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

Posts tagged ‘gratitude’

Seeing More Butterflies: Likes Attract

A Time to Hide and a Time to Soar With the Butterflies

I see butterflies. Every day when I go on my morning walk, I see them. Sometimes a single white or yellow one, and sometimes two or three at a time. Occasionally, I’ll see swarms. Often, a single monarch or painted lady will cross my path as if to say “you’re going the right way. Keep going.”

For years I hid. Being an introvert is a handy excuse. But as I learn and grow, I realize I’ve used it as an excuse to be ‘less than” for too long. In reality, introversion isn’t a complete lack of desire to be around people. It’s more of a need to take people in smaller doses unless they’re the ones who truly fit me. With those people, I can spend hours or even days. If I do need to revert for a bit, I can do it without fuss or fanfare because they understand. Sometimes, all I need to do is sit back and listen while others carry the conversation.

I’ve learned hiding isn’t really a bad thing. There’s a time to hide; to wait; to rest. There’s also a time to spread my wings, show off their beautiful colors, and soar through life with wild abandon. Life isn’t an either/or proposition. It’s about choosing what and where and when. I think I had to go deep into my waiting place to figure that out.

Spreading My Wings

As my life expands and grows, I’m seeing more butterflies. Or maybe I’m just noticing them more the way you notice all the cars on the road like yours when you buy a new one. Now that I’m a butterfly myself, I notice them, and interestingly enough, they seem to notice me as well.

I suspect some see me as a bit of an oddball. When I walk in the morning, I talk to the ravens, the doves, the lizards, the dogs, the occasional curious cat, and of course, the butterflies. If it flies walks or crawls, I’m likely to strike up a conversation, or at least say hello. I have to believe some of them even reply in their own unique way.

The butterflies swoop and dance in the air around me. The lizards scoot out of their hiding places, letting me know they’re out and about. A kitten walks over and throws himself on the sidewalk, belly up in an age old demand. Even the dogs who used to leap at their fences aggressively now give a soft ruff as if to say: “good morning. Nice to see you out and about this fine day.”  They might even miss me on the rare morning I don’t pass by.

Creativity and Swarms of Butterflies

Created with CanvaSome days, I think the number of butterflies I see is an indication of how my day will unfold. When I see one or two, the day tends to be slower and more introspective. When I see swarms or groups of four or five, I’ll accomplish a lot, and my creativity will be high. Before you ask, I haven’t actually tested this theory, but you’d better believe I’ll be more conscious of it now.

The funny thing about writing (or typing) something is it creates a kind of file folder in my brain. Once written, I can more easily access it for future reference. When similar thoughts arise, I can pull out all my notes and compare them; check my theories and form new ones.

Writing has long been my healer, decision maker, sounding board, and therapist. But in order for it to work optimally, I had to learn to shut off the analytical part of my brain that wants to dive in and solve a problem with little or no evidence. It wants to guide my fingers and form the words. I’ve learned it isn’t my brain’s job to do that.

Answers come from deep within; a place where analysis doesn’t go. It comes from my heart and my subconscious. Most of my writing these days occurs independently from my brain. In fact, when my brain starts to intrude, I’ll take a break until it settles back into whatever bone it was chewing on before it tried to interfere with a process where it doesn’t belong. Its chance comes when I edit but not when I create.

Creating From the Heart vs. the Mind

How many other creatives let their hearts guide them? Allow something intangible and untouchable to form their art? Talking to other writers, some hold rigidly to a plan and woe be to the fingers which try to deviate from the plan. The very idea makes me shrivel and withdraw. Those folks can’t shut off part of their brain like I do. Perhaps they’re more focused and finish things faster than I do. I’ll never really know.

All I know is what works for me and the butterflies. Watching them, I see no pattern or plan. They flit from place to place, riding the air currents and simply loving being exactly where they are. They don’t know from rigid plans or schedules. Like me, they simply let themselves be.

Enjoying the Journey

https://www.flickr.com/photos/35632217@N05/11141220045/in/photolist-hYvEyM-f3q2XF-WN7cAa-WC2tgo-VvU28y-VVCUnp-VZPPpx-X4hSbx-Xgdvnt-Xa18aU-X5F6Ba-WCiedS-VX3ngd-VZNKfH-XdNen3-X4eCyZ-WMPNM6-W32Dnn-W3cPuB-WYbJQU-VSPUyU-WcLFXu-WYe2r5-X65BN1-VVBR3a-WcJ347-Wy5z6h-WN6NEv-WwVjBd-VWVfpw-WXUkAj-WXTMcm-W36zBD-X27vox-VWWtgb-WC1Dp1-Wy6zs7-Wcye5A-WEfsVW-WDZxtd-VyyhgF-VZJ8T9-Xa1kuJ-WA8NKV-WcJi1w-psKV9t-XdCj1a-X66ds1-VywuMB-WigauPPerhaps that shared sense of Being is what draws me to the butterflies. We both know we’ll get wherever we’re meant to go eventually, but the adventure is in the path we take. If we planned rigidly, we’d miss some amazing experiences along the way, even if doing so would get us from point A to point B faster.

Is the point to get there faster? Maybe for some. For me, it’s truly the journey. Sure, there are things I’d like to achieve, or wish I’d achieved already. But by taking the long way around, those achievements will be enhanced by the experiences I have on my slower, less rigid journey.

Still, I listen to some of those with rigid plans because within their rigidity are nuggets of wisdom I can use without following their overly structured ways. Perhaps they’ve even showed me how to notice the butterflies with their single-minded focus?

Taking Time Out of Each Day for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my writing and all the worlds it’s opened to me.
  2. I’m grateful for learning to disengage from my analytical side. There’s a time and a place for it, but it needs to step aside when it’s my creative side’s turn.
  3. I’m grateful for the flow of words from my fingers. It goes more smoothly these days, after pounding out so many in the last few years. I’d even go so far as to say it’s become a habit.
  4. I’m grateful for a flexible schedule. Some days, I need to stay out of the world and be alone with my words. These days, it’s no longer a luxury, but a lifestyle.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, creativity, love, life, friendship, joy, music, health, humor, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

When it’s Time to Revisit Boundaries

What’s a Few Boundaries Between Friends?

Everyone has a variety of behaviors they learn to accept from others. Some you feel good about, others you tolerate. Then there are the ones that make you grit your teeth, or even start avoiding certain people.

By the time I reach that avoidance stage, I’m learning I’ve allowed myself to ignore my own discomfort for too long, and need to make some changes. That doesn’t mean dumping friends because, despite the cringe worthy stuff, there are a lot of things I love about the ones I have now. Instead, it means I need to look at the places and times I’m interacting with them, and maybe give myself some space in certain cases.

What I mean is, I need to recognize what circumstances cause them to behave in ways that make me uncomfortable. It could be an activity, or certain people who come into the mix, or even a place. Whatever is causing me to feel cranky is my problem and my job to find a solution I can live with.

Changing Myself Has Altered What I Can Accept From Others

Over the years, as I’ve worked on myself and initiated some much-needed changes, there have been times when I had to take a good, hard look at my associations. I’d like to think I’m making better choices these days, and attracting people who are more in alignment with the person I’ve become. The major purges that left me alone and to my own devices for awhile are no longer necessary. I’ve learned nowadays it often comes down to taking control of my own responses, and reminding myself why I connected with the people in my life in the first place.

Many of those associations…no, let’s put the right word on it. Many of those friendships began through a mutual love of dancing. Though finding a place to gather and share our love was challenging for awhile, it forced us to look at other options and lately, I often have to choose between 2 or 3 amazing options knowing I’ll spend time with at least some of the friends I’ve made, whichever one I choose. (of course, choosing to stay home and veg on the sofa with the cats is always an option, but doesn’t offer the community connection I’ve learned I truly need).

Fortunately, the nights I do choose to stay home are never because I feel the need to avoid someone. There was a time, far in the past now, when that wasn’t the case. I guess you could say the people in my life now, though admittedly wild and crazy in their own way, are far more civilized than many I associated with in what I fondly refer to as “my broken years”.

Getting to the Root of My Anger

I spent many years angry all the time; at myself, at other people, at my job, at my 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-cS691Nchoices—you name it, and I found something about it that pissed me off. I was so mired in my own misery, I couldn’t begin to identify the source. That skill didn’t come until I broke into a million tiny pieces and had to figure out how to put myself back together, but better this time.

It’s a funny thing about shattering; you never find all the pieces, and frankly, some of them aren’t worth finding anyway. You have to learn to sort the useful from the harmful and be willing to toss out pieces which might go either way. Someone once said to me “when in doubt, throw it out”. Of course he was referring to what was, at the time, a mountain of clutter in my home and office, but I’ve learned it applies to pieces of ourselves too. There are so many things we carry around simply because it’s become habit. They serve no purpose, and all too often, hold us back from accomplishing what we’re both capable of and meant to do.

Once again, I’ve meandered quite a ways from the original topic, but as usual, there is a point. Truly.

Shattering is Often the First Step in Recognizing the Need for Boundaries

created with CanvaShattering so I could rebuild was actually the first step I took in learning how much I needed to set boundaries. The first one I had to set was with myself. I had to let go of the anger and misery and actually face all my bottled up feelings. Let me tell you, it wasn’t a pretty sight when I first started unpacking all of those desiccated, moldy old feelings. Some had been there since childhood and would have been pretty rancid had they not at least partially fossilized. In some ways, I’d have been better off if they hadn’t as it’s been much harder to get past the hard outer shell so I could deal with the soft, gooey parts inside.

Learning to feel anything after a lifetime of wrapping it all in a tight, dubiously impervious ball is not for the weak of heart. If I thought I’d been through hard times before, the process of not only shattering the casings on my feelings, but actually revisiting them one by one, and exposing myself to the lessons they carried was one I truly would not have chosen had it not been utterly necessary.

The truth is, I didn’t enjoy being cranky and miserable. It took awhile to realize it, but I didn’t like being all alone either. I had to learn to “people” on my own terms (this is where the boundaries began to come in), and discover I didn’t hate people as much as I wanted to believe. I learned I’d spent decades attracting people who were, in their own way, a lot like me; sad, lonely, angry, and bitter.

Bitterness Wrapped in Anger is an Unpalatable Appetizer

Only when I admitted to myself that the bitterness was encased in those pent-up feelings did I realize I would attract kinder, happier, more compassionate ones when I found those qualities in myself; albeit buried far beneath my crusty surface.

In the process, I learned we all have baggage, and we don’t have to spend our lives hiding it from the world. Granted, we don’t have to run it up a flag pole and wave it in all our naked glory for the entire world. Once again, we establish boundaries. In this case, it’s more about who we attract with what we reveal.

Those who are put off, or made uncomfortable will avert their eyes. That’s as it should be. Those who can relate, or feel compassion will interact insofar as they are willing or able. Some may approach and get angry, not because we’ve said something offensive, but because we’ve nicked a wound they’re not ready to re-open. They’ll shut the door (another form of boundary) and lock it if they want to continue hiding that wound, or leave themselves an option to re-open it when they’re ready and able.

Seeing New Changes Coming From My Discomfort

It’s made me realize that the behaviors which are currently making me feel uncomfortable have to do with wounds I am not yet ready to re-open, clean out, and cauterize. I have to sit on them for awhile, dealing with others that aren’t quite so painful or raw. The time to re-open those which are currently making me pull back and practice a drastically mellowed hermit behavior will come in time.

The truth is, the discomfort right now means I’ll be re-opening them sooner rather than later. Otherwise, like those I make uncomfortable with my forthrightness, I’d have slammed and locked the door instead of looking more deeply into myself to try to understand my reactions.

Can you relate? Are you finding that certain people in your family or community are suddenly doing things that annoy you? Irritate you? Even piss you off? Try taking a step back and looking at what part of you their actions are bothering. You might be surprised by what you find! If you’re like me, you’ll poke at some of those feelings for awhile before allowing yourself to open them up, deal with them, and ultimately, let them go.

Gratitude Makes Revisiting Old Feelings a More Pleasant Trip

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the insight I gain from my friends.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned about kindness and compassion.
  3. I’m grateful for the shattering I underwent. It might have been painful, but it was also healing, and uplifting.
  4. I’m grateful for healthy friendships which make me try to be a better person.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, inspiration, love, friendship, supportiveness, compassion, kindness, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

When Cats Rule the Roost

The Cats’ View From My Office

There’s a murder of crows/ravens doing their own unique dance on my front lawn. They land in a cluster on the ground, pecking at the dirt since what little grass there is has been burnt to a crisp by days of heat and no rain. Without warning, they swoop back into the air, dividing their time between my yard and the two across the street. Doves perch on the power lines at a safe distance from their oversized brethren, preferring a lazy glide to the frantic dance.

It makes for a special edition of what I like to call “Cat TV”. I have a large tree in my front yard which conveniently shades my office and the guest room, but also serves as a jungle gym for the birds and squirrels, and as a result, constant entertainment for my house cats. With tails twitching, they chitter and chirp as if they’d catch one of the massive creatures should I risk their delicate constitutions out in the hard, cold (OK, maybe not so cold right now) world outside my window.

Strangely enough, my outside cats show no interest in the aerial show, preferring to find a shady spot to lounge. They do most of their hunting at night, and bring me gifts of creatures who also choose to eschew the sun’s unforgiving rays. Under cover of darkness, or at most, a full moon, rats, mice, and gophers roam the neighborhood hoping to avoid the claws and jaws of hunters like my garage kitties. There seems to be little competition between the owls and other night hunters, and the local cats as there’s an abundance of prey. Though my house and yard are no longer a hospitable environment for four-footed pests, the hunting grounds within a house or two still seem to be abundant.

Sometimes I Have to Mourn

My best hunter, Hailey disappeared a month ago, and I’ve seen or heard no trace of her, though I’ve searched the neighborhood near my house. I didn’t wander far, as I know she stuck to a 4 or 5 house radius. While it’s possible someone or something carried her off, nothing but the odd behavior of the other two a few days after she disappeared gives me reason to believe I’ll find any evidence of foul play (or, perhaps, fowl play). Since she left, I’ve had no presents. Max seems to have put a moratorium on his own hunting. Maybe it’s his way of mourning his hunting buddy and friend.

Sadly, I never took any pictures of Hailey, even after she went from semi-feral to her more recent demanding self who liked meowing at the door late at night to get her share of pets. Oddly, I don’t feel like she’s dead. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, or maybe it’s accurate. I have no real way of knowing unless she reappears. Max and Cinders, the other two garage cats did stick closer to home for the first week or two after Hailey failed to show up. I wish I could understand them so I’d know for sure. But animal communication isn’t my strong suit despite the many years I’ve shared my home with cats.

Communication is Mostly a One-Way Street

My cats understand me a whole lot better than I do them. They know when I’m feeling sad or ill. A couple of them even know exactly where I’m aching, and will lay across the offending spot, purring to ease they pain. Still, they follow the age-old feline custom of hiding their own discomfort from me, often until it’s too far along to fix. I promise myself I’ll be more observant, and sometimes I even succeed. Unfortunately for the cats I’ve lost both recently and further in the past, I’m less observant than I’d like to believe; or wish I could be.

Sometimes I get lucky. A few months ago, Dylan was quite overt about showing me something wasn’t right. He threw up sometimes multiple times a day, and almost always on my comforter. After 2 days of washing as many as 6 loads of bedding a day, I knew he needed help. Though it’s meant a daily regimen of steroids and a mild antibiotic combined with daily fish oil and l-lysine vitamins, we seem to be controlling the issue, if not curing it (I’m told it isn’t really something they can cure).

We’ve had a bit of trial and error trying to cut back on the meds, but managed to find a combination that works without having to resort to anything stronger, or with a higher risk of side-effects. He’s put back the weight he lost and then some (not uncommon with steroids), and is keeping his food down quite nicely. He isn’t fond of the daily pills, but stopped running away from me. He knows they make him feel better, and that missing a dose or two has unpleasant consequences. Again, I think he’s smarter than me more often than not.

Loosening My Heartstrings Before I’m Ready

Though many cats have come and gone from my household over the years, there are always those who grab hold of my heart tighter than others. Dylan has, without a doubt, grabbed on tighter than anyone, but only a little bit tighter than Toby who I lost in 2017 at the tender age of 11. Even Munchkin who left me in December of 2018, and who was one of the few I got as a kitten wrenched my heart for a little while when I had to make the decision to let her rest easily. But she wasn’t as hard to get over as Toby, and neither will compare to the enormous hole Dylan will leave when his time comes (hopefully later rather than sooner).

I was a complete mess when he got sick the last time, and though he’s doing well now, I can tell he’s slowing down. 14 is old for a cat, though many do live longer. He is one of the longer-lived cats I’ve had the honor of sharing my own home with. Patches and Missy both lived past their 17th birthday.

Cherishing Them for the Short Time We’re Given

Lately, for reasons that could be explained by food, environment, or simply bad luck, many haven’t seen their 12th birthday. It tears me up to lose them that young but at the same time, I’m grateful for the years of unconditional love they give me, and the trust they put in me to do right by them.

I tease them when they act sad about me leaving the house, even for a couple of hours. Yet I understand. Their lifetimes are at best 1/4 of mine, so hours to me seems like forever to them. When I’m gone for days, it’s easy for them to feel like I’ve abandoned them, despite the fact I return each and every time. They have no way of knowing where or why I went, much less if and when I’ll return to them.

I love working from home where my office is often their hangout. Some will sleep on the desk or behind the computer monitors while others sit on the bookshelf under the window watching the world go by, and the birds and squirrels playing. Having me home so much in the last few years definitely suits them fine. Like me, they can’t regain the 8-10 hours a day they used to lose me but we’re making the most of whatever time we have left. Isn’t that really the best we can ask for whether it’s with our pets, our friends, or our family?

Grateful for Every Moment

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve been able to work from home and spend more time with my shorter-lived friends.
  2. I’m grateful for a home that’s filled with love any time of the day or night, even when there’s no other human in sight.
  3. I’m grateful for a community which understands the bonds we have with our pets, and supports each other through the difficult times.
  4. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to share my life and home with some amazing animals, and look forward to sharing it with them for as long as I’m alive. They make my life worth living, even during the toughest of times.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, companionship, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, laughter and tears, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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 Sad Anniversary Brings Perspective

Another Anniversary of Dad’s Death

When one of my posting days falls on September 11th, I’m sorely tempted to skip it, or at least move it to another day. But my innate sense of consistency won’t allow either, so at least it’s easier from a distance of 3 weeks or so which is when I’m pre-scheduling these days.

I don’t need to reiterate the significance of September 11th to anyone who is even remotely aware. Not only was it a horrific day in U.S. history, but reminders start showing up a few days before the anniversary.

There’s a small handful of us who are reminded of another anniversary which occurred 2 years after the WTC bombing, but which is much closer to home. In fact, my daughter and I typically disconnect from the internet on this day to do our remembering in private. As I’ve become more efficient about pre-scheduling posts, it’s become a lot easier to do so.

Moving On vs. Getting Over

Anyone who has lost a family member to suicide knows you don’t get over the loss. Like any other death, the impact eases somewhat as years go by, but it’s always there. Little things remind me how fragile life is, and how important it is to stay connected with the ones we love. It might not prevent the inevitable, especially when a loved one is faced with a terminal illness which will be long and painful if death is allowed to come naturally.

My dad made his choice, and for the most part I respect it. Still, I look back at how I distanced myself in his final couple of years when he became difficult to be around. He never shared the worst of his health issues with me or my sister. That was typical. He didn’t want anyone worrying about him or smothering him with attention. In a lot of ways, he was a very private manfar more private than I ever realized.

Even so, I could have made more of an effort to spend more time with him, despite the turmoil my own life was in. I could have brought his granddaughters to see him more often, or made a point of seeing him every week. There are a lot of things I could have done, but being patient with his grumpiness instead of distancing myself is at the top of the list. My only excuse is I didn’t know how bad things were. It serves as a harsh reminder of how little my dad trusted me with what really mattered.

Reflection Evolves Over Time

In past years, the anniversary of dad’s death was a time for reflection and remembering good times, most of which occurred years before he died. Too many things broke what I now understand was a tenuous relationship, often held together by other people rather than our own efforts.

At one time it was my mother. Even when she and I were estranged, it was her influence which kept my dad and me in touch. Sometimes it was the dysfunctional influence of my alcoholic husband who worked for my dad for a couple of years. Whether he felt a desire to stay connected for his own sake is something I’ll never really know. I have to believe he saw someone worth knowing in his eldest child.

An Unfortunate Accident of Birth

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqRevelations in the last year make me feel I was more of a disappointment, and mostly due to an accident of birth. The cards were stacked against me having a real connection with the man who helped give me life because I had the misfortune of being a girl.

I doubt he ever actually said the words out loud. Growing up, I didn’t notice his lack of interest in the things I enjoyed. Then again, I saw him through rose-colored glasses. He was the parent who loved me best, or so I thought. In truth, he was the one who minimized my accomplishments because most of the time, he didn’t understand them.

It wasn’t that I was overly feminine. I just wasn’t athletic or even coordinated except when I was dancing. In short, there was nothing he could relate to or share with me. Meanwhile, my mom fretted over all my injuries, allergies, and inherited health challenges. But I was so busy trying to please my dad, I didn’t notice how hard she tried to connect with me. At some point, we both gave it up as a lost cause.

Putting Things in Perspective

This is starting to sound like a long, self-pitying whine, but that’s not really where I want to go. I can’t honestly say I miss my dad, 16 years after he opted out of a long, painful death. I’ve simply come to terms with his choice, and don’t begrudge him for it.

But the years since have given me a chance to really look at our relationship, or if I’m honest, lack thereof. He was the first in a long line of people I tried to please by forcing myself into behaviors which weren’t me. I followed my mother’s example and tried to win his love. I’ve finally learned to accept there was nothing I could have done to change the fact he loved me as best he could, or that approval and love are two entirely different things.

I can, however look back and be grateful for what he taught me, even if the greatest lesson didn’t come through until long after he was gone. It was never my purpose to fit into someone else’s mold or vision. People will love me or not, regardless of any effort I might make to gain their approval. More importantly, I’ve learned to let my own daughters spread their wings and fly in the direction they choose.

Loving and Accepting My Daughters as They Are

They don’t need my approval, though one, at least seemed to want it a great deal more than was probably healthy. The difference between my relationship with her and the one I had with my dad is she always had my approval not matter what. I might not have liked some of the choices she made, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I love and approve of her and whatever paths she chooses.

The other rejected me as I did my mom, but I didn’t have her father around to help mend fences. In her case, I had to learn to let go and withhold judgement. Her choices are her choices, even if some of them shut me out of her life. In many ways, the distance works best for me too.

Looking Back So I Can Move Forward

Today is a day of reflection, but it’s no longer a day I mourn my dad. He’s gone, Created in Canvaand everything is as it’s supposed to be. I’m more aware of changes in mood in the people who are close to me now, and more likely to reach out. I don’t look at my dad’s death and my lack of knowledge with regret. It was put into my life to teach me a very important lessonone I would take with me into the next chapter in my life.

I’ve gone through a lot of withheld anger towards my dad in the last year, but I’ve purged a lot of misconceptions which negatively impacted my own sense of self-worth. In the end, no one else’s opinion affects my destiny unless I allow it. I’ve finally learned to stop allowing it.

Finding Many Opportunities for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve faced and the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for parents who forced me to learn to love myself without reservation or qualification because they truly didn’t know how.
  3. I’m grateful for friendships which have formed since I learned to love myself because of my imperfections instead of in spite of them.
  4. I’m grateful for a self-love that keeps me moving forward even when the tunnel ahead looks awfully dark and forbidding.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, dancing, kitties, compassion, kindness, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Why Women Blog

I Blog to Heal—Myself and Those Who Share My Travails

It’s hard to believe I created this blog more than 9 years ago at my daughter’s urging. To be honest, I don’t even remember the original reason I created it, except as an exercise to broaden the scope of a healing journey that began 16 years later than it should have, yet at exactly the right time.

Over the last 9 plus years, I’ve used this forum for a number of things including conversations about family suicide, it’s original premise (the name I gave it then, “Surviving and Beyond”, lives on only in the URL these days). It’s evolved into so much more, for me, and hopefully for at least a few others as well.

Use Your Comments Wisely

Recently, a young woman who is going through her own challenges mentioned that a woman “over 50” gave her crap for sharing her journey via her blog. My first reaction was to want to smack that woman and tell her to shut her pie hole. As I don’t know who she is, nor does it really matter, I’m going to address the message and not the poster, as we used to say.

In the first place, a blog is someone’s own personal space. You can choose to read it or not, but be advised, if you disagree with what they post and attack them, your comment can and will be deleted. If you attack someone who is particularly outspoken and honest (like me for example), you’re liable to see your cruelty discussed at length. Believe me, you’ll recognize yourself though no names or distinguishing features will be mentioned. Unlike you, most of us write about our hardest times so others who are in similar circumstances will feel they’re not alone, or going bat shit crazy.

That’s not to say a dissenting opinion is unwelcome. There’s simply an enormous difference between voicing an opinion and attacking someone. I suspect I’m not alone in blocking a few URL’s for vitriolic comments.

Building a Bridge Instead of a Wall

https://www.flickr.com/photos/17367470@N05/34548761725/in/photolist-UCXrcB-ecCNUL-4zfgf6-dAnmf-ngJT8C-azZxsp-nqHgd-b6nZQ8-eM19w4-2cSiqbp-ax5dgA-27J7Psa-6LxpFR-2bRXjnz-pEj693-j4VCQQ-fmd2HZ-svmgQ3-2es7nPR-7AUKsG-GnaSGd-9KvniY-pzqY5Q-VkF76-25utPi9-aLKEgF-qa3JFd-7pVuMa-cMP8xf-K8vLgj-nEqYEz-JW6mY-fB5met-nqHga-aRccva-JWkte-aFcmuG-JW6n9-7Z3cY8-aLKvYc-AM33ua-5Jgt83-9hYUkR-cu1wuJ-9mTEYo-aR8L6v-28j4DAt-PBhbUU-emC61v-9yg7h6Writing for me has always been a way to hash out things I didn’t feel comfortable talking about. Until 9 years ago, most of what I wrote never saw the light of day. When I started allowing small things to slip and learned others could relate, I gained courage, opening up more and more as time went on. When people who’d clearly been holding onto a lot of crap for years began sharing pieces with me, I knew I was opening up a side of myself that needed to be cracked open for more than my own sake.

I learned what many bloggers before me had; by opening up about our own struggles, we allow others to do so as well. For some of us, our blogs become a safe place, much like a trauma support group where people who share a common trauma can talk about what they’ve experienced without fear of rebuke, attack, or shame.

These days, you can find people blogging about any number of painful subjects for which they might have been shamed or abused in the past. Some write about suicide and mental health like I do. Others write about child abuse, or rape (or both). More and more are opening up about miscarriages too. Like the young woman in my story, I’ve seen several talking about a sudden, unexpected, and decidedly unpleasant change in their marital status.

To all of them, I say “Good for you!! Keep up the good work!”

Holding Onto Our Pain Affects Everyone Near and Far

We need this openness. We need to allow people to talk about the things which Created with Canvamay have caused them to retreat into themselves, bearing a shame that’s not deserved. I know from my own experience, every time someone comments or sends me a message saying they get what I’m talking about, and that they’re glad I brought the subject up, I’m reminded of the value of my words, but more, I heal a little more myself.

I applaud everyone who has been courageous enough to admit their life isn’t perfect in a forum that’s accessible to a world of both strangers and friends. I’m incredibly grateful for those who use their experiences to help make the world a better, place. I’m humbled to be a member of their vulnerable, courageous ranks.

Not everything I share is intense or life-changing. Often I talk about minor struggles; patience, relationships, and such. Sometimes I go off on a rant, or tickle the edges of a political issue. But mostly, I write whatever comes into my head as I traipse through this world with less grace than most, yet more than some. Often, what I write is prompted by something I read or hear from someone else who’s also doing their best to navigate this unpredictable path we call Life.

Honored to Share the Blogosphere With Courageous Women

Created with CanvaThe young woman who prompted this post is going through a divorce she didn’t see coming. She’s not sharing gory details, nor is she bashing her soon-to-be ex. Instead, she’s showing an inordinate amount of class while still sharing the pain, the disillusionment, and the topsy-turvy mess she feels like her life is right now. Unlike me and many from my generation, she’s opening up from the start, asking for help from her friends, sharing her journey, and doing her best to ease her kids into what will be their new version of normal.

I know she’ll be better for her honesty and for refusal to hide her face in shame over something she didn’t cause. As I said, it took me 16 years to start dealing with my mom’s suicide, by then, my dad had been gone 6 years, also by his own hand. My path would have been smoother had I allowed people to see my cracks. Unfortunately, I had to overcome a lifetime of training.

I don’t want to see anyone else suck it up and fumble along alone as I did. If it means talking about the unmentionable stuff, I’ll do it (and have). If it means supporting someone else while they share their own struggles, I’m there, and woe be to anyone who tries to tell them to suffer in silence.

If You Don’t Like What We Write, Don’t Read it!

What it all comes down to is this, what someone writes on their own blog is their https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbbusiness. If you don’t like it, don’t visit. What they write on Social Media is a little more controlled, but if they’re speaking their truth in a respectful manner, again, shut up and walk away if you can’t comment politely. You have no idea what they’re going through, so your judgement is neither wanted nor needed. In it’s worst form, it will do a lot more harm than good.

You and me, we’re in this together. We were put on this Earth to help each other; to uplift and support each other in times of trouble, and to celebrate our victories; our achievements. Life ain’t a competition. There’s enough love, light, and joy to go around. You just have to stop looking for the ugliness. You will always find what you’re looking for, so choose wisely.

Sharing Includes Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful the young women today are less inclined to hold their feelings in, at least for the most part.
  2. I’m grateful people are becoming more sensitive to each other, and more willing to stand and support, instead of bash and tear down.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities to support others and help them along their path. So many have done it for me, once I finally learned to let them.
  4. I’m grateful for the people who love and support me in my journey. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them, and going it alone is a hollow victory anyway.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; community, love, friendship, caring, sharing, blessings, friendship, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Giving Relationships a Fighting Chance

How Does a Successful Relationship Begin?

Created with CanvaWhen I was in my 20’s there was a belief many of us shared that said living together before marriage was the best way to determine whether you could survive the perils and pitfalls of life with someone else sharing your space. Like any other belief, it worked for some people and not for others. I’ve seen as many relationships fail after a period of living together (including my own) as I have when there wasn’t. The long and short of it is, there aren’t any guarantees, no matter how you approach merging your life with someone else’s.

Today, I have friends who’ve been married more than 30 years, as well as some who’ve been married multiple times. Some of us pretty much gave up after 1 failure, and others have opted for a committed relationship without the piece of paper. Looking around, I’ve noticed a few things.

  • Commitment is a mindset
  • Making a relationship work takes effort from both parties
  • Desperation does not yield the best of choices
  • Sometimes, alone is better
  • “Want” and “need” are two very different animals
  • Compromise doesn’t mean giving in all the time
  • Without self-love, you can’t have a healthy, long-lasting relationship

People Pleasing Doesn’t Build Self-Esteem

Contrary to popular belief, people who allow themselves to be doormats are Created with Canvaseldom happy. I have several friends who turned themselves inside out to please someone and keep a relationship going, only to see it fall apart anyway. Today, they’re stronger for it, and unwilling to repeat past mistakes. They realize how unhappy and unfulfilled they were while trying to be what they thought someone else wanted them to be. In her song “Miss Me More”, Kelsea Ballerini sings “I thought I’d miss you, but I miss me more”. I think this epitomizes the concept of being true to yourself as well as anything I’ve seen or heard.

Living together could help uncover some potential problems a couple might encounter, but unless the masks come off, all aspects of the living situation are shared, and decisions are made jointly, I’m not convinced it will guarantee success. In some ways, you’d remain in “honeymoon status” because one or both of you are trying to keep the other happy. In truth, neither of you will be happy in the long run because, quite frankly, maintaining that blissful, carefree state is exhausting.

Life gets in the way. Trying to be perpetually cheerful, happy, and willing to please your partner eventually becomes a chore. You want and need “me” time, or to be the one who’s pampered and catered to. Even in a relationship where there’s a lot of give and take, there will be times when one or the other is used up emotionally by job, finances, family, and a host of other issues, and has nothing left to give. Those moments and how you manage them together will only show up if you’re honest and open.

Easy In = Easy Out

Sometimes they are the show-stoppers in a living together arrangement. Since you’ve made no real commitment, it’s easier to decide you’re unwilling to make the effort and walk away. Or to use another old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” though in this case, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure, marriages end too, but I’d like to think most people who’ve made a commitment to each other give breaking the commitment a lot more thought than those who, to use the vernacular, are just “shacking up”.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against living together, or even being in a relationship and maintaining separate homes. I’ve seen that work well too. My point is you have to avoid falling into “honeymoon mode” if you make such a choice. Successful long-term relationships can begin in a multitude of ways, but only last when they’re based on honesty, mutual respect, and a healthy balance of give and take. One person can’t put all their time and energy into trying to make the other happy.

Face it. The only person you can make happy is yourself. If someone isn’t committed to their own happiness, no amount of love and attention from outside is going to bring them happiness. It’s truly an inside job.

Throwing Trust Into the Mix

In my own life, the single factor which has caused every single unsuccessful https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvrelationship to fail, be it employer-employee, co-workers, friends, or lovers has been lack of trust. It took me a long time to recognize the red flags, but after many painful situations and outright failures, I’ve learned to run when I see the signs:

  • Requiring me to prove myself in order to “earn” their trust
  • A tendency to talk more and listen less
  • Disrespect in any form
  • Mention of prior relationships in which their trust was abused
  • Failure to answer direct questions honestly. This may include diversion, humor, or flat out refusal.
  • Narcissism
  • Inattention such as taking a call in the middle of an interview, flirting with the waitress during a date, or any other behavior which implies I’m an afterthought

https://www.flickr.com/photos/svensson/4829867389/in/photolist-6XCAQH-WgXmBb-byu3Nn-6XCCec-F2ovRt-Gn7Ut6-7xLAFR-6XCBk8-8mNkiF-6XGAK9-p3qjVr-24BFZCb-24BG1Vb-poheFW-p8PQeo-F2orHZ-66bJw1-667u2F-F2okjr-GxKsrU-5kBreE-4tZPNF-66bL5y-667tVr-pqhycN-F2owK2-8mRw1h-24E9hKg-23jj36V-f7TE62-24BFXBY-5NnPFa-24BG3po-22t2Y6M-F2ojVR-4pHCNQ-F2osaR-23jj3vH-66bL2U-66bHY9-23AG54S-5dGrPJ-64i5Dg-4zorW-24BFZ1u-4MCNfE-6i2AXJ-5kBpHY-3rLwcC-3rFJXKNeedless to say, I’ve been burned by every one of these, and quite a few more as well. I suspect I’m not alone either. Everyone has a horror story or two to tell about a job, a friendship gone wrong, or a relationship that tanked. Each of us also has perfect hindsight. You know why it went wrong…now. But you allowed it to unfold for longer than it should have even with all your alarm bells clanging and red flags waving.

Knowing How to Lay a Firm Foundation

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyWhen all is said and done, I don’t think how you begin a relationship, be it personal, work, or anything else determines success or failure. It’s about whether the parties to the arrangement are willing to put the effort into making it work. It’s about mindset and owning responsibility for your own happiness. Most of all, you have to decide from the onset whether it’s a passing fling or something you want to last a lifetime.

There are no guarantees. Things happen. People change. Lives end. The world interferes. But you can’t weather the storms if you’re not willing to get soaked now and then.

Gratitude: The Strongest Brick in Your Structure

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned by failing.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who’ve taught me what I deserve, and the ones who’ve taught me what I don’t.
  3. I’m grateful for peaceful afternoons spent creating. I truly am living the life of my dreams in a lot of ways.
  4. I’m grateful for flexibility; schedules, tasks, friendships. Life throws us curveballs and being able to step out of the way rather than face them all head on means a more peaceful, stress-free life.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, laughter, love, friendship, creativity, inspiration, motivation, opportunities, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

 

Should We Allow Greatness to Stifle Our Kindness?

One Man’s Greatness…

A question was raised in one of my LinkedIn groups regarding using “Make America Great Again” as a catch phrase for non-political marketing efforts. My response had to do with knee-jerk reactions from people on both sides of the fence. In retrospect, I suppose the people who’ve bought into the phrase and what it’s come to represent would be prime candidates for whatever a company was selling. However, I think it would alienate those who believe the phrase has been nothing more than a diversionary tactic aimed at pitting people against each other and hindering unification and working towards a common good.

Granted, marketing isn’t my strong suit, but over the years I’ve assimilated some of the basics. In my opinion, platforms, campaigns, and slogans with a “Get on the Bandwagon” message are geared towards those whose primary goal is to belong or be accepted by a group they find attractive. People who tend to eschew conformity are likely to look at something like that and walk away in disgust. They’ll look beneath the surface and find it crawling with greed and a self-serving agenda.

Is Belonging Really Worth Fighting For?

Granted, a large slice of the population still believes they need to belong, and to https://www.flickr.com/photos/ctanderson/8730481504/in/photolist-eitZZb-an6tuQ-65kdGP-9SAkve-5VSyDR-kECd9-2bw8Wf-8swqBu-6KHHVp-pCfGS9-pEmg1p-8W5fec-569wMG-2aHujJW-aNt4fP-4qC9CB-9y6Z8V-dR5bin-pEmjvk-TdQPse-pEmeQt-pnUeiY-3QGAD6-8uZRyD-6bK3nQ-8YqGLh-pE7sy8-6mqs4-HKeg7r-6bEWmi-pz6wm1-4qC9CM-2bR8DJY-aNt4Z6-6bEWPi-6bK3dL-4Gpw5H-2crSXde-aEWSPf-24RPwkX-2dt9544-2aHuiAU-VoSUnu-WAfgde-VX4hKu-28mzfq9-27AfH6i-VX3FkS-XDykuG-LWoYM1do so requires behaving as expected. Small wonder, that cross-section is also stressed out, angry, and exhausted. Trying to fit a mold of someone else’s making is a constant battle in which you’re always trying to paddle upstream.

I’m speaking from experience here. I spent far too many of my formative and productive years trying to belong somewhere. In the end, I was a complete failure because I couldn’t keep up an act that never fit my personality or purpose. It was only after I broke my own chains and began to honor my own truth that I found myself belonging exactly where I was supposed to.

My friends these days, and even my business associates are typically off-beat and go against the traditional grain. They’ve learned that in looking out for themselves, they end up making things better for others as well.

Stress Begets Stress

https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwiWhen I was angry, frustrated, and feeling left out, my negative energy wound itself into everything I did and everyone I touched. In some cases it meant I was further isolated, but in far too many, it meant dragging others down with my crappy attitude. Once I stopped trying to please people, and to find an environment where I thrived, I began to uplift others rather than drag them down.

Even in school, we’re taught to play the game, get along, and do what we’re told even if it makes no sense whatsoever. I’ve heard kids in Middle School can be the cruelest of all to those who fail to conform, but where did they learn it? We’re not born to be exclusionary.

Watch two- or three-year-olds at play sometime. They may fight over a toy, but rarely will they exclude someone for being different. They’re curious, accepting, and learning who they are. It’s not until they’re part of a larger group under the tutelage of a single adult, or an adult with a helper that they start to encounter the concept of conformity.

Teaching Children Being Like Everyone Else is Rewarded

We’ve been taught from early childhood that cookie-cutter behavior is good, and https://www.flickr.com/photos/zstasiuk/5233040968/in/photolist-8YqGLh-pE7sy8-6mqs4-HKeg7r-6bEWmi-pz6wm1-4qC9CM-2bR8DJY-aNt4Z6-6bEWPi-6bK3dL-4Gpw5H-2crSXde-aEWSPf-24RPwkX-2dt9544-2aHuiAU-VoSUnu-WAfgde-VX4hKu-28mzfq9-27AfH6i-VX3FkS-XDykuG-LWoYM1-szBE63-QaiKyY-qaErNr-6bEWEt-9SAaTN-4zwkNy-4zs5WZ-d3ANqf-6bEW3t-4Sz24W-5LWEU-4v2xFd-aNt5QR-pE7nDi-oHvt8G-e245w-9KnAGq-dLiWh-a8NFHo-2G76NQ-VoTXrU-cynSsG-3wD6sf-ESQzmd-v4RcJbeing different is bad. The message comes through loud and clear in expectations that are set when we enter the school system (emphasis on “system”).

  • Sit quietly at your desk and do the tedious, repetitive work
  • Wait your turn to use equipment on the playground
  • Choose sides, and make sure you create the strongest team
  • Do things in the proper order. Don’t jump ahead even if you’ve already figured out the in-between steps.

Sound familiar? I know my precocious young daughters were at odds with the rules they were forced to follow; the slower progress made by some of their classmates when they were ready to move on to the next lesson. One of them began to shut down and go into her own imagination rather than allow boredom to decay her mind. It led to many confrontations with teachers and administrators, some successful, others clearly futile. Teachers, too have been forced into conformity in too many cases.

Marching Beneath a Frayed and False Flag

And now we have thousands sporting MAGA shirts, hats, and other paraphernalia, believing it means more than some political agenda designed to make us not only conform, but ostracize those who don’t.

But it’s up to you. Do you want to let someone else decide what you read, watch, and wear? Will you get on that treadmill in which you spend thousands to have the perfect body; the perpetually youthful face? Are you content to hate those who march to their own drummer, even if you don’t understand why? Is their nonconformity a slap in the face; an act of defiance you desperately wish you were brave enough to take too?

Sure, being unique isn’t always the easy road. In fact, it can be incredibly hard and lonely at times. Far easier to find comfort in a crowd where you blend in and don’t have to make too many decisions. When the piper starts to play, you can follow the crowd over the cliff knowing you always did what you were supposed to; never stood out, never made waves.

A Place for Everyone and Everyone in Their Place

Like anything, there’s a place for everyone. We do need those who follow instructions and don’t try to improvise. There will always be tedious, repetitive jobs that need to be done. Many of those, though have already been mechanized, rendering a lot of humans obsolete. Mere Humans can’t perform those repetitive tasks as efficiently, or as consistently as a robot or machine. They need breaks for meals, rest, and to relieve themselves. And they can be stirred into rebellion over seemingly minor infractions.

There are also those who genuinely don’t want to have to make decisions; don’t want to risk making a mistake. They’d rather have someone guide them and give up a certain amount of freedom in order to avoid failure.

In my mind, that’s it’s own kind of failure. Failure to live up to one’s potential. It’s a choice unto itself. I respect the right of many to make that choice, even as I feel sad for what they might have been were they willing to take a few risks; to fail a few times and pick themselves back up to try again.

We Need More Kindness, Less Greatness

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhWhat I don’t respect is those who take advantage of the ones who are desperate to belong; to fit in. They’re the villains in the piece. They thrive on slogans masking battle cries. It’s in their best interests to gather people behind a cause they don’t truly understand, and which isn’t even in their best interests.

Are we really Making America Great Again? Or are we creating a populous of conformists who’ve convinced themselves someone else is acting in their best interests. Are they ignoring the evidence before their own eyes as they rally to hate who they’re told to hate and revere those who have already sold them down the river?

I’m with those who’ve altered the phrase a bit. Let’s Make America Kind Again.

Grateful for Examples and Lessons

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the choices I’ve made and the bruises I’ve earned along the way. My road may be rockier, but I have the satisfaction of knowing my decisions, successes, and failures are my own.
  2. I’m grateful for diversity. There’s so much we can learn from people with different backgrounds, outlooks, and beliefs if we stop to listen rather than beat into submission.
  3. I’m grateful for learning to belong without losing myself.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve found a group of friends; a community which values uniqueness.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, community, support, individuality, joy, peace, health, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity for all.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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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