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

Posts tagged ‘gratitude’

My Road Map is A Scatter Diagram

Defining a Road Map

Created with CanvaMy Mentor, Linda Clay is a big fan of plans and road maps for reaching your goals. Me, not so much. I’m more of a “set the intention and follow the breadcrumbs the Universe leaves me” kinda gal. Linda insists I really do have a plan, even if I can’t see it in all it’s map-y glory.

It occurred to me today I was looking at it wrong. Instead of trying to see the nice, neat little road leading from point A to point B, I have to look at the dots flung hither and yon and imagine a line connecting them together. It won’t be straight and it won’t head directly to my goal. My map has dozens of side trips and deviations to the original plan because that’s the way I think.

Looking at the Empty Spaces

I used to tease my daughter Heather about solving problem by going from A to Q. She tended to skip a lot of the steps in between because her mind processed them too quickly to mention. Such is the ADD mind, and mine works the same way. But by the same token, we may go off on tangents seemingly unrelated to our goal while we’re in that space between A and Q. People don’t typically see those either because, again, they happen pretty quickly.

But life, though it’s certainly a constant series of problems and equations to solve, isn’t a single one we can solve quickly, then get on with it. Instead, we may be juggling 6 or 7 things at once, and maybe more. While we’re solving one, another 8 are jumping on our backs like a bunch of hungry chimps, each certain it’s the one that should get our attention first.

The Disorderly Mind

To an outsider, or simply someone who requires order, it might look like I’m chasing my tail 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-cS691Nmost of the time. In truth, I’m gathering data and learning new things with every side trip and switch back I take. Connecting my dots would reveal, not a clean, direct route, but rather a spiral which leaves some things after one visit, but goes back to others time and time again because there’s more to be gained after learning a few more things on my journey.

We aren’t always ready for the lessons life gives us. For some it means plugging away in frustration until finally, something falls into place and it makes sense. My frustration level is very low. I’m more likely to walk away, but experience has shown me that’s often my best option. By walking away, I turn my attention to other things, maybe discovering key components in something entirely unrelated. I clear my head so when I return to the problem or lesson, I approach it with a clean perspective, and often see the solution clearly.

Games Which Stretch Our Minds

I’ve always enjoyed doing logic problems, not because they engaged the analytical part of my brain, but because in a weird way, they didn’t. You’re presented with information that doesn’t seem complete, in pieces and parts that require you to put them together without an actual framework. Looking at 3 of the clues, you might find information to check off a box or two the first time around. But each time you go through the clues, what you’ve checked off previously coalesces to clarify the picture.

My approach to life and especially my goals is a lot like a logic problem. I don’t have all the answers or knowledge I need to get there right now. I have to keep picking up skills and information, then circling back to put a few more pieces in place. Once I do, more clues are revealed or I’m directed to another source of information I need to absorb before I can continue.

Traversing an Unmarked Road of Opportunities

My guides don’t provide flashing neon signs telling me “you need this piece before you can assemble Process Q47H”. Instead, they toss out opportunities to learn something, or people who offer something I need. It’s up to me to decide whether I’m ready to assimilate what’s offered, or even willing to put forth the effort. I might even know the offer is a one-time deal and won’t come back again. That, too goes into my decision to pursue or pass.

I know if I miss one opportunity, it will either return in another form, or it’s something which might have actually confused me and taken me further off course. There are times I have, indeed chosen something that took me far away from my original path. That’s not always a bad thing either.

Each Person’s Road Map is a Series of Choices

At different points in our lives we make choices. We decide how we want our lives to look in X years. But things change. New options become available. Or old options lose their luster for one reason or another. The dreams I have today and the choices I’m making are seemingly light years away from the ones I had 20 or 30 years ago. Even the ones I had 5 years ago when I quit my accounting job are considerably different than the ones I have now (except the house overlooking the beach on a private peninsula. I still want that!).

Why? Because as I’ve pursued the original dream, I’ve learned a lot of things. Some of them are still pointing me in a reasonable facsimile of my chosen direction at the time, but many of them have expanded my horizons—showing me how much broader and more diverse my options are. I didn’t have the knowledge or the experience 5 years ago to see past my personal horizon. I was also locked in a pretty constricting comfort zone.

Growth Occurs When We Leave Our Comfort Zone

In the last couple of years, I’ve taken some giant leaps outside my former comfort zone. It’s https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/31275407857/in/photolist-PDGD8X-bnbiQa-k7zt6d-6M2nn9-mAAwrU-k7wXWX-nhNH58-k7zDp9-k7xjWk-nJgXGP-nk9CP8-k7tAv4-nziGrM-6ez3RC-nxeRe7-k7zCqf-2fgYi1C-k7B7wo-c411jo-S3dRoP-k7zetH-aubYf9-5u7LHw-cDzxty-5u3mjF-efS9bW-9tURvV-MNVXL-dkbcr9-aMCP28-LFJ8h-HUeD1-87TPHZ-5u3o9k-4t8Czz-5u7Lnq-XBZhbM-Yz4KP7-dJTsqi-YfKzKY-5Xw9Tw-kYuVpf-9GbcYZ-7DuDAu-fkpUYM-zGvsDE-qxEs38-o6g4QL-pJaHTv-mmZ7Ucnow on the far-distant horizon behind me, and before me are endless possibilities. I certainly wouldn’t have considered ghostwriting as the piece to fill the gap between my memoir and novels, and making a living. But here I am, writing for other people and getting paid to do it. The crazy part is, I’m loving doing it! I get to combine my Empathic skills with my writing skills to get inside someone’s head and write as if I were them.

Sure, my insecurities stage a rave every time I take on a new client, but with each new piece they accept and often love, my confidence grows. It will never reach cocky as a little humility, nervousness, and work ethic drive me to offer my best product to each client. But maybe at some point the raves will become more of a line dance floor where common steps are given their own twist by the participants, and I’m more certain I’m at least doing the same dance.

Connecting my dots doesn’t have a single solution. I can connect them in a million different ways and ultimately reach my goal. But I spend less time connecting and more time experiencing because I know that goal will change a few dozen times as I draw closer, and by the time I do reach it, it will more likely be a way-station than a destination.

My Most Powerful Tool Will Always Be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful to all the people who inspire me with ideas. My blogs are from real life; mine, yours, the world’s.
  2. I’m grateful for disruptive dreams that show me I’m embroiling myself in nonsense and fruitless meanderings at times.
  3. I’m grateful for a new day when irritations fade and perspectives are back in place.
  4. I’m grateful for the plethora of inspirational material available on Social Media. It’s thought-provoking, conversation-starting, or sometimes, what someone really needs to hear.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, new clients to write for, inspiration, ideas that come simply by placing fingers to keys, friendship, motivation, support, encouragement, love, healing, joy, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

We All Matter

You Always Matter

I see a lot of posts lately about how we all matter, but I think the real question is, why would we ever think we don’t?

Somehow, we’ve come to believe life has to be a power struggle where there are winners and losers, those who matter and those who don’t. Is there a lack of mattering? Not enough to go around? Or do we just believe it’s so because someone else told us?

Everything is Energy So Tap Into Yours

I recently read a post about money, and how you have to recognize it’s nothing more than Created with Canvaenergy. Once you realize that’s all it is, you’ll understand it’s limitless and there will always be enough to go around if we know where and how to look for it, or, to be more accurate, attract it.

The same is true of finding where and how we matter. In the first place, it’s not about matter to someone or because of some special characteristic we possess. We matter simply because we are. In short, we don’t need a reason to matter any more than we need a reason to exist. The very fact that we came into this human form at this particular time is reason enough.

Sure, you can say that each of us matters to someone. But the first person we matter to isn’t someone else. It’s us! We matter, first and foremost to ourselves. Yet so many people feel they need to find something outside themselves to validate them, and until they do, don’t believe they matter to anyone.

Look For Validation Within Yourself

How often do you see women who, until they’re part of a couple seem to be drifting along in a bubble of meaninglessness? Or who, until someone notices a particular quality, feel like they’re invisible. (If you ask me, there are times when being invisible is actually a good thing. As an introvert I strive for invisibility quite often with minimal success.) They’d be surprised to know people notice them all the time, and more often than not, in a positive way. But until someone comes out and says something to them, they feel invisible and worse, unimportant.

We can certainly go around telling everyone they matter and they’re important. But too many have spent a lifetime waiting to be noticed and believing until they are, they have no value. In the meantime, those whose notice they seek recognition are likely laboring under the same misconceptions!

Looking for Self-love in All the Wrong Places

Maybe that’s why people fight so hard over the little things, and are so easily drawn into 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-ZAWXwipetty battles over things like race, religion, and politics. They join with others to fight for a cause they probably don’t even understand because it means they belong somewhere; but somewhere outside their perfectly wonderful selves.

Most are losing propositions meant to distract and divide so they’ll constantly be looking for another horse to jump on, another manufactured injustice to oppose. If you ask me, it’s a wonder we don’t see more people collapsing in the streets from exhaustion. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with all the rules and expectations required to continue belonging to something as structurally sound as a wind gust.

When we find our belonging within ourselves, we don’t have to worry about the ground being pulled from beneath us. We don’t need to keep up with the latest set of rules and expectations. The only thing we need to follow is our own heart and beliefs. Those will never change at someone else’s whim.

Why Fit In? We Were Born to Stand Out.

We learn from an early age we need to fit in. As children in school, we’re subjected to bullying and teasing if we are too different from the rest. As teenagers, we’re encouraged to do things even though we know they’re wrong to avoid being ostracized. Those who walk their own path are deemed “weird”, “oddballs”, or “outsiders”. Often, they’re mistreated quite cruelly for minding their own business and refusing to join the mainstream.

Sadly, most of us are guilty at one time or another of expecting others to be like us. Yet we resent being treated the same way, even if we’re too scared to admit it, much less, speak up. I’ve judged people unkindly and unfairly more often than I’d like, though in most cases I’ve come to regret it in some way. Once I remind myself they matter because they’re as unique and special as I am, I recognize I’m neither qualified nor justified in judging them in any way.

Withhold Judgement—Always

Each time we judge someone else and find fault, we’re reinforcing a false expectation which prevents them from feeling they matter. Some are able to rise above the opinions and expectations of others. Some of us learn to face our detractors and say: If you don’t like the way I look, don’t look!

But too many turn themselves inside out trying to get even a single positive word. I did it for too many years. Worse still, I watched my mother do it with her own family, never realizing the rules changed when she showed any possibility of getting close. She died believing she wasn’t good enough, and that’s a tragedy I don’t wish to see visited on a single other human being.

I Wish Everyone to Know They Matter

My wish is that every human being who walks this earth now or in the future knows their https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ayperfectly imperfect self is important and needs no improvements or changes. They don’t need to follow someone else’s rules or twist themselves into uncomfortable shapes in order to belong.

It starts with me though. I have to catch myself when I start judging or comparing. I have to recognize the wonderful qualities each person brings to the table. I need to look past qualities that don’t fit my own myopic vision and see the amazing and inspiring person waiting to be noticed and accepted as they are.

I can’t control what other people see or do. Those who still believe they need outside validation can learn by the example the rest of us set to accept and validate themselves as they are. They don’t need to be restructured or remodeled unless they want to make changes to suit themselves. In other words, there is nothing wrong with them, and everything about them is right. But if all they feel is judgement, they’ll continue to reach for the impossible. I believe we’re all better than that, and it’s time we treated ourselves and all humanity with more kindness, compassion, and unconditional acceptance.

Setting a Standard for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had which taught me to see I matter.
  2. I am grateful for reminders I need to treat others like they, too matter without conditions or expectations.
  3. I am grateful for friends I’ve attracted now that I accept myself as I am, making only the improvements I believe I need to make.
  4. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others learn they are important because they are unique.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, compassion, friendship, uniqueness, belonging, sharing, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Detaching from Other Peoples’ Drama

OP Drama is Exhausting!

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-jk3BYpFor the last few days I’ve felt lazy, withdrawn, and disinclined to make even the slightest effort to clean, complete tasks I’ve set myself, or even move. Instead, I’ve felt a need to connect with the Earth physically and at length to the point where I’ve moved my daily meditation from the couch in my living room to a blanket spread on the grass in my backyard.

I couldn’t figure out whether I was being affected by malaise, moon phase, or geomagnetic storms. Ultimately I realized that while any or all may be factors, the simple truth was I’d allowed myself, once again to be drawn into someone else’s drama. I know better. I tell myself every time to run the other way when I see drama looming. But friendship and a misplaced sense of responsibility always get in my way.

Revisiting Our Lessons

I suppose the lesson keeps repeating itself because I haven’t mastered it yet. Hell, I haven’t even gotten past elementary school with this one, if truth be told. But my energy body knows and has initiated a shut-down, preventing me from making plans away from home or doing more than thinking, meditating, or napping until I get this sorted out.

Part of the sorting will be posts like this, some will be meditation, and some will be as simple as cleaning the house and doing some self-care. Yet interestingly enough, as soon as I recognized the problem and began writing about it, I felt a burst of energy and started getting some of the things done I’d been neglecting since this bought of “drama flu” came on.

Finding My Cure in Nature

I’m grateful the weather has cleared, at least temporarily, allowing me to lay out on the back lawn, work with the window open, and watch, hear, and smell nature at her finest while I work. For the last couple of days, I’ve been delighting in the feel of the wind playing with my hair, the sight of painted lady butterflies passing through my yard in their usual meandering way, and feeling the sun warming my skin. The resident raven is taunting the cats from his perch in the tree outside my office window.

Interestingly enough, my normally noisy neighborhood is unusually lacking in sounds like lawn mowers, leaf blowers, revving engines, and air tools. Somehow, everything is aligned for me to free myself from the web of drama and do things useful, creative, or both.

Reminders to Detach and Reconnect with What Matters

It’s not unusual to get not-so-subtle reminders of a lesson which has yet to be learned. But Created with Canvararely have I noticed circumstances aligning quite this well for me to gather my resources and focus on the lesson. The cleaning I still need to do is perfect for getting some thinking done as it’s automatic and mindless. The weather is perfect for reconnecting with the Earth. My schedule has nothing in it which must be done in the next 2 days.

I’ve seen how the drama affected some of the people concerned with illness and fatigue. I neither want nor need to take myself down that far. It did take me through a couple of days of less-than-healthy eating. This morning, my weight and blood pressure gave me a pointed reminder I needed to get back on track, though I’d figured it out last night and made a big healthy salad. (of course, by the time you’re reading this, it’ll be a couple of weeks after the fact, but sometimes it’s hard to write in the past when it’s Now).

Catching On More Quickly These Days

It’s taken a lot of years and many painful reminders, but now I’m liable to respond to subtle hints long before I reach the point where a Universal head slap is required. I may be slow, but I am averse to pain. Hit me enough times over the same thing, and I’ll start paying attention. I may still fall into the same old pattern and need reminders, but at least I don’t need the ones that lay me out flat, rubbing my poor, bruised head and wondering what I did this time.

The truth is, I care deeply about my friends and hate seeing them get hurt or abused. But in the last few years, the friendships I’ve built have been with strong, resilient people like me. They don’t need me to absorb any of the negative energy or take on any of the drama they might be temporarily immersed in. They can take care of themselves, with perhaps a little moral support. In fact, I’m probably doing more harm than good by letting myself get sucked in.

Giving People Credit for Their Own Strength and Resilience

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to step back and let things unfold without our Created with Canvaobservation or influence. As I tell my cats sometimes “go find something else to do for awhile”. Like them, I’m more in the way and hindering progress right now, though my friends may be too kind to tell me so outright. If I stop trying to fix things, I’ll realize they’re pulling back and sharing less with me right now; a subtle reminder my help isn’t needed a this point.

They’ve got this, and I’m not helping by worrying and fretting, nor by getting annoyed at the person they’re managing quite well on their own. In short, it isn’t my problem to solve or boundaries to set, it’s theirs. If I keep trying to make it mine, I’ll end up making an ass of myself and having to step back and regroup anyway, so I might as well do it beforehand. Truth be told, I have enough going on in my own life. I don’t need to take on anyone else’s anyway.

Even if I could, they are far better suited to handle what comes their way than I am. They’ve traveled the pathways which gave them the tools they now carry just as I’ve walked my own. (Yet another lesson I’ve yet to master?) Maybe I need another affirmation for my ever-growing collection:

I will attend to my own life and stay out of other peoples’ drama

Stepping Back and Being Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for Universal reminders which come without head slaps.
  2. I am grateful for a loving heart to give to my friends and family, but also grateful I can limit what I give and what I allow myself to take on.
  3. I am grateful for a lifestyle which allows me time to step back and regroup.
  4. I am grateful for choices.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; a life well-lived, inspiration, friends, family, joy, laughter, wit, a strong sense of humor, motivation, energy, love, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

 

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

As Perfect As Our Dream Selves

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

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

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

Live a Peaceful Life. Stop the Internal Strife.

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

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

Amplify the Heart’s Voice

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

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

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

Coming out of the Shadows

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

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

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

Asking for Help When the Gloom Overtakes Us

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

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

Offering Help to a Friend in Need

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

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

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

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

Clear Your Crud and Be A Friend

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

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

When All Else Fails, Try Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

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

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

 

Comparison is For Major Purchases, Not People

Acceptance Instead of Comparison

At the gym as in life, we are all at different places on our journey. Comparison is both meaningless and self-defeating. And yet, while working out around people at different levels, it’s all too easy to find ourselves making comparisons; some even favorable to ourselves.

There’s no way for us to know where anyone started except ourselves. The only valid comparison is where we are now vs. where we were at some specified point in the past, and then, only to show ourselves how far we’ve come.

Each of us progresses in our own unique way. A heavier person might have 4 or 5 times the strength of a wispy woman. Then again, she might not. Outside appearance is the least accurate barometer for forward progress.

Looking at the Outside Misses Where Our Real Changes Occur

Sure, you can look at someone who’s dropped 50 or 100 pounds and see progress. But what you see is superficial compared to the internal changes they made in order to release the weight. Those outward changes couldn’t have happened without a lot of internal redirection, a huge shift in mindset and values, and a decision to make those changes plus the will to make new habits. How can someone on the outside looking in possibly know the mountains we move to make those changes?

By the same token, we don’t have any way of knowing how far another person has come, so how on earth can we possibly compare ourselves and our journey to theirs?

Comparison is a momentum killer.

Comparison is a short road to discouragement. It allows us to fall back into “you’re not good enough” mode where we ignore all the progress we’ve made, looking instead at how far we have to go. But our progress wasn’t made in a series of giant leaps. Chances are, we took a lot of baby steps and maybe, just maybe, the occasional giant leap. The mountain we set off to climb must be scaled one step at a time.

Focusing on Our Own Progress

That doesn’t mean the steps don’t get easier as we gain skill and strength. Nor will those baby steps remain the same minuscule size as we learn and grow. But as we progress our perspective changes too. What was once a major accomplishment is barely a blip on our personal radar. We reset not only our goals but our expectations as we go. That too is progress.

Expecting more of ourselves when we’re ready, or almost ready is what makes us reach for loftier and loftier goals. If we set our bar at a level too far beyond our current capabilities, we’d get discouraged and give up before we made what we’d consider significant progress. But if we set smaller, reachable goals, we’ll experience a feeling of accomplishment that will motivate us to keep trying.

My biggest challenge is to release the excess weight I’ve accumulated over the years. Though it’s been rough going the last few months, I can stop myself and remember that there are about 20 pounds I’ve released and not allowed to creep back. Yes, there are also 5 or 10 which have, but the ones that haven’t motivate me to keep trying because I have some success to look at.

Meanwhile, I’ve gone from barely being able to lift a pound with my left arm, courtesy of a herniated disc in my neck to getting comments from men at the gym about how much weight I’m lifting now. It didn’t happen over night, and it’s not helping me take off as much weight as I’d like, but it is progress. In fact, when I pull up MyFitnessPal to see what weight I’m using on various machines or free weights each week, I’m often surprised to see the numbers have climbed as high as they have.

Figuring Out What Motivates Us

Most of my progress has occurred in the last year, when I finally found a schedule I’d follow consistently, and created what I hope will be a lifelong habit. It might have taken me a few extra decades to get there, but that’s how my journey is unfolding. I’m OK with that.

Comparison has another ugly side. When we see ourselves as less, or not as good as, we tend to treat ourselves unkindly. We give up on ourselves. We feel unworthy. None of that crap is true. We slip back into old habits, but we don’t have to stay there. We need to remind ourselves it’s OK to make mistakes or fall off track as long as we treat ourselves kindly and get back on that track before we do ourselves too much damage.

The trouble is, we tend to be quicker to beat ourselves up than forgive our own transgressions. And boy are we stingy with praise for the person who deserves our praise the most!

Focus on Now and the Rest Will Follow

One way I’ve found to get off the comparison merry-go-round is to focus on what we are doing, thinking, and feeling in the current moment—in the Now. Feel how our bodies and minds are responding to the new tasks we’ve set, and don’t worry about what happened 5 minutes ago. If we ate a cookie, or skipped a set, it’s done and can’t be re-done. So let it go and embrace this moment, making it the best we can.

I also like to make lists. At the end of the day, I make a list of at least 10 things I accomplished. They don’t have to be big things, and often, I give myself a couple of “gimme’s”. They’re things I do every day without thinking about it like writing my Morning Pages, and making the bed (another habit I had to work to achieve). To the outside world, they might seem insignificant.

To many of my friends, making the bed has been a lifelong habit. For me, as the Queen of Clutter for so many years, it was one more thing I had to learn to find important. But forming and keeping the habit taught me that climbing back into bed during the day was no longer an option. Ask anyone who has fought depression at any point in their life, and you’ll understand why such a small, seemingly ordinary task can make a huge difference in how a day unfolds. Learning to make my bed every morning turned days on end of laziness, lack of motivation or inspiration, and long-term failure into the desire to finish what I started and form more healthy habits.

What I’m saying in my usual long, roundabout way is, if you must compare, look at who you are today, what you have accomplished, and how far you’ve come. The only person we have to be better than is ourselves. The only improvements that matter in our lives are the ones we make to the person we are now, and the person we want to become. Look objectively. Look without judging. See yourself without unrealistic expectations. I promise you’ll see someone marvelous, accomplished and amazing who’s conquered a lot of odds and challenges to become the ever-evolving person they are today.

Remember to Be Grateful for Accomplishments Both Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my evolving perspective.
  2. I am grateful for the many accomplishments which continue to help me evolve.
  3. I am grateful for reminders that I’m perfect the way I am, but can always make myself a better me.
  4. I am grateful for people who can be examples for me rather than comparisons where I find myself lacking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; self-love, joy, health, new habits, friendship, dancing, inspiration, motivation, prosperity, peace, harmony, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Mired in Negative Energy, Looking For Solutions

Recognizing Energy Drains

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

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

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

Replacing the Irreplaceable

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

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

Finding an Island in Our Sea of Darkness

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

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

Weakening Old Familiar Bonds

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

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

Creating Our Own Alternatives

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

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

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

Always Finding Reasons to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

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

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Sometimes Even Hermits Need People

Hermits Come Out of Hiding

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-jk3BYpAfter spending 3 of the last 4 days not only behind the closed doors of my house, but behind my closed eyelids about 20 hours out of 24, I’m feeling decidedly restless. Waking up to a slightly overcast but basically sunny morning, feeling almost as good as new again after being laid low by what I can only assume is the latest strain of flu, I’m feeling strangely disconnected and, dare I say it? In need of a people fix.

As a self-professed hermit, people aren’t usually high on my list of outside stimulation. Not that I don’t go out fairly regularly amidst the humans. But as much as possible, I find entertainment where people are few. My workouts are timed for the less populated periods, as are my weekly errands. The less people between me and my objectives, the better.

But after two entire days when the sum total of my human contact was a few text messages and one person stopping by for her Girl Scout cookies, I’m ready for some real, honest-to-goodness human interaction. Then my inner responsibility kicks in saying: But you’ve gotten nothing done for days. You’re behind on all your tasks, and need to stay in and catch up!

The Never-Ending To-Do List

Never mind that I have all cross-posts to Medium done for the month of February, or that this is the final blog post for the month too (and it’s only the 12th!). I have a book to read, blurbs to create, schedules to make for those blurbs, a summary to write, and at least a dozen other tasks I can think of if I put my mind to it. After a couple of days of doing nothing, my mind ignores what’s done and rushes straight to the endless list of “undones”.

Needless to say, the desire to be around people is quickly overshadowed by the never-ending To Do list in my mind. Yet a small piece of me says: Surely you can spare a few minutes. Walk to the store or go sit in a coffee shop. Something so I know I’m not alone in the middle of Humanity’s crowd.

The little voice is drawing closer and closer to a whine, my most hated of human vocalizations. More hated when it’s coming from my own inner voice. Perhaps I could pack up my laptop, clean off the bed dust, even wash my hair, and go to a local Starbuck’s or the like and do some reading or writing there. If only to shut the little bugger up so I can get some real work done.

The Mind is Willing, The Body, Not So Much

Created with CanvaJust when I think I have myself geared up to make myself presentable to the outside world, reality sets in. Though I was up earlier and have kept going longer than I had in the last couple of days, the truth is, my energy is still low. I’m still eating far less than I’m used to (which isn’t a bad thing), and after about 4 hours of wakeful time, I’m ready for a nap or meditation; in short, some shut-eye. The mind is willing, but the body says: nuh uh!

So I exchanged a couple of texts, posted or shared things on Facebook (another place I’ve been noticeably absent lately), and honored the needs of my depleted body. I comforted myself with the knowledge that I’d get to go to the gym and run errands tomorrow (and maybe even talk to people for a change!), and meet my friends at our temporary dance home tomorrow night.

Until then, I’m giving my To Do list and Trello board the respect they deserve. I’ll cross off a few more tasks in between naps so I can still have the work-free zones at their regularly scheduled days and times. This uncharacteristic need for human interaction will have to wait its turn in my personal Grand Scheme.

Do Other Hermits Sometimes Feel Un-Hermit-y?

I do have to wonder if other hermits (aka writers) have moments when they’ve been out of touch for so long the need for other people becomes almost a palpable craving? When they know if someone called and offered up just about any kind of entertainment, they’d drop everything, throw responsibility to the wind, and go.

It isn’t only illness which locks us into our hovels for long periods of time either. Sometimes it’s our writing. We get into a zone which can last for days; when eating and sleeping are secondary and the words roll off our fingers like water from a gushing spring. These moments don’t come often, so when they do, we’re not about to get in our own way and slow the flow.

Hoping for a Flood (of Words)

In fact, it’s been awhile since I’ve had one myself, so maybe I’m due for a burst of creative fury when I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the words. When spelling and typing are cast to the wind in a mad rush to just get words on the screen. Forget trying to do it longhand. While I can write fairly quickly, it’s nothing compared to my typing, and I would be shredding the page in frustration. Besides, it’s easier to correct all the misspellings and typos when they’re on a screen in front of me with spellcheck engaged. Squiggly red lines or solid blue ones alert me to potential grammatical faux pas’.

Perhaps the temporary hiatus from humans will set off one of those floods, allowing me to knock down that towering list of To Do’s so I’ll feel less like I’m abandoning my responsibilities to go out for a bit and commune with humanity, perhaps to find a new source of inspiration. It would sure beat having the flu which took me completely out of commission and shot my productivity numbers down to zero!

Grateful for Every Little Thing

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the modicum of ability I’ve developed to actually stay on task until projects are completed.
  2. I am grateful for words that flow and cravings which subside while I’m getting things done and clearing space.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned to clear space because new projects arise and things happen when I least expect it. Having some space cleared keeps the stress monsters away.
  4. I am grateful for new beginnings, and projects which return before I expect them.
  5. I am grateful for feelings of anticipation, even if I don’t know what they portend. I know it’ll be something good, and that’s all that matters.
  6. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, health, happiness, dancing, writing jobs, new things, opportunities, joy, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

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

 

 

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