundry done. It’s about getting something done. If you’ve made some progress with Step 2, you already have the hang of breaking those goals down into manageable pieces. Here are some examples of small daily goals I set myself. I’ve found they make it easier to set and achieve the larger ones which might span a week, a month or even longer.

  • Wash the dishes
  • Scoop sandboxes
  • Make the bed

And here’s an example of how I break down the larger chores:

  • Wash clothes
  • Fold/hang up clothes
  • Put away clothes

Do you see how you can give yourself credit for each step, and while you’re at it, get something off your list? Not only that, you’re not giving yourself time to stare at the pile of clean laundry for days before you just use it up by wearing it every day. I don’t know about you, but the sight of a laundry basket full of clothes in the middle of my room is a constant reminder of the many things I have to do but haven’t. It’s also a cat magnet in my house, and it’s hard enough to leave the house with minimal fur on my clothing when they’re put away in their proper place!

Step 4: Congratulate Yourself

This may sound silly, but we all need an attaboy now and then. Why not give it to yourself when you check something off your list? Over the last couple of years, I’ve slowly managed, in spite of the ADD which has me starting something, only to go into another room with an item to be put away and start something else, to clear a number of spaces in my home. Many of these spaces are part of larger projects, but the clean spots inspire me. They not only let me know that I am capable of clearing a space, but show me how pleasant it can be to have those clear spaces.

Step 5: Make it Fun

The best way I’ve found to make myself get things done is to turn work into play. It might be something as simple as music in the background or dancing with the vacuum. Or maybe you turn a project into a game, or a competition with yourself (How fast can I…? How many…can I in…minutes?). Think “Whistle While You Work” from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Step 6: Reward Yourself

I know you’re thinking you don’t deserve a reward for doing things you should do anyway, but nothing could be further from the truth! Just because you should do them doesn’t always mean you do them willingly, much less, cheerfully. So why not give yourself a treat? (Having spent years fighting my weight, I don’t recommend an edible one unless you’re one of the lucky few who burn off everything you eat!) Here are a few examples of my treats of choice:

  • A couple of hours of reading for pleasure
  • Watching/going to a movie
  • A visit to my local bookstore
  • A foot massage

For you, it might be a hike or a run, a walk on the beach, a nap, a long bath. Use your imagination, and make it something you’ll truly enjoy. Give yourself small rewards for getting one or several of the small things done, but make the reward really special when you get a large task (that you’ve broken down into several smaller ones, of course) completed.

No Excuses. Make that Dream Happen.

Now that you’ve managed the stuff you have to do, you’ll find you not only have more time, but more energy to go after those things you really want. You’ve also acquired a few skills which will make achieving them easier and maybe more fun as well. Use the time and the skills to map out that dream you have of building a business or writing a book or showing your art. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is it’s something which makes your heart sing with joy. It’s something you don’t have to do. It’s something you want to do but have put off because you don’t think you have time.

By simplifying your life, by making it more fun, you’ve suddenly found hours you didn’t even know you had! I wish you many dreams-come-true.

Don’t Forget the Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I learn and the words with which to share them.
  2. I am grateful for the things I’ve accomplished by simply following the rules I found for myself.
  3. I am grateful for making my dreams come true.
  4. I am grateful for keeping it simple
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, dreams, goals, hopes, friendship, success, writing, published work, readers, followers, clients, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest via Flickr

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August 17, 2015 My Generation Has Failed

Why Have We Not Passed On What We Learned So Painfully?

I could see it in her eyes. This young woman was in pain. Her body was failing to support her and the mountain of responsibilities she heaped upon herself. She pushed herself to inhumane levels, striving to support herself while honoring her passions. Yet her body failed her. Or did she fail her body? Her schedule doesn’t allow for down time or for doing things to honor and protect the vessel which carries her through this lifetime.

Have we taught our children nothing about quality of life? Do they not see that killing ourselves slowly, whether physically, mentally or emotionally is not a life? Yet, what chance do we give them to follow their passion and be independent? A decent apartment in a reasonably safe location can cost upwards of $1500 a month. $100 barely buys a bag of groceries. In most areas, public transportation is inadequate, yet cars, insurance and fuel nearly require a second job.

They’ve grown accustomed to smart phones and computers and internet connections that are available whenever they wish to connect. In fact, in many cases, such “luxuries” are practically essential to their lives and careers.

My generation discovered back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines and ulcers by their late 30’s or early 40’s. This generation is finding them in their 20’s.

Learning to Simplify Before We Can Teach It

I know I’m a crappy example with my single-family dwelling occupied by one woman and her cats. It would require at least one U-Haul truck just to move my books. And do not even think about disconnecting me from the Internet! On the other hand, I haven’t moved in over 30 years so my house payment (including insurance) is less than half of what many pay for a one bedroom apartment nowadays. I also buy my cars new and keep them for at least 10 years. I don’t know too many people who can say the same, so hoarding books is a small offense in comparison, if you ask me.

The Fine Art of Money Management

I tried to teach my daughters to live within their means, but I know my example hasn’t been exactly sterling in that regard. Many of us run up our credit cards, eat out when we should eat in, buy things we don’t need, and the list goes one. We’ve taught our children to be consumers instead of savers, debtors instead of conservationists. Where will it end? Is it any wonder so many are homeless? It takes just one devastating financial setback for someone to lose everything.

Seven years ago, at the height of the real estate boom, a young couple bought the house across the street for nearly half a million dollars; a 4 bedroom, 1200 square foot tract house built in 1961! I bought mine in 1980 for less than 1/5 the price, and my next door neighbors bought theirs new for less than $20,000! Craziness! But the story gets worse. The young man lost his job about 4 years ago and to add insult to injury, they lost the house to foreclosure because, by then, the real estate market had tanked and they were upside down in their loan. A few months later, another young couple bought the house for about half of the previous owners loan amount, and recently sold it again for almost what the previous owners had owed!

Once again, a 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, 1200 square foot house in an older neighborhood in a Southern California suburb is going for close to half a million dollars! The simple American Dream we’re all taught to believe in is making people kill themselves at jobs they hate just to get a place of their own. People today pay more for a car than my parents paid for their first house!

The Moon Gets Further Away Every Year

We teach our kids to reach for the moon; that pie in the sky, yet it keeps getting harder and harder to reach. They’re working two or three jobs just to get by and trying to launch their own business at the same time. Our beautiful, wonderful, talented, intelligent children are burning themselves up by the time they’re 30, yet they make themselves keep going because the dream we’ve instilled in them is still out there somewhere, even if it’s getting harder to see as it disappears into the distance.

I just hope that those same beautiful, wonderful, brilliant minds can find the time and the motivation to put an end to the downward spiral they’ve inherited from us; that they can figure out, before it’s too late that the American Dream we’ve passed onto them is more of a nightmare now. I hope they can re-think that dream and create something both sustainable and fulfilling instead of working at something they hate so they can have all of the stuff they’ve been taught they need to block out the life they hate.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that I created a simpler life than many do.
2. I am grateful that most of my needs can be met with a cat’s purr and a book.
3. I am grateful for the children who are already learning to be less the consumer, less the hoarder, and who find happiness with less and allow their true passion to rule.
4. I am grateful for my little forum where I can share concerns, ideas, positive affirmations and, of course, gratitude.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, life, freedom, happiness, joy, pleasure in the little things, motivation, inspiration, peace, harmony, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment 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!

January 28, 2015 Thinking about my thinking places

Some places are better for thinking than others

I believe it was “Holiday Hotel” where Bing Crosby sang “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I go to sleep counting my blessings.” For me, when my brain is full and I can’t pull anything out of it, there are a couple of places I go to think. One of those places is the kitchen. Whether I’m chopping veggies for a soup or stir fry or just cleaning up from dinner, I get a lot of good thinking done when I’m doing something which doesn’t really require that I engage my brain.

Tonight was one of those nights when random thoughts were flitting through, when I realized that I was finally getting back into my good habits on a regular basis after letting them slip for awhile. The train of thought continued as I washed pans and wiped down counters. I started putting two and two together and found that when I keep up with things like cleaning the kitchen and going to the gym, everything else falls into place as well.

While I was being sloppy about those good habits I’d established last year, both my blog and my writing suffered. I don’t really know which one got back on track first, but it seems that it all goes hand in hand. Either I’m doing all of them, or they all start to slip. There’s just no in between.

This could explain why, up until the last year or so, my gym habits were haphazard, my kitchen often stayed dirty for days and my house was horribly cluttered. I also didn’t post in my blog on a regular basis and I certainly wasn’t keeping up with my writing. Now, here I am, going to the gym often enough to be recognized by instructors and trainers, working on my second novel with a third percolating in my brain and going to bed with a clean kitchen nearly every night.

You can teach an old dog new tricks, provided she is willing to learn them

Had anyone told me two years ago that I’d be going to the gym three or four days a week, even taking Pilates classes, and being diligent about housekeeping (at least with certain things) I’d have laughed in their face. Had I realized two years ago that I would be feeling so much better for having changed my habits, I might have wished I’d started sooner.

Those baby steps really do add up

Everyone knows that if you want to get somewhere, you have to start by putting one foot in front of the other. I call it ‘baby steps’ because it applies to everything. If you want to learn something new, you take it one step at a time. If you’re going through a rough patch, you just get up every morning, and put one foot in front of the other until eventually, you get past it. If you want to change your life, you take that first, crazy, scary step, and the rest is just…you guessed it, one foot in front of the other.

You’ve got to step that step, walk that walk, shake that thing, and talk that talk

Sawyer Brown was popular a number of years ago, and I was fortunate enough to get to see them a couple of years ago at the local County Fair. One of my favorite songs they did was called “Step that Step”

I’ve come to realize since that time so many years ago when the song first resonated so strongly is that my subconscious recognized and embraced the message long before the rest of me caught up. In a nutshell, if you want to accomplish anything, you have to take the first step, then own it, live it, be it. (Warning! Laws of Attraction Moment coming!) You have to act like you’re already exactly where you want to be and have everything you want and need. In short, Step that step, Walk that walk, talk that talk.

It may seem like I’ve once again wandered off topic, but I really haven’t, for a change. What I realized tonight was that I’d allowed myself to stop living my dream for awhile, but thankfully, I hadn’t wandered too far and my internal compass guided me back to where I belong. It was only when I realized that some of the other habits I’d formed while being a writer were coming back as well that it really is an all or nothing proposition.

Think about it. If you really want to be someone and accomplish something, you have to start with yourself. You have to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. A cluttered environment precludes a healthy spirit. A lazy lifestyle precludes a healthy body. An unhealthy spirit and body precludes a healthy mind. It affects our choices from the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we lay our heads down on our pillow at night. Mac and cheese or farfalle with spinach? An hour at the gym or an hour in front of the TV? Computer games or website development (as frustrating as that might be at first)? Clean up the kitchen tonight or let things pile up for a few days?

One small change leads to another small change and a bunch of small changes lead to a lifestyle change

So we’re back to taking it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. What is a leap of faith except taking that first giant step which will be followed by a whole lot of baby steps? What are the establishment of new and better habits but more steps on the road to the life you desire? The things you do and the changes you make might not always seem like they’re related, but they truly are important and necessary.

What is your dream? What steps are you going to take to bring you closer to that dream?

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my thinking places.
2. I am grateful for revelations.
3. I am grateful for a return to my well-established better habits.
4. I am grateful that my daughter has launched her own blog.
5. I am grateful for abundance: ideas, revelations, thoughts, dreams, realities, imagination, steps, love, joy, happiness, harmony, beauty, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my daughter’s new blog: https://heathersculinaryadventures.wordpress.com/
Please also visit my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 23, 2014 My poor blog is withering from neglect. #shericonaway

My name is Sheri and it’s been four days since I’ve blogged.

What can I say? It’s been a crazy week. My daughter arrived on Thursday night, I got my new iPhone on Friday, only to fight with it for several hours before realizing I’d gotten an 8GB phone which barely holds the operating system and the apps. Spent most of Saturday fussing with AT&T (who ultimately proved to be quite accommodating) and getting a different phone. To top it off, the winds knocked the power out for several hours today, but as we’d planned to go see MockingJay anyway, it worked out ok. Oh, and of course, the power outage meant another call to AT&T to get my TV back online.

The joys of technology. But tonight, all is right with my world. The electronics are functioning, my desk is covered in cats, I’m on the downhill side of the novel writing challenge, and it’s not even midnight!

What better time to renew my relationship with my poor, neglected blog? Also neglected temporarily due to phone issues and other minor calamities, was my gym routine. I only got in two workouts this week and no pilates, but will rectify that in the next few days. I’m ready to get back to healthy eating and sufficient exercise!

Funny how missing parts of a routine that makes you feel so good really puts a hitch in your gitalong. I feel slow and logey right now because I’ve eaten too much starch and not enough veggies. The only saving grace is that I’m consuming vast quantities of water in the process, and have been doing very little snacking between meals. Focus on the positives, right?

I’ve gotten into several conversations lately about the pros and cons of recognizing the darkness in our lives. The pervading opinion seems to be that we need to embrace the darkness of our souls as well as the light because the darkness is what brings us balance and provides us with the lessons to actually strive for the light. There are also elements in the darkness without which the light would simply have no meaning. No matter how hard we try, we simply cannot remain positive every minute of every day. We are offered challenges which drag us down, but as with my recent experience with AT & T, it isn’t so much the challenge as how we handle it.

Once again, I discovered that if I continue to treat people kindly and respectfully no matter how irritated I am, things will eventually turn in my favor. In this case, I came out with everything I wanted and maybe even a little more. At the point where I was becoming more frustrated, I took a mental step back, told myself to relax and that everything would work out fine. It was only a few minutes later that the manager offered me a solution I had not expected, but for which I am very grateful.

So as I continue to work on avoiding getting stressed out over the current level of my income, I have built a little reminder into my brain. When I start getting wound up in the “don’t haves” I remind myself that I truly do have everything I need and that anything which contradicts that is merely a temporary illusion. The opportunity I seek is just around the corner. I simply need to keep my faith high and strong, and continue to work towards my goals.

The point where things seem darkest is the point at which our faith in ourselves and our own propensity for success becomes an incredibly powerful force.

It’s as if we are being tested, in the manner of Job, to see if we can hold our course no matter what our senses might be telling us. But unlike Job, we aren’t going to get slammed against the rocks time and time again. Our faith and our confidence in ourselves will reap positive results, and will do so each and every time!

As human beings, one of our worst failings is a desire for instant gratification. We give up too quickly if we don’t see the desired results almost instantaneously. That is a lesson I needed to learn and have, as a result, trained myself to focus on the small gains. The small gains do happen relatively quickly, but here’s the real secret. The small gains also begin to add up quickly until you look back for a second and realize just how far you’ve come without even realizing it.

And so, I will continue to hold that faith that my goals, wishes and dreams are, even now, coming true in a host of small ways which, before I realize it, will be the next big thing.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to be getting a whole week with my daughter and grand puppy.
2. I am grateful for all of the small victories.
3. I am grateful for the opportunity to get back to my healthy habits.
4. I am grateful for the family and friends who will share our Thanksgiving, both directly and indirectly.
5. I am grateful for the amazing things I’ve learned, accomplished and received this year.
6. I am grateful for abundance: blessings, gratitude, friendship, accomplishments, inspiration, perseverance, harmony, happiness, joy, love, peace and prosperity.

Namaste

August 26, 2014 A cha cha kind of day

Two steps forward, one step back

You know those days when everything you do, even the simplest task, requires extra planning and thought? Well, that would be today. From trying unsuccessfully to get my wireless printer to communicate with my computer to fixing a meal or even ordering something online. It all seemed to require extra steps or even workarounds today. I’m almost glad it was a day to get mundane tasks out of the way rather than a day I wanted to be creatively productive. I fear I’d have driven myself batty!

One thing that is going well is my minimalistic presence on social media this week. It even moved a friend to ask if I was ok as I’d been too quiet. Frankly, I’ve enjoyed the quiet, the reading of a couple of books, the time spent talking to the cats and the complete lack of emotional attachment to anything said or done by anyone outside of these four walls. I think I’m just about ready to brave humans, at least in small doses, tomorrow.

As the world around me is hard at work, making lunches, checking homework and keeping to schedules involving work, school, practices, lessons and all of those other parent-y things, I find myself at peace, knowing I did my share of all of those things, putting a lot of my own wants and needs on hold for years while my kids received as well-rounded a life as I could give them. I’m sure, if I stopped and thought about it, there are plenty of things I would have changed if I could, but I can honestly say that I did the best I could, and have no real regrets. Yet, I am also very glad that those years are behind me and I can be as selfish and self-serving as I choose to be, or as selfless and giving as I choose. It’s in my hands now, and nobody suffers if I decide to sit and read all day, or not leave the house for several days in a row. Nobody complains if there’s nothing edible in the house to their liking, or if the laundry piles up for a few extra days.

My routine is pretty consistent, nonetheless. Sure, I may sleep until 8 one day and 11 the next. I may go to bed at 9 one night, and be up until 3 AM a day or two later. Nobody’s schedule is upset and nobody’s dreams go unfulfilled. Honestly? This is a kind of freedom I could only have dreamed of. I never really expected to be living it! Yet, here I am. Laying in bed for an extra hour, just snuggling with the cats who, by the way, don’t really care whether I feed them at 7AM or noon, as long as they get their wet food at some point during the day. They know they won’t starve because the dry food is always out.

Sure, I’m taking longer to fulfill my own dreams, but if I were to be completely honest, this freedom is fulfilling a dream! I hear from my daughter just about every day, despite the fact that her schedule has filled up since school started. If I play hermit for too long, I have friends who will rattle my cage until I come up for air. I’m never alone because at least a couple of my furry kids is always there to keep an eye on me and snag a skritch or two in the process. Best of all, I don’t have to share my space with any other human unless I choose to!

I can dream my dreams of the ranch full of rescued animals (though I know I’d need a few extra hands to really make it work!). I can visualize my book tours and my name on book covers, a website which keeps me writing quick little notes and longer dissertations. I see me getting into shape and staying there, cleaning up my space the rest of the way and making it match the dreams and visions which, for now, keep changing. One day, I’ll even put that tape recorder beside my bed so I can capture all of the wonder of the vivid dreams which fill my sleep, the better to transfer them to computer screen and write more stories.

It’s all there and it’s all mine. No dream is too big, nor too small to be part of a new chapter in a life which is still being written, edited and rewritten, one day at a time.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I can dream the dream and live it too.
2. I am grateful for the freedom I have given to myself this year.
3. I am grateful for everyone and everything which makes my life such a joy.
4. I am grateful for the ability to be a hermit for days on end, if that’s what makes me happy.
5. I am grateful for abundance: freedom, joy, dreams, love, happiness, harmony, faith, health, friendship and prosperity.

Namaste

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