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

Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

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

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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

Confessions of a Book Addict

A Book Once Bought is Never Wasted

I am a hopeless book buyer. I come alive between the shelves of a bookstore, searching for hidden gems, and books which leap off the shelf as if summoned by some inner quest. The result is shelves overflowing with books, many of which I’ve yet to read.

In the last couple of years, I’ve had some of these books suddenly tumble from a shelf, as if magnetized by either a need or a readiness to embrace what lies between its pages.

It happened again yesterday when Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits fell into my grasp, answering a quest I was unaware I’d begun. At first, I was put off by the overtly Christian direction she discussed in the introduction, but knowing it’s arrival in my hands was no accident, I turned to Chapter 1 and began reading.

Soon, I was engrossed in her words and saying “oh yeah!” to myself with every other sentence. I discovered, like many authors, she writes from what she knows, not from the traditional doctrine I’ve come to associate with Christianity in particular and organized religion as a whole. Her journey has taken her down many roads and the fullness of her experiences comes through in how openly she discusses her own challenges and lessons.

Learning the True Meaning of Waiting

I have to admit, I don’t even remember buying the book. I can’t even tell from the tag where I might have purchased it. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is it made it into my library and waited patiently until fate, circumstance or some other force deemed the time right for me to find answers in its pages.

In the first couple of chapters, Ms. Kidd talks about the value of waiting, comparing the process of a caterpillar waiting in its cocoon until the time is right to emerge as a butterfly. I realized as I read (part of the time, in the middle of a crowded restaurant where I easily tuned out the noise of other diners and wait staff) that the time between quitting my job in December of 2013 and now has, in it’s own way been my period of waiting. In that time, I’ve tried many things as a means only to earn money. I’m not ashamed to admit most of them have failed. What has worked, surprisingly enough is when I allow work to flow to me; allow myself to be open to whatever the Universe has in store for me. Only then am I brought together with people who are important to my own spiritual development, and thus, my growth and success.

Life by the Numbers

Talking to friends last night, we got on the subject of year numbers. When I quit my job, I was coming to the end of a “4” year and embarking on a “5” year. Creative Numerology provides the following regarding a “4” year:

Whatever you want to happen, you have to make it happen. A strong Will is needed. However, it is in the 4 year that we realize that our Will is not free at all because we have repressed it with a limited vision of our potential. 4 can make you feel restricted and boxed-in by circumstances that really are ‘beyond your control’, and knowing how you feel is the only way to know what to do next. It is from your feelings that creativity is born and, thankfully, your experiences along the down-to-Earth 4 year road will make emotional denial almost impossible.

I can attest to the fact that I did a lot of soul-searching and talking to people in my healing class before taking what was then, and remains even in hindsight a huge leap of faith. I left a comfortable if stagnant life as a corporate controller to enter the blinding uncertainty which accompanied following my passion as a writer. Three years later, a look at my finances would render this experiment/experience a dismal failure, but is it really? I’m happier, healthier, have 3 novels in progress, have resurrected my memoir and a children’s book I wrote years ago. I’ve expanded my knowledge on a variety of subjects and joined communities of people whose thinking complements mine. My stress level is lower and I’ve released over 20 pounds. How is this a failure?

Creative Numerology’s explanation of the “5” year includes the following paragraph which certainly defined my choices in 2014:

Regardless of what is happening globally, the world is opening up for you now, and is inviting you to experience it to the fullest. Yes, experience itself is what is on offer this year. In order to receive it, and in order to retain your freedom, some mistakes may have to be made. Remember that a mistake becomes experience when its lesson is learned and not repeated. Allow your mistakes to evolve into expertise. Alexander Graham Bell, for instance, invented the telephone by mistake. He was actually trying to invent a hearing aid. One of the biggest mistakes you could make this year is giving up on something before you have given yourself the opportunity to experience it in a state of freedom. You do not always have to lose what you have in order to get what you want. Guilt, disguising itself as fear, makes you feel this way.

Reflection and Appreciation

I certainly had my share of false starts in 2014. That was the year I tried AWAI’s copywriting course and after several months of slogging through it, I discovered it just wasn’t for me. It was also the year I completed the NaNoWriMo novel I’d begun in 2014; the novel which has now been revised a couple of times and will soon be picked apart and spreadsheeted to make sure the flow, the characters, and the energy really work. It was the year I began my second NaNoWriMo, A Dubious Gift which I’ve yet to either revise or spreadsheet. And it was the last year I did any real work for my former employer.

It was a year of learning what didn’t work; a year of trying hard to accept that doing something just for the money was doomed to failure, yet continuing to try until my ego was bloody from the effort. But it was also a year when I was able to discard many unworkable options.

From 2014 until now, I have certainly spent a lot of time waiting. Waiting for inspiration. Waiting for something to hit me which would actually be revenue generating. Waiting to understand my true passion. Waiting to figure out which book I should endeavor to publish first.

Emerging from the Cocoon

But mixed in with all of the waiting, I found my own essence. I continued to learn about accepting the actions of others without judgment or personalization. I learned that my parents followed their own path, inexplicable to me, but necessary to them. I learned that sharing my struggles to understand, to forgive, to accept, and to heal would actually help me achieve all of that and more. And it would allow me to do what had, up to that point, escaped me. I was able to help others struggling with the same kind of trauma and let them know they weren’t alone in all of the emotions they were feeling. Nor were they ever to blame.

All of this waiting may have drained my financial resources, but it has been filling my spiritual reservoir at a steady pace. I have not always expressed my passion and now I see there are times to simply allow it to flow. So many times I had an idea for a blog post but neglected to jot it down somewhere, and it never came to fruition. I see now those things were simply meant for my personal growth and not for sharing.

So I say to you now, in the immortal words of Simon and Garfunkel: Slow down, you move too fast. Got to make the morning last. Just kickin’ down the cobblestones. Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.

There is a time and a season for movement, and there’s a time and a season for waiting and resting and listening. All too often, we honor one and not the other. The result is not just imbalance but a failure to be the whole and complete person we were meant to be. If you need a little help finding the power to control less and be more, I highly recommend Ms. Kidd’s book, Where the Heart Waits.

With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for serendipitous book falls.
2. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent waiting.
3. I am grateful for friends who have the right words at the right time to guide me on my journey.
4. I am grateful for missed opportunities.
5. I am grateful for abundance; epiphanies, knowledge, resources, friendship, dancing, fat release, joy, love, passion, purpose, peace, humor, 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!

Guest Post: From Losing My Job to Finding Myself

Tonight, I’m very pleased to present a guest post from a member of one of the communities to which I belong. These people encourage and support each other through whatever the personal journey might be. So please enjoy a break from my ADD style with a post from Nikita Ross.

It was the day I had been dreading for weeks: The day I would find out whether or not my contract was renewed. I tried to remain positive during the weeks leading up to the big meeting, but couldn’t shake the general feeling of malaise. In the eight weeks leading up to the end date on the contract, I had finally succumbed to a career girl’s worst nightmare: burn out. Despite my best efforts, the exhaustion had gotten the best of me, and I felt myself slipping in all aspects of my life.

As you probably deduced from the title, the contract was not renewed.

I started working when I was 12 years old. My first job was raking blueberries in the summers in addition to babysitting. If you ever get the chance to rake blueberries, don’t take it.

Though there were a few setbacks in my teen years, I became the golden child in college. One of my projects landed me on the radio and in Student Success magazine. I was on the fast track. So much of my identity became wrapped up in this idea of being a career woman that other integral parts of myself got put on the back burner; my love of literature, my creative writing, my easy going attitude, my parenting skills, my compassion, and understanding. Being driven is an asset. Being cold is not.

When the contract ended I found myself in a position I didn’t know how to handle. I had been working since I was a child. I was the girl who worked overtime and couldn’t stand beach vacations because the idea of doing nothing for so long would drive me crazy. With a history of depression and anxiety, I was not prepared for what happened when I lost everything:

I got really happy.

Sure, the first couple of weeks were full of crying jags and screaming “Who am I?” at the sky until the neighbors complained, but after the shock died down I felt strangely peaceful. As the weeks went by I found myself to be more patient, more compassionate, and much more relaxed.

While figuring things out life-wise, I was able to get back in touch with nature. I was able to help out family members who had been neglected due to the demands of my schedule with different tasks. I had quality time with my children, in a quantity I hadn’t experienced since maternity leave. I spent more time at the beach in the past two months than I had since my childhood. I’ve found the time to write again.

The biggest surprise was the notable decline in anxiety levels. It has since occurred to me that perhaps my inability to lay dormant on vacation had less to do with my love of being busy and more to do with the fact that I didn’t want to have the time to deal with some hard truths. I loved my job, but I’m not so sure I loved myself.

The future is a big question mark now. Maybe it always was. What I know is this: what I thought was the end of the world was the beginning of a better one. As the cliché goes, every cloud has a silver lining. I can only hope that anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation is able to find theirs.

NikitNikita Rossa Ross is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed bibliophile. When she’s not busy wrangling her children or plotting world domination, she can be found working away on her blog Strong in Body, Strong in Mind. An avid reader, runner, and weight lifter, Nikita believes that books and barbells have equal weight when setting goals for self-improvement.

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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