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

Posts tagged ‘epiphany’

Progress is Progress, No Matter How Small

Switching Things Up is Progress

September 11th came and went this year as it always does, along with the memories, the feelings, both repressed and expressed, and the knee jerk reactions. But then again, it wasn’t really the same at all.

In years past, when September 11th came along, I disconnected from social media and crawled deep into my self-imposed cave for 24 hours or more. Apparently, this is the year things were meant to change.

In the first place, it fell on a Wednesday which is a day I usually spend going to the gym and running errands. Sure, I could have moved things around, and probably would have in the past. This year, I didn’t feel it was important enough, so I got out of the house, perhaps a little later than planned, and soldiered on.

Losing Myself in a Crowd

I knew I wasn’t up for the more intimate group of dancers who meet at a friend’s house once a week but instead of slothing it in front of the TV, I got up, got dressed, and went to a larger venue where I figured I’d just blend into the scenery. Wearing uncharacteristic all black, I joined my friends on the dance floor, hiding in the middle, only to be called out by the DJ who’s known me for too long, but didn’t read my “I’m hiding” message in my black shirt and shorts.

The one thing I didn’t do was pretend I was fine. I also stopped saying it was the anniversary of my dad’s “death” in the generic sense. Instead, I said “it’s the 16th anniversary of my dad’s suicide”.

What I didn’t expect was so many have become used to me talking openly about suicide, that it didn’t shock so much as let people know I was feeling vulnerable. No one pushed or tried to be overly solicitous, but it was clear they were all there for me if I needed them. What an amazing and unexpected revelation!

Acknowledging and Releasing Old Pain

Slowly but surely, I’m revisiting and releasing old hurts, letting go of old baggage, and learning a lesson I missed growing up: how to be a friend, and attract my true tribe. Despite events of the last few months which are causing my ever-expanding tribe to gather in smaller pieces at a variety of venues, the emotional and energetic bonds we share are growing stronger. It’s clear to me now, time and circumstances don’t weaken bonds if they’re formed on the right foundation.

It’s become especially apparent as I revisit the rift with my blood family. It may be that “blood is thicker than water” but some blood is diluted by unseen factors. My family showed me unequivocably that they aren’t able to be there for me in times of trauma or strife. It isn’t a reflection on them as human beings. It’s simply the way it is. I’ve learned to not only expect but respect the dynamic—or lack thereof.

I was born into a family, but I see now, I was only there temporarily. It was a brief stopping point while I gathered a few of the tools and a lot of the traumas which would help me become the person I was meant to be. It’s been a long, slow process (I had to get past the desperation to be loved and accepted first), but I can see now it was a necessary step in my soul’s evolution.

Lessons Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Sometimes, I learn what to do and how I deserve to be treated from my various experiences. Other times, I learn what not to do and how I do not deserve to be treated. I’ve had many bosses who’ve shown me the wrong way to run a department or treat employees, just as I’ve had a few who showed me the right way.

Interestingly, it’s from a marketing group I’m in that I’m learning everything in life is about relationships. Even as a writer, I can’t operate in a vacuum. Not only do I get a lot of my topics from interacting with other people, I couldn’t grow my business without clients, and clients are always going to be other people.

Each step I take in dealing with my emotional traumas surrounding my parents’ suicides takes me further into the real issues surrounding my inability to form strong, lasting, functional relationships.

Relationship Building for Love or Money

I’m beginning to see my earliest lessons in relationship building came from my parents and blood family. I learned to hide my true self in what was ultimately a fruitless effort to fit in; to belong. It wasn’t until I endured the ultimate rebuff, and recognized it as such that I realized I was going about belonging in the wrong way. I’ve recently discovered positive indifference is an important factor, not only in whether or not I get a contract, but in establishing relationships too.

That doesn’t mean I go into social situations, guns a-blazing, acting like a jerk. Instead, it means spending time watching the interactions, observing the social protocol, and assessing how it makes me feel.

If it’s an environment where I feel comfortable engaging as my true self, I’ll probably stick around. If I feel like I have to stuff myself into an uncomfortable configuration, I’ll likely say a polite goodbye and move on. I don’t need to belong somewhere enough to pretend to be someone I’m not. 

The Epiphany of Authenticity

Learning there were people and places which would accept me as I am, and not Created with Canvaexpect me to be something I’m not shocked the hell out of me. It turned a lifetime of failed relationships upside down. It never occurred to me I was going about it wrong, trying to make people like me by being what I thought they expected. Instead of gaining the acceptance I craved, I came off needy, desperate, phony, and unapproachable.

People typically want to interact with others who are at least somewhat open and honest. Desperation is typically a turnoff, except perhaps to those who thrive on using other people. Thus, opening up, not only about my parents’ suicides, but about my own broken parts has catapulted me into both social and business environments which, at last accept me for who I am, and actually appreciate that crazy, messy person for her honesty.

Still Sharing Selectively But for the Right Reasons doesn’t mean I “bleed” all over everyone. I’m still selective about what and with whom I share, aside from my writing. I’ve recently discovered I can share more here because it’s still safe. I’m not subject to acceptance or rejection. I don’t feel someone’s distaste or disgust. If they don’t like what I’ve written, they typically won’t read any more, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m probably not writing for them anyway.

Those who come back; who read my posts regularly, and often tell me so are the ones I write for. They want to see the parts of me I’m still working on fixing; the imperfect parts I’ve come to accept and even appreciate; the successes when I overcome past traumas and conditioning. Why? Because they’ve been through their own share of crap. They deserve applause for their successes too. Most of all, they deserve to keep the messy, gooey parts they want to keep. And so do you!

Happy to Be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who “get” me, and who love me because of my imperfections.
  2. I’m grateful for the small bits of progress. Put them all together, and I’ve come a lot farther than I realized.
  3. I’m grateful for my current work environment. I work without the need to please anyone but myself and my chosen clients, without distraction other than my own monkey mind, and with the co-workers who suit me best; my furry family.
  4. I’m grateful for the support I’m getting as I learn to be more myself and less a facade.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, laughter, dancing, kitty love, perspective, ambition, guidance, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

Why We Fear Success

Our Hard-wired Brains

The mind is a very delicate piece of machinery. The slightest alteration in frequency can throw some of us into a tizzy of anxiety-related symptoms; quivery stomach, a tight band around our skull, the urge to run away and hide under our covers. Regardless of our personal reactions, the result, if we heed it, can be the same: permanent residence in the comfort zone.

For some people, that’s all well and fine, but staying in the comfort zone is staying in one place, never evolving, never learning, never becoming what we were meant to be. And all because our brains are resistant to change.

We Fear Success Specifically

Success can be an especially frightening challenge for our poor, change-resistant brains because achieving success, whether it’s by improving our health habits, advancing our career, or initiating world peace comes only by taking giant leaps out of our comfort zone. None of this dipping our toe in the water and leaping back if it’s even a degree too cold. To be successful, we must step out of our comfort zone not once, but over and over again. The closer we get to succeeding, the further we venture from our comfort zone. In fact, people who enjoy the most success in their lives have, at some point, left their comfort zone far behind. It only serves to put limits on what can be achieved.

Those initial steps outside the familiar, the safe are the scariest of all. Not only are we leaving behind what we know works for us, but in doing so, we’re creating whole new paths. Even more, we’re creating whole new techniques! In short, we’re leaving our minds nothing familiar to grab onto when the roller coaster ride begins. While our hearts are shouting Hooeee! What a ride! More! More! our minds our scrunching themselves into a tight ball of pure terror, shrieking Make it stop! Oh, please, make it stop!

But our minds are much stronger than they realize. Over time, they’ve adapted to all the changes inherent in simply growing from infancy to adulthood. They don’t always like where we take them, or even the road conditions, but eventually, they rise to the occasion and support our new endeavors.

Overcoming the Fear Mentality

There are many ways to overcome our innate fears. Some favor the “all in” approach which is much like taking a flying leap into a pool, determined to get used to the water or else. It’s fast and effective, though sometimes overly traumatic.

Others favor the toe-dipping approach you see people use when venturing into the ocean at the beginning of the summer. They take a step forward, ready to leap back if the water is too cold. If it’s cold but bearable, they may venture in up to the ankles, and so on until they’re fully immersed. This process can take forever, or not happen at all depending on how much discomfort the person and their brain can handle.

What I’ve found most effective (though Type A’s will surely disagree) is a combination of the two. First, I tell myself what I’m going to experience will be entertaining and perhaps educational. I tune out any arguments, making it clear I’m in charge. Then I take a step forward. I may take one more, but most important here is to change my set point.

Raising the Bar

Changing our set point, be it mentally, physically, or emotionally is essentially a re-set of our goals. We congratulate ourselves on the progress we’ve made, and set another challenging but achievable goal. Using weight loss as an example, our bodies become used to being at a certain weight, healthy or not. In order to make a permanent change, we have to see ourselves weighing less. Not all the way to our goal, especially those of us who have more than 5 or 10 pounds to lose! That’s a sure path to discouragement, not to mention gaining back what we’ve lost.

I set my own goals in 10 pound increments, but allow 5 pound mini goals too. A week or so ago, my scale showed a rather unlikely drop, but seemed to stay consistent no matter how many times I got on and off of it. Instead of being excited about getting closer to my goal, I panicked. In that panic, I ended up erasing the progress I’d made since I’d reached my latest 10 pound goal; not by much, but enough to make me see what had happened.

My brain had taken over. It whispered How are you going to handle being thinner? Won’t all the attention you’d get be scary? Instead of ignoring that fearful voice, I succumbed, eating badly and not moving enough for a few days. (I eventually discovered a small, star-shaped piece of wax had found its way beneath the scale, causing it to register incorrectly, but by then, the damage was done). I started turning things around a bit yesterday, and today, while writing my morning pages, I saw it for what it was. Fear. Plain and simple. My brain was reacting to the positive feedback I’d been receiving. It didn’t like the fact that I was putting on makeup and fixing my hair to do Facebook Lives. Too many things were changing and it was being forced to swim as the waters deepened.

Growing Stronger With Every Leap

Just as the body grows stronger when we push it to do more, the brain does too. When we refuse to succumb to the voice of fear, it becomes easier to do things we’d never done before. The idea of adventure far outweighs the fear of failure, or more importantly, success. I don’t think the brain really fears failure in the overall scheme of things anyway. Failure means it gets to maintain the status quo. Success is a much bigger threat, at least until we re-train our brains to see the wonder and beauty those successes bring into our lives.

I won’t say it’s something we ever get away from. There will always be times our brain wants to retreat. The key is recognizing when it’s happening and pushing forward anyway. Moving our set points further out. Challenging ourselves to fight for the dream, even when the one we’re fighting is ourselves.

Here’s to Your Continued Success

I hope if you’re struggling that you’ll seek out that frightened child within yourself. Take charge of your life instead of letting fear of change keep you from achieving your dreams. Overall, change is what makes life interesting. Whether we like it or not everything around us is changing all the time anyway. So why not become part of the changing landscape?

Gratitude: A Powerful Motivator

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the epiphanies which help me overcome roadblocks of self-doubt.
  2. I am grateful for the people who are constantly moving in and out of my life to teach me about myself and the world around me.
  3. I am grateful for endless possibilities.
  4. I am grateful four the strength and courage I’m developing as I overcome each new obstacle to my success.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: success, joy, love, friendship, adventure, possibilities, inspiration, motivation, creativity, courage, 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, 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 Affen Ajlfe

July 29, 2015 ADD and Me: Every Day is an Adventure

A New Day Dawns and With it Comes Epiphany

For the last few days, I’ve been making real progress editing/revising my first novel, tentatively titled Sasha’s Journey. There have been highs and there have been lows: days when I knew just where I was going and allowed the story to take me there, and days when it was a struggle to put or copy and paste words on the page. But when all was said and done, I sent the requisite four chapters to my butt kicker and prepared to move on to number 5.

For years, I’ve known that my brain leads two separate lives. The analytical side wanders easily and must be pacified with music in the background, preferably something recognizable and with words so the part of my brain which is easily distracted has something to play with while the rest of it works. Conversely, when I am in that creative zone, I need silence, or as silent as this place gets with fans spinning to keep me from sweltering and cats doing the kitty 500 up and down the halls or snuffle-snoring on my desk. But it wasn’t until today’s very productive editing session that I finally realized my analytical side is multi-faceted as well.

After months of using Pandora for the gym or meditation, I wanted some music last night and turned on my Loggins and Messina station. It is, to say the least, nostalgic, bringing back the comparatively carefree high school days long past. Without thinking about it, I clicked Pandora’s ‘play’ button again when I sat down at my computer this afternoon.

After the requisite scan of email (mostly junk) and visits to Facebook and LinkedIn, I closed Facebook and began working on Chapter 4, music still playing in the background. A couple of hours later, not only had I reassembled pieces from two of the previous chapters but added quite a few words not previously seen in the first two iterations of the novel. I’d also gone through the previous 3 chapters, deleting extra spaces, adding or deleting words and correcting a few glaring errors.

Lovin’ My AHA Moments

It wasn’t until I was emailing those chapters that it finally hit me. My struggle with the editing process was so simple. It is a combination of analytical and creative efforts, and as such, my ADD brain needs to rewrite the rules. This hybrid state of mind is easily distracted because of the analytical effort required to rework the creative brain dump into something which moves at a reasonable pace, maintains some sort of continuity and holds my attention (if it doesn’t hold mine, no reader will be drawn in either). At the same time, I have to rewrite some of the chapters and determine the order it should really follow, and not the convoluted, creative meandering that came out of the initial writing and the first revision. In order to stay on track and really feel what should come next, there has to be a balance. My creative side must not be allowed to overrule the analytical, practical side. But neither can the analytical side ignore the prompts from the creative side.

No wonder the very idea of editing even a single chapter gave me the cold sweats! Until I figured out how to make the various aspects of my brain cooperate, I was destined to wallow in a cesspool of fears, discarded ideas and self-doubt. Even now, trying to write this post, I have the music playing and still, my mind wanders to Chapter 5. I know what scene I will use, but am fiddling with various ways to introduce it and move it along. I’d like to think I’ve gained enough experience over the last couple of years to know when I need to just let my brain rest and the ideas percolate. By the time I sit at my keyboard tomorrow, creative me will have a very good idea of where the chapter will start and the direction it will take. It will be up to analytical/creative me (that newly recognized hybrid) to put the pieces together in an interesting, cohesive, grammatically sensitive manner. (as the story involves teenagers, the dialogue can’t be too grammatically correct or it won’t work).

Days like this when both the story flows and I learn something new are somewhat rare, but I have a feeling these epiphanies will be flowing more freely in the days, weeks and months to come…and so will with words and the stories they’ll tell.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to have finished the first 4 chapters, and know where chapter 5 is headed.
2. I am grateful for the support, love and understanding from all of the sunflowers in my life.
3. I am grateful for the company of my cats who ensure that I take breaks and don’t sit too long at the keyboard.
4. I am grateful that I can now truly see the completion of my first novel, as well as short stories both started and swirling in my brain waiting their turn to gush from my fingertips, my second novel, and of course, Frederick the Gentlemouse.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, productivity, work, play, dancing, writing, reading, learning, teaching, growing, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at and . Please also drop by my website, 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 5, 2015 It’s humbling to realize that our pets do far more for us than we see.

Today I noticed that my meditation began with a “cat scan”…and it wasn’t the first time!

As I settled in for my (almost) daily meditation today, one of my latest additions to the family, Scrappy Doo, took up his usual place on top of me, but he didn’t just jump up and plop down. First he stood on my lap and it appeared that he was trying to sense something. Suddenly, I realized what he was doing was scanning me to determine where he needed to lay down and purr. Now, there’s no question of the healing properties of a cat’s purr, but this got me to thinking.

A couple of days ago, he waited until I had completely settled before jumping up. This time, he went straight for my right shoulder which had been giving me trouble, settled himself down on it and began a very unusual, two-toned purr I’d never heard before. It alternated between a high frequency and a low one. When I finished my meditation, I realized that my shoulder felt a lot better!

Today, Scrappy settled himself on my lower abdomen which, initially seemed odd as I hadn’t noticed any discomfort. But shortly after he settled down, my stomach started gurgling and churning, though there was no pain or discomfort, just noise. When I came out of my meditation, Scrappy was stretched out full length between my legs with his head nearly resting on my feet, and my stomach was no longer gurgling.

It’s long been known that our pets have therapeutic properties.

Many pet parents have experienced the calming qualities of their pets or their tendency to get closer when we’re sad, tired, lonely or ill. Articles have been written about the healing properties of a cat’s purr for everything from healing of bones to lowering of blood sugar and blood pressure. But this is the first time I’ve actually been aware of a cat scanning me to see where he was needed!

I believe this phenomenon went unnoticed because the majority of the time, he just climbs up on my lap and curls up somewhere, purrs for awhile and goes to sleep. He clearly knows when I need to be scanned and when everything is fine. The only thing which makes sense to me is that before he jumps into my lap, he takes a reading on my energy field to determine whether his services will be needed. The rest of the time, it’s likely he restocks his own energy with that which I’m exuding during my meditations.

What we have here is a symbiotic synergy.

Today’s epiphany has given me cause to reevaluate the relationships I have with each of my cats. Just as each has their own personality, each has a completely different relationship with me. Dylan is definitely my heart. He watches over me and is the most likely to be on my desk while I’m working. Munchkin, the Princess is kind of a night owl like me and will often be sitting on my shoulder purring while I’m working into the wee hours of the morning. Toby, my Moose loves to drape his enormous body across my lap, successfully halting anything else I might be trying to do until such time as his attention meter is full again.

The launching of my website has been delayed, primarily for want of a topic. I think the search is over.

I had been bouncing a lot of ideas around, but none had really felt right to me. I had everything from cats to healthy living, to leaps of faith and the list goes on. I think I was just trying to find something a little less ordinary which would be of interest to other people, and I think I’ve found my topic. I’m going to do some thinking and a lot of research, but watch for the launch of in the near future!

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for epiphanies.
2. I am grateful for my healing cats and my regular, radiation-free cat-scans.
3. I am grateful for a productive day of problem solving, paperwork finishing, idea generating, writing and studying.
4. I am grateful for my ability to focus once I get started on a project, which even saw me getting a lot done today without closing social media or email or putting my phone on “do not disturb” (except during my meditation!)
5. I am grateful for abundance: healing, ideas, concentration, accomplishments, love, friendship, health, peace, harmony and prosperity. (I’m seeing checks with many zeroes in my meditations these days!)

Blessed Be

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