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Posts tagged ‘friends’

Triggering Old Memories and Unspent Grief

Memories and Grief Dug Up From the Past

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrWhile reading a manuscript about childhood loss, I was thrown back in time to the day my dad told us his mother was dying of lung cancer. It was the first and only time I saw my dad cry, and even now, just thinking about it unnerves me.

Yet as a child, I followed my parents’ lead when it came to emotional issues, not only because it was all I knew, but because I was often ridiculed for being overly sensitive. Though I was already 12 at the time, I’d  had a few hard lessons about publicly expressing my emotions. I’d continue to experience humiliation from many directions until I learned to switch that part of me off (not the best solution, but all I had for a long time). The little I knew about losing someone I loved was enough to color my first experience with grieving.

So when I started reading about how a child’s grief is different from that of an adult, it threw me back to when my grandmother died. I realized I never grieved her passing. We visited her a few times before she passed, and I think I went to her funeral. But after that, she was just gone. We didn’t talk about her or think about her any more after that—until Dad took his life after being diagnosed with the same disease that killed his mother.

Emotions Buried, Memories Skewed

Even so, it’s taken me years of writing therapy, reading books about other peoples’ suicide experiences, and finally, a book about childhood loss to shake loose the feelings and emotions I buried so long ago.

The first thing I discovered was my faulty memory. In my mind I lost my grandmother when I was 10, but in reality (and after a Google search for her obituary) I discovered I was 12. Researching the date actually helps to put things in perspective as the year she died, 1968, was a pretty eventful one all the way around.

That was the year I was walking about 2 miles to attend a Junior High School that was out of my district. I’d leave the house early to make the 45 minute walk most days rather than having my mother drive me. I remember walking alone and enjoying the solitude. In those days, no one thought twice about a young girl walking alone on a city street. By the time my daughters were born, we were diligent about teaching our kids to travel in groups. Were the weirdos and creeps always there, or has life and disconnection made them more common?

I don’t remember what I thought about on those long walks to school. I don’t even remember having any friends, though I’m sure I interacted with someone during my school days. I do remember bottling up my emotions until they’d come out in a flood at inconvenient moments. It opened me up to the cruelty of Junior High School kids (the worst of all if you ask me) and likely caused me to recede further into myself.

The Festering Cesspool of Unexpressed Emotions

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQMixed in with those emotions were probably the things I couldn’t express about losing my grandmother. My dad’s example wouldn’t allow it. After her death, I don’t remember any pictures of her around the house except in my parents’ wedding picture which I didn’t see until years later. Her name wasn’t spoken. We didn’t even go visit my grandfather. He visited us once with a cousin he’d married so he wouldn’t be alone. It wasn’t long after my grandmother’s death, and she asked us to call her “Grandma”. My sister and I ran up the stairs to our rooms in tears.

Again, my memory is unclear as a search revealed the marriage didn’t take place until 1971, 3 years after my grandmother’s death. Our grief was clearly lying dormant awaiting an opportunity to be expressed openly—an opportunity which never came.

Other memories of 1968 include horrific migraines (a legacy from my grandmother and father) which had me throwing up in trash cans while waiting for my mother to pick me up from school. But it wasn’t an entirely bad year. It was also the year we moved to Westlake Village after spending the better part of the year traveling back and forth so my dad could do the electrical in our new house himself. He’d made a deal with the builder to reduce the price and allow him to do what he wanted. We ended up with upgraded appliances and far more lighting than the typical tract house enjoyed in those days. We also ended up with avocado green and harvest gold EVERYTHING!

Opportunities to Start Anew

1968, the year I turned 13 brought a lot of changes into my life. I made new friends who https://www.flickr.com/photos/162733867@N08/29086322568/in/photolist-Ljg1m9-8b3Bcq-8dftDn-8mKHGw-kNJinr-7G5qTG-qqkYQy-8diVHq-icq54s-7G1vvv-8wSgbU-icquZX-7G5rPh-icquE8-icqcvj-dumDWG-c2Bg2L-9tJW5E-c2BjJY-dug3Ya-6CY1c7-F2Dn7m-6RgcKS-oTJEvg-myPgtn-5JppCu-b8Mizx-6zQ5G6-8mKTLQ-7KP9jG-dumDnj-8mGTPt-ryq1RH-sve5aR-7KK6Ec-4JjASd-9ATqPS-7KKbkz-8mGXFk-8mL5Ld-7RZ28J-4Jfkoc-8dfkdv-8mGyHH-8mGJdK-8afnPD-6Lg64e-biSy3F-pihYMh-8sRJY6shared my interests and didn’t want to beat me up (a major flaw in my previous neighborhood). We all had to ride the bus to school as there was only one Middle School in the district at the time and it was a freeway ride away. We had teachers who weren’t beaten down by an excessively large school district who actually made learning fun and interesting.

Still, I managed to attract the bullies who did their best to embarrass me at every opportunity. Hard as I tried, my overly sensitive nature and all the emotions I wasn’t allowed to express at home refused to stay bottled up and controlled. I had yet to replace tears with anger, though I practiced at home. My mother and I were already pushing each others’ buttons on a regular basis.

I also got to indulge in a pleasure I still find today with my writing. I had an extraordinary English teacher who gave me many opportunities to flex my creative muscles and introduced me to collaboration.

Learning to Grieve, but Only in Private

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpThe year my grandmother died was filled with a lot of highs and lows. I learned more about keeping to myself and not letting anyone see the shy, frightened child inside. But I never learned to grieve. Not for my grandmother, not for my other grandparents when their time came, and not for my parents. The only ones I’ve been able to openly and unashamedly grieve for are all the cats I’ve loved and lost over the years.

Each time, I grieve alone, in the safety of my home, spilling tears on the comforting backs of the ones who are still here letting me love them unreservedly. And maybe that’s how I’ve learned to grieve. It’s a whole lot better than holding things in and allowing them to fester.

Today I have friends who are more than willing to help me get over the rough spots, whether it’s grieving or anything else. They talk unashamedly about expressing their emotions (both the men and the women) and aren’t afraid to turn to each other when their own strength needs shoring up.

Though I’m always there for them, and especially sensitive to someone else’s needs, I still find it hard to be honest and open about my own feelings—my own struggles. Old habits die hard but I’m trying to stop saying I’m fine when I’m not. Even that is a huge step for a girl who comes from a family who discouraged expressing your feelings. For a girl who was beaten up, picked on, and humiliated by peers who took pleasure in seeing her cry.

Accepting Ourselves Fully and Completely

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691NIt’s a legacy I inadvertently passed on to my daughters. One struggled with the same issues I did, the other became hard and cold. It’s a legacy which has to stop, if not with me, with the daughter who’s as overly sensitive as me. She needs to know it’s OK to openly grieve, whether it’s a friend, a grandparent, or a beloved pet. She and her own children need to know it’s OK to be human.

As humans, anger is the easiest emotion to express. Too often, we use it indiscriminately to mask softer emotions like grief, worry, and insecurity. Unfortunately, being angry all the time as a mechanism for protecting our softer selves tends to make us appear hard and cold. If carried on too long, we start to become the persona we’ve assumed.

We need to accept and own our emotions fearlessly. They are as much a part of us as fear, and deserve to be expressed. Those who try to use them against us are simply not our people. It might take awhile to find those who accept our whole package, emotions and all, allowing us to express those emotions in a healthy manner. We may stumble a few times, and get hurt many more.

Finding those who do accept our complete selves are the rainbow we find at the end of a long storm that seems to thrive on our misery and discomfort. But when we find them, when we’re finally allowed to be and express our true selves, both happy and sad, the trip through that storm ceases to matter. Only the end of the journey will remain in our hearts and memories. And I finally found my soft place to land.

Gratitude Heals Our Wounds

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who accept me as I am, and instead of running away when I’m barely holding on, offer me lifelines.
  2. I’m grateful for for the many cats who’ve traveled through this lifetime who’ve allowed me to be who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  3. I’m grateful for storms because there are rainbows at the end.
  4. I’m grateful for the many layers I’ve uncovered as I travel the roads this lifelong journey leads me on.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, friendship, joy and sorrow, storms and rainbows, all the cats I’ve loved, and those I’ve yet to meet and love, dancing, 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

If We’re Perfect in Our Dreams, Why Are We Less So Awake?

As Perfect As Our Dream Selves

Like many women, I spend a lot of time focusing on my weight. Whether I do it overtly or not, I am telling myself I’m not good enough at my current weight and that I need to lose some of my excess baggage. The trouble is, as long as I keep telling myself I’m overweight, I’ll continue doing things to maintain the status quo, hard as I try to alter my behavior.

I realized something recently which rather confounds me. In my dreams, I’m always at my ideal size and weight! What this means is, deep down inside my subconscious, I am perfect just the way I am. I’m not critical of my weight or my complexion or any of the million and three things we find to dislike about ourselves or at the very least, want to improve upon.

It made me realize we have many conflicts within ourselves. The obvious one is mind vs. heart. And maybe this is simply one aspect of that conflict. Our mind sees fault and our heart—well, it sees, if not perfection, lack of imperfection. Our heart loves us unconditionally and our mind nitpicks us to death. While our heart thrives on adventure and change, our mind wants to keep things the same at all costs.

Live a Peaceful Life. Stop the Internal Strife.

Do you see where I’m going with this? We seem to spend our lives fighting with ourselves, and it has to stop! If we can’t find a way to make our own facets get along and find compromises, how are we going to successfully maneuver the 60-lane high-speed highway of humanity, all struggling to make their internal voices get along?

I’ll be the first to admit people annoy me, sometimes constantly, while others, it’s a dull rumble at the back of my mind. In pretty much every case, if I take a step back and disconnect from the situation, I’ll find what’s annoying me is something I fight within myself. The harder I’m fighting to control or change something I, myself am guilty of, the uglier my response when I see it in someone else. Think how much more pleasant I’d find other humans if I’d just stop hating all the things that make me unique. If I’d stop considering those qualities flaws.

Amplify the Heart’s Voice

I suspect the me I see in my dreams is my heart’s attempts to show me the part which really matters is anything I want her to be. She isn’t constrained by physical characteristics, false modesty, or vanity. She goes on adventures and sometimes things don’t turn out so well. But she gets up, deals with the consequences, and moves on, happy to be alive.

In my dreams, I never go shopping and find nothing fits right or looks good. I never overeat or otherwise abuse myself. That isn’t to say I haven’t been awful to other people, but those dreams invariably wake me, leaving me shaken and confused about what transpired in the depths of my subconscious.

Not all my dreams are memorable or self-involved. Often I’m someone else entirely, or even playing multiple parts. Sometimes, I don’t even remember what I dreamed or even that I did, but those nights are rare. My already overactive imagination runs rampant when I stop thinking about all the mundane crap we fill our lives with, and allow whatever lurks in my shadows to come out and play.

Coming out of the Shadows

Maybe that’s really the answer. If we let our shadow selves come out and play more of the time, we’d have less time to think critical thoughts about ourselves. We’d be less inclined to judge others by the faults we’ve manufactured and magnified about ourselves.

I was listening to a web broadcast talking about comparison, but I think what they said works as well for judgement too. Essentially, when you find yourself judging someone else, step back and recognize 5 things in them you find amazing. But don’t stop there. Look at yourself, and recognize 5 of your own amazing qualities. By doing this, you’ve cut off 2 damaging and pointless processes in your mind. You’ve stopped looking at someone else through your own pain and discontent, and you’ve cut that discontent off at the knees by seeing yourself in a kinder, more accepting light.

When a person is unhappy or discontented, the emotions color their outlook; darken how they look out upon the world. Take them low enough, and they fail to see even the most beautiful visions through their darkened viewpoint. A conversation with them about the virtues of almost anything is an exercise in frustration.

Asking for Help When the Gloom Overtakes Us

https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbYet we all go down that road at times. We see everything that can go wrong, and nothing that has already gone right. We are Eeyore’s who can see darkness on the sunniest of days. Sometimes we can pull ourselves out of it alone. We can make a conscious effort to see the beautiful flowers, smell the delectable scents, and hear the sweet sound of birdsong.

But sometimes we can’t, and find ourselves sliding further and further down into the abyss of misery and gloom. We might know on a conscious level that getting up and moving, or a change of scenery will help improve our outlook. But we’ve reached a point where we don’t think we are worth the effort. Hard to believe we personally could sink that low, especially on one of our good days. But we are all there at times.

Offering Help to a Friend in Need

You might look at someone who is always happy and smiling, always has a kind word for someone else. But I promise you, they have days when they struggle too. There are times when their body gives up for a while, forcing them to stop and deal with everything they’ve been holding back or covering up with their sunny disposition.

What’s my point in mentioning this here? It’s simple. If we’re conscious of our own drops in mood and do our best to counteract them, we’ll become more conscious and sensitive to the moods of the people around us.

I have a good friend who lights up the room whenever she walks in. She’s a spark of energy, much like Tinkerbell, flitting around the room, bringing everyone joy. But there are times I can feel her energy wane—when she’s expended so much energy keeping everyone else up, she’s worn herself out—used herself up. She won’t admit it unless someone asks her point-blank. Even then, she’ll try to sidestep the question.

Nevertheless, she, too has to step back and recharge from time to time, even if she waits until her body forces the issue with a sucker punch to the gut. I can see some of myself in her too. She doesn’t easily ask for help. Sure, she’ll ask for rides because she doesn’t see well at night, but I have yet to see her ask for help with something which affects her deeply. Granted, I may just not be one she feels comfortable reaching out to, but I do see her struggling with some pretty hairy stuff, though she may not realize I see it.

Clear Your Crud and Be A Friend

At any rate, returning to my point about consciousness and sensitivity, being aware and available to those who may not willingly reach out and ask for help is something we can only do if we stop allowing the negative voices to tear us down. When we stop listening, or tell them they’ve said their piece and can now go sit in the corner and think about their meanness for awhile, we’re ready to listen to what those around us aren’t saying, but are communicating silently. We can offer help even if it’s rejected 75 times because maybe the 76th will be our opportunity to help someone climb over a few of the boulders that have tumbled down and are blocking their way.

Our perfectly imperfect selves may be just what another person needs to refocus on what’s good and beautiful in their lives and send the sad, depressing, down-pulling side of themselves back into the dark corner it crawled out of. That side will always be within each of us. It’s our choice whether or not to allow it to affect our lives.

When All Else Fails, Try Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who help me see my beauty, and realize the faults I see are my dark side trying to gain a foothold.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to help others, but also for finally learning to accept their help when I need it.
  3. I am grateful for days when I feel unmotivated, only to have them turned around by a chance word, a bright spot amidst the darkness.
  4. I am grateful for sunshine and rain, darkness and light, days when everything goes right, and days when things seem to snowball downhill fast. It gives me perspective and the realization that nothing stays the same for long. The only constant is change.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, discovery, inspiration, motivation, opportunities, green lights, energy and even sloth, health, peace, 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

 

Mired in Negative Energy, Looking For Solutions

Recognizing Energy Drains

As more time passes and the dancers are scattering further across the available venues within 100 miles of #Borderline I’m seeing a palpable difference in our habitual positive energy. Many of us are quick to find reasons why an alternative location won’t work instead of looking for ways to be happy and engaged no matter what.

I’ve fallen victim to the malaise myself, discounting an old club where I used to dance for any and all reasons, good or terrible. Sure, I’ve found places I like to be even if they’re not optimal. But no one place makes our entire group happy any more. What some of us find enjoyable, others find reasons to dislike, often sight unseen. Again, I’m as guilty as the next person.

One thing is certain. It’s making me sad to see my family fragmented in this way; unhappy with no good solution in our foreseeable future. It’s not that people aren’t trying to find solutions which work for everyone. But really, how is that possible short of turning back time and making it so the shooting never happened? We’re all carrying around feelings we don’t express, often because we’re still confused and trying to come to terms with our own loss; our own grief.

Replacing the Irreplaceable

I know a huge part is the uniqueness of Borderline. Windows all around so we could see when the sun set, the moon rose, the weather outside, even traffic on the freeway. Missing too is our twice-weekly dose of youthful energy. As much as so many of the younger crowd ignored dance floor etiquette in their youthful exuberance, they could be forgiven because of the joy and carefree-ness the injected into our home; the place we all came to dance.

By contrast, our temporary home, while welcome, is dark and cave-like. The black-painted walls and ceilings disappearing into the darkness, the tables so spread out and separated by space that the closeness, the intimacy we took for granted is elusive at best. I no longer wander the room connecting with my friends. Everyone has formed groups which are no longer as open and welcoming. It feels instead like we’re all holding on for dear life and frankly, slipping deeper into the abyss for all our efforts. It scares me to see us falling into such disarray so quickly.

Finding an Island in Our Sea of Darkness

Created with CanvaThe one place I believe the feelings are still holding is the paltry, one-night-a-month gathering we’re allowed at the winery which so graciously hosted us in November and December. Though they’ve expressed a willingness to host us more often, out of respect for Borderline’s owner, we’re only taking advantage of the offer once a month.

But Thursday nights at the venue he’s secured don’t work for a lot of the older crowd because it’s at least an hour away for those of us either close to, or West of our dance home. I’m not alone in my unwillingness to spend an hour or more in rush hour traffic to dance on a sticky floor when I could have been dancing on the winery’s more knee-friendly one. I feel bad not supporting the staff during the shut-down, but as a better alternative is available closer to home, I’m doing what most of us do and looking out for myself (and my poor, abused knees) first.

Weakening Old Familiar Bonds

In the process of figuring out and meeting my own needs, the part which saddens me most is it https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4seems I’m leaving some of my old friends behind. As we split apart based on our dancing preferences (predominantly couples dancing with some line dancing mixed in vs. predominantly line dancing with some couples dancing) we spend less time together. Our regular dance nights of Thursday and Saturday are difficult to maintain, especially Saturdays. Thursdays, though they’re mid-week seem to be easier to fill for some reason, so we’re challenged to find places for Saturdays which suit more of us, or doing something else entirely.

Lest you think I’m giving up, willingly allowing it all to slip away, let me assure you, nothing is further from the truth. I’ve seen some excessively late nights when I joined a group traveling to a club over an hour away which has an amazing dance floor. The patrons and staff has opened their arms to us homeless ones. I’ve stayed out far later than I’m used to as part of a carpool which likes to stay well past midnight as opposed to my usual 10 or 10:30.

Creating Our Own Alternatives

I visit the club created for us as a temporary home and on a night which had typically been “College Night”, dancing selectively to spare my knees and doing my best to stay connected with those I see less often now. Granted, I don’t go every week, but at least once or twice a month; sometimes more.

And I either hold or participate in gatherings at peoples’ houses where we talk, laugh, eat, and maybe play board games. I’m also there when one of the dance instructors graciously opens their home to the dancers. In fact, those are often my favorites, second to the dances at the winery. It’s a time when we can all connect and try to make up for the times in between when we’re so far apart, and not just physically.

We’re all adjusting, while we continue to hope police reports, insurance claims, and lawsuits are resolved sooner than later so our home, or a reasonable facsimile can once again host us on Thursdays and Saturdays. So our lives can, with dancing at least, return to some kind of normal. The dancing we do now is healing. But I believe the healing process will be greatly enhanced when we can at least get back to our regular nights, in a regular place with the staff we’re used to seeing every week. At least those who remain.

Always Finding Reasons to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the strength and resilience of the dance community.
  2. I am grateful for the efforts of all concerned to get things back to normal.
  3. I am grateful for my friends, the circle that was, and the circle that is now.
  4. I am grateful for routines I’ve set for myself; gym, writing, working, meditation. They all serve to keep me grounded when my world is tilted off-kilter.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, dancing, inspiration, hope, confidence, dreams, visions, opportunities, health, peace, 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

When Some of Life’s Dances Have Steps That Elude Us

Holes and Boulders

Meditations in my house are typically a family affair but some days are more communal than others. When Munchkin lays across my shoulder with her head near my ear, purring as if her life depends on it, while Dylan lays on the arm of the sofa, curled in the crook of my elbow, I know the visuals will be more vivid and the messages, more clear.

Such was the scenario for a recent meditation. With my focus more on Munchkin’s soothing purr than the meditation music I grabbed from YouTube, I did a little mental inventory. What I discovered was a bit disturbing.

My heart felt like there was a huge area where nothing penetrated, but nothing came out either—almost a physical void where a piece of my heart was gone, or maybe never really existed. But it wasn’t just my heart. I felt a weight the size of a small boulder in my stomach. And yet, as far as I knew, there was nothing wrong. Never mind the migraine that started shortly after I woke up.

Allowing the Answers to Come as They Will

Since it was a meditation, I gave up any effort I might have made to indulge in self analysis, and simply allowed myself to sink into Munchkin’s purr and let the answers come of their own volition and in their own time. I didn’t have long to wait.

I allowed myself to feel the loneliness and to let the reasons slowly coalesce. I felt the sense, first, of something lost, but soon, I realized it was something I never really had. Like most people, I have my own dream of a perfect life, though since I spent so many years believing myself unworthy, I’d convinced myself at the same time I didn’t deserve the perfect life I envisioned. Of course, reality and expectation came together with uncanny accuracy.

The trouble is, I no longer believe I’m unworthy (OK, at least I don’t most of the time), and though some aspects of that perfection were lost with my youth, I realize on a rational level that, as the saying goes, I ain’t dead yet, and there’s still time to attract aspects of the old and never quite forgotten dreams.

Old Baggage Can Lead Us Astray

But I’m manifesting that belief in potentially unhealthy ways. I realized today I’ve become, on a subconscious level almost desperate to receive the love and cherishing I see so many of my friends enjoying. Perhaps it’s a double-edged sword to now have a social circle of loving, giving people who are in the kind of relationships I will admit I want for myself when I’m not in my favorite home away from home, the State of Denial.

The result is that my sensitivities are like a nest full of baby birds when mom arrives with a freshly chewed worm, but I react, not to food but to a little attention from the male of the species. Somehow, my heart and brain get all tangled up and look for reasons to believe the attention is more than it is, or that I’m getting a little more from the gentleman in question than the plethora of single women in the vicinity.

The Epic Battle Between Heart vs. Head

Needless to say, I have a near-constant internal battle going on. Picture Dr. Doolittle’s Push Me-Pull You as the battle between my heart and head, each one trying to control which direction my entire self goes. If you consider all the times I’ve been oblivious when someone really was more than superficially interested and I failed to give the right signs which would have indicated mutual interest, you can see what a convoluted mess I put myself in. And why my heart feels like half of it is a black hole and my gut feels like I’ve swallowed a brick whole.

The truth is, even if a guy was to show an interest, it would have to be so blatantly obvious, the entire world could see it before it would get through my dysfunctional brain and register a need for me to give some kind of affirmative response. Needless to say, there may or may not be at least a couple who turned their attentions elsewhere because I failed to follow the steps of the one dance I never managed to learn.

Friends Just Want Friends to be Happy

Another down-side to having so many happily coupled friends is they have a tendency to want all of their friends to be as happy and cherished as they are. Too often, my well-meaning friends will try to convince me that someone is more than casually interested. I’ll start paying closer attention to my interactions with said male, only to realize that both I and my friend were seeing something we wanted to see, and not what was really there.

To top it off, I’m beginning to believe despite my observations that men are dating women 20 years their junior, looking 15-20 years younger isn’t the same thing. All too often, I’m feeling like I get written off because someone thinks I’m in my 40’s. Good grief! Can’t ya cut a girl a break? I used to believe my daughter was just being sweet, but lately, others have made the same mistake, with one person telling me I didn’t have the hands of a 60-year-old. (insert huge, heartfelt sigh)

I’ve Been Lonely So Long

I never thought I’d see the day I’d say, much less type these words, but the truth is, I’m tired of always being alone. I’d love to have someone to spend a rainy Friday night with, curled on the sofa talking, or reading, or watching something mindless on TV. I won’t go so far as to say I could handle having someone with me all the time, but a couple of nights a week and someone I could count on for more than the occasional dance would be nice.

Of course, this could be my personal version of a mid-life crisis, typically later than normal as everything I do seems to be. It could be too many Hallmark movies, or too many misconstrued acts of simple kindness. I don’t really know any more. Perhaps it’s something women of a certain age go through when they’ve been alone for too many years.

Using the Energy of Frustration Towards the Greater Good

Whatever the reason, I know I need to find something or someone to fill up that empty place in my heart. I thought my resident felines were enough, but even there, I’ve been deluding myself, and they’ve probably known it all along. I also know the best way to fill the hole is by giving of myself, and that route is far less open to interpretation than areas where my perceptions are more than slightly askew.

In my usual convoluted and misdirected fashion, I seem to have hit on the solution to the problems with my heart and gut. My gut still says it isn’t what it wants (funny, as you’d think my heart would weigh in, yet it’s unnaturally silent), but since neither of us has a clue as to where to find help lifting off the brick that seems to have settled in for a long winter’s nap, finding someone or something who could use an extra pair of hands will fill the space for now. I’m open to suggestions, but of course, would prefer it to be something in my geographical area and not affiliated with any religious organization or purpose.

Finding the Rule Book Everyone’s Read, but Nobody Has

Am I truly alone in this? Do others find they just don’t know how to play those interpersonal games? Have others, as I have, failed to learn the rules of the game, or even lack a desire to play games with their heart in the first place? So many times, I wish I had the ingenuousness of a 5-year-old who would simply say: “Hi. I like you. Wanna play?”

Can you imagine how many would run screaming in the other direction if I did that? It would break every rule in the handbook of interpersonal skills that is probably one of the rare books which never made it into my extensive personal library.

Gettin’ By

For now, you can find me at the dance hall a couple of nights a week, the gym, my requisite 3 days, and perhaps feeding the homeless, or filling boxes for our military personnel far away from home. And writing little ditties like this one twice a week, hoping to help someone else feel less alone as they meander through life without an instruction manual or even a map to alert them to upcoming land mines.

One thing I have found as I stumble and fumble is we are not meant to be alone, and though we might not find “the one” right away, or even in this lifetime, there are always people around who love us and care about us. We just have to crawl out of our cocoons once in a while and look around, feel the sunshine on our faces, and spread those beautiful butterfly wings we grew while hiding out for so long.

Remembering My Unlimited Supply of Blessings

And of course, find things large and small to be grateful for:

  1. I am grateful for the people who allow me to touch their lives with my stumbles and fumbles.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who are snuggly, demanding, and sometimes ornery.
  3. I am grateful for my daughter who keeps me connected to the world even when I don’t come outside for days on end. She reminds me there are frustrations, but also causes for joy and amusement.
  4. I am grateful for the writing and the people I get to meet because of it. There’s an entire world of people out there with incredible imaginations, who are caring, accepting, and understanding of some of my struggles.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, health, sanity (at least some of the time), energy, spirit, blessings, prosperity, goals, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

About the Author

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 ghostwriting 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

August 17, 2014 Information overload

I’ve been feeling really drained and tired the last couple of days, and the reason finally became clear.  I’ve been allowing myself to get pulled into stuff I have no business giving my attention to on social media, and realized that it has to stop.  Though I’m honest enough with myself to realize that I won’t avoid social media entirely, I can commit to passing on having it open 24/7, checking in from everywhere I go, and, in general, just being less connected overall.  I still have ways for the people who are important to me to get in touch, so I don’t feel like I’m really going to lose much by being less available.

Meanwhile, the time I’ve been spending monitoring my accounts will be put to much better use on things like writing, studying and the constant battle to keep my environment decluttered.  In fact, I feel as if the energy blocks I’ve been experiencing, both mental and physical, are directly attributable to the direction I’d allowed myself to be pulled.  My initial actions, therefore, have been to remove posts which convey the wrong message, and to apologize for the words I misspoke.

Last week, before I started my downward spiral, I made excellent progress on clearing out Heather’s old room.  What’s left needs to be sorted, either put away, thrown away or re-homed.  I’ll then be ready to pull up the linoleum and do some some serious scrubbing.

I look around my house and yard and think “I need to do such and so”  but never manage to get around to it because I’m putting too much time and energy into things which don’t matter and, in fact, might even be harmful to me and others.

I’m sure I’m not alone in being occasionally drawn into things which really don’t matter in the overall scheme of things.  I do tend to take it too far at times, until I’m mired in a lot of negatively charged topics at the expense of both my ideals and my purpose.

Thankfully, I have friends who have divergent beliefs, ideals and ways of life who remind me, usually unintentionally on their part, to get back to what’s important and leave the cow poop behind me!  Adding to or creating drama on Facebook is a pile of cow poop that would bring tears to the eyes of the Bandini execs!  I therefore will my share to them, that they can make much better use of it than I.    Vegetable garden, anyone?

Speaking of vegetable gardens, I hear that digging in the dirt is good for you on many levels.  As I start to complete those decluttering projects, reinstating the vegetable garden my daughter started a couple of times is high on the list.  I had followed some links to sites which sold organic (non Monsanto screwed with) seeds,  and can see some purchases along with a good book on organic gardening in my future.   Sadly, I failed to maintain the fruit trees I planted, so, as near as I can tell, only one, maybe two have survived.  The plum tree is thriving, though fruitless, as I gave it a good trimming, have done some weed abatement, and now water it regularly (putting the task on my weekly to do list helps!)  I hope to save the citrus tree if I haven’t left it for too long.    If either of the cherry trees, the apricot tree or the pluot tree are salvageable after my years of neglect, I will be incredibly grateful, but frankly, I don’t hold out a lot of hope right now.  I will be thrilled to be proven wrong on this one!

Recipe for growth: One part, setting of intentions, ten parts, gratitude

I’ve learned many useful things over the last few years, but the two which have borne the most fruit have been in publicly setting my intentions and remembering, always, to be grateful. I’ve also learned that as soon as I forget or spend more time complaining than being grateful, my world and everything in it begins to respond contrarily to what I desire. I experience more weird maladies and upset stomachs; clogged throats and headaches, until I wake back up and realize what I’m doing to myself, and, frankly, everyone around me, and stop sabotaging myself.

Although I don’t yet respond to an early warning system when I’ve gone off track, I do, eventually, get it, and redirect my energies. I’d like to believe that I’m getting the message sooner rather than later these days, but as I’m not exactly keeping score, I can’t really say. In the meantime, I am just grateful for an end to this episode of “As the downward spiral spins” and look forward to a long, productive period of gratitude, attention to intentions and productivity.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my friends whose selfless actions remind me when I’ve drifted into territory which conflicts with my goals and desires.
2. I am grateful for periods of negativity which remind me how much I appreciate being positive.
3. I am grateful for projects which would, if all undertaken, keep me busy and out of trouble for years to come.
4. I am grateful for the many opportunities I’m given to improve myself and the world around me.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, harmony, happiness, peace, productivity, health and prosperity.

Namaste

August 10, 2014 Learning not to take things for granted

Out of sight, out of mind

This weekend finds me being put well into my place. For a number of reasons, I missed a semi-annual gathering of friends and acquaintances who share a common history. As posts popped up on social media to let various people know they were missed, none were directed at me. At first, I felt hurt as, when I’ve attended in the past, I was greeted with a genuine welcome by many, and spent several hours talking to and laughing with the people.

I realize now that though the friendliness and welcome were real, once I walked out the door, to most, I was just another face in the crowd. It’s nobody’s fault but my own for assuming too much.

I’m not going to start making the usual excuses for people (busy lives, lots of other people to see…) because they don’t need any. It’s nobody’s job to make me feel welcome, included, or missed. It’s on my own head for thinking it might be.

I’ve gotten very spoiled, though. If I miss a single night of dancing without letting everyone know ahead of time why, I know I’ll take a lot of ribbing from my dance friends about my whereabouts and failure to ask permission. But not everyone can, will or should love me that way. The dance crowd has spoiled me, and the spoiling is good. I love them all, see them regularly, even do non-dance things on occasion (like a concert in the park today!).

One size does not fit all!

The truth is, we have people we know at different levels. Aside from family who may or may not be interested in our welfare or whereabouts, at the top of the list is Friends. After that, it’s a slow downward progression to acquaintances, people we see on occasion and play the social nice game, and finally strangers. Expecting anyone but friends to care whether you’re around or not is both egotistical and ludicrous.

Forgive and remember

My task for today is to forgive myself for overestimating my own importance to others, to remember the lesson, and to find even more joy on those people I call “Friend”, or, better still, my extended family.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I appreciate lessons, even when those lessons take me down a peg or two.
2. I am grateful for the people who give me crap when I’m not where they expect me to be.
3. I am grateful for a wonderful Concert in the Park with a few of those who truly make me feel wanted and appreciated.
4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned in forgiveness and acceptance.
5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, love, friendship, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Namaste

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