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

Posts tagged ‘kindness’

Promise in the Sunrise

The Phoenix and the Sunrise

The Sun card in the Spiral Tarot is an image which has always uplifted me, but it wasn’t until I’d faced yet another spell of darkness that I realized the image is essentially a Phoenix. As I mulled over my epiphany, I thought about what the Phoenix represents and how the Sun really is a Phoenix every day. It rises every morning, bringing with it promise and hope of a day we can use to be the best of ourselves, spreading joy, love and hope to others. At night, it sinks into the sea (or at least it does where I live), to rise again the next day.

We have only the moment at hand to be and do our best; to spread kindness, to take another step on our path towards our dreams and goals. Tomorrow isn’t promised, and yesterday is no more than a pile of ash. For me, life is truly the Phoenix/Sun, but for a little while, I lost sight of it.

Seeing the Lessons Life Brings Us

Life brings us reminders, both subtle and intense to help us learn and grow. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to get caught up in our thoughts, our daily struggles, and the trouble and strife in the world where we live. When we get caught up, we lose sight of the wonder and beauty waiting patiently until we stop, breathe, and be in the moment. It’s easy to forget we’ve handled whatever life threw at us all our lives, or how pointless it is to worry about something until it’s actually here and requiring our attention.

I, for one need little reminders. Not just the ones the Universe sends me, but those I create myself, like a picture of the Sun card posted above my computer to remind me each day is a brand new gift for me to open and show my gratitude. Or a picture of myself as a young child as a reminder to speak and think kindly to the woman I am now.

Remembering to Breathe

You’d think because I no longer punch a time clock or work according to someone else’s arbitrary definition of a work day I’d be more likely to take time to stop, breathe, and look around at the wonders of my world. Yet too often I still crawl deep inside myself in not-so-blissful oblivion of little things like how each day is a rebirth, a renewal, and an opportunity to start all over again.

Last weekend I visited my daughter and son-in-law who live about a 3 hour drive away. As I typically do, I made the drive down late at night after dancing in order to miss the traffic. Needless to say, there’s not a lot to see while driving through the pitch-black night so it’s easy to focus on one of two things: being in the moment and enjoying the peace and quiet of a solo drive, or my mind ticking away at a million and three things I want or need to do.

Though I’d planned on leaving in the evening (which in hindsight would have been harder as I’d be driving into the setting sun), plans changed and I embarked on the return journey mid-afternoon. The first thing I recognized in the first half hour was it is an incredibly beautiful drive. The route I take goes through miles of open spaces dotted here and there with cities and mega malls. Even the 20-mile stretch where one city blends into the next, the mountains are still visible from the highway.

Staying in The Now

This time, I made a conscious decision to focus completely on getting home safely, paying attention and being in the moment. Every time my mind tried to drift to all the “shoulds” in my life, I gently pulled it back into the moment. Maybe it was a cloud that looked like a crocodile with it’s mouth wide open, or a particularly beautiful stand of trees marching atop a buff and green hill. Either way, I was immediately back in the moment, or what Eckhart Tolle calls “The Now”.

The funny thing about being in “the Now” is you don’t really notice time passing. Small delays are a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery. Most of all, you get where you’re going and are a little surprised to find you’re already there, and more, that almost 3 hours has passed though it seems like no more than moments. In short, watching the time and trying to calculate when you’ll get from here to there makes it seem like forever. Enjoying each moment for itself makes those moments seem to fly by as one blends into the other.

Clothed in Kindness

What really surprised me about the drive is after I told myself it would take as long as it took to get home, I encountered very few delays, and each one was fairly short, at least given the amount of time it took me to reach home. Highways which typically carry too many cars were almost empty. Events which normally have drivers on either side stopping to gawk were barely a blip on everyone’s radar. People were considerate about allowing others to merge and change lanes, even in places where they’re suddenly trying to navigate 3 or 4 lanes in order to make an interchange.

Was I just seeing what I wanted to see? Did I have a bubble of kindness around me because of the attitude I adopted when I embarked on my journey? I don’t have the answers to those questions. All I have is gratitude for a safe, uneventful trip. That’s enough for me.

We can look at our world and see a series of challenges, trials and tribulations, and more than our share of failures. We can also look at it as a single moment in which we choose to experience joy and connection. Either way, we’ll get what we expect.

Breaking the Cycle of Worry and Anticipation

Like many people, I spent a lot of years feeling like I was fighting an uphill battle; at work, at home, with life in general. I was essentially in a holding pattern. Not sinking very low (at least I’d managed to get through that cycle), but never rising very high either. My attitude of resignation was equivalent to putting a cinder block on my head and removing my ability to look up and out of the cave I’d built myself.

Breaking free of old cycles hasn’t been easy, and if I’m honest, has come at the cost of some things I once believed important. I still have days when I slide back into old patterns and let worry and woe overtake me. But I’m also able to recognize the reminders all around me to appreciate the moments and allow things to come to me in their own time and manner.

Worry, like anticipation makes whatever we believe is coming seem monstrous. We imagine the best or the worst instead of allowing perfection to unfold in its own way, and often miss those amazing moments because we’ve geared ourselves up to expect something else. At those times, I remind myself to look to the sunrise for guidance and inspiration. The sun doesn’t rush to rise any more than it does a swan dive into the sea rather than await the gentle slide downward each evening.

Stop and Watch the Sunrise

We can learn a lot from watching the sun rise and set, or a flower slowly open its petals to the sun. Everything happens in its right and proper time. By remaining quiet and alert, we are in the right place and mindset to clearly see the next step in our journey and take it without hesitation.

Today, what I’m working on may not generate income in the foreseeable future. This might be a time to build a foundation, or even erect a couple of walls of the structure I’m creating for my new life. Tomorrow, I might put in 18 hours on client work, or 12 on a proposal for a new client. Or I could just take the day off and go to the beach and write. I don’t know when I lay my head down at night what the next day will bring. I don’t even know when I get up and start my morning routine. I only know I need to be aware and awake so I’ll recognize the clues when they appear.

Staying in the flow takes practice as our nature insists we push things along. We’re in a society which thrives on instant gratification and becomes anxious and frustrated when forced to wait. Yet the most valuable things in life are those we don’t rush, don’t push, but instead, wait patiently, taking our baby steps, and allowing ourselves to be amazed as they unfold.

May we allow our child-selves to emerge and see life through eyes of amazement.

Finding Gratitude Everywhere

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for life’s little reminders.
  2. I am grateful for my child-self who reminds me to wait, watch, and be amazed.
  3. I am grateful for my moments of darkness because they give way to moments of intense light and beauty.
  4. I am grateful for my quiet time for contemplation, creation, and revelation.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, light, beauty, new experiences, wisdom, lessons, friendships, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

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Creeping Nostalgia

Letting the Mind Out for Spontaneous, Unfettered Play

After one of the busiest weekends in longer than I can remember, I finally found some down time, and my mind took the break like a kid who explodes out the classroom doors on the last day before summer vacation.

At last it was free to do what it does best; run amok. No line dances to try to memorize or two-step patterns to concentrate on. No trails to navigate, conversations to follow and participate in, memories to share. What’s an ADD brain on freedom to do?

One Thought Leads to Another in Typical Non-Linear Fashion

I tried turning on my Rascal Flatts station on Pandora in a futile attempt to corral it a bit. Not one of my better ideas. Each song made me more nostalgic. When “The Rose” came on, I felt tears pricking my eyes. It was the perfect song for my son-in-law’s grandmother who passed a couple of days ago. Elizabeth was the sweetest, most amazing lady I had the pleasure to know, even if it was only for a few short years. Through more than her share of life’s tragedies and heartaches, she was always cheerful, peaceful, charming, and witty. She left a lasting mark on everyone she met.

The one song and her memory made every subsequent song bittersweet, which struck me as odd because many of the songs on this station aren’t really nostalgic. But memories are funny things. So often, a song, a word, a person; unrelated yet somehow fitting sends us down a path of old experiences. Friends who’ve come and gone. Trips we’ve taken. The mistakes we’ve made…and the triumphs. It all comes rushing back like yesterday once more.

All We Really Need is Love to Make Us Better People

It all comes back, eventually, to love. The love I’ve felt but never expressed. The love I’ve yet to experience. The love I’m only now learning to open my heart to. And the love that’s been there all along, had I only crawled out of my shell to see it.

So I sit here listening to song after song, feeling just a little sad, and not entirely sure why.

Do I feel like I’ve missed out? If so, as the saying goes, I ain’t dead yet. I still have time to live my life and experience the things I think I’ve missed.

Do I feel I could have done more? See above.

Do I regret the unkind thoughts I’ve had and words I’ve spoken? That I can change. And should. And will.

I realize that part of what makes life good, gives us memories which give rise to the nostalgia is the sharing, the reaching out; but more, allowing ourselves to enjoy new experiences.

Comfort Zone Be Gone!

After making some enormous changes a few years ago, I settled back into a life so predictable you could have set a calendar by it. It’s no wonder my blog posts were few and far between for awhile. Life in a rut leaves nothing particularly interesting to impart.

Something inside me was clamoring for adventure, apparently. In the last few days, I’ve booked a cruise a year from now, spontaneously went to a day long dance event, and, the piece de resistance? I’ve agreed to start increasing my hikes until I’m ready to hike the Grand Canyon with some friends. Was it only a few weeks ago that a 3 mile hike on the flat path along the wash was enough to exhaust me? Or when 2 nights a week of dancing was plenty, both for the exercise and the exposure to people?

Is this blast of nostalgia for the comfort zone I’ve so casually kicked to the curb of late? One final good-bye to the person I was before embracing who I’m becoming?

Maybe in a small way, I’m wishing I’d let this person emerge years or even decades sooner. But as with everything else, I know this is exactly the right time. Along with the nostalgia, the questions, and even the edge of sadness is a great, heaping mound of gratitude.

Grateful for So Many Gifts

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who are leading me away from my comfortable but boring life.
  2. I am grateful for adventures and moving into areas I’d never have believed I’d be navigating.
  3. I am grateful for patience and encouragement; skills my friends these days possess in abundance. May I learn from them and give back the same to others.
  4. I am grateful for my ADD brain which travels to parts unknown on a regular basis, but never leaves me bored or without thoughts and questions to ponder and pursue.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, intelligence, friends, new experiences, reminders of my own imperfections, joy, health, happiness, peace, harmony, inspiration, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Emotions Disconnected

Feeling Disconnected Again

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

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

Going Off of Auto-Pilot

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

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

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

Questioning Old Habits

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

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

Taking a Turn for the Better

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

Turning the Protective Mechanisms Off

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

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

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

Opening a New Door in the Healing Process

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

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

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

For Each Experience, I Am Truly Grateful

Tonight’s gratitudes are:

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

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

January 3, 2014 Getting sidetracked

Best of intentions are seldom enough to get the story writ.

I left the dance hall tonight I had it all planned out. I was going to go home, make a cup of one of the lovely teas I unearthed while organizing today, sit down at the computer and write. It’s now 1:03AM and I have yet to write a thing! Even now, I’m dividing my time between writing this post and talking to a new friend. We met over a Tarot spread tonight, and spent a couple of hours helping each other interpret our cards. I won’t say it was wasted time because I learned a lot in the process, but yet, it didn’t get any writing done, here or on my latest novel.

I know I need to exercise more discipline, and my intentions really are good! I even spent some time on the copywriting course tonight before I went dancing. I also know that I need to minimize distractions, and have been good in the past about turning off everything except what I need to write.

This is the year when I will turn off email and social media for blocks of time every day.

A key part of sticking with my resolution to be kinder to myself is to allow myself to be successful. In order to do that, I have to make time to write and study, not just when I feel like it, but every single day. It’s a lot like my commitment to my gym routine. There are no excuses! Or should I say, there’s no such thing as a good excuse. Which is why, at just after 1 in the morning, I’m still up and making sure I do some kind of writing before I sleep. If you can’t keep a promise to yourself, you’re not going to be much good at keeping them with others.

***Topic Change Alert*** Speaking of having to be good to yourself before being good to others, I am reminded of how important it is to love, nay, to be madly in love with yourself. It took me a long time, but I’ve finally learned that until you can honestly say that you’re madly in love with yourself, you’re not likely to attract someone who will love and appreciate you as you deserve. Now, I’ve become pretty darned deserving over these last few years, yet I seem to be lacking an ingredient which will complete the circle.

Which leads me back to the new friend I made tonight. We were discussing the cards we’d each pulled for a Relationship Spread a gentleman posted tonight. My quandary was having gotten a card which meant “wish fulfillment” in a position which was supposed to answer the question: What am I doing that is an obstacle to finding an appropriate love partner? What I now realize is that my mindset is that I have everything I need emotionally, which keeps me from presenting an openness which might allow someone to breach my walls. In other words, loving yourself isn’t enough if you don’t acknowledge the fact that you also want to share that loving, caring person with somebody besides your pets and children.

This is just another example of how I allow myself to get sidetracked, however. So I will wind this up with tonight’s gratitudes so I’ll get up at a reasonable hour tomorrow to start following my plan and writing/studying!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new perspectives.
2. I am grateful that I can crank out a few words, even when distracted.
3. I am grateful that I recognize when I need to make some changes.
4. I am grateful for another night of dancing with some lovely company.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, inspiration, commitment, love, joy, happiness, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Blessed be.

December 31, 2014 The one New Year’s resolution we should all make.

As I see it, most New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken.

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions as a rule. After all, aren’t most of them broken within the first month? But this year, I realized that there was one resolution, more a promise to myself, that I wanted to get on record. It is the kind of resolution which is both all encompassing and sufficiently vague as to be break resistant. So, without further ado, here is my single 2015 New Year’s Resolution:

I hereby resolve to be kinder to myself, beginning with 2015.

If I learned nothing else in 2014, it is that kindness, like forgiveness, begins at home. When we are kinder to ourselves, that kindness overflows into the rest of our lives and positively impacts everything we say and do. Sure, I’m still working on the forgiving part, and will, along with kindness, be working on it for the rest of my current human existence…and probably well beyond that! I believe that making a promise to yourself to begin is the first step we need in order to succeed.

So this is me, promising myself kindness, and taking the first step to make it so.

A New Year blessed with kindness, please
To self, to nature, let’s all believe.
It matters not to whom we pray
Take one step forward every day.
Try love and forgiveness with every breath
From now until this body’s death.
A loving gift, our soul will take
Into the next life that we make.
This is the gift I give to thee
As I will, so mote it be.

A blessed and Happy New Year to one and all.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people who allowed me to touch their lives this year.
2. I am grateful for my daughter who helps me be a better me.
3. I am grateful for my friends, both old and new, who have, by their wonderful examples, helped me see where I need to make improvements in myself.
4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned this year. Many are invaluable if I’m going to follow my true path.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, lessons, joy, harmony, understanding, faith, happiness, health, peace and prosperity. May we all find what we need in 2015, and carry our lessons well into the future.

Blessed Be.

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