Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘Hope’

The Damage We Do

Old Hurts Haunt Us

It recently came to my attention that several decades ago, I attacked a fellow Kindergartner with a block. The incident and its subsequent repercussions is irretrievable in my own memories, but I trust that the victim’s memory of it is true.

Flash forward a couple of years when we shared a classroom. The victim of my apparent kindergarten tantrum is again witness to my arrogance; this time in verbal form. As with the first incident, I have no memory of my declaration, but the source is a trusted one.

While I remember the people who attacked me both physically and verbally over the years, my memory of attacks I instigated in my early years is decidedly blank.

My point in all this is we remember getting hurt far better than we remember inflicting it. And whether the infliction was intentional or not, it leaves scars on the people to whom we do harm.

Learning as we Grow

As young children, we have no clue of the harm a misplaced word can do, but as we get older, we have our own experiences to draw on. Which leads me to the next encounter.

By coincidence our parents moved us out of the Valley and into an area with a smaller school district. So small, in fact, that there was only one middle school in this unincorporated area between the City of Los Angeles and the Ventura County line. Here I proved I hadn’t learned anything from the many unkind words and deeds hurled in my direction by children as clueless to the feelings of others as I.

I could have looked upon a familiar face from the old neighborhood with kindness and even welcome, but instead, followed the pattern which began with a wooden block, and threw yet another unkind word.

Over the years, I’ve learned many things, one of which is that I can’t undo the awful things I’ve done in the past, be it recent or distant. I can ask forgiveness of those I’ve hurt or offended, but most important, I can forgive myself.

It’s even more important to learn from those mistakes and pause before responding to something in anger. This is something I’m still working on.

Made Hard by Hurts is No Excuse

A few days ago, I re-posted this image as I thought it was a cute way to share my feelings on the onslaught of anger and ugliness to which Facebook has been subjected for the last year or better:

make-facebook-fun

Much to my amazement, the comment stream was soon filled with anger and vitriol, not all of it from others.

By the time the dust had settled, one person was angry enough to unfriend me, causing me to briefly understand the twisted logic of people who accuse the younger generation of being clueless.

Another didn’t understand why I deleted their comment and the stream which followed, though part of the reason for the deletion was my own failure to think before reacting.

We Only See What We Want to See

The uproar was inspired, not by the overall intention of this graphic, but by the one small blue box entreating people to refrain from hurling political bombs on the pages of social media. Some went so far as to accuse me of having my head in the sand because I refuse to be dragged into the hysteria currently making the media more political than social.

What they fail to see is how Social Media is simply a tool to drive the populace to hysteria and blow even the most normal things completely out of proportion to distract us from what’s really happening. In fact, it’s turning people against each other simply for disagreeing on something so mundane as whether or not to share and discuss every outrageous accusation against our new administration.

Certainly, some of what’s happening is both outrageous and unconscionable, but how can we really tell with all the propaganda that’s flying across our screens from any and all factions?

A Spark of Sanity, A Spark of Hope

Finally, one friend posted an article which reflects what I’ve been thinking, albeit from a far more knowledgeable base than mine. The article prompted me to actually subscribe to the Washington Post (which has, by the way, been mentioned as one of the publications which prides itself on reporting accurately. Which isn’t to say it’s unbiased, just that they report facts rather than hysteria).

The foregoing is simply a reminder that we are all in this together. We’re members of only one race, and that’s the Human one. We all came into this world the same way, and we’ll all go out of it in our time. We can either be loving and kind about it or we can be hateful and ugly. The choice is always ours.

As A Divine Being Living a Human Existence, It’s Up to Us to Evolve

As for me, I’m endeavoring to think before I act or speak, knowing my humanity will cause me to fail now and then. I’m willing to accept my imperfections. Most of all, I’ll be asking forgiveness when I do screw up and hurt someone.

Most of all, I’m working on stepping outside my comfort zone, and the first example of it is to reach out to people more often until I learn to do it naturally. It may seem easy to many, but as an introvert, it’s one of the most difficult things I can do.

What Are You Doing to Evolve?

So here’s my challenge to you: choose something that is very difficult for you and start working on doing it. Don’t expect huge successes at first, but instead, give yourself credit for those baby steps. In my opinion, they’re more important than the larger goals because they are the hardest ones to take.

If All Else Fails, Be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends with differing opinions, even if we clash now and then as a result.
  2. I am grateful for forgiveness. Without it, we’d just be one angry bunch of humans all the time.
  3. I am grateful for friendships both new and old. Like the song says: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold”.
  4. I am grateful for the rain. I haven’t seen such green hillsides in ages, and it makes my heart smile.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: peace, love, understanding, forgiveness, friendship, dancing, cats, joy, philanthropy, harmony, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, 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!

Photo Courtesy of Get Everwise via Flickr

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Healing the World One Hug at a Time

It Starts With a Hug. Where it Ends is up to You.

While writing my morning pages today, I reflected on the wounds humanity has inflicted. I thought about the Native Americans who feel the pain of wounds inflicted on Earth. My thoughts then drifted to our current hostilities, the divisiveness that plagues our nation and even the world right now. I thought about the healing properties of a simple hug and thought how cathartic a global group hug would be.

As an introvert, the idea of hugging a stranger or even someone I don’t know well is pretty frightening. But I know I’m also meant to help with the healing process. If I can start hugging people I don’t know, wouldn’t it set an example? Wouldn’t it show those more inclined to hug both strangers and friends how easy it is and how much good it can do?

A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small, Large, Light, Dark, Intelligent…

A hug transcends our differences, be they ethnic, cultural, political or any other artificial belief that all of us are anything other than Divine Beings having a Human experience. Beneath the outside covering, apart from the beliefs we’ve learned or acquired along the path which constitutes our personal journey, our hearts beat in the same manner. Our blood flows through our veins, our muscles respond  to the same stimuli, and we have the same basic needs; food, shelter, love, acceptance. The last two, we can give each other as simply as giving a hug.

Hugs are positive energy all rolled up into a nice, comforting, loving package. But why stop there? Have you ever noticed how a person’s demeanor changes from a simple smile or kind word?

A kind word, a gentle embrace, our world becomes a better place

Lately, I’ve found myself noticing something special about a person and making a point of telling them. I’m overwhelmed by how much people light up from a compliment and how their pleasure washes over me as well.Yet, what really surprises me is how paying a few compliments comes back to me almost immediately. The other night while dancing, I paid compliments to a couple of people, just because I felt compelled to do so. It might be a new hair style, or a color that looks especially good on them, or an outfit. It doesn’t really matter what it is. The wash of pleasure they exude is amazing. What I did not expect was to have people pay me compliments a little while later, thereby causing me to exude that same wash of pleasure. It wasn’t that I had done anything different than I’d been doing lately. I know the joy I’d received from the random compliments I’d paid fed my own inner glow. No amount of makeup, time spent fixing my hair, pounds lost, or new outfits improves our appearance like feeding that inner glow.

Giving to Receive

I’ve read many times that to receive you must first give. But it’s only now becoming clear to me exactly what that means. It has nothing to do with giving money to charity, or even time to a cause you believe in. It has to to with giving a small piece of your heart with love and sincerity. Charitable work certainly does that, but it’s the result, not the action. You can just as easily give because you feel obligated. but the inner glow of giving from a place of love won’t be there.

What I am trying to say in my usual convoluted manner is that we’re living in a time when people are withholding their love, their hearts all too often. We hide behind our electronics. We encase our hearts in concrete. We ignore the world and the people around us for our own personal agendas. We’re becoming little better than a world of robots, interacting with each other superficially, needing a violent encounter to make us actually feel something.

Wake up to the loving Human you were meant to be

But we aren’t dead yet. As long as we’re still essentially upright; as long as we’re still living and breathing in this world, we can reverse this dehumanization. We can counteract the virtual autism that’s swept the world, encasing us in a hard outer shell that’s only breached by outside stimuli of atomic proportions.

Step away from the computers. Put the phones down. See the people around you. Even the non-empathic (and frankly everyone is empathic to some degree) can feel pain or joy from others if they crack their own shell a bit. I read somewhere recently that a crack doesn’t mean you’re broken, it means you’re letting the light in.

Isn’t it time we all let some light in?

Above all, there is gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning and the insights I’m gaining.
  2. I’m grateful for the words which come to me, and the ones I know must be shared.
  3. I’m grateful I created a platform long ago which can be used now to encourage cooperation and healing.
  4. I’m grateful for the positive influence of friends and acquaintances.
  5. I’m grateful for hugs.
  6. I’m grateful for smiles.
  7. I’m grateful for abundance in all its forms.
  8. I’m grateful for light at the end of a seemingly long, dark tunnel.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, 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!

Photo credit: Ian Riley via Flickr

When Life Gives You Manure, Grow Vegetables and Share Them

Using the Manure That’s Been Slung to Good Purpose

The last year has seen a dramatic increase in hate-filled exhibitions and exhortations, all to support someone else’s agenda than the perpetrators (with a notable exception or two). Much of it has been stirred up for a purpose which, even now, I don’t think most people can see. The biggest casualty has been to the belief we are all part of the same community called Humanity. Hasn’t enough manure been slung already? If you ask me, there’s enough to grow vegetables for the entire world!

I’ve seen this happen on a small scale such as a woman’s response to one of my Next Door posts in which she called me an outsider because I don’t live in her artificially elevated housing development located less than 2 miles from my own humble tract. I’ve seen it on a larger scale in the increase in hate crimes at our colleges and universities, and in elementary school children spouting sexist propaganda. Someone even tried to tell me they get it from their teachers!

But I’ve also seen an increase in posts and articles about love and hope. We are all in this together, like it or not, so why not make it easier on ourselves by choosing to help rather than hinder, or worse, tear each other down?

We Have a Choice to Spread Love and Positivity or Hate and Negativity. Which Will You Choose?

This quote appeared on my Facebook news feed yesterday, and I believe it sums up where we are quite succinctly.

-When great evil occurs, great good follows -Nichiren Daishonin

Think about it. In recent years, when terrorists took over airplanes and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, what happened?

In my neighborhood alone, neighbors who’d never even talked before came together. And it was true in communities all over the country. People came together with compassion and love. They offered encouragement, support and a sense of unity for the people in our country. The cooperative zeal lasted for a while, but without adequate fuel, people soon returned to their predominantly self-involved lives. The truth is, as a group, we humans lack the internal motivation to help other people just because we can.

Unfortunately, to inspire such cooperation typically requires a traumatic event and a major upheaval. What we’re facing now is considerably well thought out and insipid as hell. I’m not alone in feeling frightened by its very insidiousness.

Fear and hatred are what feed this beast. Divisiveness is its ultimate goal. As long as we’re afraid…yes, afraid to help our neighbors, the beast will win. The next Holocaust will be upon us before we even realize it, and we’ll be sucked into its gaping maw with little or no resistance.

We All Have Gifts. It’s Our Choice to Use Them, Abuse Them or Ignore Them.

Fortunately, there are many who are not letting fear paralyze them. Who are not willing to watch their neighbors face unchecked abuse while mistakenly thinking Thank goodness it’s not me. It will never happen to me. I, for one, applaud those who aren’t afraid or unwilling to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of someone they don’t even know. I’m not that brave.

But I won’t be an ostrich either, burying my head in the sand, never realizing how easy I’m making it for someone to come by and sever my head from my body. We each have our gifts, our tools with which we can spread a different message; a message of hope, love and global community. My gift is words, and I would be dishonoring that gift if I remained silent right now. I would be tossing that gift back in the Universe’s face if I chose not to use it to do good. In so doing, I would truly become unworthy of achieving my dream of becoming both a published author and a motivational speaker. I can’t, nay, I won’t take that risk.

I raised my children to appreciate any and all gifts and compliments, no matter how small. How can I not do the same? This gift of mine is huge, though it took me years to acknowledge both its existence and its purpose. With it, I add my voice to those who may be braver than I. I lend my support in a manner I know well, despite the fact, or maybe because it pushes me out of my own comfort zone. And I’ll use it to urge others to do the same.

Whether it’s wearing a safety pin on your shirt to show you’re a safe place for the oppressed (and thanks to my friend Lorna, I’ll be carrying several with me to share with other like-minded people), stepping in when you see someone being abused or taken advantage of, or simply sharing words of hope and encouragement. Please believe it all helps.

Random Acts of Kindness help. Paying it Forward helps. Sharing articles written both by supporters and groups being targeted helps. Be the one small drop in the sea of humanity which causes the ripple of love and healing. And if the messages I’m sharing here resonate, please share my posts as well.

Sometimes, the Answer You Seek Can Be Found in the Words of Others. The Answer Guides You to Be Part of the Change.

My friend Peter has been sharing a lot of very interesting and thought provoking work lately. I shared one of them in my last post, and share another today. This one really gave me a clearer perspective of the ramifications of the events of the last year or so which culminated last Tuesday. I encourage you to read it and to do so with an open mind and a receptive heart. Seven Thoughts on Waking up in Our America

I have my prejudices. We all do. That doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. To let them guide our actions. Before you generalize an ethnic or religious group; a gender or lifestyle; or anything different from yourself, take a moment to stop and breathe. Take a moment to look past the outer covering; the clothing, the flesh. You’ll likely find a heart which is either filled with love, or longing to be loved. Just like you and me. Even those spouting hurtful and hateful things have a heart capable of loving, and likely do love, if selectively right now.

At any time, we are being called to both the darkness and the light. The darkness is a tricky bastard though, and adept at masking its true purpose. Sometimes, it takes a light shined by someone else to pierce its veil. Some of us need to be that light in the darkness. Some of us need to put aside our own feelings and just shine with no agenda and no force behind our light except love. If we shine brightly enough, consistently enough, those who have been misled will find their way back. It’s not for us to push them. It’s only for us to light the path so they can find their way to it on their own.

Above All, Express Your Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the wonderful gift I’ve been given, and for the courage to use it.
  2. I am grateful for all of the people who have the courage to speak even when faced with darkness or a blank wall of hate.
  3. I am grateful for the people who are reading my words, and hope they will share the ones they think will help others.
  4. I am grateful for my own ever-expanding circle of friends who have learned to give and receive love, and from whom I learn something new each and every day.
  5. I am grateful for hope. It truly is an eternal flame.

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, 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!

Image courtesy of Don McCullough via Flickr

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