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

Posts tagged ‘Happiness’

August 2, 2015 Taking Stock

Looking Back on the Last 7 Months

I don’t know whether it’s the lazy, heat-filled days of summer or the nostalgic music of my high school and college days playing in the background, but today I was prompted to look back at all I’ve accomplished this year. I choose only to look at this year and not the entire time I’ve been pursuing a writing career, eschewing the security of a regular paycheck because it wasn’t until this year that I’ve really seen progress.

Certainly, I’ve still found myself wandering off track and trying to pursue the mighty buck instead of being true to my craft, but all in all, this year has been one of forward momentum. The list might not be a long one, but each accomplishment meant hours upon hours of my heart and soul poured out on a page, and more, ruthlessly edited, knowing that it won’t be the first time I cut the children of my imagination to pieces, only to reassemble them again in ways I hope will improve them and make them interesting to someone besides myself. So without further ado, here is what makes me feel that this year has been worthwhile:

  • Completed the first edit of Sasha’s Journey
  • Completed the first draft of A Dubious Gift
  • Completed the second edit of Sasha’s Journey’s first four chapters
  • Started a new short story, The Elemental Tree
  • Completed Gina Horkey’s 30 Day Freelance course.
  • Sold 6 blog posts to BlogMutt
  • Launched my web page on which I continue to make improvements as I learn new things.
  • Got my first blogging client
  • Read numerous books about writing and put some of what I’ve learned into practice (thank you, Mr. Bradbury and Mr. King to name just two).
  • Re-organized my office into a writer’s office instead of an accountant’s office, complete with white board, colored pens, magnets and 5 x 7 index cards.
  • Cleared a shelf for my books on writing.
  • Continue to improve on my daily routines and To Do list.
  • Worked with a local critique group both critiquing and being critiqued (put my children’s story, Frederick the Gentlemouse up for review) where I’ve learned a great deal both from critiquing the work of others and listening to what other members of the group have to say.

Though these things might only mean something to me and maybe another writer, they demonstrate that I’m moving in a positive direction towards my goal of being a writer and published author. Though I have more than my share of moments when I ask myself whether I’ve lost my mind and should really get out and find a real job again, those moments are less and less frequent. I’ve faced a lot of fears this year, allowed some to stop me dead in my tracks for awhile and managed others. I will continue to face down those fears and plenty of others which spring up along the way. But as long as I can take stock like this and see what I have accomplished, I know that everything is going to work out just fine.

Most of all, in one way or another, I write every single day (writers don’t really have weekends. They’re just another day to write). It might only be a blog post, though now, it’s often two; one for me and one for my client. I’ve learned that sometimes I need to write a post then walk away from it for a few hours before actually sending it out into the world. Other times, I’m just the pantser I’m so comfortable being and let the thing fly once I’ve checked for obvious typos and grammatical errors, of course! What I realized today after logging so many accomplishments, in fact, more than I realized when I started this post, is that I love the life I have. I love it when I’m creating like crazy. I love it when I’m editing, now that I’ve figured out the formula to make it work for me. I love it when I’m paying my bills at the beginning of the month. And I even love it through those moments of insecurity and dread. Why? Because it’s real. Because it’s mine. And most of all, because I truly am living the dream I set 5 decades ago.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the opportunity to check in with myself and find that I’m right on schedule.
2. I am grateful for friends and family who continue to believe in what I’ve chosen to do.
3. I am grateful for the healthy meals with which I stock my refrigerator and freezer (tonight’s take out Chinese notwithstanding)
4. I am grateful for the morning stretches my body has forced me to adopt. The 20 or 30 minutes I spend giving my body attention pays off in ways I didn’t even imagine.
5. I am grateful for abundance: accomplishments, joy, love, productivity, imagination, inspiration, friendship, kitty love, health, harmony, peace, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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July 30, 2015 Where Our Attention Goes: Choice or Happenstance?

Managing Information Overload

At no time has humanity been subjected to larger quantities of information like the present. Even if you are one who eschews television and newspapers, you are not immune. The drive to work gives you hundreds, even thousands of other drivers every day. There are road signs, billboards, even signs on vehicles. If you listen to the radio, there are commercials.

Unless you are one of the rare few who never has to look at a computer during your workday, you have emails, meeting requests, data and, thanks to the internet, more ads. You also have people, those information-filled creatures who cannot be avoided short of living alone on an inaccessible mountain top. That doesn’t even take into account all of the information which flows past you, virtually unseen. Why? Because, for the sake of our sanity, our brains filter what we see and only register a tiny portion it deems important; mostly for our survival, but with training, in other areas as well.

For example, we see thousands of cars, trucks and other vehicles every day, but do you notice much about them? Probably not. But when you buy a new car, suddenly you notice every vehicle on the road that is like yours, especially the ones that are the same color (yet another argument for avoiding white, black and silver). This also holds true for subjects which are important to you personally or professionally. Your brain works much like an email filter which looks for certain words or phrases. When you hear or see one, your attention automatically shifts.

Each of Us Has Our Own, Unique Triggers

This was really brought home to me today when an article about Gary Allen flashed by me. I caught the words “took her life” and immediately clicked on the story. Not only did I read it, I commented, and have, in fact, received comments to my comment. Why? Because losing a family member to suicide is a topic I’ve not only written about at length, but have lived through, not once, but twice. Because I’ve spent so much time reading and writing about the subject, it is a hot button in my brain. At least from where I sit, I believe this happens for a reason.

When my mom first passed, I had a lot going on in my life and it was all I could do to cope with the things I had to. I pushed feelings and unimportant stuff like grieving to the back of my mind, packed up nicely in unmarked, well-sealed boxes. As I got through things like raising kids, a divorce, a couple of layoffs and a company forced into bankruptcy, I took little notice of the strangely distorted box in the back of my mental file cabinet sizzling and twisting itself into frightening distortions of its former shape. When its lid finally yielded to internal pressure and blew off, it spewed all of those poorly contained feelings into every aspect of my life.

With the help of my friends, I survived that first eruption, gathering as much of the effluvia as I could and packing it into what I foolishly believed was a stronger container. This time, I also gathered myself and wrapped a container around me. In the process, I attracted all manner of ill-suited companions, none of whom were likely to stick around when things got rocky. Eventually, the inevitable occurred and I was alone with my kids; probably the absolute worst scenario for my dad to use his own methods to follow my mother’s lead. My own, personal day that will live in infamy is 9/11/03; 1 day before my daughters’ 16th birthday and 2 years after the attack that leveled the World Trade Center and sent America back to war.

We Find Our Strength by Digging Out From the Caverns of Our Minds

Fast-forward 5 1/2 years. I started writing a book about grieving a suicide victim. I had about 26,000 words but found myself falling into a pit of self-pity and blame so I put it aside and started a blog. Surviving and Beyond was the best, most healing thing I could have done for myself. I took the subject of suicide out of the closet where society prefers to keep things like suicide and homosexuality, to name just two. In so doing, over time, I came to understand that my parents’ choices had nothing to do with me, my sister, their families, their friends…they had to do only with themselves and where their lives and led them. I learned compassion for my mother with whom I had, for years, had an antagonistic relationship. I learned to appreciate the gift my father had given my sister and I. He spared us the agony he had suffered watching his mother die of lung cancer.

My little blog wasn’t finished with me though. It introduced me to others who had, for reasons of their own, spoken rarely, if ever, of their own experiences with losing a parent to suicide. I gave them someone who understood and they gave me back the same. Sometimes we just share a hug, sometimes its a thought which passed through our minds over the last week or so, and sometimes it’s the simple realization that in choosing to end their own life, they didn’t do so out of fear or selfishness, but simply because it was time.

‘Surviving and Beyond’ has moved on just as I have. john-lennon-is-being-happy-the-key-to-lifeI’ve renamed it ‘Leaps of Faith’, but not religious faith. It’s about faith in ourselves. It’s about trusting our gut when it says we need to make a big, scary change. It’s about trusting that we will succeed, and by succeed I mean, find our true happiness. Most of all, it’s about following our hearts, our passion, our true path, no matter how ridiculous, how unlikely it might seem.

My little blog has evolved, but I will always notice stories about suicide…and I will always find a way to add my 2 cents in a way that I hope will resonate with others and bring them some kind of comfort, or, if nothing else, someone who understands and will listen if they need to share. I do want to qualify that, though. I am not a wallower and I don’t have a lot of patience for those who want to whine, beat their chests and cry Woe is me!. I do respect those who see every experience as a lesson and who make the choice to figure out what that lesson is and learn from it. Thankfully, I seem to have communicated that effectively as I don’t see many who haven’t chosen to move forward despite the horrifically painful loss they’ve endured…and survived.

May all I touch find a way to go beyond simply surviving and learn to take those leaps of faith which lead them to a life of purpose, meaning and delight.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I can, if only in a small way, bring comfort to others through what I’ve learned from my own experiences.
2. I am grateful for another amazing, knee-abusing night of dancing.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the people who have come into my life at just the right time.
4. I am grateful for the blog topics which occur to me just when I think I have nothing to say.
5. I am grateful for abundance: business growth, love, inspiration, productivity, friendship, happiness, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 15, 2014 A day in the life…with ADD #shericonaway

Considering a change? No problem! Let ADD help!

Getting ready for bed at around 2AM after exceeding my NaNoWriMo goal and writing a less than optimal blog post, I realized that I needed to make another change or three. Then I thought about what I would write about today in my blog. I promised myself I’d remember the topic and didn’t bother to write it down before tumbling myself into the warmth of a soft bed and snuggly cats.

This morning as I was going through my usual morning stuff and putting in my contacts, the blog topic from last night, of course, evaded me. But then I noticed that one of the cats had managed to pee outside of the potty pad I’d begun putting underneath the sand box when Patches, my old girl, started expressing her displeasure at the addition of two rowdy kittens by doing her deed over the edge of the box.

Contacts in, I started the necessary cleanup only to find that she’d managed to saturate the floor under the sand box! OK, points for creativity here! Keep in mind that in human years, this cat is about 102!

Deciding this was a job for the mop, I retrieved said implement from the garage, cleaned up the mess, and realized that the basket where I usually toss the used mop pads was still full of linens which one of my rat catching cats had found to be an even better bed than the comforter on the garage floor.

I looked at the basket and said to myself “Self, there’s no time like the present!” So saying, I took the basket into the house and proceeded to cram the contents into my overflowing linen closet where the thought occurred to me that I need to pull out all of the twin sized linens and offer them up on Freecycle. (thankfully, I didn’t act on that idea immediately!)

Returning the basket to the garage, I put the mop pad inside and chanced to glance at the dryer which still contained part of the load of clothes I’d washed earlier in the week. That darned little devil named “No time like the present” was still sitting on my shoulder, so that load, too, was pulled out, folded up and put away.

By now, my coffee was cold and my yogurt was warm, but now I remembered what I wanted to talk about today.

Change: Be careful what you wish for.

Working on my latest novel tends to wind me up even more than dancing. Picture a sugar rush that just keeps giving and giving and giving. Unfortunately, that rush does not let me settle down to write a blog post for hours! So it occurred to me that, at least while I’m working on the latest novel, and maybe on into perpetuity, I need to rethink the timing of my blog posts; that is, I need to change up my routine.

To many of you out there, the idea of revamping your tried and true (for some reason, my fingers wanted to type “tired” instead of “tried”. Want to weigh in, Mr. Freud?) routine can be nothing short of terrifying. But my ADD thrives on messing up the status quo. It’s the same routine, day after day, week after week which will drive me into the doldrums. So in the spirit of mixing things up, I’ve realized that I need to do my blog post earlier in the day instead of late at night.

I also realized why writing late at night works best for me. My mind is a little tired and is less likely to interfere with the creative process. When subconscious mind jumps in and says (quite rudely, I might add) “Move over, you anal retentive twit! It’s my turn to run the show now!” it encounters little resistance from the part of my brain that has spent most of the day solving problems or taking care of chores.

At any rate, the blog must go on, so the writing will be done when normal people are up and moving, leaving the hours between 9PM and 3AM for the creation of something wonderful and entertaining (we must keep our mind positive). One of these works of sweat and blood will be the one to launch that new career of mine which has been clamoring for attention for most of my life. Ignoring it became unbearable about a year ago, so here I sit, writing whatever comes into my head, day after day.

So what was the topic again? Oh, yes. Change. I needed to make a few again. It seems like this comes up every 2-3 months, and after I shake things up a bit, life gets better. Recent changes like a better gym routine and weekly produce boxes have resulted in more energy, feeling healthier and increased confidence. (not to mention, a freezer full of heat and eat meals)

Don’t ask “what price, change?”. Instead, ask “what profit, change?”

So many people ask what making a change will cost them in terms of time, comfort, money, well-being, or what have you. I think that’s why it’s so scary for many. To me, change means that I’m making my life better: More time, less stress, better health, more good habits, more time in the healing energy of my cats and more time to visit my daughter and grand furries. If I could offer people one piece of advice, I’d say “Change often. Look at it as an opportunity to further enhance your life. Look at the possibilities and downplay or ignore the costs.” Ok, that was a whole bunch of pieces tied together, but you get what I mean, I hope. But lest I haven’t made myself clear Change is good for you! Change makes you stronger, healthier, happier, sexier. Change eliminates boredom!

I walk through the gym where my friend Barb has made me aware of the fact that the majority of the occupants are male, and I walk proudly, head up, shoulders back, stomach tightening from all of the crunches and Pilates I’ve been doing, and I feel nothing short of amazing. All this from making a few changes.

What’s stopping you? Don’t be afraid of rapidly increasing happiness. If you find you have too much, just spread it around. Smile at everyone you see!

Happiness is a miracle drug and change is the catalyst.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my love of change.
2. I am grateful that I remembered my idea for today’s blog topic.
3. I am grateful for the opportunity to spread happiness.
4. I am grateful to my friends for keeping my eyes open and my spirit alert.
5. I am grateful for abundance: joy, happiness, change, energy, health, love, friendship, inspiration, motivation and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

August 20, 2014 Ode to Decluttering

The first thing to realize is that clutter comes in many forms: Energetic, mental, emotional, physical; and many variations on these themes.

Once again, I’m guided to declutter, but this time, it’s not so much my physical environment, but my mental and emotional ones. As a result, I find myself less inclined to allow Facebook to suck up my time and have been taking steps to, in essence, clear more space. To begin with, I’m no longer posting what I’m doing or where I’ve visited, and, in fact, didn’t even post comments or pictures from the Rascal Flatts concert the other night. This morning, I was guided to go through my friends list and unfollow many on it, which will, ultimately, result in considerably less activity on my wall to distract me and keep me away from what’s truly important. Even better has been the ease with which I have been able to close the Facebook page for hours on end, not even missing knowing what my friends are up to. Clearly, the time and energy sucking I was succumbing to has lost a lot of its glitter over the last week or so.

Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Making this small but significant change has had immediate, positive results. Not only did I get some editing done yesterday, but I wrote my blog post much earlier in the day, got laundry done and a few other chores I might have continued to put off. But the very best part of my latest decluttering effort has clearly been on the energetic plane. I found myself going to bed a little earlier last night, and awoke refreshed and ready to start my day hours early than has been my wont for the last couple of weeks! I also feel much more relaxed and focused.

This is not to say that social media sites don’t have their place. I, myself, tend to follow pages and people who post a lot of positive affirmations and empowering quotes. In fact, I have a habit of unfollowing anyone who posts a lot of political and world shattering images and comments. As always, we choose the energetic vibration of our environment, and in so choosing, we draw to us those things which maintain our selected balance. Thus, the people and places I choose to follow tend to be spiritually enlightened, oriented towards kindness, animal friendly and, in many cases offer educational opportunities in non-traditional subjects. In fact, I think part of my disenchantment with much of it lately has been the endless posts which do not feed my need for mental and spiritual expansion.

As a further expansion of this thought, and my desire to improve my kindness rating, I am grateful that Facebook has the “unfollow” function rather than limiting its users to either seeing everything someone posts or not having them on their friends list. Unfollowing someone doesn’t send them any kind of message, as far as I know. But unfriending them, once they realize it has occurred, can, at the very least, cause hurt feelings, but can also result in anger or, in people who might already be mentally unstable or depressed, actually increase those feelings of unworthiness they might already be feeling. I, for one, do not want to make anyone feel unworthy or uncared for (though, admittedly, I have made comments and remarks which may have done so). In fact, social media gives us too easy a path towards unkindness by allowing us to vent our frustration in real time, instead of taking a time out to think it through, and realize that our words can be hurtful if not edited and put forth after we’ve worked through negative emotions.

Over sharing runs rampant.

People joke about how we post pictures of our meals, our animals and other strange things for the reading enjoyment of our “followers”. I’d estimate that most of us do so at least once in awhile, while others are guilty of posting such things almost daily. We are also addicted to the “selfie”, and again, some people post them occasionally, when they’re on vacation or at Disneyland or celebrating a special event, while others post daily, or even hourly! This propensity towards posting selfies is just another indication of how closely many people tie themselves to social media every day.

Again, I find myself grateful to have not succumbed to the need to allow Facebook to ping me on my smart phone every time my friends post something or comment on my posts. The lack of constant reminders makes it even easier for me to disconnect for long periods of time. The fact is, a phone that is constantly pinging and booping and making other assorted sounds would just annoy the ever-loving crap out of me! Bad enough, being on the “do not call” list has not prevented salesmen and other unwanted calls to break through my personal barrier of people I do and do not want to talk to. (driving home from my daughter’s house on Monday, a call came in which I thought might be my daughter, and, had I listened for the ring tone would have known it wasn’t. A saleswoman launched into her pitch with such verve, I was forced to just disconnect as she didn’t even take a breath long enough for me to politely tell her I wasn’t interested!)

What’s happy for you, might make someone else sad.

Many of my friends post pictures of their vacations, their homes, their family gatherings and their grandchildren. While sharing their happiness might be uplifting to some, consider a person who can’t afford vacations, but spends a lot of time working just to make ends meet. Or perhaps, a person who has to share a small apartment in the city. Consider how the happy, family gathering might affect someone who either has no family left, or has nobody they’re close to. What about those who either have no children or are estranged from them and, as such, will never have or see their grandchildren? In cases like these, what seems like a sharing of joy to some could trigger, once again, those thoughts of unworthiness in others. I can see someone wallowing in self-pity because they are unable to post similar pictures. Even I, find myself, on occasion, feeling a little sorry for myself…at least until I remember to be grateful for all that I have, and realize that I’m only seeing a small piece of their lives. The reality might be that, overall, I have far more to be grateful for than they do. Those happy family vacation pictures might hide a child who was lost too young, or a parent who is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or ALS. We don’t often post the things in life which cause us pain, or with which we must struggle constantly to accept. There are a lot of cliches running through my head right now, but the bottom line is that it is dangerous to compare your own life to one in which you’re only given a glimpse of the good times.

Tuning out and turning off to increase focus on what I can control.

To summarize this rather lengthy post (and longer posts is another benefit/result of reducing my social media exposure), though there are mixed thoughts on whether social media enhances or detracts from our overall well-being, I believe you have to take it on a case by case basis, and simply decide how it’s affecting your life. After doing my own analysis, I’ve decided that it is OK in small doses, but that, for awhile now, the doses I’ve been consuming have been excessive, and, as a result, causing me damage which reducing the dosage will quickly reverse. All I can say is: Choose wisely, my friends!

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my recent inspiration to declutter energetically and mentally as it will positively impact me emotionally as well.
2. I am grateful that we all have choices.
3. I am grateful for visions of myself which show me areas which need improvement.
4. I am grateful for new horizons.
5. I am grateful for abundance which is available to everyone: Harmony, peace, health, happiness, joy, love and prosperity.

Namaste

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