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

Posts tagged ‘Forgotten Victims’

Self-Sabotage and Healthy Habits

Understanding Why We Self-Sabotage

I’m a procrastinator. The more my mind sees a task as disrupting my life, the more likely I’ll do everything in my power to avoid it.

Still, over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to temporarily shut my inner procrastinator down to set some incredible habits which are now non-negotiable:

  • Make the bed every morning
  • Go to the gym 3 times a week
  • Eat healthy meals (most of the time)
  • Write my morning pages every day
  • Clean the kitchen before I go to bed every night

To some, these might seem pretty easy. They’re things a “normal” person would do without thinking twice. But for me, they’ve taken time and tenacity to build into habits I am no longer willing to break, except on rare occasions, and usually with good reason.

Getting Past the Blocks to Completing My Memoir

My biggest obstacle these days is the rewrite of “Forgotten Victims”. I start each day with every intention of picking it back up again, but, until yesterday, hadn’t been able to bring myself to do it. I realize it’s merely another obstacle I must conquer, but to do so, I need to grab hold of the ladder and put my foot on the first rung.

Instead of just sitting my butt down, opening the file, and starting, I used the time, when not contemplating my navel or playing games on the computer to psychoanalyze myself and my lack of motivation.

Getting Out of Our Own Way Towards Setting New Habits

Every new habit we set out to establish was daunting at first. It’s easier to make excuses, or worse, analyze our reasons for avoiding the thing entirely than to dive in and do it.

Years ago, I had an employee who tried my patience excessively. Every time I’d ask her do something a little different from what she was used to, she’d spend two hours whining and complaining about what I was asking her to do, and making excuses for why she couldn’t. Eventually, she’d do what I asked, in about 1/10th of the time she’d spent complaining about it.

I see a little of her in myself when I do everything in my power to avoid something, whether it’s going to the gym (which nowadays I am excited about instead of dreading), cleaning house (I still hate it, but I hate walking barefoot across gritty floors more), marketing my business (still trying to figure that one out, but building relationships in the meantime), or working on one of my five (yes I really do have five going at once) writing projects.

Focusing on Our Accomplishments

So why is it I can conquer the menial, boring, passionless tasks, but when it comes to what I really love, my passion projects, I am continually mired in excuses and, let’s be honest, an Everest-sized mountain of self-doubt? With everything else, I learned long ago to look at what I have accomplished rather than what I have left to accomplish. Where am I losing sight of it with my writing which I truly love?

With that in mind, let’s take stock. What have I already accomplished writing-wise?

  • Consistently writing 3 blog posts a week
  • Completed several writing projects for clients
  • Wrote and revised over 103,000 words for “Sasha’s Journey”
  • Wrote over 90,000 words for “A Dubious Gift”
  • Wrote over 70,000 words for “Hannah’s Chair”
  • Wrote over 70,000 words for “Forgotten Victims”
  • Re-wrote an entirely new first chapter for “Forgotten Victims” which I LOVE!
  • Re-wrote 4 more chapters (as of 6/6/18) for “Forgotten Victims”
  • Wrote 4,500 words for “Frederick the Gentlemouse”

Not to mention what I wrote during my years as an Accountant

  • Wrote volumes of detailed desk instructions
  • Wrote procedures for an ISO 9001 project
  • Wrote Cost Volumes for government RFP’s (Requests for Proposal)
  • Wrote countless responses to management, government agencies, clients, and more

My mind is especially blown when I realize I recently started the 6th 200-page spiral notebook of Morning Pages, and have filled the better part of another with writing prompts. And let’s not forget more than 1,200 blog posts for my website and blog site.

Do More, Think Less

The point I’m making (more for myself than anyone else) is when I didn’t waste time making excuses or talking myself out of moving from the safe, boring place in which I was currently sitting, I did some amazing things. In fact, from the day I swore to my daughter I couldn’t possibly write 50,000 words in a month, and did it with words and time to spare, I have consistently overachieved—as long as I got out of my own way and didn’t over think it.

Therein lies a problem many of us face. We see, not the first step in a journey, but the entire mountain we believe we need to climb. We allow the part of us that hates change (and maybe exercise too!) to fill our heads with negative self-talk, excuses, and fear. And for what? So we can remain in the rut we know we hate forever? How dumb is that? Yet every one of us is an expert in self-sabotage.

That doesn’t mean many aren’t wildly successful. Just because you develop expertise in something doesn’t mean you have to pursue it. Sometimes, we need to learn everything about a particular topic or behavior pattern so we understand what’s needed to overcome it or conquer it.

It Isn’t Always Necessary to Know Why

A few days ago, I was talking to Linda Clay about my lack of motivation to finish “Forgotten Victims” and she started throwing out questions to help me figure out why I was self-sabotaging. When I finally picked it up and started re-reading so I could start re-writing, I realized something really important. The time I was spending trying to figure out why I wasn’t writing was keeping me from writing! (cue light bulbs, fireworks, and neon banners blazing across the sky)

I suddenly realized it isn’t always about understanding why you’re avoiding something. Trying to figure it out is adding to the list of avoidance measures you’re using. Sometimes you have to stop overthinking the reasons behind the problem and get back to the business of doing what you do best. In my case, remembering that I could be the most amazing writer on the planet, but if I never finish and publish anything, none of my lofty dreams will ever bear the fruit I seek.

Our minds will do just about anything to maintain our status quo. It’s safe. It’s known. It requires little effort. But it’s also boring as hell. Our amazing brains atrophy from disuse just as our muscles do when we do nothing but sit in front of the TV all day. We need to scramble those brain cells. Keep them moving and stretch them in new and different ways.

Between you and me, a healthy, challenged body is nothing without a healthy, challenged mind. Is it time to stop asking “why?” and start asking “why not?” Each of us has to answer that question ourselves, but if you’ve been stuck in a rut too long like I was, I can pretty much guarantee it’s time.

A Gratitude a Day…

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for a mind which, despite the odds, thrives on being challenged.
  2. I am grateful for new people and ideas which are coming into my world these days. Whether or not they ever know, they challenge me to strive to be the very best me I can.
  3. I am grateful for finally breaking the writing block that kept “Forgotten Victims” from becoming a reality.
  4. I am grateful for people who continually encourage me even when they don’t know exactly what it is they’re encouraging me to do. They know the what is less important than the why.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; perseverance, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, role models, support, entrepreneurs, friends, family, my cats who are there to encourage and sometimes distract me from myself, peace, harmony, love, happiness, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

Procrastination and De-Cluttering: Two Sides of the Same Coin

12 Steps to End Procrastination

My name is Sheri and I’m a procrastinator.

There should be a 12-step program for procrastinators, but I’m sure the main reason it doesn’t exist is because we’d put off going to the meetings, or even scheduling them in the first place.

I’ve been putting off starting the re-write of Forgotten Victims since I got back from the writers’ conference over a week ago. Yes, I got the new first chapter written, but diving in and re-writing the rest was as daunting as de-cluttering the house of a hoarder (which I was at once time, though not to the degree of the ones you see on TV). I looked at the overwhelming task of re-writing over 71,000 words and simply froze. I didn’t know where to start! Despite the hours spent creating a timeline of significant events, I couldn’t find my starting point.

I lost sight of the advice I freely give to anyone wanting to clear out a room, a garage, or a house: pick a spot and start.

Finding Help in Unexpected Places

Fortunately, I signed up for a session with someone in one of my Facebook groups. She challenged me to devote 15-20 minutes a day to working on the re-write, and 15-20 minutes to researching publishing options and requirements. So far today, I’ve spent close to 4 hours between them. Why? Because I rarely back down from a reasonable challenge (bungee jumping is not something I consider reasonable, so don’t even ask!), and the truth is, this one is a win-win for me. Also, I’ve learned my problem isn’t following through. It’s getting started in the first place.

This little exercise in getting off my butt reminds me how much I need an accountability partner who will not only kick me into high gear when I need it, but will read the pages I churn out and help me see what I still need to fix.

Learning to Overcome the Costs of Procrastination

Yet procrastination costs so much in the long-run. And bringing procrastination to an end feels so darn good! It’s like going to the gym regularly. I have to push myself to do it, but I’m so glad when I do! Who’d have thought I’d come to appreciate a nag, both internal and external?

Over time, I’ve learned to set myself achievable goals and to stick with them until I form a habit. Yet, even there, I am easily thrown off track. Take my thrice-weekly gym routine which I’d thought was well-cemented last year. It only took a couple of weeks of curve-balls to kill that hard-earned habit. I’m still trying to get it back in place, but oversleeping, or client work I simply need to finish, or excessive wind…you name it, I’ll use it as an excuse to miss another day at the gym. Of course, I then perform the requisite self-flagellation for failing myself yet again. It’s rather a vicious cycle, really.

Procrastination’s Vicious Cycle

Do all procrastinators do as I do? Procrastinate—Let Ourselves Down—Castigate ourselves, repeat as necessary? Or do they procrastinate until the last possible moment, then practically kill themselves to achieve the stated goal? Or are we a combination of the two, depending on the circumstances?

I’ve learned over time that if the beneficiary of my actions is someone else, I’m more likely to push past my tendency to procrastinate and deliver on time, or, more often, early. But when it comes to myself, I can make excuses forever and a day why I can’t even start working on something which is clearly for my own benefit. Even things like Forgotten Victims which many have assured me will, as I hope, help a lot of other people. Although I will always believe the 9 years it took to write the draft were both right and necessary, I cannot, in this Universe or any other, justify it taking that long, or even more than a couple of months, to re-write it and get it ready for editing and ultimately, publishing.

Getting to the Root of the Matter

It occurs to me that because procrastination is selective, it might behoove me to get to the root of why I procrastinate over one task and not another. Though the beneficiary is certainly one factor, I suspect there are others as well.

Yet, I even find myself procrastinating over getting client work done at times, though it’s always done before the end of the month. Again, once I start, I’ll work steadily for however many hours it takes, or until I hit a point where I need more information before I can go further. But there is a clear deadline, even if it’s just in my mind. My current clients are typically lenient about when they see their monthly reports. I’m the one who insists on providing them on a regular, predictable schedule. Old habits die hard.

Routines, Schedules, and Expectations

I also believe keeping myself on a somewhat regular monthly schedule for them allows space for more. I know when I need to start working on their books each month, and which weeks will be heavier or lighter as a result. Conversely, I know which weeks I can devote to my writing, which turn out to be the weeks my tendency to procrastinate is at its highest. Knowing someone is going to check in with me in a week to see if I’ve followed the schedule she set me for re-writing and researching is turning out to be very helpful.

I’ll admit, last night I was working until about 9:30 because I’d put it off for most of the day. Granted, I was doing client work, and warding off what would have been a debilitating migraine (thank goodness for early warnings) so procrastinating was situational rather than deliberate. Once I did sit down to fulfill those external expectations, I, as usual, got into the task and was hard-pressed to stop. I guess that’s why NaNo works so well for me. Once I start writing and working to achieve the 1600-word-per-day requirement, I’ve been known to write for as long as 5 hours at a stretch, and churning out anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 words.

I also found through experience that setting specific times to do the writing helped, but then, having a day job limited my choices and forced me to get up and moving earlier in the day, even when I was up writing until 2 or 3AM. With my looser schedule, the alarm is either not set at all, or subject to many whacks of the snooze button. Still, my days of sleeping until after 10 are long gone. These days, I’m consistently up between 8 and 9:15, with or without the alarm. Another habit I’ve worked to form.

Learning to Outwit Ourselves

In short, I believe the key to outwitting our natural propensity for procrastination depends on several factors:

  1. Who we are serving.
  2. Accountability.
  3. Outside influences (like migraines or other things which make us unable or unwilling to work).
  4. Perceived importance of the task at hand.
  5. Getting started.

The last is probably the key to the whole package. Putting off getting started has extended the duration of just about every task I’ve set for myself. When I get past that single sticking point, I’m often a bulldog with a bone. I don’t let go, even to eat until I’ve made what I’d consider reasonable progress. I know that last part sounds a bit bizarre, but when I’m in “the zone” it’s all I can do to remember to drink water. In fact, I’ve learned to fill my 40-ounce water bottle and put it on the desk before I start. Otherwise, I get that irritating cotton-mouth feeling in the middle of my best flow of ideas, and there’s no way I’d stop for something as trivial as filling the bottle.

Heading Our Excuses Off at the Pass

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/26362491806/in/photolist-857d63-7jecuc-4EKXjp-d1fXnd-dGxXva-CWZ3qm-pEtDtE-3LiJjP-UaGqaP-U4nkQR-pRhHt6-bGpmxT-cYxRaG-9o9aCf-ebCGqX-5i8fuy-84yuGJ-etwRi8-FFKb5u-4G5gCd-awsadF-9pfapc-hsE8Ey-qQun96-5JpNWp-HP9Nyr-BGZwA9-6Ls9DX-TsKYM9-hxME-SsNQJ8-6tki6x-xyvfhG-GayEmN-ytRii1-s5DRhg-ndkt2wIf you’ve ever been hammered by a migraine, you know dehydration is one of the worst culprits. And nothing pisses me off when I’m in the zone more than to have to stop because my vision is going squirrelly and I’m in danger of being sidelined by a headache that makes labor pains feel like a slight tummy ache. So I keep the bottle full and my body happy, even if it means halting the creative flow for a bit, hoping it won’t come to a screeching, grinding halt in the time it takes me to fill said bottle again.

Looking back at this post, I see I’ve done it yet again. I’ve broken away from my tendency to procrastinate, and written for longer than I’d intended (both time-wise and word count). Now it’s your turn. What makes you procrastinate, and how do you make it stop? What are your triggers, and your releases? Are some tasks easier to put off than others? Do you value your own time and needs as much as you do those of others? (your boss and co-workers, family, friends, strangers) Please share your thoughts in the comments. They will be extremely valuable to your fellow procrastinators who are always looking for ways to outsmart ourselves.

What’s a Post Without Gratitude?

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to be continuing my blog posting schedule, even if some go up later on the designated day than I’d like.
  2. I am grateful for a schedule that is filling up with people, places, and things which take me out of myself-imposed hermit hole.
  3. I am grateful for friends and acquaintances who give me reason to finish what I started, encouragement, and even motivation.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to hyper-focus once I actually start a task. I lose hours at a time while accomplishing so much.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friends, family, opportunities, encouragement, love, joy, my expanding network (thank you, #SCWC), motivation, inspiration, frustration because it kicks me out of the depths of ennui, peace, harmony, and even righteous indignation. For health, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri 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. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. 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

The Mind Might be in Denial, But the Body Knows!

Inattention Provokes Physical Reaction

Writing my morning pages today after doing the unthinkable yesterday and skipping it without a valid reason (gasp!) I realized how little attention I’d been paying to my writing, among other things, since November began. I’d like to say it was a gentle realization with soft music playing, and a gentle breeze teasing tendrils of my hair from my customary messy wad on top of my head. But the truth is, the Universe gave it to me with both barrels, as usual.

Yesterday, after sleeping until 11, which I haven’t done in months, I recognized the tell-tale signs of infection in my right ear. I took the entire day off to be lazy, improve my eating habits which had been pretty awful lately, and supercharge my body with homeopathics and natural remedies (turmeric and propolis are my go-to’s, in case you’re wondering).

I woke this morning slightly later than I’d like to find the pain had subsided but now the ear felt like it was filled with fluid. Moving around has helped a bit, but the pressure remains. However, that didn’t stop me from immediately grabbing pen and notebook (after feeding the resident furballs, of course) and resuming my morning routine.

Morning Pages vs. Brain Dumping

If you’re not familiar with “morning pages” you might want to pick up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s a great book if you’re a creative who needs to learn to honor the artist within, begging to be allowed to come out and play. One of the biggest take-aways I got from the book was the practice of writing 3 pages longhand every morning, aka “morning pages”. The idea is to sit down and write before you do anything else in the morning (coffee and cat feeding notwithstanding) to clear your head of all of the accumulated folderol from both the previous days’ challenges and the dreams from which you’ve just awoken. If you’re like me, those dreams alone can clog up the works as they’re quite vivid and memorable most days.

In many ways, I guess you’d call the morning pages journaling, but in a very raw, directionless way. In the past, I’d have called it a brain dump, though those typically were a fingers-to-keyboard kind of exercise as I type much faster than I write.

The purpose of the morning pages is not to pour out your guts as fast as possible but instead, to slow your mind down, forcing it to connect with your entire being instead of running amok like a hyperactive child on a sugar high.

I’ve found a great deal of insight from my morning pages though admittedly, there are days when I struggle to sit still long enough and slow my mind down sufficiently to write those 3 pages. Today was one of those days when the process worked.

Recognizing the Wake-Up Call of Physical Ills

I’ve learned that maladies in the body are simply a reflection of dis-ease in our energy field, which, left uncleared start manifesting in ways meant to get our attention. Yet it took slowing my mind down, getting the words on the page to connect the dots this time.

Once I started putting it together, I realized I’d not been communicating via my writing for quite some time. My ear was giving me a huge wake-up call that my hoarse and phlegm-y throat had failed to do.

I needed to get back to my writing!

While pouring out the contents of my muddled and over-stressed brain through the fingers of my right hand, I saw what I’d been, unbeknownst to me, making a concerted effort to ignore. I hadn’t written a single blog post, or even started one since the end of October. I hadn’t edited more chapters of Forgotten Victims as I’d planned. I had barely even interacted on social media for the last 25 days. In fact, I’d developed a bit of an aversion to it. No, more of an ennui. Nothing held my attention. I spent my days (when I wasn’t working on accounting clients) watching sappy Christmas movies and playing word games on my computer.

Finding the Blessing Buried in the Muck

On the up side, I increased my vocabulary a bit and kept my mind somewhat sharp, but my creative side was screaming for attention. Have you ever tried to quiet a 2-year-old mid-tantrum? Well, Creative Sheri knows exactly which buttons to push to get Unproductive, Slothful Sheri’s attention. In fact, administering physical pain is a particular favorite.

I may have created a bit of a monster when I chose to release my creative side, because once released, there’s no effective way to stuff the creativity back into a box permanently. What Pandora released when she opened that box has nothing on the creative monster once I gave her permission to come out and play. She is especially cranky when I make excuses for sitting down in front of the computer and writing. The words that come out don’t really matter. They just have to find their way to page, screen, or whatever medium I choose.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs

https://www.flickr.com/photos/swampa/8512656992/in/photolist-dYeAm9-5MBAS5-4wH48T-5M2k2z-9j9QT2-8RVu1X-6juK2V-a18M9W-5taS34-fMS1SQ-cDQLUb-6GZmA2-oUv5Wv-5AvF8V-paqKFx-4LicMW-s48LVr-57gaP7-39DFEc-nu6Svm-bCRkBB-21uvr7L-7H9fXU-h4hoeh-8kP7PC-3F7yE-AXQ82E-RCHfaj-ftXr8F-6agM2v-pCAFRA-57uGKU-5qGnVx-gYU9Q-6aCF6B-7SC734-5hDawR-6pT1cL-58x9Gg-7tPaUX-pfNVHB-7BnSAE-a56YeV-83T4NJ-6wgZex-e58EmP-9tnDYY-gmjSdW-55pwGE-4CCrfbMaybe it was the Hallmark movie I watched last night about a writer who left home to follow his passion. Maybe I related well to his being stuck and needing new inspiration. More important was his regular routine. He went to the same coffee shop every day, sat at the same table with his laptop and wrote. Writing my morning pages every day only gets me halfway there.

I choose to believe that things are put into our path for a reason, be they physical pain, a message delivered via movie or book, or a person who helps us find our way back to our true path. When we do our best to ignore the signs and signals as I’ve been doing for the last month, those signs and signals become more persistent, and eventually, painful. Like the lessons we’re given, the signs that we’ve wandered off path are not about to be ignored indefinitely.

Sure, I could be one of those who self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to shut those voices and the pain out. Fortunately, I’m not. I have a strong aversion to drugs of any kind and if I have one drink per month, that’s a lot. So I’m forced to acknowledge the signs, the warnings, and especially the Universal head slaps which tell me I need to get off my ever-lovin’ arse and do what I was meant to do—WRITE!

Getting Back on Track…Again

This is my long-winded way of saying I’m back and will do my best to entertain you with regular blog posts like this, both here and on my website. I welcome your comments and would love to hear about what motivates you and gets you back on track when you stray.

The Many Faces of Gratitude

What would a blog post be without my gratitudes? Here are a few for today.

  1. I’m grateful for the subtle and not-so-subtle reminders that I’m not being true to myself.
  2. I’m grateful for family and friends who inspire and challenge me.
  3. I’m grateful for the reams of words I’ve poured out on pages like this one as well as all of my works-in-progress.
  4. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met lately on social media. Some inspire me to greater things, and others show me what I don’t want to be or aspire to. All are helpful in their own way.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; the words that flow from my fingers, the portfolio I don’t always appreciate, the dreams that fill my head at night (and other times too), love, friendship, communication, health, joy, compassion, kindness, generosity, peace, hope, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. 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

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: