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

Posts tagged ‘flaws’

Musical Memories: Joyfully Off-Key

Joyful Memories Blurred by Time

As a teenager growing up in a newly established suburb of Los Angeles, one of my favorite pastimes was sitting on someone’s front lawn singing songs from the last decade or so in loud and joyful abandon. It didn’t really matter whether we got all the words right, or sang on-key. We were an accepting bunch who valued passion over accuracy anyway.

Hearing some of those songs today when I have my Pandora station set to music of that era brings back memories of friendship and an easy, carefree life without the teenage angst I know existed. In short, the joy remains, and the pain fades into a distant past which no longer has the power to elicit emotion, much less what surely felt like the end of the world at the time.

My friends and I grew and thrived in a world which we’d soon discover was far less critical than the one we’d move into when we left our idyllic nest for college, the military, or the work force. I’d like to think the people we came to believe held our fate in their hands were at one time as accepting as we were. But I know that’s naive.

A Suburban Bubble of Naivete

We were in a sheltered nook away from harsh realities like poverty and blatant prejudice. I’m not saying such things didn’t exist around us. I will say a large portion of my high school’s population would be considered privileged, both by standards then and now. We were predominantly white middle class with a large enough Jewish population to make us one of the few Southern California school districts at the time to close on major Jewish holidays.

With such a rarefied upbringing, I look back and wonder how I allowed others to take qualities of inclusion and acceptance from me for decades. When I look beneath the surface of those carefree days, I find answers I kept buried as deeply as the feelings I’ve only recently learned to share.

Despite the inclusiveness I remember now, I put a great deal of effort into fitting in where I was never meant to. I tried to fit in with the actors and actresses when my passion for theater leaned more towards the technical aspects. I was happiest building sets and exchanging insults with my mostly male classmates, or learning how to texture a stage from professional associates of the drama teacher’s husband. I wish I still remembered some of the makeup techniques I learned which led to wearing a beard I’d created around campus for a day.

Setting Low Expectations

Created with CanvaThen again, my expectations were set low by a woman who’d navigated the perils of the UCLA theater department, yet saw fit to only give positions like stage manager, lighting and sound heads, and prop master to boys. Girls were relegated to make-up and costumes. Heaven knows several of us girls climbed ladders to hang lights, spent countless hours building and painting sets, and many late nights ensuring the shows came off without a hitch.

Though I doubt it was her intention, she helped me set my expectations lower than I deserved from the start. When I got to UCLA myself as a theater major, I lasted barely a year. I couldn’t handle the rejection at all and was ill-prepared to play the political games my high school teacher had learned to navigate in her time there. Perhaps her own biases were the only way she thought she could prepare her female students for what existed in the outside world.

I ultimately left my love of theater behind to knock my head against the wall of another male-dominated profession; accounting. I’ll never really know why I chose the harder road nearly every time, but it continued to be my pattern until I learned to accept myself as I am, and stopped trying to fit in. Perhaps that was the lesson all along.

Fruitlessly Trying to Fit In

I watched my mother try to fit in frantically, desperately, and all too often, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ionics/6338284584/in/photolist-aE6nbG-49a2Xa-TLgW2Q-5wAD6N-HGKPP-8UV6CB-6Sg7YA-9QycpZ-6u4T3X-4sC9aH-5nXKzn-5grmh3-ane6BH-W9uq65-62rxQ-Kud31E-XtaBzZ-LdJuy-LdJvu-ePGUFv-aE6qsQ-LdYkF-8Kvnyj-RdeDP4-6Btbw-ekUyG-eSNDQT-ESpkfb-5U4HwZ-66XHwe-a9LTFX-bWTW3k-4YhDF-2qGQSu-5LpPj-4jpvK-vjdRaC-8L6p5A-6HFRB-5r1qA-4jpvJ-4joXu-5QDfE-7qEysG-4jpS4-24RfjoL-bEFCy1-4joXx-43zSs-2e9RpMMfruitlessly. She worked harder than anyone to keep a beautiful home, support charities, stage elaborate parties with incredible food, and clean up her own mess to do it all again. In her mind and heart, she failed until she gave up in the most indelible way possible. In a way, perhaps that’s what finally convinced me to stop trying to be what I’m not.

One of my greatest qualities or flaws, depending who you talk to, is stubbornness. I’ve held onto ideas, things, and people far longer than necessary because I didn’t want to feel like I’d given up. No one ever taught me it isn’t necessary to hang onto something which no longer serves you, or that letting go isn’t the same as failing. I realize now my early influencers didn’t know the difference either. You can’t teach what you don’t know yourself.

It didn’t matter if it was a mismatch of a career path, an ill-conceived marriage, a job with no future, or an idea which had long since been proven faulty. I hung onto them all with dogged determination of a person facing a life or death decision.

Learning to Roll with the Punches

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVNeedless to say, changes were more often than not forced upon me as the Universe knew I wouldn’t release my death grip unless I had whatever it was ripped from my desperately clutching arms with the crushing finality of a tsunami. I suffered for it each time, all the while assuring myself it was for the best.

The funny thing is, I started believing the losses and changes which happened to me instead of being my choices meant there was something better coming, and I needed to clear space. It wasn’t long before those expectations began to be met. Slowly, and with baby steps I moved away from the place where I’d reconciled myself to be underutilized and unnoticed to where I could shine my own light in a way I was meant to in the first place!

I’m still learning to believe I deserve far more than I can see right now, but I am no longer fighting the idea. Somehow, in the process, I’ve moved full-circle back to the carefree, inclusive, accepting girl I once was, and who laid dormant inside me until I was ready to be my true self, and not aspire only to fit in.

Finding the Perfectly Imperfect Me Who Got Buried Under Life

It’s taken most of a lifetime to discover who I was again, and to see I was and am perfect. I don’t need to be anyone but who I am for my friends to love and accept me. It doesn’t matter if someone can’t relate to me and keeps their distance. In fact, I’ve come to love the fact that I truly am an acquired taste.

None of us is meant to gel with everyone. Some do it better than others, either because their corners are less sharp and they can ease into situations more smoothly, or because they have yet to learn, like I did they don’t have to fit in everywhere. Those may still be learning to accept themselves as they are, but though I hurt a bit when I see one of them struggling, I know it’s not my lesson to teach, but theirs to learn.

I had to experience a lot of bumps in the road before I figured it out. If I hadn’t felt the pain of rejection and the frustration of never pleasing anyone, I wouldn’t have come to appreciate my own unique self. I’d never have shed the masks, torn down the walls, and stepped out in all my own bright, gaudy plumage, with a voice that might at times break glass.

I’ll never fit anyone’s idea of normal and that’s perfectly all right with me. I’m a happy little weirdo who attracts a lot of wonderful, quirky, unique people. Life among the people who are their own unapologetic selves is never, ever dull.

Grateful for Every Bump in the Road, Every Universal Head Slap

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the bumps in my road that taught me being my unique self was perfect.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who don’t expect conformity.
  3. I’m grateful for the people who held me back, and ultimately propelled me forward.
  4. I’m grateful for all the times the Universe has drop-kicked me out of a stale situation.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, uniqueness, imperfection, challenges, lessons, rewards, new roads, old memories, friends, family, peace, harmony, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Shutting Down My Own Gossip Girl

Time for an Attitude Adjustment

Created with CanvaEvery now and then I take a good, hard look at myself and am less than pleased with what I see. This week, I realized my conversational pool has deteriorated into gossip. Frankly, the very idea of sticking my nose into other peoples’ business is typically repellent, and yet, here I am, blabbing about the good, the bad, and the ugly, all of which is none of my damned business in the first place. How did I sink so low?

I think in part, it’s another off-shoot of working alone. Most days, I don’t get to hear my own voice unless I’m talking to myself or the cats. Some small piece of myself feels needy, and instead of using the need productively, it’s sunk to the lowest form of communication.

Still, this isn’t an excuse to beat myself up, Instead, it’s an opportunity to see something I can improve upon and start taking the necessary steps to put myself on a better path. Like an addiction, the first step towards fixing a problem is realizing you have one.

Rekindling Self-Love

While working out at the gym, I had time to mull over this shift in my behavior. I realized part https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqof it is a lack of respect and love for myself. Happy, secure people don’t find it necessary to gossip or speak ill of others. They don’t have the time or energy to worry about who’s doing what to whom. That’s not to say they don’t celebrate their friends’ successes. They simply don’t find it necessary to yak about it incessantly. I’ve been guilty of that as well.

I believe the first step in eliminating this unattractive behavior is to re-establish my personal heart link. What I mean by that is, I need to fall in love with myself again. Seeking outside validation, both positive and negative is a clear indication my link is broken and in need of repair.

Perception of Exclusion

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ionics/6338284584/in/photolist-aE6nbG-49a2Xa-TLgW2Q-5wAD6N-HGKPP-8UV6CB-6Sg7YA-9QycpZ-6u4T3X-4sC9aH-5nXKzn-5grmh3-ane6BH-W9uq65-62rxQ-Kud31E-XtaBzZ-LdJuy-LdJvu-ePGUFv-aE6qsQ-LdYkF-8Kvnyj-RdeDP4-6Btbw-ekUyG-eSNDQT-ESpkfb-5U4HwZ-66XHwe-a9LTFX-bWTW3k-4YhDF-2qGQSu-5LpPj-4jpvK-vjdRaC-8L6p5A-6HFRB-5r1qA-4jpvJ-4joXu-5QDfE-7qEysG-4jpS4-24RfjoL-bEFCy1-4joXx-43zSs-2e9RpMMWhen I started looking back on my behavior over the last couple of months, I see glaring indications I managed to miss or simply block out. Times when some of my friends did something without me and I felt sad and left out regardless of the reason for my exclusion. I’ve been feeling especially sad as the annual line dance cruise draws nearer, and will sail without me.

Sure, it was my choice and my reasons are both responsible and valid. Still, as everyone gathers in groups to talk about the upcoming trip, I feel alone and lost, even as it turned out to be an opportunity to attend a writing festival instead. Clearly a win-win for my career and future.

Learning to Re-focus on Qualities Instead of Flaws

I dance at our two-step teacher’s house once a week where there’s a mirror on the front wall. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/8225835927/in/photolist-dwTyrn-a3ks33-9mvXys-6ja1gb-9yrH2G-nDdzvx-XUYUcB-5mVAik-aGc4QM-rcaJkB-te2rAP-a7Uq98-3dzbhp-GAf1t-n7eEii-SdF6ND-NpW4QT-Nn4EE7-Q1PXro-6GmuAj-Nb8fd-aGc4LK-5rvjUB-9G5iLz-dViNns-47qcTR-8gCJx7-53s2we-8Amcx2-651TAL-e3ogb6-3Sf9H3-23Jx66D-4beknX-477UHP-Nb8cA-61cxQD-7htzF3-e3tWNL-58nCxm-e3ogk4-27FNZKJ-9NHU1S-i23hC-8Rg5Yu-5tzpF9-CvzijW-Ck2RtR-28aTBt3-MweagTI can’t help but compare my Rubenesque physique to the slimmer curves of my friends, and feel a certain amount of disgust with myself. I know the reason is my lack of self-control when it comes to food, and laziness when it comes to getting up and moving more during my version of a work day. It’s not like someone is standing over me, expecting me to be at my desk working during certain hours. My schedule is flexible and allows for trips to the gym or a walk mid-day. I take advantage of the first, but not the second.

In the past, a silly little mantra was enough to inspire me to treat myself with love, but it’s fallen into disuse lately. I think my mantra needs some updating as well. Here’s what I’ll be using now—what I’ll tape to my bathroom mirror and other strategic places around the house:

I love myself as I am today.

I love myself as I’ll be tomorrow.

I love myself enough to recognize and accept my flaws.

I love myself enough to recognize where I need to make positive changes.

I love myself enough to implement those changes even when it’s difficult.

I love myself enough to refrain from comparing.

I love myself enough to refrain from judging.

I love myself enough to refrain from gossip.

I love myself enough.

Reversing the Downward Spiral

In the day-to-day struggle to navigate the often treacherous highway of jobs, people, and life Created with Canvain general, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative and spiral downward. Learning to recognize when you’ve jumped on a roller coaster that’s not in your best interests is definitely a learned skill, and one I thought I’d mastered.

The funny thing about life is when you think you’ve mastered something and become complacent, you get tossed back on the roller coaster without a safety bar or seat belts. You’re forced to figure out how to hold on until you can safely disembark and get back on track. Sometimes you’re lucky, and the car slows down enough for you to step off easily. Others, you have to take a deep breath, a giant leap, and tuck and roll. Sure, you’ll be bruised and battered, but you’ll be free of what drags you callously down into a place you thought you’d left behind for good, and good riddance.

Thwarting My Demons Over and Over Again

Years ago, I was in a cold, dark, lonely place where negativity and anger were my closest friends. I worked hard to escape that place leaving quite a bit of flesh behind in the process. But though I might have emerged raw and bleeding in places, I healed. In fact, in many cases, I had to break open old, badly healed wounds to get there.

But my demons, like those of so many others are greedy. They didn’t want to let go then, and want to drag me back into their depths now. They look for chinks in my happiness and positivity, and quickly fill them with their unholy mixture of misery and hate. It’s still up to me to use the tools I’ve gathered on my journey to evict them and fill those spaces, once again with love and positivity. Sometimes, that means getting out of my own way and taking a good, hard look at where I’ve landed.

Looking at Myself Honestly and Objectively

As with the degradation of my social skills and conversation, it isn’t always obvious. It doesn’t come on like a hurricane, but instead, creeps in slowly and stealthily when my attention is elsewhere. Often, I don’t see it until something makes me realize I’m feeling downright icky and don’t know exactly why.

That’s when I take a good, hard look at what I’m doing, thinking, and saying and the pattern emerges. I know then I need to first rekindle my self-love, and the rest will follow.

This time, I also know I need to spend a lot more time listening, and a lot less time talking. If I find myself left out of conversations, I have to accept it’s because I haven’t been contributing anything valuable and people found someone less negative and judge-y to talk to. It’ll take a little while to clear my slate of the crap.

Your Turn

Have you found yourself in a place you’ve been before, and aren’t sure how you fell back into old, outworn patterns? What do you do to reclaim your happier self? Tell me in the comments.

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Gratitude: The Surest Way Out of a Deep, Dark Pit

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to recognize patterns that don’t serve me well.
  2. I’m grateful for the tools I’ve acquired on my healing journey.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who don’t desert me just because I’ve fallen into a bit of a cesspool. And I’m grateful for their confidence I’ll find my way back out.
  4. I’m grateful I can find my self-love again even when it’s slipped to dangerous levels.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: friends, family, love, joy, dancing, honesty, support, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, gifts, peace, health, harmony, 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

Seeing Improvements, Ignoring Flaws

Focusing on the Improvements

Created in CanvaLately I’ve found myself standing in front of the mirror and instead of seeing all the places in my body and face where I could use some improvements I’m seeing all the progress I’ve made.

Not only is the change of outlook uplifting instead of demoralizing, it motivates me to continue doing the things which contributed to the improvements. Best of all is the change in attitude which has me standing taller, walking more purposefully, and pushing myself to do more; increase the weights more frequently at the gym, do the heavier household tasks I’ve been putting off, drinking more water (5 gallons in about 4 days!), and getting up from my desk more frequently.

Yet the improved viewpoint with regard to my physical self also serves to amplify areas where I have work to do. It enables me to recognize the voices in my head telling me I’m not ready for certain kinds of work, and that there’s a very real chance I’ll let my clients down. I can say to those voices: I’ve achieved things I never thought possible physically, and at an age when most people are noticing their bodies are weakening and becoming less flexible. In many ways, I’ve reversed my own aging process. If I can do that, I can handle whatever I choose to take on, or, as happens often, what’s thrown at me.

Achieving the Impossible by Stretching Our Muscles

Everyone is capable of the impossible as soon as they realize the word can be re-read as “I’m Possible”. Once we recognize the impossible things we’ve already accomplished, we simply need to look at everything else we deem impossible and see how we overcame our own limitations and succeeded, often in extraordinary ways.

When I started managing my gym time and created a regular routine, I had only recently recovered from a herniated disk in my neck. I was unable to lift more than a couple of pounds with my left arm, and then, only a few times. Now, I’m doing chest presses with 35-pound free weights, 50 pound overhead presses, and shoulder lifts with 15 pound free weights. What makes these achievements more amazing is they’ve happened in about 8 months just by being persistent and consistent.

Writing and building a business use a different kind of muscles but muscles nonetheless. They need to be exercised and challenged to do more and do better. I look at what I wrote when I first returned to regular writing 9 years ago after a hiatus of several decades. While it wasn’t bad and my skills were still intact, I can clearly see how it improves over time when I exercise, not only the writing muscles, but those which have allowed me to chip away at walls decades in the making.

Detaching Ourselves from Outdated Lessons

Whatever we undertake which takes us out of our comfort zone is part of our journey and, as such doesn’t have a completion date. We continue to learn and grow, improving our skills and strengthening our muscles as we take on more and more, going beyond what we thought ourselves capable of when we began. The lessons we learned from early childhood forward are interwoven into our psyches and the root system is deeply embedded. We might pull some things out by the roots, but tendrils remain, intertwined with lessons we learned or revisited further along our path.

Like knots in a cord, we untangle things one at a time, often finding bits and pieces of other things interwoven like threads making up the cord itself. With each knot we untie, we uncover dozens of directions we might take to find the next one in the series. There’s no wrong direction or incorrect answer. Only more lessons to rework and, in some cases, unlearn.

Seeking Our Beauty in the Flaws

By far the most important of those lessons involves the way we see and judge ourselves. Until we https://www.flickr.com/photos/geekphysical/34110702621/in/photolist-TYfjPn-TYfjA6-SW9mjv-TYfhFV-nfDXTT-TzQShS-U7cbG3-TYfeGt-SW9q7a-TYffM4-TYfj3T-TYfgur-TzQSHS-U7cdRy-SW9oDR-SW9poM-UaL182-SW9rkH-SW9pEP-r9jQNK-U7ceT3-TYfhAp-TVUzJW-TYfhxt-TYfjgP-TzQM83-UaL13c-TYfeJn-UaL13x-UaL5av-TYfeRM-SW9oAz-SW9qAB-TYfhND-TzQPph-TVUyuw-p57Yrr-FjQDuX-TYffBp-TYfdzZ-UaL2kT-TzQSvY-U7cde1-UaL1Ux-TYffjF-TzQPku-TYfmMRrecognize the beauty in our differences, the value in what we unconsciously deemed flaws, it’s difficult to make progress untying those knots; unearthing the roots. Certainly, we could go about it violently, poisoning the roots and burning the cord. But doing so wouldn’t really alter our thinking or rework the triggers we’ve created through years of living life, falling down, getting hurt, and getting back up again.

We have to approach them as we might a timid animal, making it clear we mean the child within no harm. Otherwise we cling to those old ways, our preferred ways of reacting like a security blanket, refusing to let go no matter how old, filthy, and threadbare they’ve become. Taking the time to untie the knots carefully, we enable ourselves to see how and why they were formed, and where they are no longer necessary. Most importantly, we get to see how the strength we’ve developed has made so many of those old patterns unnecessary. We recognize how strong we’ve become and how much we’ve accomplished by handling the old wounds gently, cleaning them out and allow them to fully heal.

Our Kinder, Gentler Selves

A major part of our gentler handling of those old wounds comes from being willing and able to look at ourselves through kinder eyes with more realistic expectations. From a less lofty and unforgiving place, we see how far we’ve come, how much we’ve improved, and how clear our path is to continued improvement and previously impossible goals. In other words, by seeing how much we’ve improved rather than how much we need to work on.

We’ll always have room for improvement, if only because we, ourselves keep raising the bar the further along we get. We don’t necessarily do it consciously, but because we see that something is attainable and challenge ourselves to do even more. It’s normal and natural, and inspires us, as long as we don’t set the bar so high we can’t see any possible way of achieving our new goals. We need both confidence and hope in this journey we call “life”.

Gratefully Facing Each Day We’re Given

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the dance community which continues to amaze me with the love and support they share so freely.
  2. I am grateful for butt kicks. Even when they’re administered gently, they get me up and moving forward so I can achieve and attain all I have the talent and ability to achieve.
  3. I am grateful for friends who come together in good times and bad, ready to help each other over life’s humps and bumps.
  4. I am grateful for my home, my sanctuary where I can go to regroup when life becomes too challenging for me to handle without some respite.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, friendship, solidarity, support, inspiration, motivation, opportunities to step out of my comfort zone, people who allow me to give and take instead of either or, strength both physical and emotional, joy, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

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

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