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

Posts tagged ‘habits’

Revisiting Intentions to Focus My Efforts

Disconnecting to Re-Set Intentions

Over the last few weeks, I’ve taken the opportunity to disconnect more frequently than I had in the past. I don’t know if it’s a need for more solitude, or simply a desire to focus more on my writing and less on outside distractions like social media, text messages, and TV. For all my talk, I hadn’t taken advantage of the DND function on my phone as frequently as I might, nor avoided being passively entertained for long periods of time.

I re-visited something I’d temporarily forgotten: the more I have on my plate, the more focused I become on tackling the tasks before me. More importantly, I reduced the amount of time spent interacting with people frivolously, and turned interactions into something which were more likely to benefit me both personally and professionally. To me, that part is huge.

It’s not that I don’t jump on Facebook and share inspirational quotes and posts, or the occasional pun or joke any more. I’ve started focusing my time more so it’s not an all-day affair, and instead, open a blog page and start typing even if I have nothing to say.

Constantly Improving Habits

In a conversation with a fellow writer who assumed I was having trouble writing, I explained my issue isn’t finding something to say. It’s sitting down in front of the computer with my fingers on the keys. If I sit here long enough, and pound out enough words from deep in the bowels of my subconscious, a topic will always form itself, and in so doing, will dump a thousand words or more onto the screen before I know it. Which makes the last couple of years without another NaNoWriMo pretty disturbing. It wasn’t that I lacked the ability or even the tenacity to see the project through. I lacked enough on my plate to motivate me to do more.

In the last year or two, I’ve made significant changes which proved to myself I could stay as busy as I wanted to. I only needed to set an intention for more ideas, motivation, and client work, and it would all manifest.

I know that sounds oversimplified, but I’ve proven it time and again on little things. When I start ignoring my alarm and sleeping too late, I re-set my intention to wake up by 8. The intention is enough so I don’t even need the alarm screaming in my ear. I wake up when I want to, ready to get up and start my day. When I want to write more and screw around less, I set an intention, and revisit my Trello board.

Is It Time for Time Blocks?

Granted, I’m still having trouble working in time blocks like some people do. My mind has trouble wrapping itself around the idea of doing X from 9 to 10, Y from 10:15 to 12:15, and so on. Yet I’m toying with the idea now. Putting myself on a tighter schedule will ultimately make it easier to:

  • Finish the re-write of  Rebuilding After Suicide
  • Thoroughly research publishing options
  • Finish editing and uploading Sasha’s Journey to ChapterBuzz
  • Finish and implement the lessons from LeadsLab
  • Map out my work schedule for the next 12 months to include blocks for client work, research, and personal projects.
  • Spend time reading and commenting on authors I’m following

I find if I start listing things out like what you see above, it gets me into the right frame of mind to start making time for the projects that somehow keep getting pushed to the back burner under “stuff I want to do regularly at some point”. Have you noticed when you do it that way that “some point” never quite comes into view? It is truly the albatross of procrastinators.

Progress Has Been Slow, But Steady

I had a boss years ago whose favorite phrase was “shit or get off the pot”. As I look at the progress I’ve made since I quit my day job 6 years ago, there’s a very definite pattern. The first couple of years, I futzed around, trying this course and that, but giving up, probably too soon in some cases. All of those courses are languishing in my DropBox account, some of them, still unopened.

I spent another year lackadaisically working on the 3 NaNo’s I managed to finish. One of them actually got to the re-write stage a couple of times. In the meantime, I joined a writers’ critique group, but ultimately realized it wasn’t the right one for me. I’ve yet to find another. To be honest, I haven’t even tried.

The last couple of years have seen the greatest changes; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ve written a great deal more, and with a higher degree of consistency. I’ve completed a couple of projects and gone on to re-write them. I’ve also attended a writer’s conference, and had my first dubiously helpful experience with an editor. And I’ve learned not to take my meat suit for granted.

Stronger in Mind, Body, Spirit, and Productivity

Overall, I’ve seen huge progress. Physically, I’m stronger and healthier. Mentally, I’m more focused. My writing is starting to gain more traction. I attribute a lot of that to publishing on Medium, and ultimately being invited to write for a publication called “The Startup”. I’ve connected with other writers and found not only great information for making changes myself, but an audience that’s beginning to expand as well. Writers do support other writers, but you have to show you’re willing to give as well as take.

Which is the primary reason I’m setting an intention to establish regular blocks of time to read and comment on the work of others. Not only is it a great way to learn from the successes and failures of others and avoid making the same ones (heaven knows there are plenty of others I can make), but it’s a way to connect with a community of like-minded folks who can and will help me wade through reams of material when I’m trying to figure out the best way to jump into the publishing pool.

Recognizing What’s Most Important

As I reflect back upon the lessons I’ve already learned since I left Corporate America to become a full-time writer, I’d boil it down to three main ones:

  1. Write every single day whether you want to or not; whether you think you have anything to say or not.
  2. Build a community and interact with them regularly and consistently.
  3. Make time for self-care. If mind or body fail, making the first two work will be nearly impossible.

Everything else follows from these three. Everything I’ve accomplished in the last couple of years is related in some way. I’ve managed a certain level of consistency with #1, if only by writing my morning pages almost every day. #3 has been, to my surprise, the easiest to manage, though every so often I have a week where I let myself slide. Nevertheless, I am always back to full throttle the following week.

The hardest thing for me has been consistency in building and maintaining a community, but like the others, the more I exercise that muscle, the easier it gets. As it gets easier, consistency will become automatic as well. With improved consistency, I expect to see another upsurge in my successes as well. It is the natural progression I’ve seen in everything I do.

Always Finding Things To Be Grateful For, No Matter What

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned in the last 6 years, and look forward to many more.
  2. I am grateful for friendships I’ve made both on- and off-line.
  3. I am grateful for the love, kindness, and compassion which are constantly building in my life, and for the lessons I’ve learned in both giving and receiving.
  4. I am grateful for personal evolution. I am not the woman I was 5 years ago, much less, 10 or 20. She served her purpose, but she’s gone now.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, inspiration, motivation, new skills, stronger old skills, mentors and mentees, healthy mind, body, and spirit, compassion, peace, balance, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

The Unheralded Gift of Movement

Making Movement a Priority in My Life

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

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

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

Pushing Through Pain, But Doing it Smartly

Perhaps that’s the key to remaining, if not in perfect shape, at least more active https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpthan many in my age and weight class. I’m grateful for what I am able to do, but also unwilling to slow down for minor aches and pains.

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

Habits We Start When We’re Young

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

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

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

Healthy Habits I Tried Passing on to My Daughters

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

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

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

Limitations in Others: A Cautionary Tale

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

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

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

Adjusting to the Inevitable Physical Changes

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

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

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

Keeping My Body in Motion

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

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

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

Giving My Body the Gratitude it Deserves

My gratitudes today are:

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

Love and Life

 

About the Author

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

Letting Worry Slow the Flow

Ingrained Habits Unharmed by Worry

I was doing really well sticking to the schedule I’d set for myself. But health concerns pushed everything to the back burner until I got a few more answers (or maybe non-answers). When I finally sat down to write, thinking I was several posts behind, I found self-discipline had saved me. I had actually only slipped by one post with another due by midnight. No problem.

The problem isn’t so much with staying on track (and there are other projects which have indeed suffered), but with finding topics to write about which didn’t involve all the medical bullcrap I’ve been fielding for the last few months. Granted, the news so far is good in that it’s ruled out anything serious. But the search goes on and frankly, it’s frustrating!

I’m not a patient person by nature, so when each new set of tests has the current specialist throwing up his hands and sending me to yet another doctor with a 3 to 4 week lead time for appointments, followed by another 3 to 4 weeks to get in for the tests he orders, I’m losing what little patience I had. Meanwhile, the original problem persists, if not worsens, forcing me to make some lifestyle changes in order to cope with them until someone comes along who can actually answer the 64-thousand dollar question “What’s ailin’ me?”

Looking for Alternatives

Admittedly, I’ve grown more and more disenchanted with Western medicine the older I get. Someone recently said to me:

“As we get older, they see no reason to put forth the effort to keep us alive.”

I can find no reasonable argument to refute the statement.

Still, our insurance system is designed to support Western medicine, and of course, the pharmaceutical industry. I’m a lousy patient in that regard as I prefer herbs and healthier habits to the pills they try to convince me to take. I’ve had a great deal of success doing it my way too.

The latest concern seems to be confounding my doctors though, as they send me from one specialist to another only to hear “that part is working fine.” At least I don’t make this journey alone as a friend seems to be having the same issues, though he’s a decade older. In both our cases, our customary energy is being impacted, and as members of the dance community, energy loss is simply unacceptable.

Two Guinea Pigs Are Better Than One

I can only hope that between the two of us and our travels from one specialist to another, we’ll ultimately find someone who can figure this out, and solve the issue for us both. Meanwhile, I try not to piss and moan too much, eat smaller meals, and make sure I don’t eat within a couple of hours of dancing. One episode of nearly passing out was enough to make me a lot more cautious. (OK, so I could have stopped and sat down sooner, but I was having too much fun…until I wasn’t).

Some people choose to age gracefully. When they start slowing down, they take it lying down; sometimes literally. My friends and I are far less easygoing and accepting. If something slows us down, we look for ways to get around it. In my case, it’s daily walks, smaller meals, regular weight work, and when all else fails, physical therapy. As I’m still going at something close to my normal pace, I have to assume it’s working.

A friend of mine found his golf routine impaired by back pain. He added more stretching to his routine, and is back to golfing 5 or 6 days a week.

Keeping Up with the Younger Crowd

Admittedly, I’m not quite as active as those who are 10 or 15 years younger, but https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/9182552435/in/photolist-eZqYVz-bCNKVT-8waBnX-9gcXm3-5wMMcX-5styJG-5NdLft-9WfvLY-8MEH91-23XHouF-7mc1GH-py5mDy-9Lkh4X-7pd42N-EPatZ5-78st9q-6rcZxE-49Pm2N-au74m8-6jM6KS-HQymz-gVHz7s-49Kho6-5GKp9D-qSKDJ4-6wTpaT-6KMH5T-xp4AGh-38dnvK-Fkz55-a7uGEd-51eYV7-au74LM-co3BDW-e4KzTK-fPSmM-6PWBfU-eZqXRx-eZCkBd-5F7yao-PsCgD-7Rhx6c-BPHHeH-2e1ZPoa-6jvBPq-7Spp33-7RhwqR-2mKaF-78svmQ-7Spp6EI’m a lot more active than the average person who is 10 or 15 years younger, much less my age. Even my doctors are noticeably impressed at my activity level. That doesn’t mean they don’t add “for your age” to the end of any compliment, or refrain from mentioning my excess weight. Those are easy excuses inherent to practitioners of Western Medicine.

From what I’ve seen, herbalists and holistic practitioners are less inclined to bring age, or even weight into the calculation unless there’s something specifically age- or weight-related at issue. It may be an argument in and of itself to stop the merry-go-round of people who specialize in only one part of the body and consult someone who is prepared to treat the body as a whole.

Using Writing as a Sounding Board

Often when I’m writing, I’m trying to work out some kind of issue. Those are the pages, you’ll never see. Sometimes, I’ll talk myself around like I have here, and solve something that was bothering me, yet not to the point where I needed to do a brain dump to solve it. The mind is a powerful instrument, and like it or not, will point me in the direction I need to go, even if I didn’t realize I needed to go anywhere in the first place.

I’ve learned to listen to the intuition which surfaces through my writing. It usually brings something to the surface that needed to be brought up. Maybe I was spinning my wheels, or procrastinating, or in full avoidance mode. If I don’t acknowledge your presence, you’re not there.

I’ve learned I can’t hide from myself, though I spent decades trying. Eventually, the mind decides it’s had enough and says it’s time for you to acknowledge the elephant in the room, and do something about it. Today, my elephant is a health issue that no one seems to be able to figure out. Our society has made it necessary to advocate for ourselves, and to recognize when we’ve been put on a merry-go-round going nowhere.

Frankly, I prefer roller coasters to merry-go-rounds. They’re more exciting, and though the scenery might fly by at times, I get to see a great deal more of the world than if I spent my life going around in circles. I may be in for a wild, and at times, unpleasant ride, but I’m tired of all the non-answers. It’s time to leave the merry-go-round for the ones who have no place they want to go. That ain’t me.

Always Something to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I have choices even if I have to push my way through the muck to find them.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve ruled out some of the more serious health concerns, though I realize there are still some which have yet to be ruled out.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who support and understand when I’m feeling frustrated.
  4. I’m grateful for my writing which helps me get aligned with where I need to go next.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; choices, friendship, love, joy, dancing, solitude, community, opportunities, insight, inspiration, 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

Clearing My Resistance to Change a Step at a Time

Change Doesn’t Eliminate Cravings

I try to keep my eating and exercise habits healthy. But every once in awhile the old, self-destructive habits rear their ugly heads and I spend the day planted in front of the TV, or want a big, gooey takeout pizza so badly it’s all I can do to keep my hand off the phone. Sometimes, it’s a craving for sugar. Recently, it was jelly beans.

I told myself I could have some if I walked up to Von’s, but it was too hot to make the trek. Finally, after fighting the urge for a couple of hours to no avail, and seeing I would get nothing done until I had some, I compromised. I drove to Costco and made myself walk the whole store before I could grab my treat and take it home like a bear packing it away for winter.

Alas, I was thwarted on several levels. First, I started to get a migraine and had to find a place to sit quietly with my eyes closed until it passed. Unfortunately, I’d parked far from the store entrance, so my only alternative was the rest room. Just my luck, some woman had gotten her child a talking toy to entertain him while she shopped, and I got to listen to several minutes of “this is how we brush our teeth!” and “this is how we tie our shoes” in one of those perky, Sesame Street style voices that made me want to fly from the cubicle, oblivious to the pants hanging down around my ankles, and smash the thing into a million pieces. (I maintained a reasonable amount of decorum, more for the sake of preventing a full-on, head-cracking migraine than out of consideration for the mother and her child). I began to wonder if, like me, she sought sanctuary in a grey-walled cubicle, if only to have something entertain her child while she decompressed.

When my vision finally returned to normal, I left my dubious sanctuary, washed my hands, and went to find help in my search. Sadly, Costco no longer carries the industrial size jars of Jelly Bellies. It was probably for the best. I ended up at Von’s anyway, coming home with 2 small bags instead of the vat full of my sugary treat. I ended up eating more than I should have from one bag and stashed the rest away for my next sugar craving that won’t be quashed by chocolate or yogurt bars. At least the next time would be less frantic and probably require a smaller fix.

Healthy Habits Most of the Time

Like many of you, I put a lot of time and effort into creating habits which will give me more energy, keep my body healthy, and most of all, keep the doctor from insisting I control things like blood pressure and sugar with medication. But I’m an imperfect being, and sometimes, those old, unhealthy habits will demand attention, much like my cats insist they haven’t had any treats in ages. Like my cats, my last tumble off the healthful wagon might have been a day before. Still, part of me is a whiny, bratty child.

Most of the time, I can actually overrule the crappy food demons. I guess I can resist certain things better than others. Easier to convince myself I don’t need a pizza than to quell the desire for sugar in its most basic form, I suppose. Either way, I know I’ll feel crappy afterwards, but memories of feeling lousy fade when I’m in the midst of a full-on sugar attack.

Thankfully, these cravings don’t hit often any more, so falling off the wagon now and then isn’t a serious hit to my overall health. Even so, I wish I could make the cravings stop forever. I’ve even wished, in a rare moment of insanity that I was allergic to chocolate so I’d never be driven to eat it. I came to my senses before my mind made it real.

We Control Our Minds…to a Point

I know power over the mind is a real thing. You can stop a craving, change a mood, and even heal yourself with enough focus. I’ve even been reading about changing your DNA by the power of the mind alone! Though an amazing possibility, I’m on the fence on this one, waiting for more definitive proof and time tested techniques before I do any rerouting within my own meat suit and neural system.

Nevertheless, forming the habits I’ve already formed, however imperfect they may be did take a certain amount of retraining. I had to somehow convince myself I’d be happier if I was healthier instead of finding solace in sugar, salt, and fat. Some of it took actual health issues or scares, and some, finally getting tired of limitations.

That’s how I quit smoking for the last time (third time was a charm). I realized it was interfering with my dancing by taking away my stamina. It was finally enough to make me drop the nasty habit entirely. Though it took a few more years, establishing a regular gym routine came about for a similar reason. My knees and shoulders were giving me pain and grief. I knew deep down strength training would solve most, if not all of my problems in those areas.

Giving Myself a Break for Imperfections

A year and a half later, I rarely miss one of my thrice-weekly gym days. I’ve also added a daily walk to the mix. I thought that one would be hard to set but apparently, once you set a couple of healthy habits, it’s far easier to convince yourself to add a few more. Or at least, that’s how it’s shaken out for me.

Even mornings when I get up and really don’t feel like suiting up and hitting the pavement, something makes me do it. I can’t justify coffee or breakfast until I’ve made my 1.3 mile circuit. The funny thing is, no matter how slow and grumpy I feel when I walk out my door, by the time I’ve finished, I feel a lot better, and more ready to face the day.

Maybe changing physical activity rewires your DNA all by itself. I can’t argue that it raises my vibration, even if it’s only from grumpy and bored, to accepting. It’s still a better place to start my day.

Re-Wiring Myself for Better Habits

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-7S9ue4There’s a saying: “A body in motion stays in motion”. I have to wonder if it applies to change as well. Once you start making changes to your life, your mindset, or your environment, it seems to be easier to make additional changes. It’s as if the hard-wiring we all have making us resistant to change weakens as we keep making small changes. You fool it by keeping the changes small at first. When it starts accepting the small changes, you throw in a couple of larger ones.

Eventually, the change-resistant hard-wiring gets so confused, it can’t differentiate between mutability and stasis. In essence, you alter your DNA via the wiring in your brain because you’ve eliminated a natural resistance. If nothing else, I’ve discovered I’m less averse to change these days in areas I once held fast with dogged determination.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring other change-resistant areas in my psyche. I’ll share with you my findings, and where I’m still resistant, my efforts to break that resistance and form healthier habits for my mind and spirit as well as my body. Care to join me on this journey?

Could You Use Some Support to Make a Few Changes?

Do you want to make changes to your life or routine, but can’t find the time or motivation? Are you still trying to do it all instead of asking for help? Would taking a task or two off your plate give you time to be kinder to you? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

 
Gratitude is Great Fuel for Staying on Track

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the changes I’ve made in my life.
  2. I’m grateful for an increased willingness to try things I’d have run from not so long ago.
  3. I’m grateful for small changes which become huge improvements.
  4. I’m grateful for an outlook that gets better and more positive every day.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, stamina, energy, strength, flexibility, love, joy, dancing, hugs, 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

Clearing the Cobwebs of Painful Memories

Time To Do Some Clearing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/7849876896/in/photolist-cXEEV7-fPr3hz-ovy3Y-2TKGKr-RJSecz-81bjFu-o4c5Cv-5GdaKc-8D2F6U-22tfUjT-4DQbJU-5s2mHR-6En1bs-8n1pCV-dLvZgq-4Xbv3C-8n4xvC-nfdexu-cdNTt7-dRsadY-9gsEyT-8f7e7g-7JsrvP-6En2bL-8f7ibz-6EhUbV-fKGp59-5rR2oc-8f7fvF-8f7gWv-6En4DN-E8n3sk-dU6FTL-2ezHFm2-7H8SZN-2fyEitz-nrTHmV-21ULG68-gd3BS-5rVnWy-5rR3zM-cMbd8N-kzXmM-5rVneJ-5rR1VH-7hY577-oiDSem-DYf7cJ-ArNMhD-A6zcJMI’ve been suffering from a nasty case of ennui. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything, work-wise. I start writing only to push it aside as uninspired and dull. I do something less creative, and stop working on it when it will require creativity to complete.

I’m not really sure what I have stuck in my craw, but it’s also setting off migraines, or at least the beginnings of them with increasing frequency. This is not a good sign.

Meanwhile, I seem to be more engaged with taking care of myself; eating healthy meals, getting more exercise, and sleeping more than usual. But I’m frustrated with my lack of progress on the projects awaiting my attention. I’m annoyed by the things I’m not getting done, and the forward momentum which has come to a screeching, grinding halt.

Engaging My Tools to Free Creativity Held Captive

Venting my frustrations and irritation in this post is one of the ways I’ve found https://www.flickr.com/photos/eelundgaard/6843281107/in/photolist-bqHB4i-4nTQzD-7q252U-pbHQ71-7PAFYM-2em7Gkp-e44j5p-oBWaHi-4nSSHx-ZFC7EN-oAUXNJ-VBDg4S-XzbE8f-ghWwir-9DKTNV-5CrSjc-AGyeY-9kGdwf-eBVzrE-VnQuFb-8UQoiG-UfEVmU-Td5M2F-eauQmZ-dzQbgm-owmBAC-WSoCkm-c5MZNj-ebYA1j-9ijap5-5MLfF-9qug71-KAUJeL-jnr1Vx-ZFCdUG-6Nr9Fh-ZFCeYq-WewmJY-4MPtFk-TPDJ-VdcBDb-8pv5j-WqU5HJ-CDSsNh-CDSpbh-fNacTS-8XgrBS-g2iZgE-h3EJz8-4nGFiScan break up the logjam in my head and heart. But at the moment, the words I need to write seem to be stuck inside too. Hours before I usually retire, I’m ready to take out my contacts, brush my teeth, and go to bed. I toss and turn or fall victim to the cacophony in my head. I’m avoiding something with a vengeance, and that avoidance is leaking into everything I want or need to get to.

It’s as if the me who gets on a roll, knocking out articles and book chapters is being stuffed into a box with a rag in her mouth to keep her from screaming and disturbing the other inmates. She fights frantically but only succeeds in tightening the bonds restraining her and preventing her fingers from typing or scribbling.

The words pile up around her, filling what little space is left in the box until her efforts become more feeble, and ultimately she gives up, defeated, to lie whimpering at the bottom of the box, unable to help herself, with no one around to help, even if they could hear her or recognize her distress.

Fortunately, I’ve been here before, and managed to escape the box and spit out the rag. It might be a cafe writing session, or camping out for a few hours in the red Adirondack chairs on what I jokingly call my veranda, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood; birds chirping, a baby crying, a train tooting to warn cars at the intersections of it’s impending arrival. Occasionally, a fire engine’s wail intrudes as it rushes to another emergency.

Forging a New Path

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philipglevy/9462509263/in/photolist-fqaQkr-6B62hk-9jZwX5-4FH1En-54uCWa-a3Ns41-6BanmN-6DM4U9-5u49NP-6v9Puu-6DGTwD-4FMcCG-doJVpC-3ervgn-4FMcmC-pb1bmR-6v9McG-6DM5Wm-a71Zuu-5i6sb2-6B9Lkj-4FH1v4-gQpcex-jZKZ5o-6v9NNf-6B5zw6-89YYg5-6v9Xbb-6MPVRc-6v9Wow-6v5Gyk-aPQjfH-6v9QjU-6v5PF8-6v9VcG-cu2a4-DUvgxx-6v9YGJ-5oAaDQ-8ipJ7z-5VgzB9-6B9AVJ-5KTyGH-5Vce46-Uwsk9p-6vNzky-6v5FCV-6B5rgp-6v9UFb-6v9LjqThis time I choose the chairs and my porch. I pull out a spiral binder and my pack of multi-colored V5 pens, date the page, and bring up the next writing prompt from “A Writer’s Book of Days”. Propped up on the two-sided UCLA-USC pillows my evil daughter made me, I write a few words, digging into my subconscious for inspiration. My 3 garage cats, Max, Cinders, and Hailey come running as I settle in to assure me they’ve been neglected for days; maybe even weeks.

After awhile, the words start to flow and the dregs of my subconscious hit the page, drifting further and further from the actual prompt. It doesn’t really matter what I write. This exercise has one purpose; to get me writing and spilling my guts.

Revisiting Previous Epiphanies

One such exercise yielded the realization that I harbored a great deal of anger https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9Yqrtowards my dad, not because he took his life, but because of all the years, time,  and effort I spent trying to earn his approval. What I got instead was abuse and disdain. It also made me see the underlying cause of my inability to form a strong, loving relationship. What I’d been taught to believe was love was light years away from a relationship based on kindness, compassion, and respect.

The trouble is, once I recognized the anger, my mind wanted to clutch it close like the childhood teddy bear my cat Snowy had licked clean of its fur. Unfortunately, my anger wasn’t soft and benign like that bear. It was intrusive and destructive. Like the bear, it was dull and dingy, and needed to be tossed out.

Old habits die hard though. I’d just converted the love and devotion I’d carried for decades without reciprocation  to anger and hurt. The space it filled in my heart and mind wasn’t ready to be empty, if only until I could fill it with happier memories and emotions.

Allowing Myself to Enjoy the Empty Space

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/1074766279/in/photolist-Qq8gms-2CYsz6-9LDCMr-f2j8XG-9LDCYn-5Y9PzH-FkrgSH-nvoHbg-9mtAak-iD74WS-6mvA4s-4rrcvn-6Vw4xM-zHyznr-4LSv6x-8JNcR5-6TQeJd-7nXLkF-LciV1-5f6yL-9AuXrj-7o2EMh-69J8C8-8TorzY-5d1ns-JzytHf-26ReUcc-25BFXcJ-DmHVZK-qGRjJY-25BFVU3-25niJrT-iEZMGh-Jzyr59-6rXktd-6rXkoU-bYfvh-6jLb3F-ibKpJ7-6rXjNd-xkP6c-8jf2iK-V2pgYm-bYfvq-9LGr25-nqymWu-9Hspoj-77msAd-5V8poC-5zqHbfSuch is the challenge of replacing old hurts with something better. I have to be willing to endure an empty hollowness for a little while until the space has been swept clean of all the old cobwebs and can comfortably house something more pleasant. I’ve spent too many years filling spaces with anything just to avoid the emptiness.

But I’m learning. I no longer clutter up my personal space with stuff. I’ve discovered I love a clear desk, a clean kitchen, a dresser I can set something down on and not lose it amidst the junk piled on top. A made-up bed and an empty director’s chair make me feel happy and free rather than anxious these days.

I see the space I’ve filled with unrequited love, and more recently, anger as I view my desktop; more useful when it’s cleared off than when it’s piled with papers, knick knacks, and dust bunnies.  I see myself standing in the middle of a room where those negative, destructive feelings have lived and festered, feeling refreshed and vindicated as I vacuum up the cobwebs, stuff all the accumulated junk in a giant trash bag, scrub the walls and apply clean, fresh paint. I scrub and scrape until the floor is as clean and welcoming as the newly painted walls.

Another Painful Memory Purged

I stand in the doorway feeling lighter; freer; at peace. It’s going to be OK. The room can remain empty for now. I have new memories to make, new love; real love to fill it with. The emptiness isn’t fearful at all. It’s possibilities.

Gazing at the room, empty and waiting to be filled with light and love, I feel my ennui slipping away again. I know it will come back as it always does. It is my mind and soul’s way of telling me it’s time to clean out another room, or clear some weeds from my garden. The rooms have filled and the garden became overgrown over my lifetime. The changes and clearing need to take place over time too. If I listen to my heart, I’ll know when the time comes again.

Moving Forward With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the reminders that it’s time to do some more clearing. They may be frustrating, but they serve a purpose.
  2. I am grateful for the new memories I’m forming to replace the old, sad, angry ones.
  3. I am grateful for the tools I’ve developed to help me let go of things and move on.
  4. I am grateful for signs that tell me I’m on the right track, even when I’m feeling stuck.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, light, friendship, joy, health, harmony, peace, balance, 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

Not a Part of the Drinking Crowd

Alcohol: The Balm of the Working Classes

I was raised in a family of drinkers. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins all tossed down a few drinks to loosen up and have a good time. My parents drank pretty much daily. Just one or two to unwind from a stressful day, of course, but daily nonetheless. My mom sent me off to college with a giant bottle of Almaden wine, and happily kept me supplied, though it took me months to finish a single bottle.

Small wonder I married a man who’d been raised much the same. His family turned to the bottle for celebrations, to ward off pain and sadness, pretty much any excuse was a valid one. The only difference between our families was his preferred cheap wine and beer while mine drank the hard stuff with a beer or glass of wine thrown in for variety.

It took me years to realize, as I continued to attract people who drank heavily, why I always felt like an outsider. Perhaps disliking the feel of being out of control contributed to what people probably felt was my standoffish behavior. I’m not entirely sure, but eventually I realized I didn’t like being around drunk people, and for a while, simply retreated.

Finding My Tribe in the Moderate Drinkers

Eventually, I found my way into the Country dancing crowd who, for the most part, drank sparingly if at all while dancing. Even off the dance floor, the people I’m around these days never get sloppy drunk. We may have one more glass of wine, or can of beer than we should, but we’re extremely conscious of the times we have to drive, or the company we’re keeping. The truth is, we don’t need to hide from our lives like that in the first place. The solution to all of our problems is the dancing and the connections we make through our community.

The change in me was gradual, so it took a long time to recognize the changes I was making and the healthier, more connected lifestyle I’d chosen. When I dance, I rarely drink. It’s a combination of needing to have my balance so I can do the turns and crazy two-step moves my partners lead, and having to drive myself home. I may have my fair share of speeding tickets, but I’m proud to say I’ve never gotten a DUI, and the way I live now, I probably never will. I simply do not drink if I have to drive, or if I do, it’s one early in the evening and it’s long out of my system by the time I get behind the wheel.

Drinking to Oblivion Ain’t the Answer

https://www.flickr.com/photos/clevercupcakes/4576733748/in/photolist-7YqXuy-22jbZb8-XZte3w-2E38fh-dtp56c-3NUNY-3NUP3-3NSUZ-3NSUK-VUxVut-aMjLSn-dUKkRp-4JpM4a-abD91G-932Hmu-8fJSDf-62xx8V-3c4zza-dUKms6-5AZhfv-dUQT8y-cPLm-3aqeS9-4NhLC1-4zty2J-4ttyNi-6U4fPj-3akHYp-3e21kE-6T47EL-obfTpE-3dWA6R-h2wXwy-7drB1P-ostgj2-6ieis7-a1LDFH-21n5r2B-q2i6g3-XScYar-dXwB6L-gQahXg-8EdGQ2-qFJcdw-YuGC4s-Jy7Cf2-28d1ChD-PHSfjW-x3xs87-MXhQbuSure, I wasn’t always this conscientious. I remember more than one trip from UCLA to my parents’ home in Westlake Village after consuming more than enough cheap wine at a party. Clearly, the angels were on my shoulder then. They were there again each time my ex used to get stumbling down drunk then drive us home, oblivious to how he even got us there safely. My daughters, too have tales of him sucking down another beer before driving them home. I think that was the single biggest factor in their refusing to visit him by the time they were 11. They were terrified to get in the car with him, and put an end to it in the only way they knew how.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against a social drink or two at a party or even the bar where I dance. I do take issue with those who don’t know when to stop, or, in some cases, can’t. It’s no fun to dance with someone who’s three sheets to the wind, and even less fun to watch them stumble out to their car and, just by turning the key in the ignition, put strangers at risk.

I also understand that for many like my parents and my ex, alcoholism is a sickness which, like many ailments, needs professional help to cure. The trouble is, many alcoholics don’t think they have a problem, and don’t want to stop drinking—at least until or unless something awful happens. By then, for many it’s too late to fix what’s broken.

The Dark, Empty Side of Alcohol and Substance Abuse

I’ve seen marriages dissolved (mine for one), families estranged (also mine), and friendships lost because someone couldn’t break their dependence on alcohol, or for that matter, some other chemical means of coping with life. Though I haven’t seen it myself, I know people who lost a loved one who simply drank themselves to death. A slow suicide, yes, but in my eyes, a suicide nonetheless.

If I learned nothing else from watching my family and my ex’s, it’s that most things are OK or even good in moderation. Doing just about anything to excess can damage your health or even kill you—even exercise and drinking water.

Grateful for Once to be the Outsider

My family taught me by example that I’m one of the fortunate ones. I don’t need help from 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-jk3BYpdrugs or alcohol to cope with my life. I’ve found ways to enjoy it so I don’t need to just cope. Sure, there were steps along the way I thought I did, but as I stop hiding and start showing up, I’m learning my friends are a whole lot better than blurring my edges. Dancing is a much better outlet for my stress and frustration which thankfully show up much less frequently since I left the Corporate jungle.

And I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to sob your guts out and release all the built up crap inside. Tears are water and water washes away the dirt, grit and grime so it’s one of the most healing things we can do. I’ve also learned a phone call, text message, or PM asking “are you OK? Do you need anything?” is one of the most healing balms of all.

Breaking Old Habits

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about how some of us are here to break old family patterns. Often we’re the ones who never fit in with our own kin. I’m learning how many of those old patterns I’ve come here to break. And I’m doing my damndest to end some of them forever so those who come after me can truly make a difference without the shackles of our restrictive and confining heritage.

Are you the rebel child in your family? If so, did you ever wonder why? Try looking at some of the familial patterns which serve no one; addiction, negativity, depression. The list goes on, and will be different for every family. If you’ve shied away from the “family way”, you’re probably the rebel who will make positive changes. Know there are many of us out here in the same boat who can and will support you in a very difficult and often lonely mission.

Gratitude is One of Our Greatest Tools

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I was born to be the family rebel; the one who was cast out because she wouldn’t conform to the patterns and beliefs which had long outlived their usefulness.
  2. I am grateful for the friendships I’m forming with people who don’t share the negative attributes I left behind.
  3. I am grateful for my cats who are struggling to re-adjust to my changing work habits. I used to work while they were sleeping. Now, they’re awake and wanting attention when I’m just hitting my stride.
  4. I am grateful I’m learning my schedule doesn’t have to conform with the rest of the world. If my work schedule is from 2PM to midnight, and that’s when my productivity skyrockets, there’s no reason to fight it. TV is boring at night anyway.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, harmony, peace, sobriety, joy, friendship, dancing, compassion, dreaming, writing, inspiration, motivation, visibility, 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

A Quiet Christmas, A Renewed Sense of Purpose

A Year in Review: Reiterating My Purpose

For the first time in years, I spent Christmas Eve and Day alone. I won’t go into all the reasons why except to say it was by choice as well as circumstance. The time alone gave me a chance to go inside, do some soul searching and gain some perspective.

Although I don’t always give myself credit, I did meet some of my goals this year. Others were extended into 2019 while I worked on my infrastructure. Not the physical so much as the mental, emotional, and spiritual.

I started working with coach Linda Clay on a regular basis after being one of the beta testers for her new program. The month-long beta test yielded such positive results I opted to continue, and came to a mutually beneficial arrangement to make it happen.

Successes Always Outweigh Setbacks

The end of the year brought a number of setbacks which at times left me unable or unwilling to accomplish much. Even my thrice weekly gym visits suffered a bit, at times becoming only twice. I actually see that as a win, if only because if I missed, it was only once a week, where in the past, it would probably have been the entire week. Clearly, it’s one habit I’ve cemented into my life and lifestyle, which is a huge leap forward in my opinion.

I’ve also managed to stay at least a week ahead with my blog posts, and am slowly working my way back to 2 or 3. My goal right now is to finish the last 8 posts for January no later than the 12th. And, despite setbacks and delays, I still plan to honor my latest goal of finishing the current edit of Life Torn Asunder by the end of January.

What Others See Pales Beside What Lies Beneath the Surface

My goals may not sound lofty to an outsider, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg of my plans Created with Canvafor January and getting them done sooner rather than later leaves more time to take care of all the things I’m working on with my coach, and to propel myself forward according to some pretty lofty plans and goals.

I’d like to spend at least 25% of my time ghostwriting and another 25% getting my books finished, investigating publishing options, taking the necessary steps to make those options a reality, and promoting before, during, and after publication. The promotion side, especially will find me stepping even further away from the comfort zone I’m losing sight of, even as we speak.

That comfort zone was a huge part of my Christmas revelations. Each step I take nowadays is scary, more because they’re all steps into uncharted territory for me. I know I’ll trip and fall many times along the way, but I also know I have tons of support now. My support comes from places I’ve come to expect and appreciate immensely, but it’s also been coming from new, unexpected, and no less appreciated directions as well.

I think the single biggest factor in my continued forward progress is knowing support will be there for me every step of the way. I may not see it at the moment, but it hasn’t failed me in longer than I can remember.

Allowing Our Cycles to Run Their Course

Sure, there are places where the odds were against me, and I lost someone or something I loved. I have to accept it, even if I have to go off to my hermit hole and sob a few sobs, shed a lot of tears, and continue a grieving process which will run as long as it needs to. Even those days are productive, if not as much as I’d like. I’ve written my share of articles or researched options for one of the many aspects of my life during those seemingly down times. Shutting myself away doesn’t mean I sit around doing nothing.

I got hooked on the Hallmark Christmas movies before Halloween, and watched more TV than is my wont for the next couple of months. But there comes a time when I reach TV burnout. Then I pick up a book, a notebook and pen, or put my fingers on the keyboard and create. One night even saw me in front of the TV with my laptop on a TV tray creating one of my January posts.

Creating New Healthy Habits

I promised myself I’d reinstate “cafe writing Fridays” after my Friday workouts. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere for lunch, others, a snack and some green tea (I’ve given up coffee, hopefully temporarily while I get my blood pressure under control). My plan is to drag my sweaty-from-the-gym body, my pink bag full of writing materials, and Judy Reeves’ “A Writer’s Book of Days” to every coffee shop, diner, and sandwich shop in town over the next few months. Weather permitting, I’ll also start making use of the numerous parks in town for a change in scenery.

For now, my cafe writing involves a writing prompt, but even there, I’m coming up with some interesting, gut level material, some of which will find it’s way into my memoir, and some into blogs. I’m learning it’s nearly as effective as my morning pages for bringing buried treasure from the depths of my subconscious.

Helping Others to Help Myself

I’ve also started a dialogue with another writer friend, and will start having regular meetups to https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7write or read each others’ work. My experience with organized writers’ groups has been both helpful and frustrating, so maybe starting one-on-one will get me headed back in the right direction, and writing more, procrastinating less. (Some would say I’m too hard on myself given I’m keeping 2-3 weeks ahead on blog posts, but I have higher aspirations for myself. Doesn’t everyone?)

Even now, as much as I share large chunks of myself here, on my website, and in my books, I know when I write, I’m still writing for myself rather than an audience. Perhaps I’m short-sighted if my goal is to grow my writing business, but I’ve learned oftentimes when I write for myself, other people relate better to what I’m saying.

Although I’m still tearing down some of the walls I spent 6 decades building, I believe I’ve sufficiently eradicated the masks and costuming I wore for nearly as long. I no longer feel the need to hide anything of myself. Others are free to accept or reject; agree or disagree; love or hate what I’m saying. I’m learning not to take it personally. Their reactions are as much their own as my writing is mine. Often, I learn from those responses anyway, and am driven to dig deeper to try to understand myself and some of the deep-seated feelings better.

Start With New Goals and Solidify Them With Gratitude

My Christmas musings were a start. They yielded, not a full conversation or set of goals, but launched the conversation I expect to continue throughout 2019, until I take another few days to look within, and to recognize what I’ve accomplished, the lessons I’ve learned, and the challenges I’ve overcome. Each day, each week, each month, each year, is a new opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve something great. Let’s make each and every moment count, because the future is not promised to any of us.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people in my life who keep me moving forward, keep me humble, and keep me from diving back into my comfort zone.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who have been there to comfort and keep me company through the tough times, the crazy times, and the celebratory times as well.
  3. I am grateful for my butt kickers, Heather, Linda, and Candy especially, who may not always see what’s going on, but force me to look and create things I’m proud of.
  4. I am grateful for the excitement in my heart and bones for the upcoming year, the projects I’ve begun, and the ones I’ve yet to start.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, health, prosperity, harmony, peace, challenges, lessons, 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

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