Dancing outside my comfort zone

Posts tagged ‘humanity’

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!

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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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