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

Posts tagged ‘gratitude’

Recognizing Stress for the Fears it Masks

Self-Imposed Stress Inducers

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-cS691NHoliday stress. It affects each person in different ways, and for different reasons. For me, like most people, it’s a combination of things, but not what you might expect.

Cleaning stresses me out. My house is never pristine, and though I keep up with things like the kitchen and cat boxes, I am lucky to vacuum and mop once a week, much less, the two or three times my house needs because of my messy little fur balls. I’m not as bothered during the normal course of the year, but while getting ready for my annual Thanksgiving Feast, I pushed myself pretty hard to get floors and bathrooms scrubbed. As a result, my weekly cleanings suffered for a little while after as I recuperated from the frenzy; more mentally than physically.

Maintaining my writing schedule, while a labor of love can make me a little crazy during the holidays too. After Thanksgiving, it took me a couple of weeks to get back to my schedule of three weeks ahead. By then, Christmas week was looming, I had wrapping to do, and plans to make for the trip to my kids’ house. Still and all, I managed to get the wrapping done and all the paraphernalia stowed away for another year with about four days to spare; a new record!

Recognizing My Worth Via Someone Else’s Eyes

Leaving home for a few days stresses me out too. I know my home and cats are Created in Canvain good hands while I’m gone, but I do miss waking up to my own furries, especially Dylan and Pyewacket who love to sleep on my head, and wake me with kisses.

My biggest stresser, 6 years and a month into my self-employment journey is still marketing. Both my daughter and I have a hard time talking about ourselves, our strengths, and our accomplishments. She’s figured it out a little better than me, though. She roughed out what she needed for her grad school application, then sent it to me to, in her words, “fluff it out”.

What it really meant was I took what she wrote and added in some more of her relevant experience and accomplishments which triggered her to expand on them herself. It made me realize maybe I need to draft something to promote myself and give it to her to “fluff out”. She certainly sees me through more generous eyes than I do.

Learning to Focus on My Qualities

The question is, what might that be? I’ve put my second pass through LeadsLab on hold for the moment, while working on getting back on schedule with my writing projects. Maybe when I get back to it, I should write something up, then pass it on to her to inject some of the me she sees?

I admit I’m my own worst critic, and am least able to recognize the things I do well. I annoy the crap out of my daughter when I dismiss her assertions about what she thinks I’m good at. In the first place, I do her a huge disservice by dismissing her perfectly valid and objective opinions. In the second, I short-change myself. I’m not sure which hurts her more, to be honest.

Letting Go to Move Forward

The Tower from the Spiral TarotIn the weeks leading up to the New Year, I wrote a lot about changes I want to make for the new decade, and goals I want to accomplish. I think it’s also important to focus on what needs to be released. Here are a few of mine which really need to go:

  • False modesty
  • Disrespecting people by dismissing their positive opinions regarding my work and talents
  • Fear of disappointing anyone, including myself
  • Procrastination
  • Quitting before I give it a genuine, heartfelt effort
  • Letting one person’s opinion stop me in my tracks
  • Submitting to the distractions of Social Media and email

This list might be short, but each item is holding me back in many ways, and it’s time I stopped allowing excuses, fears, and outdated beliefs to stand between me and the greatness of which I’m capable.

Self-Motivating

Some say you have to either get angry enough or desperate enough before you’ll fight for what you truly want. I can see the truth in someone like J.K. Rowling who was in dire straits when she fought to get her first “Harry Potter” book published. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for an external reason to get my butt in gear. It motivates some, but it doesn’t mean everyone needs an external force.

I look back over my life and see how many things I’ve accomplished on my own. I also see I could have done so much more if I’d learned to ask for help a whole lot sooner than I did. I was taught not to by a long line of ancestors. It’s been my daughter who’s helped me see what I was taught was probably my biggest self-limiting belief.

Old habits are hard, but not impossible to break. I’m still learning who and what to ask when I need help. I don’t always recognize I’m doing something which could be greatly simplified if I ask for help from the right people. I’ve also asked for help from the wrong people at times, which made me a little gun shy. Not to mention the many times I asked for help in the wrong way. Small wonder I didn’t get the results I’d hoped for, and I’ve no one to blame but myself.

Using Other People as a Mirror

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rLife is one long learning curve with switchbacks, dead ends, and the occasional sharp, steep drop that lands you on your ass in a pile of rubble. I’ve learned the hardest part of those falls isn’t getting up afterwards. It’s finding the lesson and not giving up. It’s far too easy to say: Doing that made me crash and burn. I guess it means I’m not meant to succeed. I used that worn out excuse too often myself, and have likely missed a few amazing opportunities.

Yet I’ve learned by watching my daughter that sometimes we’re supposed to miss a few opportunities so we have time to build our confidence and get ready, not for an amazing opportunity, but for the amazing opportunity.

In spite of it all, I’ve always told my girls that when things seem to be falling apart the worst, be it a lost job, lack of opportunities, a few harsh realities smacking you in the face; if you hang in there, things always turn out better than they would have been had you not been booted out of a comfortable, if uninspiring place. My words have not proven false yet.

Timing Isn’t Everything. Starting Is.

It’s taking me a little longer to find my footing this time, but until lately, I really wasn’t putting forth a lot of effort. I wasn’t expecting much of myself. That all changed a couple of months ago, though it’s taking me a little while to hit my stride. Perhaps making major changes just before the holidays wasn’t my best choice of timing. I do, however, work best under pressure. I had to learn how to do it when the only real pressure came from inside myself.

I’d say it’s working if my jumpy stomach and anxiety over catching up on missed deadlines is any indication. At the moment, there’s absolutely no one breathing down my neck or having expectations of me. I have no one to satisfy; no external deadlines to meet.

What I do have is a Trello board full of deadlines for my own work:

  • Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday blog posts
  • Edits and postings of chapters of “Sasha’s Journey”
  • Re-writes of all but 4 chapters of “Rebuilding After Suicide”
  • Research into publishing options
  • Learning to write an effective query letter
  • Learning to create a synopsis for non-fiction
  • Publishing both books

Recognizing and Acknowledging My Support Team

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rbh/4549085259/in/photolist-TBE2Nw-p4EDEt-TtPDPz-T6fYRE-WessCa-5aopSw-7VZfyt-ihp3jf-ekkzYU-dmX7yH-9XZhkA-5aooT5-TdHezm-b2Jtm4-ekkCk7-e2akL2-ekeVB6-k52jg-W218xN-5ahpwJ-9WoYHJ-d8ZSaC-9WVckM-dmX7a8-5a2rPt-bAkTRr-5aoogS-eQjvsU-fKHzgW-VeN9y3-5aimQk-5fy8qh-e2aadv-5anCeQ-ekkB5Q-W9ExL4-9mo7Zz-VZfQY7-fKraHx-aFayE2-ekkDFA-Sn7nK9-55Kh4v-ekeSRt-bk1R1Y-9DZ7ZJ-dmX9XU-RZ7W4o-chvcYj-qwtAJXI have at least two people who’ve been kicking my butt to get these things done. One has even implied I’m depriving a lot of people of my work by failing to complete the re-write and get the darn thing published. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. I may have had a few experiences with people benefiting a little from the words I wrote, but not enough to make me believe my words and experiences could actually help a lot of people.

Looking back at that last paragraph, I realize it’s partly a lie I keep telling myself. I wouldn’t be driven to keep writing and sharing my own struggles if I didn’t truly believe they might help someone else who’s having a tough time. If I’m lying to myself to hold back from rushing headlong for some of the goals I set 6 years ago, it’s because I’m allowing fear to take the wheel. I talk a good story about letting fear have a voice but no voting rights and no driver’s license, but my words have no meaning if I don’t live them myself.

I think the theme for 2020 and beyond is not so much facing my fears, as living my truth.

Gratitude to Chase Away the Fears

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the reminders to put fear back in the corner.
  2. I’m grateful for the people in my life who push me to be my best, and remind me of my worth.
  3. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve set for myself, and how I’ve been able to rise to and even above them.
  4. I’m grateful for the physical reminders that I’m on the right path, even though it’s often scary as hell.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; supportive friends and family, topics to write about, motivation, inspiration, love, joy, productivity, health, peace, prosperity, harmony, balance, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

The Unheralded Gift of Movement

Making Movement a Priority in My Life

As the time until I’m eligible for Medicare grows shorter, I often stop to think, not about the aches and pains that have come with age and a body well-used, but with gratitude for all the things I can still do, mostly without thinking twice.

Not only do I walk almost daily on purpose, but I still park farther from stores than I need to, both to avoid the usual bottleneck of people waiting for a closer parking spot, and to give myself a chance to add steps and make my Fitbit happier. I dance and do strength training regularly, do my own heavy cleaning, and fix what I can around the house.

Even 20 years ago, I had friends who’s mobility was impaired for one reason or another, and realized my own was not something to take for granted. It’s not that I don’t have limitations. I think everyone does in one area or another. I’ve simply chosen not to allow a little bit of pain or a temporary setback like knee surgery slow me down any longer than necessary.

Pushing Through Pain, But Doing it Smartly

Perhaps that’s the key to remaining, if not in perfect shape, at least more active 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-jk3BYpthan many in my age and weight class. I’m grateful for what I am able to do, but also unwilling to slow down for minor aches and pains.

Sure, when my knees resemble softballs, I’ll take a short break, but it’s only so I can get back out on the dance floor or take my daily walks without excessive discomfort. It rarely occurs to me I might do myself damage without the break. It’s merely a few harsh lessons that have taught me to listen to my body when it says it’s time to stop for a little while so I can go more later.

Habits We Start When We’re Young

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hanuska/16371662835/in/photolist-qWH3YT-h3KDEM-ewdvhp-e9cCB-6Wf1h7-9iRoH2-89tR5w-89tQSA-7skA4b-7pBtca-49z4DU-6TNaBU-otqsxk-4KAQus-7vuw6o-8afGXv-6hw7Tk-APopNz-AL6QNw-s54FqX-NmuqLf-2ix4T1-pQjPE7-TxLjHh-67Je8b-dDzvwJ-67Jesh-2WQ4zq-8z2ufX-7vuwP9-z1sx5G-oc8Axy-a6br61-hw2FTF-p16gZp-dTB5hW-nZBebF-gmjmkX-pEum5b-pErusD-obWc5n-fcvgnp-pWGBhX-eJNrGA-54tbDb-H8SaT-dRtQeu-qATRHy-hRTeai-2m98ecMy neighborhood is an interesting mix of age groups these days. My neighbors on three sides are in their 80’s. Some have slowed down quite a bit. Those who have, are often those who smoked a good part of their younger lives. The couple next door still takes daily walks, and he can be found in his garage building things regularly, if at a slower pace than a few years ago.

More and more, families are moving in with kids, or expanding with births or children moving back home. At one time, my girls were the only young ones around. Now I see packs of teenagers, mothers (and sometimes dads) pushing strollers, and backpack laden kids walking to and from one of the local schools. The cats and I see a real cross-section of society from my office window.

Watching them throws me back to my own teenage years when I walked or rode my bike most places. Even when I got my driver’s license, I didn’t have access to a car on a regular basis, so I either rode with friends, or relied on my own mobility. It wasn’t until recently I realized how lucky I was to have to stay reasonably fit so I could get around the neighborhood and roam the surrounding hills. Like most teenagers, I think I felt very deprived.

Healthy Habits I Tried Passing on to My Daughters

Things in my town aren’t spread out terribly far. I think the entire city is less https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/23800751269/in/photolist-yra2iG-DU6XM-r2jkSH-riCwfg-Cgc59v-25ZjvpP-Esa7bs-r2dktE-riCRw2-r2d16w-r2cjid-riFdFJ-r2jiQX-riJKAr-rgrJ5N-rgrymj-riJtfk-rgrtto-qmXTaB-qmXTUx-r2dc7j-riFiwf-r2cN57-rgrAKs-qmKZtd-qmKx5b-riCoxT-rgrkmb-r2bRy1-r2bSiC-rgrjHC-qmKN63-r2iWTr-qZqbLz-Jmhu1f-riJk4R-riJgvD-JNiQ5F-6fCa3j-TSPptN-R2stHj-FBknvd-yBNSqL-JNjenn-JixL6D-rgrBXC-riJFkc-riJtrT-qmKAfu-riF5aLthan 10 miles from end to end. My own kids used to traipse all over with their friends, though I learned later one of them would jump on the bus rather than walk the mile from school to home. Knee and back issues notwithstanding, I think we’re all better for it.

When my daughters were younger, I used to use Friday night dinner out as a reward for finishing all their homework without excessive nagging. As there were plenty of options within a couple of miles, we’d walk to the chosen restaurant. I found it served a couple of purposes. We could walk and talk, sharing our day, week, month, or whatever was on our minds, and we had more time to spend together focusing on each other. Of course, it was in the dark ages before cell phones!

The sidewalks posed fewer obstacles than the road, and moving slower gave us more time to see and avoid the few we encountered. In a way, I miss those slower, easier times. But we all have to evolve, even as adults. Evolution does not mean we have to give up our mobility though. Sure, some have no choice, which makes appreciating what we can do so important.

Limitations in Others: A Cautionary Tale

Long ago, I’d look to a friend who was walking with a cane before she was 45 whenever I started feeling sorry for myself. On a truly bad day, I could still do much more than she, and I’m only a few years younger. In fact, 20 years later, I can still do much more than she could in her 40’s! At the time, she was my one constant example. Today, there are so many more, including one of my daughter’s friends who has some major health issues.

Of all the challenges I’ve had to face in my life, health has never been on the list, and even more so since I’ve established healthy habits and above all, keep dancing. The best gift my mom ever gave me, though she never realized it, and I never thanked her for it, was the love of dance. It’s been a part of my life since I was 5, and has gotten me through some rough patches in my life, not the least of which were my contentious divorce and my parents’ suicides.

I won’t say I came through unscathed because of the dancing, but I did ultimately leave the pain behind and come away with a lesson well learned. One of those lessons was to keep moving no matter what. Even if that movement is limited for some reason, I’ve learned to do what I can do comfortably, then push it a little further.

Adjusting to the Inevitable Physical Changes

Sure, I’ve lost a bit over the years; flexibility, and stamina for two. I don’t allow what I’ve lost to stop me though. I don’t dwell on them. It’s a lot like fear. I acknowledge the limitations and tell them they are there for a reason, but have no voting rights; no driver’s license. I listen to what they have to say, then do what I want. If they slow me down, or try to stop me, I push them gently aside before proceeding. Then I proceed anyway.

It would be easy to look at what others around me can do that I can’t. Everyone has that choice. I’ve found doing so to be a losing proposition. It means focusing on all the can’ts until they become reality. Is that a choice anyone would make consciously? To live our limitations?

I think some people do it without realizing how self-sabotaging their thoughts can be. I know I did for a long time. I sat around the house, overeating, smoking, and letting my body slowly deteriorate. I can’t tell you when or where my turning point came, nor does it matter. I’m grateful it came and pushed me to fix what was broken or breaking before it was too late.

Keeping My Body in Motion

Sure, there are days when things hurt; knees, back, shoulders, joints in general. Once upon a time, I’d use the pain as an excuse to do nothing. I learned the hard way doing nothing increases the pain, and causes it to move around the body, and worse, the mind like inactivity. Those are now the days I get out and walk, or dance, or clean house because I’ve learned movement is quite often the best remedy for stiff joints and an aching back.

All too often, it’s not what I’ve done that makes me ache, it’s what I haven’t done. Sometimes it means pulling out the squishy orange exercise mat, the Miracle Ball, and the resistance bands to stretch out the achy parts before getting back to the business of living a life of using my body well. Often, it means getting up and taking full advantage of my ability to move as well as I still can.

Some may choose to plod slowly through life. I choose to dance joyously through the rest of my mine.

Giving My Body the Gratitude it Deserves

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the contrast I’m able to see in the life I lived previously; without movement, without dance, and without joy.
  2. I’m grateful for an abnormally high threshold for pain which allows me to push pain aside and keep moving.
  3. I’m grateful for the gift of dance my mother unwittingly gave me. It has brought me through the worst times in my life still relatively sane, and ready to take on whatever life throws me. Nothing is as bad as it could be when overlaid by the joy of dancing.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who understand where I’ve been, and how important dancing and moving are to a life well spent.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, movement, mobility, dancing, community, health, harmony, peace, friendship, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Life

 

About the Author

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

Badass by Attitude, Not Physique

Learning by Watching

Going to the gym 3 times a week gives me a lot of time to think. At the moment, I only use the strength training equipment as my daily walks and dancing give me plenty of opportunity for cardio. If I get really bored, I can always clean house!

Resting between sets, I look around and see the usual complement of men flexing, hoisting, and performing the rituals which make them a community in their own right. Though fewer in number, women form part of this community as well, though more often than not, in their own, smaller circles.

Certain ones seem to keep a similar schedule to mine and range from beginners to serious body builders, and everything in between. At one time, I would look around and compare myself to others, both favorably and otherwise, but have learned it’s a losing proposition either way. Now, I look to pick up new ideas for my own workouts; nothing more.

Earning the Right to Wear the Attitude

It’s hard not to notice those who are serious about their physical fitness though. attitudeNot only are most of them both lean and muscular, but they carry themselves with an attitude that says loudly and clearly: “Mess with me and I’ll turn you into a human pretzel without breaking a sweat!”

Still and all, their air is not so much aggressive as unapologetically confident. They’re not looking for a fight. They simply have nothing to prove—to anyone. When I see the word “badass” bandied around in so many women’s entrepreneurial groups, this is the image I see; not the skinny young woman leaning against an expensive car bragging about how she’s making 6 figures. In my mind, money (especially the fake kind) doesn’t make you badass. You only find that when you are genuinely self-confident and need no outside validation in order to feel and believe in yourself.

Needless to say, I cringe whenever I see the words “badass business babes” appearing on my news feed. In my mind, it’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes” version of business success. When a woman uses these words (and I have to say, I don’t see it used by women of a certain age, so perhaps it’s a generational thing), my mind says: This woman is seeing herself as she wants to be, not as she is.

Walking the Talk the Right Way

badassNot that this is a bad thing. Many follow the “fake it ’til you make it” doctrine. Somehow, I don’t think the intent behind that premise is to tell the world a bunch of lies in the mistaken belief they’ll buy something from you and make your declarations true. If you’re going to fake it ’til you make it, I believe the answer lies in having a genuine attitude of gratitude for what you already have, who you are, and the endless possibilities at your disposal.

I guess I class the people who use this phrase in with the ones who believe in cold calling. They’re the same ones who will send you a friend or connection request and upon acceptance, send you 12 inches of spammy sales copy in a private message. To me, that’s a clear message they are NOT uber successful, much less selling something I’d want or need.

One Woman’s Spam is Another’s Sales Style

I broached the subject of the spammy messages in my favorite Facebook group, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ekilby/16654251449/in/photolist-rnFoJn-apL7G5-8dGq5W-3w8Ke-8hXDgU-jghTD-88g1hy-5TtJq-4HTyY3-bKMwoD-gmMGf-8SggFs-aR1use-9QsYh-6Lego9-dHJajk-6Uqg5T-HBz66U-6wBgGs-6EMd2b-3i2FAx-RdqC6h-aBYCYg-8cSZJL-eSGonX-3i1qEx-ov2XaG-eSTPh3-6KYT7T-dg1bo-3i2hPa-YC8cK9-3i1vc4-f9zQVL-79EZcb-6KYSRe-josrJ-imGePS-josiC-joscd-3i6Gk9-6LbHPt-jore9-9ZD8oy-5cot6h-2un1k7-jorVf-jorbz-4H1Zbr-7GDbMJGorilla Army Nation (Getting Sales Without Being Salesy) after accepting a friend request I had doubts about. My doubts were confirmed with an immediate (if not premature as it came in before I accepted the friend request) message that began:

I’m reaching out to you because we work with thousands of clients and companies over the past 14 years to achieve their goal in their business.

What made it worse is, she mentioned a group which I stopped following months ago, and am not even posting in, which means she trolled the member list and pulled my name out of her…hat.

I’m a fairly transparent sort these days. I write a lot about my opinion on various sales processes regularly on my website in posts like Removing Desperation from Your Playlist   and How You View Relationships Makes or Breaks You.

As both posts are fairly recent, and are linked to my Facebook business page as well as LinkedIn, a cursory investigation into who I am and what I represent would bring them up for someone truly interested in learning about me as a prospective client. In all honesty, I’m not likely to do business with someone who isn’t, either as a consultant or a client. The people I choose to work with from either position are those who want to build relationships, not just get a quick fix and move on.

Doing Right by My Clients

Created with CanvaThe nature of the business I’ve chosen to build depends on getting a real feel for the person I’m working with. They have to know, like, and trust me enough to emulate their beliefs and style in a believable fashion. I have to understand them and their message on a fairly deep level in order to do that. I’m willing to put in the time it requires, but only for someone I know is as committed as me to that type of business relationship. It definitely isn’t for everyone, which is a good thing, or there’d be too little of me to go around!

One thing I detest is thinking I’ve shortchanged a client. If I do, I’ll eventually get up the nerve to reach out and see what I can do to fix things so they at least feel they got what they paid for, if not more.

Long ago, in the early days of my working life, I often heard “It’s not personal, it’s business”. That concept was fine when I was a cog in a gigantic wheel or working behind the scenes where client contact was limited to billing and payments. Still, there were a lot of facades in those days. Showing your real self; your vulnerability was almost a kiss of death.

A Warmer, More Honest Business Model

I’m grateful the hard, cold, impersonal days of doing business are behind me, but replacing them with “badass” doesn’t sit right either because in my mind, it’s merely another facade. It keeps business relationships impersonal where clients or customers are nothing more than dollars and cents on a P & L or numbers on a pipeline.

With all that said, there is definitely a place in the business world for self-proclaimed “badass business babes”. It just isn’t in my world. I prefer self-confidence that’s real and developed over time, and business relationships that aren’t forged on sleazy practices, subterfuge, and worst of all, disrespect.

Some might consider me part of the badass tribe because I do carry myself with confidence most of the time. That confidence was hard won, but its foundation is honesty and forthrightness. It can also be misconstrued if viewed from the outside without taking a look behind the curtain. Not all are brave enough to take that step.

Many who say they’re “badass” are easily discouraged or intimidated, at least from where I sit watching, listening, and taking notes.

Leading Off With an Attitude of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I don’t need labels to make me feel confident.
  2. I’m grateful for the hard lessons I’ve had which make me who I am, without the need for false advertising.
  3. I’m grateful for the people I’m connecting with and building relationships. They are my long-term and my future.
  4. I’m grateful for a world where many different business models can survive. You have to find what feels most comfortable to you, then embrace it wholeheartedly.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, vulnerability, authenticity, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, support, friendship, dancing, community, harmony, peace, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

‘Tis the Season for Giving

Who Exactly Are We Giving To?

greedI can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received with the headline “‘Tis the Season to be Giving”. Every one of them is asking me to give them some money. Now granted, they all profess to be a charity in business to care for one cause or another, and I appreciate that. But do they really get much out of those email blasts? Or are most people like me and have the causes they support already set (sometimes in stone) every year?

Do those email blasts proclaiming it’s #GivingTuesday, or #MatchingMonday, or whatever other cutesy hashtag someone comes up with really make a difference for someone directly? Call me a skeptic, but somehow, I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong. I know many organizations including the ones I choose to support depend on the generosity of others to do the good work they do. But with so many putting their hands out via my email boxes (and I have several accounts so I get the same emails 5 or 6 times, minimum) could they be putting people off of giving because of the annoyance factor?

In my mind, it’s no different than the thrice-daily emails I get from certain companies telling me today’s sale is the best ever. Really? Isn’t that what you said about the last eleventy-seven days?

Giving More Of Myself and Less Money and Stuff

I suppose it’s a small thing to let bother me, but when you proclaim it the “Season of Giving” does that mean everyone and his brother either has his hand out for donations, or is exhorting you to buy, buy, buy?

Granted, in past years, I spent way too much on gifts, and was a great deal more generous with a variety of charities. My lifestyle has changed, and so has my outlook. Gifts are simpler these days, and the truth is, the season is a lot less stressful for me and my kids as a result. We focus on finding something very special but not overly extravagant for each other. As a result, the gifts and the holidays in general are more meaningful and exude togetherness, instead of consumerism.

Helping Charities Spend Less Time Fundraising

Call me jaded, but maybe the two factions should join forces. The companies exhorting us to buy might allocate a portion of all sales to the charities needing help—without raising prices in order to do it. I know it’s a lot to ask as retail stores depend on the holidays for a large portion of their revenue. But if they made it a year-long thing, they could allocate a smaller percentage of each sale and still make a sizeable donation.

In fact, I’ll bet the charities would love having smaller quarterly donations as their costs aren’t limited to once a year, but are incurred year-round. Although the animal charities I choose to support make a big push this time of year, they have various campaigns throughout the year. One has a $5 Friday campaign that goes on all year.

The same is true for charities like #GiveAnHour and Alliance for Hope. They all need operating funds to continue the work they do all year; not just in December or January. Granted, they do a big push like everyone else in hopes they’ll have funds to operate for a good portion of the next year.

Being Kind is the Right Thing to Do

What it all boils down to, in my mind is learning to be kind to each other https://www.flickr.com/photos/68716695@N06/29720272855/in/photolist-cidCGQ-cidAbW-oxdYzL-yNtP9-axVQZG-UVaRyd-oPHnHz-aEWSPf-cidEi3-cidDJj-pq3vki-cidGwb-cidAUs-cidzEm-cidGg5-6MaBxt-cidzzm-dRCmyq-7N6Ex-9i79bM-axVQZA-cidCsC-cidBSw-cidAyL-cidE3w-dY4eeu-cidBZG-8yJgxE-MhhaFv-Lk5teP-Lk5pNa-Lk5tT4-7M2d6q-cidG7W-7LXeC6-7LXeKr-WdN5Mm-5gktq-8zGa9M-9JanH2-ghRqpv-ehWVQY-LkYuxs-Sk3zxC-TnTsSY-pEomxJ-pEomes-PPJTdd-2aVQK6S-7VzqQP24/7/365. It’s realizing we don’t always need bigger, better, faster, more compact. Maybe we can invite someone into our home for a meal and some companionship instead of springing for an expensive meal for ourselves (and yes, I’m as guilty as the next person of this one).

Most of all, let’s not do a Random Act of Kindness (RAK), then brag about it all over social media. The purpose behind RAK’s is to do something from your heart without need or desire for recognition; because in  the end, it was the right thing to do. If you need recognition for being kind, I fear you’re lacking something important in your life no amount of self-proclaimed RAK’s is going to give you. 

It isn’t always easy to admit there’s a hole in your life or heart. Too many think they need outside validation, yet when they get it, the hole remains. But giving of yourself for the wrong reasons isn’t the answer either. In truth, I wish I had the answer and could heal the large numbers who walk around looking for the missing piece, little realizing the only place to find it is within themselves.

Giving of Your Heart and Time

The greatest gift I can think of is to give someone my time, but not to commiserate or help them fall more deeply into a pity party where there’s really only room for one. This season (and beyond) I’ll be looking for ways to help people cancel the pity parties for lack of interest. I’m not sure how much success I’ll have, but I feel like I have to try. 

The best part of my plan is it’s well within my budget, and won’t put me in debt (which is definitely stress-inducing). I’m reminded of the story of the boy on the beach who’s putting starfish back into the sea. When it’s pointed out he can’t save them all, he replies he’s saved the one he just put back. I can’t help everyone, nor am I supposed to. But there are so many out there. Together, we can make a sizeable dent in the number of people feeling sad, alone, and unworthy.

Making the Holidays About More than Money

To the charities begging for my help via email, they might as well take me off their list. Funds won’t be forthcoming this year. My charitable contributions are already set. As to the stores proclaiming the magnitude of their sales, you’ll not hear from me this year either. My shopping was done weeks ago.

The time I save by not wandering through the stores or piling up tons of things needing wrapping will be better spent on more human projects. I know I don’t have to look far to find people who simply need a bit of time. Even the Grinch learned his cold, broken heart could warm and grow, not by giving stuff, but by sharing a meal and giving of his not-so-cold-hearted self.

If I have a few dollars left over by not shopping, they will go to the charities I choose to support; whose causes I believe are important to the greater good. Thank goodness what’s important to me isn’t the same as what’s important to you, so in some way, everyone should get a little this year. And who knows? Maybe some of those email blasts will actually yield sufficient funds to continue the good work they do in 2020. Here’s hoping.

Giving the Gift of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned I have so much to give that doesn’t have a monetary value.
  2. I’m grateful for the delete button on my email program.
  3. I’m grateful for smaller, less financially burdensome holidays.
  4. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the hope I see.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, time well spent, kindness without reward or recognition, friendship, warm hearts, passion, inspiration, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Triggered by Suicide…Again

Triggers Bring Memories and Healing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVLosing someone to suicide means spending the rest of your life remembering. Though the daily reminders might fade as the years go by, you never know when someone or something will bring the memories flooding back; memories of what was, but also memories of what could have been.

At the end of this month, it will be 26 years since my mom ended her life. Unlike many who lose someone to suicide, my mom and I weren’t close. In fact, I’d say we had more of a love-hate relationship. The one thing the years have done is to soften the hard edges of our conflicted love and allow me to see past her hard shell to the woman she hid from the world. Sometimes though, my new-found compassion and gentler love for the woman who gave me life, and ultimately took her own means a trigger hits me harder for the years it’s lain dormant. It’s a harsh reminder I have feelings yet to unpack, address, and release.

This time, it happened while driving past the town where I grew up. So much has changed. Even new freeway off ramps have been added in the decades since we first moved there. Miles of previously empty land is now filled with car dealerships and office buildings. Still, memories of a childhood spent running, hiking, and biking through land where deer and rabbits ran freely,  over faint paths few feet had yet to traverse erase signs of progress, After spending my first 12 years in an area surrounded by buildings and concrete sidewalks, I can still see the verdant green hills I mostly took for granted as a teenager. 

Time Blurs the Edges of My Memories

My mind didn’t only see the land for what it once was, but my life as well. It stripped away all https://www.flickr.com/photos/augustbrill/5025448773/in/photolist-8E5JQv-bj2Q3-buZES-NosS3S-bE9C2-8NP6x3-oKBJYc-7yxvUJ-4eRexw-28mE1ch-5tW6Kf-f2JEoo-acCwSd-eajL56-paxFhz-4cv8b7-7yxvw5-7D7azC-ofd2U1-4jX86v-cLpNW-7yxvPb-7yxvS7-6hKsj7-7ytH5n-6ZkEpv-nxKqWs-pz4SNk-8HDCce-gT2U3W-7AkeTX-5hzA7T-5hDXEh-fjpMeq-ceoQ2-5hzAiF-51qGYK-ceoza-51qFRM-9vkmV9-5v6EqD-ceoGA-51uTs5-51uSJo-8NP6zA-51qEZx-7zy4Hg-ceoKc-ceorH-w9TTqthe ugliness; the fights, the angry words, the years I barely spoke to my mom, leaving a bone-deep sadness. She only stayed around for 6 years of her granddaughters’ lives, though I know she absolutely adored them, and loved being a grandmother.

Forgetting for a moment how much she drove me crazy when it came to my daughters, I wondered how different things might be. Those thoughts pause with my youngest. We’ve been estranged for years, and I don’t really know her 10-year-old daughter. Would Mom’s presence have made a difference when I struggled with 2 headstrong teenagers pushing hard for the freedom of adulthood far too soon?

I spent 16 years denying any feelings for my mom’s passing other than guilt. Guilt over not feeling sad; for fighting too much and listening too little; for what I could have or would have done differently had I known how much she was struggling. For 16 years I avoided the need inside myself to acknowledge the deeper feelings of loss, abandonment, and grief.

Letting Go to Let People Help

In the last 10 years, I’ve put a lot of time and effort into unpacking those feelings; acknowledging some, denying others. I’ve shared many of them, and learned there are many others who need a non-judgemental ear, but didn’t know where to look. Breaking the seal on my own belief system concerning suicide and mental health has benefited me more than anyone, and not just by releasing pent-up feelings. I get to hear other peoples’ stories and struggles too. They’ve been a tremendous help in teaching me how to accept my own feelings without beating myself up, or hearing my dad’s voice saying; “You shouldn’t feel like that.” Words I tried hard to live up to in my false belief it would make him love me, and actually show it with kindness instead of ridicule.

In the process, I’ve had to recognize and accept the wagon load of anger I’ve been carrying towards my dad for failing to fill the void of love I believed I lost from my mom when my sister was born. I had to learn he loved me the best he could, and showed it as he’d been taught to show love. That the criticism and ridicule he’d been taught by his own parents tore away at my fragile self-esteem escaped his notice. He didn’t know how to see it. Nor did he see how hard I tried to live up to his impossible standards which, in hindsight, I don’t think he managed either. We both learned to hide it well. The tragedy is, he never learned he could stop hiding.

I’ve gained a lot while unpacking and sharing my feelings over the least decade. The greatest gift has been loving and supportive friends. Being able to accept and embrace my Empathic abilities has been a huge part of the process. More and more, I get to see the people around me opening up to theirs as well, and it strengthens our connection in ways which often surprise me.

A Time To Isolate and Process

There are still times I need to withdraw; to go inside and process my latest revelation or trigger. I’ll find myself alone in a crowd as I did the night this trigger hit—drifting from one group to the next, isolating for a few minutes, getting lost in a line dance; one only with the music and the floor beneath my feet. For the most part, each trigger reminds me of the need to keep working through feelings as they arise no matter when, where, or how. There’s no longer an option to put it off until it’s convenient. I’ve learned feelings are never convenient, and the more I stuffed them down, the less convenient they became. I have my share of meltdowns to prove that one!

Though it took awhile, I’ve learned to see the blessings more than the traumas, and that some of those traumas were necessary. I’m not the woman I was 26 years ago when mom let her demons win. Nor am I the woman I was when dad did the same 10 years later. Growth has come in stages. First I had to learn to love myself. It was probably my biggest hurdle given the number of years I’d failed to measure up to my parents’ expectations.

I spent decades telling myself I didn’t care, but the only person I might have deceived was myself, and in hindsight, that’s unlikely. Deep down inside where I stuffed all my feelings, fooling myself into believing they’d stay put, was someone who saw through all the subterfuge and attempts at self-preservation. After all, my very sanity was at stake.

Finding the Validation I Needed From Within

The voices in my head, not unlike the ones I’m sure my parents fought, never let me forget how close I came to losing it on many occasions. But do you know what? They’ve grown softer since I started acknowledging the buried feelings; not only the ones since my parents’ suicides, but the ones I tried to ignore from childhood all the way into my 40’s. Like the child I was; desperate for a demonstrative love my parents were incapable of giving, the child inside me wanted nothing more or less than to have her feelings acknowledged and validated. Only in recent years have I discovered, thanks to a lot of soul-searching and a seemingly endless flow of triggers, that all the validation I need—that I’ve ever needed is, and always will be inside myself.

This may sound weird, but in a lot of ways, I’m grateful for my parents’ suicides. They cut me loose from a lot of unrealistic expectations and allowed me to eventually start finding my own way. It gave me a chance to love and accept myself for who I am and realize I didn’t need to perpetuate old familial patterns.

They also cut me loose from a family which knew no better than my parents. Being abandoned by the rest of my family for decades turned out to be the most valuable gift I received. It gave me time, space, and new examples of the woman I wanted to be when the dust cleared and the walls crumbled. It allowed me to become part of a healthier, happier family of friends who are helping me find the person I’m meant to be without judgement or expectations.

Building a Life of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for triggers that help me learn, acknowledge, release, and move on.
  2. I’m grateful for supportive friends who’ve been through their own hell to learn to accept their feelings as valid and valuable.
  3. I’m grateful for a daughter with whom I can speak openly and honestly, even when we’re polar opposites in our beliefs.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve learned to accept the times I need to go inside and muddle through the latest batch of feelings without letting the process overwhelm me.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, triggers, lessons, challenges, opportunities, growth, empathy, compassion, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Ask an Introvert to Dance

Some Find it Hard to Ask

https://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/7340397856/in/photolist-cbDsxJ-fzRXJH-fzRU3V-GFFVME-87C3ro-epfT1v-6ixEeJ-HRLxVG-58xPj2-Xp8vtU-pXs6to-QHDGiW-t6dtT-6bsVU6-9SurWh-Wdj1Qd-odAC7i-ubQRAd-apXuRr-nJMGvb-9sCtdA-51wq2C-4KXrym-dJLEXx-dfGd8s-6yz6qi-22c7xXE-4KXt7A-219zYfG-Y6ugwd-aokdtX-WXZF7J-8k4FAh-219zYkm-rqFwgT-2gqYSkX-pKNDEY-fngxkg-2rBixn-cAMBNL-6yEkh5-cAMnRj-9Axjsh-WXZF8W-HU8RCu-E72ZqC-8nkuaw-bDCtyG-22eMwC4-64vyhJI’ve been dancing almost all my life. I started with tap and ballet when I was 5. Since then, it’s been a wild and varied ride; folk, square, round, jazz, modern, ballroom, and my current passion; all things Country. I know most of the line dances done in my area, can two-step, waltz, nightclub two-step, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, and even polka. But mostly I line dance.

It may seem strange given my repertoire but a few bad experiences and my innate shyness mean I simply don’t ask, but instead, wait to be asked which may or may not happen. Years ago I’d ask any available man to dance but after being turned down too many times, often with a lame excuse, or worse; watching him turn away after declining my request to dance with someone else, I gave it up as a bad deal. I decided being a wallflower was better than being turned down. Yes, I dance less than I’d like to. I know it isn’t personal. But a part of me feels it is and crawls further into the shell I’m still not ready to break into a zillion pieces and discard for good.

I’ve often been told I’m intimidating (though not as much lately as before I let some of my walls down). I suspect it has to do with an outward confidence I exude. In truth, it’s only real under certain circumstances. The rest of the time, it’s a carefully constructed and maintained facade originally erected to protect my soft, mushy center. While it’s rarely necessary these days, old habits die hard. The minute I feel even the least bit insecure or uncertain, my outward confidence is elevated to safeguard an ego that’s still easily bruised.

Nip Isolation in the Bud Before it’s Too Late

Even so, I trust too easily these days, letting people I shouldn’t get close. Yet given the choice, I wouldn’t do things differently. I know too well what it feels like to be less trusting; more self-contained. The reality is most introverts do not want to be alone and isolated. It’s a place to recharge, nothing more. Making isolation a permanent residence invites depression. Left with too much alone time to think, I can make a mountain out of a molehill in record time.

In the weeks surrounding the anniversary of the Borderline shooting, I read a lot of posts on Facebook from people who were feeling sad and disconnected, yet felt they didn’t have the right to feel that way since they hadn’t been there that night, nor had they lost a friend or family member. I know a lot of them were feeling the sadness and grief anyway. For many like me, it was a little bit of our own sadness, and a lot coming in from outside. Everywhere were reminders of a night many of us wish we could turn back; bring back the precious lives that were lost, and help a young man who was lost, alone, angry, and struggling.

Our community has it’s heart in the right place. Many people suggest professional help or post and re-post numbers for a suicide hotline. I try to remind people a listening, non-judgemental ear and a shoulder to lean on might be a better solution. It seems too many are still quick to shove the responsibility off on “professionals” who often then shove it off on the latest pharmaceutical wonder. If you ask me, human kindness is a more effective drug with no negative side-effects. I think it should be the first drug of choice before heading to the medical profession in most cases.

People Need to be Included

Sure, there are those who clearly need professional intervention, and I don’t mean to suggest there isn’t a time and a place to consult someone trained to guide people out of dangerous and destructive behavior. I think it might be the last resort instead of the first. But to make it so, more people have to care and be willing to put forth the effort even when it’s not convenient.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ay

For someone like me, it might mean something as simple as being included, or asked to dance. For others, it might take more effort; ask them out to coffee again and again if necessary. I remember feeling unworthy. I was the one who believed people tolerated my presence, but didn’t care whether I was there or not; who believed I was too much of a burden to befriend. I was lost and alone, never realizing the isolation I felt was a product of my own mind, ultimately manifesting in my behavior until it became reality. No one reached out because they had no idea I needed help. My actions had ensured no one asked or felt the need to offer.

Loneliness becomes insidious. The more a person is alone, the more alone they become. It’s as if the world becomes affected with amnesia, at least in their mind. A few years ago I withdrew for a couple of weeks when the drama became too intense. In my mind, no one would even notice my absence. To my surprise, when I returned, a number of people made it clear I was missed. Yet not one reached out while I was gone to ask if I was OK.

Belonging to a Loving, Caring Community is the First Step

Things are different now. If I miss more than a couple regular events, I get texts and Facebook Messages asking if I’m OK…most of the time. Even the best of us get busy and don’t pick up on the signs our friends might leave indicating they’re in distress. It’s why I emphasize a network approach where no one is left alone and floundering. Maybe 6 friends are entangled in the web of their own lives, but there should always be someone whose life is currently less complicated, and available to check on the quiet ones. 

What I’m trying to say in my usual long-winded and convoluted way is everyone needs to be part of a loving, supportive community. Everyone deserves to be part of a community that reaches out and draws them back into the fold when life knocks them sideways, or when they start feeling disconnected, yet accepts them as they are without judgement or expectations. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a dance community like mine which ensures everyone is included and appreciated, a church group, an extended blood family, or some other community formed around a shared interest.

We need to reach a point where no one feels like they have to act badly in order to get attention; where no one is ever left to feel they’re unloved or don’t matter. Each of us is a drop in the Sea of Souls. What we do, think, and feel causes ripples felt further away than we know. When we stop making ripples too soon, or make a gigantic ripple because we’re feeling too alone it causes enormous repercussions in the entire Sea. Sure, sometimes that Sea needs a bit of a tidal wave, but lets make sure those tidal waves are induced for the right reasons. I may be an idealist, but I believe love does conquer all.

Using Gratitude to Keep My Spirits High

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the friendships I formed once I learned I wasn’t unworthy.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who show me what caring, loving, and community look like.
  3. I’m grateful to be included.
  4. I’m grateful for less walls and more open doors.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, compassion, community, joy, hugs, music, belonging, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

A Mother’s Pain: Mental Health Care Isn’t Optional

Prevention Starts With Our Mental Health

A weekend full of memorials; the dedication of the memorial garden, its 12 fountains shooting water high in the air; pavers for the survivors—yet any words spoken for the 13th victim of the Borderline shooting on November 7th 2018 aren’t spoken with remembrance or love—except, perhaps by the woman who called him “Son”.

I suspect the last year has been horrific for the shooter’s mother; seeing stickers, t-shirts, and signs wherever she goes. Newspapers are still writing stories memorializing the 12 victims of her son’s last angry, violent act. I’ve read most of them, and haven’t seen his name mentioned since the early accounts (like the journalists, I’ll honor requests from the victims’ families to refrain from immortalizing his name, though my heart shatters a bit more for his mother). Many hate him for taking their friends and loved ones. It’s a natural response. A few found it in their hearts to feel compassion; to see a young man in so much pain he committed an unthinkable act. I doubt we’ll ever understand why he chose to walk into a crowded bar heavily armed and take lives I think we can all agree he had no right to take.

My thoughts, however, are with his mother. In the aftermath, I heard she was subjected to some pretty awful comments on her Facebook page while I’m sure she was trying to wrap her head around what had happened, and her heart around the fact her son was gone in a final, horrific blaze of glory.

One Suicide Affects Many

As a suicide survivor, I know how hard it is to wrap my head around a loved one taking their https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVown life. I know the questions I’ve asked for which there will never be answers. How much worse can it be when first, it’s your child, and second, he killed innocent people before he took his own life, and did so where the repercussions would continue to echo in not only the local community, but a large portion of the Country dance community as well. How many times does a mother’s heart break as memorial after memorial celebrates the lives of the innocent, but not the person who was so broken and alone as to plan and execute a mass murder/suicide?

I have a huge amount of respect for the father of one of the victims who recognized how much our neglect of mental health played into this tragedy. Michael Morrisette lost his youngest daughter, Kristina in the shooting. Rather than screaming uselessly about the need for gun control, he turned his efforts towards helping others heal, but also to understand how many people out there are ticking time bombs. They live inside their heads where the landscape is unwelcoming and cold; their tender hearts shriveling from neglect. They don’t know how to reach out and ask for help. Hell, they’ve been trained since birth that asking for help is a weakness and admitting you’re struggling makes you a target.

Give An Hour and Others Opening the Dialogue

Organizations like Give An Hour  not only help victims of disasters, but with the help of people like Michael, are working hard to change the way we look at mental illness. With suicide rates, especially in young men rising steadily, they have a long row to plow. But if they manage to keep one mother from having to mourn her son’s death as this mom is, I believe they’ll have made a difference. Their campaigns to educate everyone and raise awareness to the signs of mental illness and depression are desperately needed as our society falls apart at the seams.

Whether it’s offering counseling for victims of disasters or educating people about recognizing triggers in themselves, I can’t emphasize enough how much we need the staff and volunteers of organizations like Give An Hour to help bring mental health out into the open; to emphasize how important our mental and emotional health are. Think how much healthier people would be physically if they stopped stuffing their feelings and struggles down instead of dealing with them.

I can only speak with authority on what I’ve seen, but some of the most angry, bitter people I know are suffering from multiple serious physical ailments. The question is, which came first? In my opinion, and from the ones I’ve observed personally, the mental state brought on the physical ailments. Things like carrying a grudge, hating for no concrete reason, feeling isolated, and ensuring by their behavior that the isolation intensified eventually ate away at their physical health. Yes, I can only conjecture, but if you ask me, the evidence is overwhelming.

Once, I was one of those bitter, angry people, and I can assure you, my health, both mental and physical suffered for it. My children and everyone I touched suffered because I was so busy holding my pain close to me like a fragile infant, I failed to recognize it for the vicious parasite it was. I truly believe the only reason my health has returned is because I learned to let go and more, to reach out.

The More We Talk about Mental Health and Suicide, The More Ears and Hearts We’ll Reach

Even Kaiser Permanente has been running an ad campaign for quite awhile which emphasizes the importance of mental and emotional health. 5 years ago, you never even heard it mentioned. Health insurance companies were all about treating the physical body only, and even then, imperfectly. It’s hard to tell right now whether they’re emphasizing it because they think it’s fashionable, or because they truly believe we are a single cohesive being, body, mind, and spirit. Only time will tell.

All I know for sure is I’d love to stop seeing stories about murders and suicides, not because they’re once more shoved under the rug, but because society as a whole is accepting of how mental health affects everything else. My dream is for it to be as common and accepted to see a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or Therapist as it is to see your GP, Cardiologist, or Orthopedist. Let it become part of our annual preventative medicine routine so mothers stop losing sons too soon, wives stop losing husbands, children stop losing parents, and we all stop seeing people die unnecessarily.

Most of all, let’s not see another community shattered because someone thought killing other people would assuage the mental anguish they suffered. When there’s a tragedy like Borderline, Route 91, or any of the other mass shootings we’ve seen in the last few years, people think nothing of attending to the mental well-being of the victims’ families and the survivors. It baffles me that so few have recognized the importance of attending to everyone’s mental well-being before something awful happens. Before a mother has to mourn her son amidst voices raised in anger and hate.

Gratitude: A Powerful Tool for Improved Mental Health

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I learned to reach out and ask for help. It’s a learning process I’ve yet to perfect, but it’s allowed me to let go of a lot of pain and misery I’d heaped on my undeserving self.
  2. I’m grateful for people and organizations who are speaking out about mental health. At times, I feel like my voice is no longer needed. Then I realize every voice is needed if we’re to be heard and for action to be taken.
  3. I’m grateful for my friends and family who love and accept my imperfect self just the way I am.
  4. I’m grateful for the dance community which has stood together for a year since our own tragedy, but who stood together long before that, without any other reason than our common joy.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, community, joy, friendship, support, caring, sharing, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

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