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

Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

64 Years Old Today!

“When I’m 64 is Now!”

As I type the title for this post, my heart skips a couple of beats, and I gasp a little. I don’t feel like I’m 64, though really, how is 64 supposed to feel? It wasn’t long ago that 30 seemed old, and now, I’m twice that. In fact, my daughters passed the 3-0 mark a couple of years ago! I keep going back to the Beatles’ “When I’m 64“, and yet, other than the number, I find I don’t relate to the song at all.

There’s no one in my household who will “need me” or “feed me” now that I’m 64. That’s not entirely true. There are several felines who definitely need me; for food, for vet care, for attention, and most of all, for a warm place to sleep. But other than their unparalleled healing abilities, their resources are limited should I get sick, or worse, become incapacitated.

In those rare moments when I allow myself a brief wallow in self-pity, I’ll think about the time when my vision starts getting worse (thankfully, it’s been pretty much the same for the last 20 years. Not great, but correctable). I imagine a time when I can’t bend down to feed the cats, or lift the 5-gallon bottles of water into and out of my car. Those moments quickly become ones of gratitude for the vision which continues to serve me, and the strength which, rather than decreasing, is increasing from regular workouts I finally managed to give myself.

Down Time to Rest and Re-Charge

Sure, I have days when I want to sit around and read, play computer games, or watch sappy Hallmark https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpmovies. But lately, they come after I’ve exerted myself with hours of dancing, or walking, or cleaning. And after a couple of days of doing nothing, I’m ready for a day full of activities again. Sometimes, it’s just gym and errands, others, I’ll add a few hours of cafe writing followed by a night of dancing. All serve to keep both body and mind sharp and flexible.

Looking back at my mom before she passed at 59, she wasn’t sedentary either, though I think she suffered more aches and pains than me, if only because she allowed them to get in her way. I think at 59 she acted and probably felt older than I feel today. The only joy in her life seemed to be my daughters, and they weren’t enough to make her want to keep living. I’ve had moments when I wondered, too whether I had enough to make me want to continue. But those moments were years ago when I, too had yet to find joy in all the simple, amazing things in my life.

Finding Joy and Inspiration in Simple Things

created with CanvaToday, I look out the window and see a flock of butterflies (or whatever a bunch of butterflies flying together is called) and I’m child-like in my happiness over seeing the brightly colored wings fluttering in and out of the branches of the plum tree before continuing their journey to who-knows-where? I master a line dance and feel a sense of accomplishment, though I’ve mastered hundreds over the years. Each new view, each new lesson brings me infinite joy.

I’ve learned to commit to myself every day, whether it’s going to the gym, writing blog posts, working on a writing project for a client or myself, or making the bed in the morning. I don’t assign specific values to each task. They are all valuable in their own way and don’t need to be ranked in order of importance or joy quotient.

I’ve stopped looking at how many years it took me to learn how to find the joy in the simple things, or commit to myself. Instead, I show myself love and appreciation for having done it at all. I understand my journey is unique to me, and I accomplish things in a different order than anyone else. I’m learning to be less critical and more appreciative of the steps I’ve taken and will continue to take on my own unique journey. I’m learning the child-like wonder I feel when I see a butterfly or ten is ready and waiting for every new experience, and every old one that brought me joy before I learned to be critical and cynical.

Being the Joy and Inspiration

The greatest lesson of all, though, is learning to be the joy and inspiration. Learning my own joy https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/23800751269/in/photolist-yra2iG-DU6XM-r2jkSH-riCwfg-Cgc59v-25ZjvpP-Esa7bs-r2dktE-riCRw2-r2d16w-r2cjid-riFdFJ-r2jiQX-riJKAr-rgrJ5N-rgrymj-riJtfk-rgrtto-qmXTaB-qmXTUx-r2dc7j-riFiwf-r2cN57-rgrAKs-qmKZtd-qmKx5b-riCoxT-rgrkmb-r2bRy1-r2bSiC-rgrjHC-qmKN63-r2iWTr-qZqbLz-Jmhu1f-riJk4R-riJgvD-JNiQ5F-6fCa3j-TSPptN-R2stHj-FBknvd-yBNSqL-JNjenn-JixL6D-rgrBXC-riJFkc-riJtrT-qmKAfu-riF5aLincreases from the simple act of spreading positivity knocked my socks off the first time I realized what was happening.

I knew I felt drained when friends wrote about feeling drained and discouraged. I also knew people responded positively when I shared inspiring messages or shared my own successes. It took awhile for me to also feel how my own joy increased simply by sharing positivity and success. I realized people don’t need the big things, like seeing a friend get a big promotion or a fancy, new car. They need the everyday things and the reminders that putting one foot in front of the other is an accomplishment in and of itself.

They need to hear they’re not alone in narrowing their focus down to what’s right in front of them instead of trying to tackle everything they place in front of themselves. Seeing someone else taking it one step at a time inspires them to be less hard on themselves. When they become more accepting and forgiving of themselves, they, like me find more joy in their lives. As my friends and acquaintances find more joy, more inspiration, more acceptance—so do I!

The Joy is in the Learning

Created with CanvaI’ve learned so much in my 64 years and am excited to keep on learning. Sometimes, though, it feels like about 90% of what I’ve learned has come in the last 5 years or so. In reality, the preceding years had their share of lessons. Many of them simply laid the foundation for the gigantic push I’ve felt in the last 5. Perhaps I took longer to lay my foundation than most, but then, I’ve followed a meandering path. I’ve visited a lot of places, but remained in few. I changed majors in college a few times, taking 10 years to actually earn a degree. Then I kicked my hard-earned degree to the curb, doing a 180 career-wise a little over 5 years ago. I couldn’t have done that without the places I visited, the lessons I learned, or the foundation I laid.

Long story short, I am exactly where I’m supposed to be right now, writing for myself and others, looking at finishing the works I’ve already written and writing new ones. I want to write some short stories and pitch them to magazines and websites, and I want to keep inspiring and being inspired. I’m very happy with my first 64 years. Very happy, indeed.

Learning We Don’t Need to Do It All Alone

Are you still trying to do it all? Are there things you either don’t do as well as you’d like, or simply hate doing? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Gratitude Fuels My Joy

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the experiences and lessons in my first 64 years, and look forward eagerly to whatever comes next.
  2. I am grateful for friends I’ve made along the way; for the ones I’ve kept, and the ones who moved on after leaving me with whatever they were meant to bring into my life.
  3. I am grateful for mentors, coaches, examples, and challenges. All have helped me grown into the best possible version of myself.
  4. I am grateful for love. I’ve learned it’s as essential as breathing.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, challenges, friendships, opportunities, cats, dancing, strength; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual,. and energetic, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

I Ain’t Dead Yet AKA There’s No Crime in Looking

Self-Improvement on Our Own Terms

Though I haven’t been as diligent as I’d like, I truly enjoy my forays to the gym. I stick my earbuds in my ears, fire up one of my Pandora stations and go through my weight routine in the privacy of my own mind. Rarely if ever does anyone try to engage me in conversation. I guess my Leave me alone. This is MY time. message comes through loud and clear.

Discouraging engagement doesn’t mean I’m not aware, however. Quite often, I’ll watch someone who clearly knows what they’re doing to get ideas to improve my own routine. But occasionally my gaze (and mind) wanders to things which are for the benefit of nothing more than my appreciation of art.

At those times, my gaze strays to a well-toned body which happens to pass within my limited line of sight, not with lustful intent, but merely in open appreciation of the time and effort which went into a certain life-like sculpture.

Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder

I’m very particular about what catches my eye, however. The muscle-bound types who are unable to touch their own noses for their bulky triceps and shoulders do nothing for me. Even if I were inclined, I just don’t find them approachable.

Instead, my gaze (and OK, perhaps a little voyeurism too) is drawn to either the finely sculpted but reasonably sized or, more often, to the works-in-progress. I have a particular fondness for people, and non-gender specific, who are clearly making an effort to improve their health. They’re not frequenting the gym to attract attention or expand their social circle. They’re simply there to make a change in their own life, their own health. I have great admiration for the people who are there week in and week out, making small changes which eventually lead to huge improvements.

Our Flaws are Our True Perfection

As a diamond-in-the-rough myself, I know those long-term benefits come with the tiniest of steps in the right direction. They come with no small amount of back-sliding as well, but along with it, the drive to succeed even if they have to cover the same ground dozens of times before they begin to see obvious improvement.

The last few years has been a series of “two steps forward, one step back” events for me. In some cases, the backward progress has even outweighed the forward, yet I’m further along than when I began, and for that, I’m grateful. I realize there are times we need to re-cover old ground because we haven’t quite mastered the lesson. Or someone comes into our life who shows us a better way around a rather tenacious obstacle. Either way, once we’ve overcome the obstacle, we have an even more impressive array of tools at our disposal when we’re ready to climb the next mountain. The view from the top of our latest mountain and the road we need to travel to reach the valley below seems a little less daunting.

Learning from those Who Come Into Our Lives for a Reason

It isn’t only the tools we obtain along the way. It’s also the people. If we allow it, our team grows with many of our encounters, and we gain much-needed skills and knowledge in the people who become part of our expanding circle.

For many years, I believed to the depth of my soul that I had to make it on my own. I believed asking for help was a weakness. It took a lot of stumbles, long, lonely nights, and a failure to achieve my highest expectations to realize I was never meant to do it all alone. I was never meant to have every ounce of knowledge and every skill-set necessary to become my very best self.

In the years I’ve spent blogging, connecting with people online, reading self-help books, and delving further into my own spiritually, I’ve learned many long-overdue lessons. The biggest of those has to be that allowing people to see your vulnerabilities doesn’t make you weak at all.

I’ve learned instead that showing your vulnerabilities (within reason, of course) actually attracts people to you who have expertise in areas you don’t. They are there to reach that jar on the top shelf or help  build the scaffolding that will support you in building my structure higher. Maybe they’re there to simply offer encouragement or hand you another nail. But without them, it would take me much longer to achieve your goals.

Better Together

It took me spending a lot of time spinning my wheels to realize it’s OK to ask those around me for assistance and to accept the offers which might come unasked. Admitting I was better for their help came slowly, but it has come, and now I’m able to rejoice in recognizing what I traveled an overly hard, but self-inflicted road to learn.

When I look at those well-toned, sculpted bodies around me at the gym, I am, in part looking at what I could become if I stopped trying to go it alone and ask for help, maybe not with my physical efforts at the moment, but with so much of what I want to achieve; my writing, my eventual speaking, building my business. I’ve been struggling along for quite some time now, neither failing miserably nor succeeding remarkably. The small amounts of progress I see encourage me to continue trying even when the failures and their implications stare me in the face.

Balancing the Equation

I may not be world-class like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or J.K. Rowling, but the operative word here has to be “yet”. That “yet” is predicated on my willingness to ask for and receive help, and in fact, I’ve seen more progress in the last few months because I’m no longer worried about appearing weak. Instead, I draw strength from those who find my words relate-able and who aren’t put off by a misguided illusion of perfection. As I said to my favorite mentor today, I’ve dropped the veil. What lies behind is neither as weak nor as scary as I’d let myself believe.

Dropping that veil has given me two gifts: the opportunity to give, and more important, the ability to receive. Some find the person behind that veil inspiring or helpful with some aspect of their lives. Others find her able to fulfill their own need to give back from their own well of experience. Contrary to my years of self-deception, we need to be on both sides of the equation. It’s called Balance, and like so many out there, I’m still working on finding mine. Sometimes I’ll find it for a little while, but then I start to wobble one way or the other and go sliding down into an extreme again.

The difference these days is I know when I’ve slid, and more, I know what balance feels like. Better still, I know I like what balance feels like and am better equipped to find my way back. I’ve learned the lesson from the people I’ve allowed into my life. Without them, I’d still be hanging off the edge of my personal cliff, struggling to climb back up on my own.

Barbra Streisand summed it up best: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Amen!

Remembering to Acknowledge and Appreciate the Help and Guidance

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my friends and how much they’ve taught me about being human.
  2. I am grateful for the times the Universe forces me to slow down; even if it’s another ear infection.
  3. I am grateful for work that keeps my mind alive and agile.
  4. I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve been and will be given. Each one makes me stronger in some way, even if some appear as a willingness to be vulnerable.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, love, friendship, joy, challenges, successes, visibility, encouragement, 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

The Mind Might be in Denial, But the Body Knows!

Inattention Provokes Physical Reaction

Writing my morning pages today after doing the unthinkable yesterday and skipping it without a valid reason (gasp!) I realized how little attention I’d been paying to my writing, among other things, since November began. I’d like to say it was a gentle realization with soft music playing, and a gentle breeze teasing tendrils of my hair from my customary messy wad on top of my head. But the truth is, the Universe gave it to me with both barrels, as usual.

Yesterday, after sleeping until 11, which I haven’t done in months, I recognized the tell-tale signs of infection in my right ear. I took the entire day off to be lazy, improve my eating habits which had been pretty awful lately, and supercharge my body with homeopathics and natural remedies (turmeric and propolis are my go-to’s, in case you’re wondering).

I woke this morning slightly later than I’d like to find the pain had subsided but now the ear felt like it was filled with fluid. Moving around has helped a bit, but the pressure remains. However, that didn’t stop me from immediately grabbing pen and notebook (after feeding the resident furballs, of course) and resuming my morning routine.

Morning Pages vs. Brain Dumping

If you’re not familiar with “morning pages” you might want to pick up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s a great book if you’re a creative who needs to learn to honor the artist within, begging to be allowed to come out and play. One of the biggest take-aways I got from the book was the practice of writing 3 pages longhand every morning, aka “morning pages”. The idea is to sit down and write before you do anything else in the morning (coffee and cat feeding notwithstanding) to clear your head of all of the accumulated folderol from both the previous days’ challenges and the dreams from which you’ve just awoken. If you’re like me, those dreams alone can clog up the works as they’re quite vivid and memorable most days.

In many ways, I guess you’d call the morning pages journaling, but in a very raw, directionless way. In the past, I’d have called it a brain dump, though those typically were a fingers-to-keyboard kind of exercise as I type much faster than I write.

The purpose of the morning pages is not to pour out your guts as fast as possible but instead, to slow your mind down, forcing it to connect with your entire being instead of running amok like a hyperactive child on a sugar high.

I’ve found a great deal of insight from my morning pages though admittedly, there are days when I struggle to sit still long enough and slow my mind down sufficiently to write those 3 pages. Today was one of those days when the process worked.

Recognizing the Wake-Up Call of Physical Ills

I’ve learned that maladies in the body are simply a reflection of dis-ease in our energy field, which, left uncleared start manifesting in ways meant to get our attention. Yet it took slowing my mind down, getting the words on the page to connect the dots this time.

Once I started putting it together, I realized I’d not been communicating via my writing for quite some time. My ear was giving me a huge wake-up call that my hoarse and phlegm-y throat had failed to do.

I needed to get back to my writing!

While pouring out the contents of my muddled and over-stressed brain through the fingers of my right hand, I saw what I’d been, unbeknownst to me, making a concerted effort to ignore. I hadn’t written a single blog post, or even started one since the end of October. I hadn’t edited more chapters of Forgotten Victims as I’d planned. I had barely even interacted on social media for the last 25 days. In fact, I’d developed a bit of an aversion to it. No, more of an ennui. Nothing held my attention. I spent my days (when I wasn’t working on accounting clients) watching sappy Christmas movies and playing word games on my computer.

Finding the Blessing Buried in the Muck

On the up side, I increased my vocabulary a bit and kept my mind somewhat sharp, but my creative side was screaming for attention. Have you ever tried to quiet a 2-year-old mid-tantrum? Well, Creative Sheri knows exactly which buttons to push to get Unproductive, Slothful Sheri’s attention. In fact, administering physical pain is a particular favorite.

I may have created a bit of a monster when I chose to release my creative side, because once released, there’s no effective way to stuff the creativity back into a box permanently. What Pandora released when she opened that box has nothing on the creative monster once I gave her permission to come out and play. She is especially cranky when I make excuses for sitting down in front of the computer and writing. The words that come out don’t really matter. They just have to find their way to page, screen, or whatever medium I choose.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs

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-4CCrfbMaybe it was the Hallmark movie I watched last night about a writer who left home to follow his passion. Maybe I related well to his being stuck and needing new inspiration. More important was his regular routine. He went to the same coffee shop every day, sat at the same table with his laptop and wrote. Writing my morning pages every day only gets me halfway there.

I choose to believe that things are put into our path for a reason, be they physical pain, a message delivered via movie or book, or a person who helps us find our way back to our true path. When we do our best to ignore the signs and signals as I’ve been doing for the last month, those signs and signals become more persistent, and eventually, painful. Like the lessons we’re given, the signs that we’ve wandered off path are not about to be ignored indefinitely.

Sure, I could be one of those who self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to shut those voices and the pain out. Fortunately, I’m not. I have a strong aversion to drugs of any kind and if I have one drink per month, that’s a lot. So I’m forced to acknowledge the signs, the warnings, and especially the Universal head slaps which tell me I need to get off my ever-lovin’ arse and do what I was meant to do—WRITE!

Getting Back on Track…Again

This is my long-winded way of saying I’m back and will do my best to entertain you with regular blog posts like this, both here and on my website. I welcome your comments and would love to hear about what motivates you and gets you back on track when you stray.

The Many Faces of Gratitude

What would a blog post be without my gratitudes? Here are a few for today.

  1. I’m grateful for the subtle and not-so-subtle reminders that I’m not being true to myself.
  2. I’m grateful for family and friends who inspire and challenge me.
  3. I’m grateful for the reams of words I’ve poured out on pages like this one as well as all of my works-in-progress.
  4. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met lately on social media. Some inspire me to greater things, and others show me what I don’t want to be or aspire to. All are helpful in their own way.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; the words that flow from my fingers, the portfolio I don’t always appreciate, the dreams that fill my head at night (and other times too), love, friendship, communication, health, joy, compassion, kindness, generosity, peace, hope, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She 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. She specializes in 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

Positively Positive: Sharing Inspiration

Why I Promote Positivity

About 20 years ago, I began my personal journey out of the abyss. Like everything else in my life, it hasn’t been a straight path, nor an easy one. There was a lot of backsliding, especially in the early years as my brain fought to keep me in the safe, comfortable, familiar place it loved.

But my desire for happiness has prevailed and I’ve managed to flip the switch which gives me more happy days than sad ones, more positivity and gratitude, and less self-pity and blame. A good part of my success has been the manner in which I’m currently using Social Media.

First let me say that I have to have a really good reason to unfriend someone, and putting up negative or uninspiring posts isn’t one of them. (that’s why we have the option to unfollow friends. That way, we simply don’t have to see their posts on our news feed). I do, however, insist on predominantly uplifting or at least humorous posts on my social media pages.

Over time I’ve subscribed to a number of groups and followed people who regularly share evocative, uplifting, humorous, or inspiring material. Those I particularly enjoy are set up on my Buffer account where I share them on my pages to provide something thought-provoking, humorous, uplifting, or inspiring for the people who follow me.

Hate Begets Hate

While there has always been more than enough negativity and downright hatefulness out in cyberspace, the last year or so has seen a dramatic increase in hateful words and acts, anger directed outward, and a general ugliness permeating the whole of humanity. None of us are immune.

Even the best of us (and trust me, I’m no angel!) don’t completely refrain from venting our anger or frustration from time to time. Everyone has a cause they feel strongly about. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Often, it’s not the message, but how it’s conveyed. I, myself am less than tactful when I’m frustrated. (just ask the rude group who kept assuming any table in the place was for their personal use last night!) I recognize and accept that. There are a number of people who regularly share things that make me smile or think, but have their pet causes. Like most of us, they might get a bit in your face about those causes. If it’s not something I share, I just scroll on by. I know a few posts down will be something I’ll really enjoy.

There is a point to this, I promise. I’m just a bit long-winded getting to it (unusual, I know. 🙂 ).

More Than One Way to Fight for a Cause

More than once, I’ve been called out for not supporting a cause publicly. But I believe there are plenty of people flinging angry words and righteous indignation. It’s not for me to add to that cacophony. Instead, it is for me to try to hold a sort of Switzerland where people can share their viewpoints in a loving way instead of trying to rip out the throats of those who disagree with them.

Do I have things I feel passionate about? Hell yes. But screaming about them from the roof tops isn’t going to change them, in my opinion. Finding ways to love ourselves and the people around us through the chaos and the maelstrom of hate is far more effective in the long run.

Think of it this way. Those who hate and stir it up in others are broken in their own way, but they feed on anger and hate. Those emotions make them stronger and help bury their own pain with things like power and recognition. Though it’s not a perfect substitute, they believe it is what they need.

Hate vs. Love

A few years ago, I attended an event where Marianne Williamson spoke. She said something which has stayed with me ever since. She said that people who act out in anger are doing so because they lack love in their lives. If you think about it, one of the surest ways to still someone’s anger is to wrap them in a warm, sincere hug.

I’ll take this one step further. When you enter a competition, you try to have the best tools and skills so you will prevail. If you went into a competition using only your opponent’s tools against them, you’d always lose. Why? Because they’ve honed those tools to be perfect for themselves and their personal strengths and skill sets. Soldiers have swords weighted for their own physical strength and build. Magicians have wands which complement their skills. If anyone else used their tools of the trade, they’d find the tools wanting when in reality, they’re simply mismatched to the user.

If you’re trying to overcome anger and hate, why would you throw more of the same at it? It’s no different than throwing gasoline on a wild fire. You give it more fuel and it will continue to grow.

I’m trying to do the unexpected in my own small way. I share positive quotes and inspiring stories. I post cute animal videos and tales of triumph over adversity. I’ve even been known to share things slightly political, but only if they’re humorous rather than hateful.

Keeping Dr. King’s Words Alive

I may not agree with a lot that’s going on today, but adding my voice to the already overwhelming complaints isn’t going to change any of it. What will is finding the silver lining or the lesson and sharing that instead. I might still get criticized for having my head in the sand or for not openly taking a stand against any of it. But I’m also not adding to the anger. I’m not fueling the fires of hatred which are burning as brightly as the fires in Montana, and are a million times more virulent. I can’t say it any better than the late Dr. Martin Luther King who said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

What he said then still holds true today. So enjoy the happy quotes I share. Laugh at the cute videos if you can. I want to be that beacon of light when everything seems dark. I believe in love when so many around me disagree. I know I’m imperfect and act unkindly at times, and each time I do, I have a nice self-flagellation session. Then I forgive myself and go back to posting positivity. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. And some, like Dr. King gave it all to bring the light of love into the sometimes overwhelming darkness.

Finding Gratitude in Every Little Thing

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the continued inspiration I get to keep writing.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn every day.
  3. I am grateful for my imperfections as they make me work harder to do better next time.
  4. I am grateful for the improvements I’m making in my physical environment. As it is outside, so will it be inside. My inside is getting clearer with each coat of paint and piece of clutter I clear.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, sharing, compassion, lessons, challenges, problems and solutions, opportunities, dreams realized and dreams yet to manifest, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She 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. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

 

 

 

Empaths as Outcasts: Why Misery Loves Company

New Inspiration from an Old Source

You can find the Facebook Live Video which goes with this post here

Today’s blog topic didn’t come, as has been common, from my morning pages, but from my meditation. As I snuggled on the couch with my two furry girls who love the meditative energy, my mind was processing a discussion about the latest suicide of a famous figure.

As my overly active brain processed, connected, and analyzed, it landed on my relationships, or lack thereof with my family over the last couple of decades. From comments and questions I’ve fielded recently, it occurred to me my sister hasn’t been the outcast I’ve been allowed (or perhaps allowed myself) to become. Of course, this raised questions in my mind, despite the fact I’d come to the realization quite some time ago that the distance was for the best on all our parts.

Not only did it allow me to heal without interference and accept my parents’ final acts without condemnation, blame, or lifelong guilt, it let me find peace. Knowing my sister still blames my mom for more than I even know, or want to, and knowing she’s ill and angry, I’m starting to understand why the family dynamics are what they are.

Finding Yet Another Commonality With My Mom

Mom was the family outcast and was often criticized and I suspect, ridiculed behind her back. I’ve certainly had my share of missteps and actions which failed to meet with everyone’s approval. The difference between us is that I don’t really care. Mom needed the family’s approval and love. If I had it, I would be grateful, but I have never really needed it. And I am not going to be part of the blame and rehashing of mom’s failings. She was no more or less human than anyone else and as such, was prone to mistakes, both from her own viewpoint and that of others. That she likely beat herself up over them was part of her personality and more, her desperation.

Taking after my dad has been a double-edged sword. Yes, I tend to isolate myself too much, but as an Empath, sometimes isolation is the lesser of two evils. Yes, I find it hard to ask for help, much to my daughter’s annoyance. But as time goes on, I’m learning to be better about letting others do something for me instead of letting assistance be a one-way street. The best lesson I learned from dad, though, was to accept responsibility for my own actions. From that, I’ve learned to also be more understanding of the actions of others.

Don’t Blame Those Who Need to Blame

I may not agree with, nor buy into the idea of blaming mom for decades old perceived misdeeds. I may not agree with continuing to blame her when she’s not here to defend herself. But I accept the fact that my sister and whoever else she talks to has the right to make their own choices. They’re no longer hurting mom with words or deeds anyway. As I’ve learned in my own healing journey, forgiveness truly only helps the forgiver. The forgiven couldn’t care less whether we forgive them or not.

It does explain a lot about why nobody reached out to me after mom took her life, or why the last of the contacts I shared with my parents disappeared from my life after dad took his. I brought nothing to the conversation they wanted to have.

At least now, things have evolved so there are a few tentative attempts to connect. Yet, the commonalities we had 20 years ago, the roads we had traveled together have been covered over by the dust of time. We’ve raised our families, lost loved ones on all sides, seen children marry and start families of their own, and all the things that happen during a lifetime.

Lifetimes Within Lifetimes

I’ve learned that when it comes to families and connections, 20 years is a lifetime. The elderly aunts I remember have all passed on along with a few from their daughters’ generation. We’ve even lost one from my generation during the years of disconnection, and are likely to lose a couple more in the next few years. Frankly, I’m not expecting to be a part of their grieving process any more than they have been part of mine. It is what it is.

I have been an outcast from my own family for most of my adult life and the truth is, more often than not, I’m relieved. A Jewish family who escaped the persecution in Russia and Poland to emigrate to the United States and Canada carries a lot of angst. In many members of my family, that angst is embedded in their very souls and passed on from generation to generation. The fact that I’ve learned to release much of my share essentially severed my connection. Without intending to, I’ve torn myself loose from the fabric which weaves the family into a single piece of cloth. By necessity, they rewove that fabric to hide the hole I’d left, perhaps using my sister as the thread which would most efficiently cover the gap.

Empaths Create Their Own Rules

I believe the story has unfolded for a reason. I was given the sometimes dubious gift of Empathy for a reason. Despite being born into a family with a long history of trauma and upheaval, I had to learn how to manage my gift or go quietly insane. I chose the former and am learning how to use it to help others. My personal traumas have been the best teachers.

I savor the connections which have been tentatively re-established, but know I will always be one of the family outcasts. That is the role I came here to assume. Sometimes, breaking free is the first step in healing a wound that stretches back many generations. I may not have chosen the easiest path. I may have even chosen the loneliest one. But I believe the path I chose is the most rewarding one of all.

With Love and Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to my family for giving me the space I needed to find my own way.
  2. I am grateful that I’ve learned to let go of blame, anger, bitterness, and resentment to love and accept the people who gave me life, no matter what direction their lives or actions might have taken them.
  3. I am grateful for the challenges I’ve faced which allow me to be an advocate not only for those who’ve lost someone to suicide, but for those who chose suicide as their exit plan.
  4. I am grateful for the love and support I receive from the family I’ve attracted around me. Though most are not blood, they love and accept me as my blood family aren’t able to because I’m just too different.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, love, motivation, support, guidance, allowing, creativity, energy, peace, harmony, health, happiness, 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!

Quieting the Monkey Mind

A Gentle Shove in the Right Direction

A few days ago a friend made me promise to watch a certain episode of “Chef’s Table” on Netflix. She didn’t say why, just made me promise to watch.

Friday night rolled around and I wanted something relaxing to do while eating the Chinese food I’d been craving for days despite knowing it wasn’t the best thing I could be eating. Sometimes you just have to let the craving win and go back to better habits after! I’ve found it keeps me from binging on a lot of stuff I don’t really want because I can’t find what I do want.

But I digress. I remembered the promise and opened Netflix on my computer. Clearly they saw me coming because the show was the very first one on the opening screen. Now, she’d mentioned a couple of episodes in our conversation, so I couldn’t remember exactly which one she’d asked me to watch, remembering only that it was Episode 1 from either Season 2 or 3.

Unlikely Inspiration Via Chef’s Table

I watched the one from Season 2 and though it was excellent and very inspiring. It showcased a chef who’d overcome cancer and the after-effects of treatment to become an even better, more adventurous chef, which says a lot as he was already known for his incredible talent in creating unique, surprising dishes. Yet I felt it wasn’t the right one.

I went back to the episode list looking for what she intended I watch and found an episode about a Buddhist monk in Season 3. Bingo! I knew that was the one she felt would inspire me.

To say the episode opened my mind to new possibilities would be like saying the birth of your first child will make a few changes in your life.

Meditation Over Vegetables

The monk, Jeong Kwan, joined the monastery when she was only 17, making a life choice unfathomable to most of us. She brought with her a love of cooking she’d learned from her recently deceased mother and had internalized as an outpouring of the nurturing of a mother as well as a monk.

I really connected with her story when she talked about cooking as a form of meditation. I get the same feeling when I’m chopping up vegetables for a stir-fry and on a lesser scale, when making a pot of chili or some other batch I’ll later portion out and freeze. There’s something cathartic about chopping up fresh vegetables and combining them into a healthy, nutritious dish which is very soul soothing.

Meditating in Unlikely Places

The episode came back to me while writing my morning pages and I started thinking about other places and situations where I find the peace and tranquility of a meditative state.

The obvious ones are dancing and walking in nature. But my nature walks typically include at least one friend. In fact, every Friday, it’s the same friend, and we tend to chat most of the time we’re walking.

I was about to rule that one out when I realized it really is peaceful and there’s no set plan to our conversation. In fact, it’s kind of a vocal morning pages. We say what’s on our minds, wandering from subject to subject without thought or plan. My muscles warm as we move and our pace is steady and even (assuming we’re not climbing over rocks, of course!). When we’re done, I always feel good both physically and mentally, so why can’t that be a meditation? It’s like dancing but the music is our voices and the sounds of nature around us.

My thoughts wandered to other activities I’ve been taking for granted and I easily found two more meditative practices I’ve simply fallen into.

Sleeping Better, Waking Better

The first is my bedtime ritual. When I lay down at night, I lay on my back and do some neck stretches. Then I just let my body relax and release all of the tension from my neck, spine, and back before assuming my typical sleeping position on my side with my arm draped across one of the extra pillows. I use that time to settle both myself and the cats who snuggle with me. They take turns settling beside or on top of me and getting a few strokes. Pretty soon, I’ll have two or three of them purring softly beside me. Only then do I roll over and fall almost immediately to sleep.

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Toby

Scrappy Doo relaxing

Scrappy Doo

The second is just the opposite; my morning wake-up ritual. Quite often, I’m woken by Toby or Scrappy Doo playing the blinds or digging at the covers. Unlike humans who have used technology to subvert the demands of our circadian rhythm, cats are motivated by the rising and setting of the sun. Sure, they sleep about 18 hours a day, but in my house, when the sun comes up, they’re appetite alarms are sure to follow, despite the fact that dry food is available 24/7. Once they see I’m awake, I become the base for a cat pile of purrs and snuggles.

Like my night time ritual, by the time I’m fully awake, I’m calm and relaxed. Since I’m no longer at the mercy of someone else’s time table, I’m free to carry that relaxation into my own personal morning rituals. Part of that is the aforementioned morning pages which I also find to be strangely meditative. There’s something about having to slow my thoughts down enough to make it from brain to hand to pen to paper which is similar to slowing my breathing.

Learning to Get Out of My Own Way

I realize as I’m writing that a huge part of the black hole which absorbed any desire to write over the last couple of months has to do with something else Jeong Kwan mentioned. To paraphrase, she said that in order to be creative, you have to let go of ego. Although she was referring to the creativity of her cooking which is both delicious and beautiful, I felt one of those mental jolts when I saw her words translated on the screen.

The fears I’ve been feeling, the lack of confidence, the I’m not good enoughs…those are all my ego talking. Even my inability to answer the question Carolyn Maul recently posed: “What is your unique selling proposition (or USP for you copywriters out there)?” is tied to ego and lack of confidence. I have to ask myself, if ego wasn’t getting in my way, couldn’t I find at least a couple of things I’m especially good at which set me apart from other writers out there?

In Search of My USP

My friend Cruz is always telling me that she loves what she calls “raw Sheri” (usually when she’s kicking my butt over my lack of confidence). What I think she means is the writing I do which is unfiltered and completely honest. She prefers it when I just dive into a topic without a preface, prologue, or any other lead-in. Kind of like a cannonball into the pool, without a care for where or how I land.

But is that raw honesty enough to call my USP? Guess I’ll have to quiet the monkey mind and find the answer through one of my meditations.

Over to You Now. Share What Smooths Your Path.

How do you quiet your monkey mind? How do you still the ego so you can let your creative side out (and don’t say you don’t have one. We all do! It just takes different forms). What have you been doing that’s meditative and you didn’t even realize it? Step back and look at things you do regularly which make you feel calm and relaxed. You might be surprised by what you find.

For all I learn, for all who share, for all who read my words, I am grateful.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends and coaches who help peel me apart from my ego.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who share things they know will inspire me.
  3. I’m grateful for the realization that there are many ways to accomplish the same thing. Some work better than others at times, but they’re all beneficial.
  4. I’m grateful for the increased energy a few well-placed suggestions from friends can give me. Sometimes, motivation just needs a plan of action.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; energy, motivation, inspiration, friendship, self-confidence, dream manifestation, writing, reading, love, joy, 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!

Feature photo courtesy of Stephen Bowler via Flickr

Universe-driven Inspiration: Introducing Life Coach Carolyn Maul

As the New Year Slips By

For the last couple of months I’ve been floundering. No, floundering would infer that I’ve actually been trying to accomplish something. The truth is, I’ve been treading water…barely.

I’ve made a few feeble attempts to drum up business, but the Universe in its infinite wisdom seems to direct my attempts into that black hole wherein lives my despair. I followed up on an interesting lead and even shared the email I wrote with someone I trust implicitly (and despite her own challenges, is one kick-ass salesperson!) who told me it was a good pitch. That was over a week ago and the silence is deafening.

When my daughter opined today that it was already March, my frustration wanted to reach through the phone and choke the words back down her throat. “It’s not March yet!” I insisted.

But it may as well be. Forgotten Victims is no further along than it was in January, aside from finally having transcribed my handwritten outline of the first 13 chapters (now that’s ominous, isn’t it? I’ve only written 13 chapters. I can hear the clanging of the dungeon door as I write those words).

Despite all of the doom and gloom there are always those guiding lights; those sparks of inspiration; those words of encouragement which keep me going on this path I set for myself over 3 years ago. I still visualize myself as a successful writer with my memoir and several novels gracing the shelves of Barnes and Noble; the web pages of Amazon.com.

The Spark I Didn’t See Coming

Every once in awhile, you encounter someone who commands the attention of men and women alike, not by their actions, but by their presence.

Such was the case for me this weekend when I started a conversation with a woman I’d noticed at the club where I dance. She typically hangs out across the dance floor from my usual spot, but I could not help noticing her; the way she holds herself, the sheer confidence in her manner. I admit it. She has qualities I aspire to but am still learning how to achieve. To say she is striking is to understate it by a thousand degrees or more, but words escape me. Yes, I know that’s unbelievable for one who regularly says what she has to say in 10,000 words or more. The lack of words alone should be enough to demonstrate the quiet, serene power of a woman whose presence is palpable, even across a crowded dance floor.

Recognizing Inspiration, Whatever Form it Takes

We talked about what we do and I gave her my card. She reached out to me today, and offered me a chance to take a closer look at what is behind her amazing presence.  Carolyn Maul is a Life Coach, but like none I’ve ever seen. She completely embodies the words she speaks and the advice she gives.

After reading just a couple of her blog posts, I felt a renewal of that spark which started me writing Forgotten Victims what now seems like eons ago. As difficult as it has been to resume work on it and to embark on the long road to pitching a non-fiction project to publishers, I feel better about getting out of my own way and allowing the words to flow again. I can finally admit that the words are dammed up because I’ve built the dam. The only way to take that dam down is brick by brick. The bricks are my words and thoughts on a painful and difficult part of my life, but one which I know needs to be shared to a wider audience.

I can’t do that unless I truly commit to finishing it, some of which is going to involve reaching out to fellow writers to learn some of the things they do to finish their own projects and set achievable deadlines. I am truly my own worst enemy, and relegate my own work to the bottom of the pile. I’d never treat a client the way I treat myself. It’s time I listened to the advice I’ve been so freely given and treat myself like the best client on my roster.

A Life Coach for Type A’s

So thank you, Universe, for putting Carolyn in front of me, and forcing me to pay attention. And if you are a Type A personality (which I, admittedly am not) who could use a little help achieving your goals, do yourself a favor. Take a few minutes to watch her introductory video and browse her blog. Maybe even take her quiz. You might, like me, find the inspiration or the motivation to push past the blocks which stand between you and your dreams.

Always so Much to be Grateful For

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the down times as they give me time to build up the energy for the long stretches of intense effort.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to meet new people and get out of my comfort zone which frankly, has become pretty boring lately.
  3. I am grateful for the pain in my life which can and will be faced. Which by so doing could just help someone else who’s lived a similar trauma.
  4. I am grateful for loss as it makes me appreciate the good times and the little things all the more.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, inspiration, Universal head slaps, friendship, dancing, learning, challenges, peace, harmony, letting go and holding on, joy, 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!

Photo courtesy of Arseni Mourzenko via Flikr

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