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

Posts tagged ‘humanity’

Not Another Suicide!

The Dance Community is Loving and Giving, Yet We’re Not Immune to Suicide

The word came out yesterday that another member of our dance community took his life. Of course those closest to him are devastated, and many who knew him are baffled. This was another guy with a ready smile and so much to live for, or at least so it appeared to the world outside his own head.

I find it especially disheartening in a community where, at least to the naked eye there is so much love and affection. Many of us share our humanity, our broken pieces as well as our shiny, sparkly ones. Perhaps we need to be more conscious and aware of those who share only the sparkly ones and not the ones in desperate need of a polish.

I didn’t know the most recent casualty, and even the one before him, I knew only on a superficial level. Did either of them share their troublesome thoughts, their feelings of unworthiness, or the belief that everyone would be better off without them? Did anyone notice when their ever-present smiles didn’t reach their eyes? Or did we all accept the image they portrayed of a happy guy with a perfect life?

Learning to Look for Signs

I know from experience that constantly showing the world a cheerful, unblemished exterior takes its toll.https://www.flickr.com/photos/swampa/8512656992/in/photolist-dYeAm9-5MBAS5-4wH48T-5M2k2z-9j9QT2-8RVu1X-6juK2V-a18M9W-5taS34-fMS1SQ-cDQLUb-6GZmA2-oUv5Wv-5AvF8V-paqKFx-4LicMW-s48LVr-57gaP7-39DFEc-nu6Svm-bCRkBB-21uvr7L-7H9fXU-h4hoeh-8kP7PC-3F7yE-AXQ82E-RCHfaj-ftXr8F-6agM2v-pCAFRA-57uGKU-5qGnVx-gYU9Q-6aCF6B-7SC734-5hDawR-6pT1cL-58x9Gg-7tPaUX-pfNVHB-7BnSAE-a56YeV-83T4NJ-6wgZex-e58EmP-9tnDYY-gmjSdW-55pwGE-4CCrfb I’ve traveled down that road where I began to believe the world would chug merrily along whether or not I was there to provide some momentum. In fact, there were times when the only thing that kept me getting up every morning and putting one foot in front of the other was the two little girls who depended on me.

As the latest victim had a child, is it only mothers who feel that responsibility to their children? I don’t think so, given the number of mothers who either suicide or simply leave their families.

For those who do find a reason to stay and protect their young despite the miserable world their mind has drawn for them, what happens when the responsibility is gone? Children grow up and move away. They start craving their independence from a fairly young age, at least in my experience, long before they understand the responsibilities which accompany their independence.

I was one of the lucky ones. I found my way out of the depths of unworthiness before I got sucked completely under. Through a fortuitous combination of luck, kicks in the butt from my daughter, friends who were willing to pull aside the curtains and see the sometimes ugly mass of protoplasm I tried to keep hidden, and most of all, my writing, I was able to escape from my wallow and learn some painful but healing lessons. Too many lack the right combination of factors with which I was blessed to help them climb out of the hole they’ve fallen into.

Helping Each Other Dispose of the Masks

https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsexagesima01/3612047773/in/photolist-6vbFXK-7mfHK5-82q4rd-7Ku82r-7xTufQ-7xTvNm-noV2nx-8v7yLg-7xTtxw-b5JoM-awiDbx-74ofjQ-4xTEyL-aFUvSc-2nJqV-pnUS3J-UZSY-KSCvY-q54hFw-74jkL8-57r2Za-rXWSV-RAqoKt-wCAn3-74jkCt-459Ltf-8VkKtr-jrTTpy-7Mx4vz-9gJ6Hm-q2BAZF-A1eTBs-4sLmnj-7hJteh-nDn5BQ-98W5r7-4oJBHP-FUYqD-66WsR1-aaLTe-9gF1wt-7AibaD-cof4ks-bKGrY-7pamwZ-9yY17Q-2QEkGc-qtnpn9-qUrb5H-5EB1gvThe question is, if we noticed, if we looked into their eyes and really searched for the person behind the mask, would we be able to help them before it’s too late? Would we, could we be the lifeline they grabbed to haul themselves out of their personal pit of despair? Could we or anyone convince them it’s all right to let the smile slip sometimes and show what they, what we believe is the ugly underbelly where life isn’t perfect? Would we be able to make them believe people want to see their soft, imperfect side? Could we convince them people need to be needed and that by only helping and not allowing themselves to be helped, they’re denying others the opportunity to give?

Too many of us have been raised with a hearty dose of independence. We believe we are only valuable and worthy if we stand on our own two feet. We are taught to look down upon those who are so weak they must seek help outside their own insular world, and in the worst cases, even scorn those who, in reality are strong enough to let others see their imperfections.

Finding Engagement in Our Communities

Yet we all seek some kind of community, even if we fail to share the most integral part of our being. Whether it’s church or, like me, the dance community, or one of the other interest groups I see my friends involved with; jeeps, dune buggies, horses, charitable groups… we all need to be near those exuding human kindness even if we haven’t figured out how to allow it into our own lives.

These days, we’re even more detached as we build communities virtually. We come to the dinner table with our cell phones, and play games or text friends rather than talking to the people in front of us. If we do share, it’s either a rant about someone or something far removed from our own inner demons, or superficialities meant to keep the conversation light and falsely cheerful. In some ways, I believe this is the single biggest factor contributing to the increasing suicide numbers.

Detachment is More Deadly than Disease

According to the World Health Organization, 9 of the top 10 causes of death worldwide in 2015 were related to some kind of organ failure (heart, lungs, brain, etc.). The 10th was road injury. If you ask me, the largest cause of death has nothing to do with our physical body, except as it’s affected by our mindset. The question is, how do we measure the deterioration our minds are doing to our bodies? How do you quantify how detachment sends us into a downward spiral which all too often ends in suicide?

Save.org offers a chilling menu of statistics on suicides globally:

  • 10th leading cause of death in the US
  • 2nd leading cause of death worldwide for 15-24 year olds
  • 4th leading cause of death for ages 18-65
  • 1 death by suicide every 40 seconds

On a lighter note, 80-90% of those seeking treatment for depression find success with the prescribed medication and/or therapy. But how many don’t seek therapy because they either don’t see they need help, or have been conditioned to avoid asking for fear of being perceived as weak?

Again, neither of these sources is able to measure or quantify how our mental state can cause deterioration which leads, if not to suicide, to death by mindset-induced disease.

Doing Our Part to Help Humanity, One Person at a Time

Admittedly, we are not our brother’s keeper, and yet, we are all part of the same pool (some may, at this point call it a cesspool) of humanity. So wouldn’t we be helping all of humanity if we started paying attention to those pasted on smiles? Wouldn’t taking time to look beneath the surface and offer a heartfelt hug to those among us who, for their own reasons aren’t ready to share their pain be an act of kindness the entire world would feel?

I don’t know about you, but if I could prevent a single suicide by looking deeply into a friend’s eyes and letting them know I’ve wallowed in the depths a time or two myself; that asking for help was the strongest thing I ever did, I’d do it every chance I saw. If I could save other families and extended families the pain of losing someone to suicide even once, I’d drag my introverted self out of my self-imposed hermit hole and do everything I could to help educate, to inspire. Kind of like I’m trying to do here, but on a much more personal level.

Yes, I write extensively about suicide and especially how it affects those left behind with a million questions, a grain silo full of blame, guilt, and regret, and a gut-wrenching sorrow that seems to have no end. But I know the real solution lies in connection and community. Without them, we will all find too much time to wallow in our own misery and believe the voices in our heads telling us we are unworthy, unloved, and undeserving.

Think about it, and spread the love.

Gratitude Helps Me Find My Way Out of the Downward Spirals
  1. I am grateful for my friends who have learned to see past the masks I still try to wear.
  2. I am grateful for my daughter who continues to encourage me.
  3. I am grateful for the people who have come into my life to teach me asking for help is not a weakness.
  4. I am grateful for the people who make me think really hard about who I am and what I want to be when I grow up, and who give heartfelt advice even when they know it isn’t what I want to hear.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, joy, sorrow, dancing, love, humor, laughter, community, challenges, lessons, opportunities, new directions, stretched limits, peace, harmony, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write your expert book with you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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Empaths vs. Alcohol

New Insight Into the Drinking Game

I’ve always been uncomfortable around people who overindulge in alcohol. I saw it in my parents often enough, and later, my ex-husband. At times, I simply masked it by over-indulging myself, with obvious unpleasant consequences.

It wasn’t until recently I finally recognized the discomfort lay, not in the inebriated state of others, but in the results of that state and its impact on me.

I discovered what was there all along when I accepted that alcohol releases inhibitions. I used to believe those inhibitions were those which stopped people from making fools of themselves to they could relax and have a little fun. But there’s a somewhat sinister side to the lack of inhibitions.

Releasing the Pain Body With a Little Lubrication

We naturally corral what Eckhart Tolle calls our “pain body” when we’re sober, but the addition of alcohol in increasing quantities removes the filter which we’ve put in place to function within the parameters of society. When we remove those filters, thought it might not be apparent to most, we leak all of the sadness, pain, and misery we’ve kept bottled up until it’s flowing out of us like a veritable river of agony.

The average person won’t even notice, and will, in fact enjoy the crazy, uninhibited-ness of the the outwardly happy drunk. Not so with an empath like me.

Once I made the connection, I realized my real issue with people in an inebriated states wasn’t the alcohol (or drugs for that matter) at all. Instead, it was that they were functioning without the usual filters which protect me and others like me from being flooded with someone else’s emotions. You could say we were being drowned in sorrows of someone else’s making.

Once I realized what was happening, I could start taking the necessary steps to protect myself and above all, refrain from engaging with those who danced gaily around the room with their filters in shreds.

Mixed Reactions

I posed my conjecture to a group of empaths recently. In some cases, I was gratified to find others who recognized themselves in me. In others, I was saddened some took my words to mean it was open season on people who drink to mask their pain. Instead of finding an opportunity for compassion (once they’d protected themselves, of course), they took my words as permission to bash and abuse those who chose the only way they could manage to put aside their pain, if just for a little while.

The truth is alcoholism is a disease, plain and simple, and the people who use any kind of drug to excess do so for many reasons, one of which is a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. To crush them further with our condemnation will only serve to drive them further into they abyss.

Granted, it’s neither our place nor our gift to help them all, or maybe, not any of them. But neither is it our place to push them over the edge on which many totter. I am saddened and even mortified to learn my words caused others to take that path.

Self-Medicating to Mask the Pain

I know a number of people I reach are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics and can only imagine the strength it takes to challenge the addiction every single day. Far too many of them are probably empaths who chose alcohol or drugs to shut out the voices, the emotions which bombard us daily when we don’t know what they are or why we hear them in the first place.

I was one of them once upon a time. Though I didn’t abuse alcohol to excess nor use it to mask my pain on a regular basis as my parents did, I used my own equally ineffective and harmful methods for running away from myself and my true purpose. But I also used some healthy ones like dancing.

Learning to Embrace our Humanity

What it all comes down to is we are born compassionate human beings. Life and circumstances change that in us. Whether it’s family troubles or accepted behaviors, traumas we experience as life moves forward with or without us, or something seemingly innocuous. We learn to protect ourselves from mental, physical, and emotional harm in the best way we know how. All too often, the first step is shutting down our compassion for others.

I learned the hard way that shutting down, be it my compassion, sharing, connecting, or authenticity is equivalent to cutting off a limb which is perfectly fine the way it is. Closing ourselves off means we’re denying the very thing which makes us human. As time goes on, it becomes a lonely existence and one impossible to maintain without some hefty sacrifices.

Yet we’re taught to believe that only by functioning according to society’s rules; being cheerful, being gregarious, getting along, being easy-going; will we be able to get ahead, to make something of ourselves, to be a contributing member of society.

Here’s where I have to cry BULLSHIT! To be a true member of our beautiful, crazy, messy society, we have to be our whole selves. We have to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sure, we don’t want to go around harming others, but would that even be an issue if we were loved and accepted for who we are in the first place? Do serial killers kill because they were loved and cherished, accepted and celebrated? Do bullies tear others down because they feel good about themselves? NO! They do harm because it’s all they know to make themselves feel less ignored, less lonely, less apart.

Loving Each Other Beneath the Pain

We all have grumpy days. It’s a part of life. Those who deny they do are the ones who most need our compassion because they’re forcing themselves into a mold no one can possibly fit. Life is full of challenges. It’s how we learn, like it or not. It’s also an opportunity to reach out and ask for support, for help from other humans. And here’s a news flash. Other humans LIKE being asked for help once in a while. It makes them feel needed as well.

Yes, I learned a lot from putting my thoughts about alcoholics in particular out there for a group of empaths. Not all of it was good, but it was all useful for me. It reminded me to keep looking below the surface. It told me to put the judgment aside and look at the person underneath, the person the alcohol sought to mask. The mask is flimsy at best and the person underneath is crying for understanding and love, or perhaps just someone to say: “You’re OK just the way you are, warts and all. You’re loved.”

These little reminders make me grateful for the community I’m building, the people I reach out to, and those who reach out to me. You won’t see me marching in the streets any time soon. I’m too busy trying to learn my lessons and spread compassion in the world I know I can touch. In my own small way, this is how I believe I can make a difference. Imagine what would happen if we all spread some compassion. It might not solve all the problems of the world, nor stop all the anger, hatred, and evil, but where we start our journey is entirely up to us, and should be celebrated.

When we belittle the efforts of others, we minimize our own. Whatever we choose to do, it all makes a difference. Believe that, if nothing else.

With Love and Gratitude

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now and give you today’s gratitudes:

  1.  I am grateful for the people who show me both sides of the impact my words make.
  2.  I am grateful for my little forum where I hope to provide dialogue and the exchange of ideas including those which oppose my own. Only then will we all learn a few things we might have missed out on.
  3.  I am grateful for the new people who come into my life, the messages they bring, the help they offer, and the suggestions they make to help spread my own message further.
  4.  I am grateful for acts of compassion and love as they serve as examples of how much more I could be doing.
  5.  I am grateful for abundance; love, peace, compassion, lessons, people, examples, warmth, pleasure, pain, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. 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.

One Man’s Tool is Another’s Weapon

Tools: Using Them for the Good of All…or None?

Tools. What do you think of when you hear the word? A rake? A hammer? A shovel? Or perhaps something mechanical like a lawnmower or a washing machine?

The word can be applied to pretty much anything that helps us do things more simply, more quickly, more efficiently. How about computer software? Antibiotics. A pencil. A laser.

Any or all of these in the right hands can make our lives better, both on an individual level and a global one.

But in the wrong hands, tools can be altered or abused and used to do harm.

I know what you’re saying right now. How can a simple pencil cause harm? Have you never heard the old saying “the pen is mightier than the sword”? How many lives can be unalterably changed by words written and published which mis-state facts so convincingly as to turn nation against nation; brother against brother? Or on a smaller scale, who hasn’t at one time or another been hurt by someone’s thoughtless and uncaring words penned in anger or unwarranted hatred?

There have been times when garden implements were taken up as weapons when nothing else was available. Drugs can be altered, software can be hacked. And lasers can be used to kill as easily as they can be used to heal or create beauty.

Money: The Ultimate Tool or the Ultimate Weapon?

Do you know what else is nothing more than a tool? Money! That’s right, the almighty buck! Before there was money, people traded things for things. All money really did was simplify the process.

OK, not “all”. It also creates a gap between the “haves” and “have nots”. It makes people do awful things to get more of it. Some are even convinced that a certain amount of dollars (or euros, yen, Bitcoin, or whatever your currency) will make them happy. It also serves to emphasize our lack mentality.

And yet, it’s no more or less ridiculous than saying having enough hammers, or bicycles, or toothbrushes will make them happy! The only way any kind of tool will bring you happiness is by using it to accomplish something.

Accepting the Myth of Scarcity

Take a moment to think about that statement. As long as we believe there’s not enough of something to go around, we give it additional value as a scarce commodity, and it takes on a life of its own. With regard to money, we allow those pieces of paper and bits of metal to mean more to us than love, compassion, community. What began as a tool is now the master.

When we value a thing above our humanity, we give those who have more of that thing undeserved power. While some will continue to use their abundance to do good, there will always be a few whose intentions are, well, not so good.

Throughout history, we’ve had people who came into power, in part because they had more of something, typically money, than others. In too many cases, they were poisoned by that power. Their minds craved more, and when they got it, it was never enough. For some inexplicable reason, they felt they had to control everything and everyone around them. Inevitably, they and the world they’d built came crashing down around their feet.

Too Much of Anything Can be Deadly

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be too rich or too thin. Just as King Midas ultimately destroyed what he loved the most, those in our world whose main goal is acquiring more ultimately corrupt themselves and lose their most important possession—themselves. Unfortunately, in the process of acquiring stuff and killing off their own humanity, they take countless others with them.

Some of them are partners-in-crime, sacrificing their own humanity for what they don’t even realize is a fleeting moment of power. But most are victims; perhaps followers at first until they are sucked into the machinations of the aspiring gods, only to be chewed up and spat out when they are no longer useful. Too often, they drag their bruised and broken bodies back to where they came from, and look for someone else to blame for their ignorance and stupidity.

We see it time and time again, yet as a whole, humanity fails to learn from its most monumental mistakes. Whether it’s money, technology, land, or some other commodity, he who holds the most, also has the most to lose, and eventually does if they use what they have solely for personal power. But they never fall alone. They always take the masses with them, who may have had little to lose, but also nothing to gain. When the walls come crashing down, it is they who are left naked and exposed, easy prey for the next idiot with aspirations of grandeur.

Humans Got Us Into This, Our Divinity Can Get us Out

I’m enough of a dreamer that I still see a time when the veil of ignorance is lifted. A time when those who would misuse the tools mankind has created for their own personal gain are no longer able to gather followers as mindless as a flock of sheep who accept their lies and subterfuge as gospel. I believe there are enough people who use those tools for the good of all to arise and quell the ugliness of these inhuman humans.

But first, we have to find a way to overcome generations of ignorance and blind obedience which has sucked far too many people into the dark depths where thinking is discouraged and allowing emotions alone to separate truth from lies is the norm.

I truly wish I had a solution, as it seems pointless to continue staring at a blank wall without having some idea of how to get around it. The only thing I know for certain is that beating people over the heads with opposing viewpoints serves to make them grasp their misbegotten beliefs closer to their breasts.

Time to Stop Beating a Deaf Horse

Fighting something automatically generates resistance because change is, to many, terrifying. Pushing to convince someone that the sky is blue when they’ve been taught since birth it’s orange will have but one outcome: they will stop listening to anything you say on any subject.

Sure, I know what does NOT work to stop some from misusing the miraculous tools we’ve created, and others from following them blindly. I just haven’t found out what DOES work yet. With many minds working to find it, I can only have faith that the solution will ultimately be found, and the tools we’ve created will be returned to their rightful place, their rightful purpose. Only then will we stop being controlled by the tools and those who would misuse them for the sake of their own power.

Finding Gratitude in Everything We See, Say, and Do

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I was taught to think with my brain while engaging my heart to keep me human.
  2. I am grateful for opposing viewpoints as they make me look more deeply at both sides of the equation.
  3. I am grateful for my faith in the humanity and divinity within us all. For some, it might be more deeply buried, but it’s there, if we can only free it from artificial, self-imposed bonds.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to write. It makes me think, and hopefully, allows others to do the same.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, knowledge, wisdom, guidance, opportunities, challenges, lessons, setbacks, successes, dreams, goals, problems and solutions, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. 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

Watching and Forgetting to Participate

When Watching People Detaches Us

As a writer, observing people is part of the job description, or maybe it’s an occupational hazard. There are times I get so caught up with watching people and how they interact with each other, that I forget to interact myself. I wrote recently about feeling disconnected, but as I become more aware of those periods of disconnection,  see there’s more to the story, and I’m confounded by whether the chicken or the egg came first, so to speak.

In other words, do I become disconnected because watching is so fascinating, or do I begin watching because I’ve become disconnected from the proceedings? Lately, the lines have been so blurred, I honestly don’t have an answer. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the next chapter and wondering where my subconscious is going to take me when I sit down to actually write it. You may have noticed that unlike those who can easily draw a straight line from point A to point B, my brain eschews the linear and more direct path for something quite convoluted. Rarely is a trip undertaken which doesn’t take a few detours, gathering odds and ends along the way.

Conversational Convolutions

Fortunately, because likes attract, many of my friends have a similar thought process so we follow each others’ conversational convolutions quite nicely, thank you. And since I am rarely asked “what did you mean by that” in relation to these posts, I have to believe many of my readers are also able to follow the conversational switchbacks as well.

But again, I digress. People watching, even for the casual observer and not the career watcher can be all-encompassing. Human beings are simply fascinating. And they’re especially so in social situations like bars where there’s a certain level of effort to attract the opposite sex. As my social life typically involves a bar or at least a dance floor, I tend to see certain types with regularity and have, over time, broken them down into categories as follows:

Archetypes in the Social World
  • The Adonis: These are men who typically arrive late so the place is reasonably full. They clearly spend many hours at the gym, and have the skin-tight t-shirts to emphasize their dedication. Upon arrival, they make a slow circuit or two, ensuring that all the women in the place have noticed their bulging pecs. Then they’ll single out one lucky lady to bask in the glow of their awesomeness.
  • The Piranha (sometimes also known as The Limpet): These are single women who keep one eye on the door so they’re the first to see new single men arrive. They are well-versed at starting conversations and holding a man’s attention, but often vie with others of their type for the same men. Scarcity tends to bring out the huntress in these women, and they don’t know the meaning of the words “defeat” or “retreat”.
  • The Safe Ones: Again, of the female persuasion, these are women who typically dress a little more conservatively. They wear a look of serenity and have a similar style. Men tend to gravitate towards them because these women are unlikely to behave in an unexpected manner. They don’t tend to stand out and will likely give a guy her full attention.
  • The Couples: This one really needs no explanation, but for the sake of completeness, I include them.
  • The Free Spirits: These folks typically stand out, either by their attire or their actions, and often both. They aren’t part of the interpersonal ebb and flow as they’re usually just there to have a good time and hang with friends.
  • The Exotics: Like the Free Spirits, these are also unique, but in such a way that they get attention without even trying. They may or may not be interested in attracting someone. Again, they are there to have a good time and for the most part, go home alone. They are often found in the center of one group or another as they’re also very social.
  • The Wall Flowers: Face it. There will always be women who blend in with the scenery. They’re a little socially awkward, but don’t necessarily hang out alone. However, in an environment like a dance club, they’re all too often not asked to dance, or if they are, it’s infrequent.
  • The Weirdos and Freaks: Every club has them, and for the most part, they’re harmless. They can also be amusing. They don’t seem to care what people think of them. They take goofiness to new levels. And they break up the monotony of some of the more normal or sedate patrons.
  • The Charming Charlies: These guys could sell ice to the Eskimos. They’re charming to a fault, and are often nice to wall flowers, old ladies… pretty much everyone. They also tend to have a bevy of beauties vying for their attention.
  • The Drinkers: What would a bar be without the ones who are there to get a buzz…or maybe more than just a buzz? They keep the place in business, and if you’re lucky, they’re happy drunks. Just don’t try to dance with one. They’re loose as a goose, but you’re not, and you could get hurt.
  • The Entitleds: These folks have no concept of dance floor etiquette or personal space or even common courtesy. They believe the world revolves around them and want what they want when they want it. They’ll sit at an obviously occupied table and congregate in pods who hog floor space so others can’t get by them. In the olden days, we might have just called them spoiled brats.
  • The Old Folks: As I age, this category does too. But there are a few who, even in a place where you go to have fun, are crotchety and cranky. They also tend to move a little slower (or sometimes, a lot slower) and don’t handle change well, whether it’s a new dance, new music, or a new place on the floor. They’re treated respectfully because of their age, and, let’s face it, they deserve credit for still being out there dancing instead of sitting at home in front of the TV.

There are also a few one or another of us has given a special nickname. Most of those are affectionate with the exception of one or two who can be especially annoying. A local bar and dance hall is usually a friendly place and if you’re lucky, one where single women can go and feel safe from being accosted. It’s a healthier environment in which to unwind from whatever stresses life might throw at you.

A friend indirectly pointed out that I’d left a key point out of my observations and categorizations. Human beings are seldom as they appear on the outside, especially when surrounded by strangers. We don masks to hide the more fragile elements of our beings. This is what makes not only the observing but the typing so interesting to me. Once I’ve seen where someone fits in the overall social dynamic, I’m free to let my imagination follow tangents of its own, filling in blanks, creating back stories and otherwise delving into the person behind the social mask.

In fact, I’m especially fond of newcomers, not because I flock to them like a piranha, but because I can observe them and create a persona free of any ideas I might have inadvertently formed by seeing how they interacted with other people; with my friends. Aside from which pattern they initially exhibit, these folks are a blank slate, and what’s more fun to draw on?

Going Off on Another Tangent

It seems a post which started out talking about people watching and disconnecting has evolved into something completely different. Instead of focusing on the person doing the observing, it’s somehow morphed into some of those observations. Maybe that’s where it was meant to go in the first place.

At least I have the basic archetypes should I ever write a scene about a bar where people go to dance. This list would easily span both the regular patrons and the occasional visitors though some are more relevant for the regulars if only because they’re there often enough to get a more complete picture of their personalities. There’s certainly a cross-over to other social situations as well.

So there you have it. Proof I spend more time watching people than might be healthy. Yet I suspect I’m not alone in my people watching, even if I fall back on it with greater frequency than the norm. Hasn’t everyone categorized people around them at one time or another? In an airport? A grocery store? On the freeway?

It Begins and Ends with Gratitude

Tonight’s gratitudes are:

  1. I am grateful for my powers of observation.
  2. I am grateful I can amuse myself.
  3. I am grateful that I am never truly alone in a crowd as long as I can let my imagination run wild.
  4. I am grateful for people who give me something to watch and analyze.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life, love, diversity, personality, character, inspiration, imagination, humanity, friendship, peace, harmony, philanthropy, 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!

Emotions Disconnected

Feeling Disconnected Again

Tonight in the middle of a line dance, I suddenly felt what has become a frequent and familiar sensation. There, in the middle of a crowd, voices clashing with the music, a cacophony of sounds fighting for recognition, I was suddenly alone. The ties to people, to sounds, even to the steps I was executing were suddenly severed. I continued to go through the motions, but no longer felt like I was connected mentally, physically, or emotionally to the experience.

I’ve been here before. Suddenly a piece of jetsam floating rudderless above the sights and sounds. So often, I even have a standard behavior which executes on its own when the feeling of disconnection pervades my being.

Going Off of Auto-Pilot

But this time was different. For some reason I recognized I was about to launch the escape sequence and stopped for a split second. In that frozen moment in time, instead of allowing the self-executing program to engage, I stopped. I asked myself why I didn’t just allow myself to feel that disconnectedness instead of masking it like I usually do. I asked why I didn’t allow myself to feel the feelings which pervaded my being at moments like this. Why did I instead allow myself to be encased in a bubble of energy which gave me false stimulation I was unable to reach from the people around me?

And the self-executing program stopped, unsure whether to go forward or address this new set of queries because I couldn’t think of a single valid reason why those feelings should not be felt.

Of course the next thing I did was to start writing about it, allowing the feelings to flow onto the screen unedited. Much like a brain dump but one I knew I’d publish one place or another. The questions poured out of me like the Oroville Dam through its emergency spillway. Once the flow began, there was no way to stop it.

Questioning Old Habits

Should I do what I’ve become accustomed to doing and enclose myself in a golden egg-shaped ball of light, or instead, allow myself to feel the disconnectedness? Have I grown so accustomed to masking the disconnectedness that it’s more natural to mask my feelings from myself as well as everyone else? Has the defense mechanism I initiated while  learning to handle the feelings of pain, loss, anger, guilt and so forth outlived its usefulness?

And yet, the habit has become so ingrained I normally don’t even think twice about launching the escape sequence if I even launch it consciously any more. It’s pretty much on auto-pilot. I didn’t even recognize I was doing it until tonight. Experiencing this disconnectedness on the dance floor happens often enough I consider it commonplace.

Taking a Turn for the Better

While I stood on the sidelines typing furiously into my phone, someone asked me to dance and afterward,  I joined a conversation with people at the table next to mine. Yet I knew sooner or later I’d have to follow the flow. Something changed tonight. Suddenly, I was, if not giving myself permission, at least exploring the option of allowing my feelings to flow unchecked. Is this the next stage in my healing process? Acknowledging the feelings which have been so bottled up I didn’t even realize I’d been doing the bottling?

Turning the Protective Mechanisms Off

The mind is a very complicated apparatus which is directly responsible for the fight or flight behavior. But it also protects us in times of severe emotional trauma by doling out the experience in more manageable bits and pieces. It does this by blocking the feelings until we’re ready to handle them without imploding. And yet, there are times when our minds go a little overboard. They fail to give us credit for the strength we’ve developed through years of challenges and lessons. Or they simply get stuck in protective mode and forget to dole out a few more feelings for us to process.

In my case, I think I just got to the point where it was easier to deny any connection to those feelings. In true “out of sight, out of mind” fashion, I made no effort to retrieve the things which had been put away until I was stronger. In doing so, I lost part of my humanity. I lost kindness. I lost compassion. Until I found myself wondering at my inability to connect.

That’s when the hard outer shell which had grown around my heart and even the feeling part of my mind started to show signs of strain. It was no longer obvious to me why I should stifle and contain my feelings when I suddenly felt alone in a crowd for no apparent reason. With each new question, the walls cracked a little more. And in cracking, I was able to re-establish part of the connection. By giving myself permission to feel disconnected and alone, I no longer was.

Opening a New Door in the Healing Process

By acknowledging and allowing the feelings, I did something I’d been working towards for a long time. I allowed my vulnerability to show. Granted, it’s unlikely anyone around me even noticed. But I noticed. I felt vulnerable and didn’t do anything to stop the feeling.

This might seem insignificant to most, but to anyone who has guarded their heart with military precision, never allowing themselves to experience uncertainty or weakness, this is a major accomplishment. I learned tonight that until I can truly feel comfortable being vulnerable in my own space, I’ll never open up to others in that manner. But I also had to decide I was ready.

In all honesty, I’m still not completely certain I’m ready. But I am certain I’m ready to try, and that’s a step in the right direction.

For Each Experience, I Am Truly Grateful

Tonight’s gratitudes are:

  1. I am grateful for the cracks in my shell.
  2. I am grateful I could experience the vulnerability without an audience for now.
  3. I am grateful for the unanswered questions.
  4. I am grateful for new experiences. Especially the scarier ones.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, vulnerability, courage, connection, peace, harmony, philanthropy 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!

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

March 14, 2015 Things which inspire hope in my heart

I can always count on my friends on Facebook to share things which inspire me

Today, a friend shared a story which immediately gave me hope that despite all of the stories of doom and gloom, of GMO’s and dying bees, of abuse in all of it’s many sizes, shapes and colors, there truly are enough good things happening which, were we to focus our attention on them, would completely overshadow and ultimately, wipe out all of the ugliness. Today was a perfect example. A friend shared this: http://abc7.com/travel/first-photos-emerge-of-the-worlds-newest-island/557493/

Call me Pollyanna, but the idea of a brand spanking new island being created by the upheaval of a volcano is, to me, positively miraculous. This is the first time in my lifetime that I remember hearing about a new island! It may not be much more than a natural phenomenon to most, but to me, it represents hope and birth and a world which may be seeing destruction in some places, but in others, it is seeing something which will house new life in the future. It will be a place where, at least for a little while, species’ can grow and thrive, unmolested by we dastardly humans. It might even be a place where a new species will arise from a combination of factors unique to the new environment this island represents.

People continually seek new thrills, new entertainment, so very little remains free of human intervention

I’d like to believe that this new land, this new life will remain pristine for a few years, but the reality is, greed speaks very loudly, and an Italian businessman is already eying the new island and envisioning a resort with his name on it marring the shores. But I refuse to let go of my picture of promise and new life to feed someone else’s dream of profit. I refuse to let go of hope for the future; a future where humans appreciate the Earth which provides us a home. I’ll give my attention to new islands and people who put themselves on the line for animals and other people any time, rather than giving one second of attention to the stories of horror and abuse.

Thoughts are energy and energy powers our world. We can choose to power crime and abuse and hate and wars, or we can choose to power life and faith and birth and growth. Our thoughts truly can clean up the air and the water, rejuvenate the earth where she has been abused, and even smother the oppressors. And we can do these things one, single, solitary thought at a time.

I stroke my cat and he purrs and I feel good. Think about stroking humanity with a kind thought, word or deed, and see how humanity purrs, and then we feel good and repeat the process. How long, were we to really focus, would it take before wars and disease and crime were a thing of the past? How long would it take before our waterways were once again clean, welcoming places for those who evolution proclaimed were water dwellers? Before nobody need lock their doors for fear that someone would help themselves to what they worked hard to acquire? How long before it became commonplace to greet strangers on the street with a hug and a smile?

I believe in the immortal words of John Lennon:
Imagine all the people Living life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one

John Lennon – Imagine Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Can you think of a single good reason we shouldn’t believe that a peaceful humanity is possible? Despite the horrors which have occurred in my own lifetime, I still find reason to hope, and because I do, I turn my thoughts and my attention to that dream which Mr. Lennon was unable to live to see. But we still can.  I believe in miracles.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for things which give me hope.
2. I am grateful that, in spite of what humans might say or do, the Earth still has the ability to create newness in and of herself.
3. I am grateful that I have learned to minimize the things which bring us down and maximize those with build us up.
4. I am grateful for the simple things; a new island, the purr of my cats, the smile of a friend. These are the things which matter.
5. I am grateful for abundance: purrs, smiles, islands in the sea, hope, dreams, integrity, happiness, love, joy, peace, harmony, health and prosperity.

Blessed be.

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