Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘forgiveness’

Alone for a Reason

Alone Again, Naturally

I woke today after an exceptionally good night of dancing feeling strangely…icky. The lingering joy which usually greets me when I wake was replaced by a dark, writhing pit in my stomach. Thankfully, I have my normal morning routine of writing three pages of thoughts longhand. I don’t think I’ve ever needed it more than I did today.

It took me two pages to come to the realization that everyone I know has some sort of support group close by. It might be a loving and devoted spouse, or kids, or a close circle of friends; often it’s a combination of things. Meanwhile, I’m alone. If something happened to sideline me for a while, I really don’t know where I’d turn.

Life’s Challenges Come at Just the Right Time

But before you start thinking “Oh, poor Sheri”, let me get to the second part of my realization. Those people are all going through some kind of trauma or difficulty in their lives right now. It might be an aging parent, a death, the spectrum of an empty nest, issues with a child, injury, or some other disaster. But having that support group means they aren’t facing the roller coaster of emotions alone.

I, on the other hand, got my traumas and disasters over with early, while I still had at least a couple of people around to help me get through them. One child did her middle-of-the-night disappearing act over 10 years ago, setting off a chain of events which would ultimately have us leading completely separate lives. The other lived with me until shortly before her marriage. Even so, she stayed in the area another year or two. When she moved away, I may not have had a support group, but I had a life which kept me busy, and that’s nearly as good.

My parents both passed when I had work, the girls, their activities and a dozen other things to keep my mind occupied. Eventually, I even went back to my long-neglected writing. In their own way, they even inspired, and continue to inspire my writing in ways they never were able to do while alive.

Turning Bitter Fruit into a Tasty Treat

Instead of crawling into a hole and feeling sorry for what I don’t have, I see an opportunity to be more. My performance on the compassion spectrum can still use a lot of work. I still see people as strangers and tend to be territorial when it’s not necessary or even kind. I still take small snubs personally without taking into consideration the challenges my friends and acquaintances are doing their best to navigate. I see the support group and ignore the obstacles which need extra hands to clear away.

I’m reminded of the story of the coffee, the carrot, and the egg. The carrot when boiled becomes soft and flexible. The egg becomes hard and unyielding, and the coffee makes the water better. I find I want to be the coffee but am struggling in my efforts, often making the water bitter instead.

Yet it’s mornings like this when I experience my greatest revelations; my purest insight into my purpose for being in this particular lifetime. It’s the things I struggle most to learn; love, compassion, patience, supportiveness, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, I’m here to not only exhibit, but encourage in others. I may be a long way from learning what I need to know and embrace, but I’m a lot closer than I give myself credit for, especially given what I started with.

Being the Grown-up in My Relationship With Myself

My inner child continues to fight to be the center of attention. My biggest challenge is in teaching her she needs to give first. It’s her selfishness which leaves her out in the cold while others enjoy the warmth of hearth and home. It’s her unwillingness to recognize others are struggling with their own demons which has left her teased, shamed, and ostracized over and over again. And it’s the fragility she has covered over with a seemingly impermeable shell which makes it difficult for people to get to know her soft side and see how much she really has to give.

I was originally going to post a piece about fears which I wrote between dance classes yesterday, but when I woke this morning, this topic seemed to be the more important of the two. The fear piece will be waiting for the right moment, but today, compassion seemed to be more timely.

It might be in part my monthly response to the Full Moon. I do tend to react more physically and emotionally these days than I recall doing in the past. Maybe it’s because I’m post-menopausal, but I think that’s coincidental more than causal. (as I write this, I realize I started it at 11:11 on 6/11. The coincidences in my life keep pointing in the same direction. I also finished it at 1:11!). Or maybe it’s that I have time for introspection and self-reflection and am not exactly satisfied with what I see.

Where I Am and Where I Am Not

Putting aside where I am on my career path. Ignoring for a moment the many things I can point to that I don’t have. My personal development has a long way to go, which is pretty daunting when I admit how many decades I’ve had to work on it.

Even after writing several pages of self-revelation this morning, I still have the knot in the pit of my stomach. Though some of the darkness has lifted, I’m clearly not where I need to be right now. I’ve shown a marked lack of compassion in the last week or so, and I’m ashamed of myself. My inner child really needs a good shaking right now to stop feeling sorry for herself and focus on being a better person.

Thankfully, today is a new day and a new start. It’s up to me to make the most of it.

And finding a Reason to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I have a new day to make positive changes.
  2. I am grateful for the mistakes which make me see what I still need to learn.
  3. I am grateful for the friends I do have who accept my flaws even when I, myself don’t.
  4. I am grateful for the energy to dance for hours and sleep the sleep of the innocent, even if I wake feeling not-so-innocent.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: lessons, friends, energy, health, happiness, inspiration, motivation, Universal head slaps, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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!

Empaths as Outcasts: Why Misery Loves Company

New Inspiration from an Old Source

You can find the Facebook Live Video which goes with this post here

Today’s blog topic didn’t come, as has been common, from my morning pages, but from my meditation. As I snuggled on the couch with my two furry girls who love the meditative energy, my mind was processing a discussion about the latest suicide of a famous figure.

As my overly active brain processed, connected, and analyzed, it landed on my relationships, or lack thereof with my family over the last couple of decades. From comments and questions I’ve fielded recently, it occurred to me my sister hasn’t been the outcast I’ve been allowed (or perhaps allowed myself) to become. Of course, this raised questions in my mind, despite the fact I’d come to the realization quite some time ago that the distance was for the best on all our parts.

Not only did it allow me to heal without interference and accept my parents’ final acts without condemnation, blame, or lifelong guilt, it let me find peace. Knowing my sister still blames my mom for more than I even know, or want to, and knowing she’s ill and angry, I’m starting to understand why the family dynamics are what they are.

Finding Yet Another Commonality With My Mom

Mom was the family outcast and was often criticized and I suspect, ridiculed behind her back. I’ve certainly had my share of missteps and actions which failed to meet with everyone’s approval. The difference between us is that I don’t really care. Mom needed the family’s approval and love. If I had it, I would be grateful, but I have never really needed it. And I am not going to be part of the blame and rehashing of mom’s failings. She was no more or less human than anyone else and as such, was prone to mistakes, both from her own viewpoint and that of others. That she likely beat herself up over them was part of her personality and more, her desperation.

Taking after my dad has been a double-edged sword. Yes, I tend to isolate myself too much, but as an Empath, sometimes isolation is the lesser of two evils. Yes, I find it hard to ask for help, much to my daughter’s annoyance. But as time goes on, I’m learning to be better about letting others do something for me instead of letting assistance be a one-way street. The best lesson I learned from dad, though, was to accept responsibility for my own actions. From that, I’ve learned to also be more understanding of the actions of others.

Don’t Blame Those Who Need to Blame

I may not agree with, nor buy into the idea of blaming mom for decades old perceived misdeeds. I may not agree with continuing to blame her when she’s not here to defend herself. But I accept the fact that my sister and whoever else she talks to has the right to make their own choices. They’re no longer hurting mom with words or deeds anyway. As I’ve learned in my own healing journey, forgiveness truly only helps the forgiver. The forgiven couldn’t care less whether we forgive them or not.

It does explain a lot about why nobody reached out to me after mom took her life, or why the last of the contacts I shared with my parents disappeared from my life after dad took his. I brought nothing to the conversation they wanted to have.

At least now, things have evolved so there are a few tentative attempts to connect. Yet, the commonalities we had 20 years ago, the roads we had traveled together have been covered over by the dust of time. We’ve raised our families, lost loved ones on all sides, seen children marry and start families of their own, and all the things that happen during a lifetime.

Lifetimes Within Lifetimes

I’ve learned that when it comes to families and connections, 20 years is a lifetime. The elderly aunts I remember have all passed on along with a few from their daughters’ generation. We’ve even lost one from my generation during the years of disconnection, and are likely to lose a couple more in the next few years. Frankly, I’m not expecting to be a part of their grieving process any more than they have been part of mine. It is what it is.

I have been an outcast from my own family for most of my adult life and the truth is, more often than not, I’m relieved. A Jewish family who escaped the persecution in Russia and Poland to emigrate to the United States and Canada carries a lot of angst. In many members of my family, that angst is embedded in their very souls and passed on from generation to generation. The fact that I’ve learned to release much of my share essentially severed my connection. Without intending to, I’ve torn myself loose from the fabric which weaves the family into a single piece of cloth. By necessity, they rewove that fabric to hide the hole I’d left, perhaps using my sister as the thread which would most efficiently cover the gap.

Empaths Create Their Own Rules

I believe the story has unfolded for a reason. I was given the sometimes dubious gift of Empathy for a reason. Despite being born into a family with a long history of trauma and upheaval, I had to learn how to manage my gift or go quietly insane. I chose the former and am learning how to use it to help others. My personal traumas have been the best teachers.

I savor the connections which have been tentatively re-established, but know I will always be one of the family outcasts. That is the role I came here to assume. Sometimes, breaking free is the first step in healing a wound that stretches back many generations. I may not have chosen the easiest path. I may have even chosen the loneliest one. But I believe the path I chose is the most rewarding one of all.

With Love and Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to my family for giving me the space I needed to find my own way.
  2. I am grateful that I’ve learned to let go of blame, anger, bitterness, and resentment to love and accept the people who gave me life, no matter what direction their lives or actions might have taken them.
  3. I am grateful for the challenges I’ve faced which allow me to be an advocate not only for those who’ve lost someone to suicide, but for those who chose suicide as their exit plan.
  4. I am grateful for the love and support I receive from the family I’ve attracted around me. Though most are not blood, they love and accept me as my blood family aren’t able to because I’m just too different.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, love, motivation, support, guidance, allowing, creativity, energy, peace, harmony, health, happiness, 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!

Gazpacho Therapy

When Life Gets Too Serious, Go Chop Some Vegetables

For the last few days, I’ve been alternating between researching sites to pitch my family suicide stories and revising chapters of Life After Suicide: Healing and Forgiving for the serialization I’ve been doing on my website. To say the least, I’ve found my mood walking the narrow line between melancholy and downright sad.

It doesn’t help that I’ve had music from my high school days playing in the background. For anyone who really listens, the music of the 60’s and early 70’s runs the gamut of angry to joyful to disgusted to downright silly to protesting the world’s wrongs to celebrating the mere fact you’re alive. In short, a manic-depressive’s worst nightmare.

While I have had no indication that I inherited my family’s propensity towards actual mental illness (aka the Kozlowski crazy gene), I have been known to see my moods swing widely from one extreme to another on rare occasions. Granted, those occasions usually involved some sort of trigger which could justify such upheaval, and when they were over, I returned to my own version of normal.

Changing it Up For Mental Health…and a Week’s Worth of Healthy Meals

Fortunately, one of the items on today’s agenda was making another vat of gazpacho. A change of venue (away from the computer), a change of tunes (Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Chicago) and three hours of chopping veggies with a little spontaneous dancing are my cure for almost any ill. Laughing at myself for miscalculating and running out of bowl before I could add the last ingredient also went a long way to breaking me out of my melancholia.

Grief Doesn’t Die, it Simply Evolves

I know it has a lot to do with the amount of time I’ve been spending with the topic of family suicide and my own experiences in particular. Yesterday, I started editing Chapter 6 in preparation for scheduling the chapter for next week. It seemed to be taking a long time, and the words I’d written several years ago were causing memories to well to the surface like my over filled gazpacho bowl when I tried to seal the lid.

I don’t know how much time passed as I worked on the chapter, but I finally looked back at what I’d done and realized it was a lot of pages and I had several more to go before reaching the end of the chapter! After discovering the chapter was well over 7000 words long, I realized it had some natural breaks. Thus, Chapter 6 is now Chapters 6, 7 and 8.

As if reading my own thoughts wasn’t enough of a stroll down memory lane, my coach convinced me to start pitching psychology sites and publications with my story. Heaven knows I can approach it in a zillion different ways! But talking about it, studying it and pitching it takes its toll.

My Turn to Amuse the Universe

Oh, and did I mention there was another suicide in my extended family in the last couple of weeks? It’s been all I could do to not stop and shake my fist at the Universe. That delightful soul has been driving the point home with a sledgehammer for the last couple of weeks. I’m not over my parents’ deaths by suicide, nor will I ever really be. I get it.

I’ve learned a lot, processed more and gained insight, but I certainly don’t have all the answers, nor will I ever have them. There are just some things I’m not meant to know or understand, and that’s OK. There are still pockets of grief inside me. The difference is, they aren’t right on the surface any more, but take a particular trigger to wake them up. Each time they do come around, I’m able to release a little more. I’m able to forgive myself for another guilt capsule I swallowed whole.

Accepting, Forgiving, and Understanding

I believe this is how it is for anyone who loses a loved one. You never really stop missing them or thinking about them. Or grieving. Your grief just takes on different forms as your heart and mind deal with different aspects of the loss.

Will I ever stop regretting the fact that I didn’t see my mom’s pain? Will I forgive myself for not spending as much time with my dad when he became so negative? Will there ever come a day when I only feel love and no longer feel guilt when my parents come to mind? Probably not. But the volume and magnitude of the guilt is waning.

Is There a Gene for Insanity?

I happened upon an article about Mariel Hemingway today and how she’s lost 7 family members to suicide including her famous grandfather, Ernest. As I read the story, I learned her family has a long history of addiction and mental illness which forced her to take on adult responsibilities at a very young age. She, herself has battled depression.

My first thought was how normal my family is by comparison and how lucky I am that I am disinclined towards leaving this mortal coil any time soon. And yet…

The stories my mother would tell about my grandmother would make your hair stand on end. One of my cousins was forced to take responsibility for her siblings at a young age when her mother lost her ability to do so for a time. My parents were heavy drinkers and though it was always treated like a social activity, I can’t recall the passing of a single day when alcohol wasn’t applied liberally after a long day of work.

Granted, my dad’s life ending decision was the result of physical rather than mental issues, but then, his side of the family seemed, at least from my perspective to be better equipped to cope with the world unmedicated. That being said, I wasn’t even aware that my father had serious health problems, so maybe his relatives had just learned to hide things better. Once again, I’ll never really know.

Releasing What I Cannot Control to Protect My Health

At any rate, I know now that I need to make sure I give myself plenty of breaks between activities involving what my coach calls “Raw Sheri”. Whether I work on my fiction, make another mess in the kitchen, go to the gym or dance. I need to allow the breaks to just futz or bury myself in a book just for the pleasure of traveling to another place. Life is about balance, and clearly I’d been listing too far to starboard. I’m just glad I can figure it out and adjust accordingly.

Staying Mentally Healthy with Hefty Doses of Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my personal forms of therapy (which have saved me thousands of dollars, I might add). Most often, I write, but when that isn’t working or I just don’t have the patience, I can get up and move, clean, cook, dance, exercise…whatever I think will work.
2. I am grateful for my cats who are always nearby. Whether I’m cooking and dancing around the kitchen, giving them cause to keep their distance and look at me like I’ve lost a few marbles, or they’re joining me for a meditation, supervising my writing or snuggling at bedtime. Their love washes over me and makes me feel like part of their pride.
3. I am grateful for the huge vat of gazpacho in my refrigerator, even if I have to take it out tomorrow, pour it in a bigger bowl and mix in the broth.
4. I am grateful for friends who get where I’m coming from. I’m slowly getting used to not having them close by to meet for lunch or a movie, but instead, must reach out via phone or computer. But I know they’re there for me and I for them, however we have to make it work.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, clients, inspiration, motivation, support, lessons, challenges, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prsoperity.

Blessed Be

December 31, 2014 The one New Year’s resolution we should all make.

As I see it, most New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken.

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions as a rule. After all, aren’t most of them broken within the first month? But this year, I realized that there was one resolution, more a promise to myself, that I wanted to get on record. It is the kind of resolution which is both all encompassing and sufficiently vague as to be break resistant. So, without further ado, here is my single 2015 New Year’s Resolution:

I hereby resolve to be kinder to myself, beginning with 2015.

If I learned nothing else in 2014, it is that kindness, like forgiveness, begins at home. When we are kinder to ourselves, that kindness overflows into the rest of our lives and positively impacts everything we say and do. Sure, I’m still working on the forgiving part, and will, along with kindness, be working on it for the rest of my current human existence…and probably well beyond that! I believe that making a promise to yourself to begin is the first step we need in order to succeed.

So this is me, promising myself kindness, and taking the first step to make it so.

A New Year blessed with kindness, please
To self, to nature, let’s all believe.
It matters not to whom we pray
Take one step forward every day.
Try love and forgiveness with every breath
From now until this body’s death.
A loving gift, our soul will take
Into the next life that we make.
This is the gift I give to thee
As I will, so mote it be.

A blessed and Happy New Year to one and all.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people who allowed me to touch their lives this year.
2. I am grateful for my daughter who helps me be a better me.
3. I am grateful for my friends, both old and new, who have, by their wonderful examples, helped me see where I need to make improvements in myself.
4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned this year. Many are invaluable if I’m going to follow my true path.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, lessons, joy, harmony, understanding, faith, happiness, health, peace and prosperity. May we all find what we need in 2015, and carry our lessons well into the future.

Blessed Be.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: