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

Posts tagged ‘encouragement’

Embracing Change With Gratitude

Honoring and Appreciating Connections

The entrepreneurial life can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, those who reach out to others are likely to find it easier to build their business, if for no other reason than you can’t build a business without clients.

But connections are so much more than potential clients. They are ideas we might not otherwise consider. They’re encouragement when we’re feeling low. They are the ones who share tips and tricks to help get us out of our latest rut. But most of all, they’re the ones who share in our successes and allow us to share in theirs.

Learning From the Lessons and Mistakes of Our Community

My own community is constantly evolving. Lately, I’ve joined a number of entrepreneurial groups on both Facebook and LinkedIn. I’ve found some to be great places to hang out, learn and give and take what’s worked and what hasn’t. Others have fallen by the wayside as I discovered they were either not very active or more about the group owner promoting her own products than about having a supportive community. A couple I’ve found to be pretty amazing are Coaches, Experts, Change Makers: Step Into the Spotlight run by Vanessa Talbot, and Radical Wealth Pathway run by Catherine Lee. Interestingly, the groups are at both ends of the spectrum. Catherine’s group currently has less than 50 members while Vanessa’s has over 15,000. This says little about the value or engagement in either group, however. Both women are very active in their groups and are encouraging the members as well as launching programs to help their target audience.

I may not be the ideal client for each of these dynamic women; I benefit not only from associating with them and participating in their groups, but in learning from and engaging with the people they attract. I’m learning to listen to suggestions and plans with an open mind even when they kick my comfort zone in the proverbial butt. Yet recently, I’m also learning I need to be more selective about which paths I choose to embrace.

Embracing Change

In the last few years, I’ve changed my life so drastically, it’s hardly recognizable any more. Some of those changes have been for the better, while others—not so much. I’ve stuck with some for months on end, only to have life’s usual upheavals screw me up, leaving me to start again. (my gym routine for one). I’ve started others, like getting up by 8 AM and stuck with them for a while, only to let those same upheavals have me fail myself again.

From those failures I’ve learned over and over to be more committed to myself and my own success. I’ve learned I need to make changes gradually, but not give up on making them. I’ve also learned that when I get suggestions from the amazing, talented, successful women in my community, I need to put them together on a list and figure out which ones will not only benefit me, but which I’ll be able to successfully commit to.

It all came to a head for me when Anna Shelley posted her #intention in Coaches and Change Makers. She said:

That’s 2.5 years of finally accepting I couldn’t do my old biz any more, going within DAILY, learning the brain science behind transformation, teaching myself clairvoyance, accepting that I am Artist AF and ALLOWING my biz to be a messy convoluted combination that should technically not even work. 2.5 years of defining and refining all of this – journaling my heart out – literally writing my reality into existence.

Her words stopped me in my tracks. For 3.5 years I’ve been listening to a lot of different people tell me how to create my business, promote my business, and structure my business. I’ve felt like I’ve failed myself because I couldn’t get the hang of successfully pitching (except to publications who either don’t pay, pay mere pennies a word, or expect you to pay for advertising in order to get published). I was convinced I was just doing it all wrong until I read Anna’s words.

In a way, I have been doing it all wrong, but not in the way I thought. I’ve been trying to do it someone else’s way instead of following my own heart! It’s a lot like my chili cook-off days when I learned you cannot take the comments of all the judges to heart or you’ll end up with an unpalatable mess. My efforts at creating a successful business had become just that; an unpalatable mess.

Building on Our Specialties

I’ve spent way too much time trying to be a copywriter and VA instead of focusing on what I’m truly good at. I’ve fought with myself over being too scattered when I tried to promote my accounting business and my writing. Anna’s words made me realize I’m very good at both, so why close off one in favor of the other? In fact, my ADD brain loves having the opportunity to switch gears. I’ve even discovered that I have sweet spots, time wise when I’m better at one or the other.

Contrary to my previous pattern of writing from 10PM until 2 or 3AM, I’m finding I write better when I get to it within a couple of hours of writing my morning pages. My creative juices are flowing and the habit of writing is alive and well.

Doing accounting work seems to flow better between about 2PM and 9PM. I don’t know why, nor does it really matter. All I know is that I find it easier to focus and hold that focus for several hours at a stretch after my writing is done, lunch is eaten, and errands or meditation are behind me. Somehow, that’s just when my analytical brain kicks in and is ready to kick some butt and take names.

After a couple of days of giving my brain what it wants, I feel more accomplished and positively energized. While I still don’t have a marketing plan in place, or even a solid business plan, work is starting to come my way without all the effort and strain I’ve been exerting for so long.

Who’s on Your Virtual Team?

We all need a virtual team. Even hermits like me. We need the builder uppers and the ones who show us it can be done despite the obstacles in our way. We’re inspired by the successes of those around us and learn from the mistakes people make before getting back up and trying again. And if you’re like me, we can use a little butt kicking now and then when we let our failures stop us in our tracks instead of seeing the lessons they contain.

My virtual team includes people from all directions; high school classmates (and some from even further back), coaches I’ve met online, artists and writers from some of the groups I’ve joined, and many people who have become friends virtually and live all over the world. They all bring something new to my life and help me grow into my full potential. I’d be so much less without them.

 Giving and Taking Encouragement

Many of those virtual teammates have given me a lot of their time both directly and indirectly. They share articles which shine a light on the darkness of my frustration. They take the time to offer suggestions on how I can regain my forward momentum. The very best thing the do, though is to share their successes and insight into how they got there.

I don’t mean the ones who are constantly yammering on about 6-figure incomes (and frankly, many of those are so young, I find it hard to take their claims seriously). I have to agree with Vanessa on this one, and cry “bullshit”. The internet allows us to fake a lot of things besides just news. So many of these people are working too hard drumming up business to truly be making and sustaining those incomes they claim.

I’m talking about the ones who are as down-to-earth as I am, and who are focused on helping others achieve their goals, get past their blocks, and thrive. They don’t talk about how much money they’re making because they know their ideal client couldn’t give a flying one about their real or alleged income. It has little to no bearing on their decision to hire a coach to level-up their business. They’re looking for a coach who is  part cheerleader, part butt-kicker, and part mastermind. Frankly, focusing on the money makes me feel like just another statistic or notch in someone’s belt.

Some people believe the hype about putting your money where your mouth is. For me, I’d rather see the actions support the words.

Recognition for Your Accomplishments

You have to be your own cheerleader too, though. One of the best ways I’ve found to do that is to list a few things I’ve accomplished, daily or weekly. At the top of my list is always “made my bed”. To some, that’s a small thing, but to many of us, it is the first thing we accomplish when we start our day, and that’s worth celebrating.

Whatever you might have accomplished, be it huge like booking a high dollar client, or small like making the bed or unloading the dishwasher, they’re all worth celebrating. Seeing we’ve made progress on anything is the most motivating action we can take to accomplish even more. I know the days when I can only think of 4 or 5 things to put on that list give me the kick in the butt I need to re-visit the never-ending to-do list in the days to follow (like today when I’m knocking a couple of past due blog posts off my editorial calendar!).

Gratitude for Things Large and Small

Ending my posts with several gratitudes has become a habit, but it’s also something which makes me feel I’ve had a good day, no matter what. When I forget about my gratitudes; when I fail to recognize the good things in my life, it becomes too easy to wallow or whine. So here are my gratitudes for today.

  1. I am grateful for my tribe; my virtual team and the friends who are sharing this journey with me.
  2. I am grateful for the groups I’ve found where people share their wins and losses, and help each other celebrate the former, overcome the latter, grow, and thrive.
  3. I am grateful for the Facebook Lives I’ve been doing which provide me with an almost endless source of material for my blog posts
  4. I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned including the latest; to embrace the crazy, messy, convolutedness that makes me, me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, lessons, tribes, support, encouragement, love, laughter, progress, inspiration, opportunities, self-love, recognition, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


You can find the associated Facebook Live here.

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

January 17, 2015 Steppin’ out in the right direction

New people, new places, new things. Keeping it moving, one step at a time.

I had been searching for a local, friendly, helpful writer’s group for awhile. I’d tried a couple but felt no real connection. For awhile, I put the idea aside and focused on the important things like writing, organizing and decluttering. But this week, another group came to my attention and today I attended their first meeting. I do believe The Inklings, as our organizer dubbed us, is going to be just what I needed. Equal parts giving and getting the moral support we insecure, overly self-critical writers need. Although one fellow left after only a few minutes, it was clear that his intent was to promote his book. The rest of us were more inclined to be encouraging to everyone. This is a dynamic I can live with and more, I can thrive with. Had I found a group like this when I was as young as some of our members, might I have followed a different path?

How often do we speculate about the road not taken? Though the discussion is moot, we can’t keep ourselves from wondering. The human psyche seems to get a strange sort of satisfaction out of running “what if” scenarios on our own lives. I am happy to say that I no longer feel the need to dedicate much time to such pursuits. I know that the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned were necessary before I could be brave enough to follow a dream which began not long after I’d virtually inhaled hundreds of books. Reading and writing are as important to me as breathing, but writing and sharing what I write has taken many years of trial and error, another few years of learning that other people aren’t trying to tear me down personally. They’re simply using their own experiences and lessons to try to help me, in the end, produce something which won’t bore readers senseless.

The last year has been more of a gift than I ever imagined.

As I listened to the stories other people shared of the paths which led them to this group and to their writing, I realized that though I am only slightly closer to publishing my first book, this last year has allowed me to explore writing from many different angles. It has added books to my library, both paper and e-book, and taught me the importance of exposure through blogging and personal websites. It has forced me to think in terms of a website which will interest people outside of my personal circle of friends, and to lose some of the shyness I have when meeting strangers.

Sure, the website is still in the concept stage, but at least I finally have a topic. My blog has gotten a face lift and a new venue. Slowly but surely, people are learning about my little space on the web. And it is good. From this, I’ve learned that I need to encourage others to put a piece of themselves out there for the world to see. They may not always be kind, but really, isn’t it just words on a screen? Those words can be taken at face value, internalized or simply erased. Any of these choices are valid, and none of them are wrong. They are simply choices.

And speaking of choices (yes, my friends, ADHD must have its moment) while chatting with my fellow writers today, it came to me that instead of writing a memoir/self-help book about my parents’ suicides, I could fictionalize it. The opening act has been running through my mind all day, and goes something like this:

The blood drained from her face and her fingers were a matching shade of ghost white from holding the cordless phone in a death grip while listening to a voice on the other end imparting news no one ever wants to hear. The voice of a man who had been steady as a rock her whole life cracked and faded, tears taking the place of words from someone she’d only seen cry once before. The words “your mother is dead” echoed in her head seeking a place to rest but finding none as they simply made no sense. How could that woman, that constant, nagging voice which pressed every one of her buttons simply be silenced?
Vaguely, she registered the words “There’s more” as her father’s voice shattered into a million irretrievable pieces. Still clutching the phone, she slid down the wall against which she’d been leaning, barely registering the point where her butt hit the floor with a loud “Thump!” She’d surely feel the pain later, but for now she was numb. “Sh-she” her father struggled for words. What could possibly be worse than finding the lifeless body of his wife of forty years when he returned home from work? As he found his voice again, she wished she hadn’t asked.
“She took her own life.”
The phone clattered to the floor between her knees and she curled herself into the fetal position in some vague way hoping it would mean the whole conversation was nothing more than a bad dream. But that dream was being invaded by a low keening wail. She looked at the phone lying prone near her feet, but the sound was coming from somewhere above the floor. It was only when she heard her daughter ask “Mommy, why are you crying?” that she understood she was the source of the mournful sound.

Yes, you saw it here first. The opening paragraphs of book number three, before number two has even reached its major crisis. I guess I’m doomed to write as I read; four books at a time! (number four is the one my daughter would love to see published, a children’s story I wrote for her and her sister when they were about 5).

I write, therefore, I am.

This, then, is the fate towards which I’ve been heading ever since my mother put that first book in my hands; ever since I read “Charlotte’s Web” aloud to her when I was four. My office walls groan under the research material which has brought me to this day. Everything from Heinlein and Vonnegut to Roberts and Lackey. Not to mention, the inimitable Dr. Seuss. My literary tastes are eclectic, to say the least and so, it seems, is my writing. The trick will be to harness my imagination and force it to complete at least one of my many projects. But which will it be? One I’ve already started, one yet to begin or my website? Stay tuned as the answer could very well be a twisted one.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the serendipity that led me to The Inklings.
2. I am grateful to Seth and Gina for taking time out of their busy lives to bring us all together.
3. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned over the last year or so.
4. I am grateful for new inspiration for an old idea.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, imagination, support, flexibility, consistency, health, harmony and prosperity.

Blessed Be.

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