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

Posts tagged ‘kindness’

‘Tis the Season for Giving

Who Exactly Are We Giving To?

greedI can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received with the headline “‘Tis the Season to be Giving”. Every one of them is asking me to give them some money. Now granted, they all profess to be a charity in business to care for one cause or another, and I appreciate that. But do they really get much out of those email blasts? Or are most people like me and have the causes they support already set (sometimes in stone) every year?

Do those email blasts proclaiming it’s #GivingTuesday, or #MatchingMonday, or whatever other cutesy hashtag someone comes up with really make a difference for someone directly? Call me a skeptic, but somehow, I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong. I know many organizations including the ones I choose to support depend on the generosity of others to do the good work they do. But with so many putting their hands out via my email boxes (and I have several accounts so I get the same emails 5 or 6 times, minimum) could they be putting people off of giving because of the annoyance factor?

In my mind, it’s no different than the thrice-daily emails I get from certain companies telling me today’s sale is the best ever. Really? Isn’t that what you said about the last eleventy-seven days?

Giving More Of Myself and Less Money and Stuff

I suppose it’s a small thing to let bother me, but when you proclaim it the “Season of Giving” does that mean everyone and his brother either has his hand out for donations, or is exhorting you to buy, buy, buy?

Granted, in past years, I spent way too much on gifts, and was a great deal more generous with a variety of charities. My lifestyle has changed, and so has my outlook. Gifts are simpler these days, and the truth is, the season is a lot less stressful for me and my kids as a result. We focus on finding something very special but not overly extravagant for each other. As a result, the gifts and the holidays in general are more meaningful and exude togetherness, instead of consumerism.

Helping Charities Spend Less Time Fundraising

Call me jaded, but maybe the two factions should join forces. The companies exhorting us to buy might allocate a portion of all sales to the charities needing help—without raising prices in order to do it. I know it’s a lot to ask as retail stores depend on the holidays for a large portion of their revenue. But if they made it a year-long thing, they could allocate a smaller percentage of each sale and still make a sizeable donation.

In fact, I’ll bet the charities would love having smaller quarterly donations as their costs aren’t limited to once a year, but are incurred year-round. Although the animal charities I choose to support make a big push this time of year, they have various campaigns throughout the year. One has a $5 Friday campaign that goes on all year.

The same is true for charities like #GiveAnHour and Alliance for Hope. They all need operating funds to continue the work they do all year; not just in December or January. Granted, they do a big push like everyone else in hopes they’ll have funds to operate for a good portion of the next year.

Being Kind is the Right Thing to Do

What it all boils down to, in my mind is learning to be kind to each other https://www.flickr.com/photos/68716695@N06/29720272855/in/photolist-cidCGQ-cidAbW-oxdYzL-yNtP9-axVQZG-UVaRyd-oPHnHz-aEWSPf-cidEi3-cidDJj-pq3vki-cidGwb-cidAUs-cidzEm-cidGg5-6MaBxt-cidzzm-dRCmyq-7N6Ex-9i79bM-axVQZA-cidCsC-cidBSw-cidAyL-cidE3w-dY4eeu-cidBZG-8yJgxE-MhhaFv-Lk5teP-Lk5pNa-Lk5tT4-7M2d6q-cidG7W-7LXeC6-7LXeKr-WdN5Mm-5gktq-8zGa9M-9JanH2-ghRqpv-ehWVQY-LkYuxs-Sk3zxC-TnTsSY-pEomxJ-pEomes-PPJTdd-2aVQK6S-7VzqQP24/7/365. It’s realizing we don’t always need bigger, better, faster, more compact. Maybe we can invite someone into our home for a meal and some companionship instead of springing for an expensive meal for ourselves (and yes, I’m as guilty as the next person of this one).

Most of all, let’s not do a Random Act of Kindness (RAK), then brag about it all over social media. The purpose behind RAK’s is to do something from your heart without need or desire for recognition; because in  the end, it was the right thing to do. If you need recognition for being kind, I fear you’re lacking something important in your life no amount of self-proclaimed RAK’s is going to give you. 

It isn’t always easy to admit there’s a hole in your life or heart. Too many think they need outside validation, yet when they get it, the hole remains. But giving of yourself for the wrong reasons isn’t the answer either. In truth, I wish I had the answer and could heal the large numbers who walk around looking for the missing piece, little realizing the only place to find it is within themselves.

Giving of Your Heart and Time

The greatest gift I can think of is to give someone my time, but not to commiserate or help them fall more deeply into a pity party where there’s really only room for one. This season (and beyond) I’ll be looking for ways to help people cancel the pity parties for lack of interest. I’m not sure how much success I’ll have, but I feel like I have to try. 

The best part of my plan is it’s well within my budget, and won’t put me in debt (which is definitely stress-inducing). I’m reminded of the story of the boy on the beach who’s putting starfish back into the sea. When it’s pointed out he can’t save them all, he replies he’s saved the one he just put back. I can’t help everyone, nor am I supposed to. But there are so many out there. Together, we can make a sizeable dent in the number of people feeling sad, alone, and unworthy.

Making the Holidays About More than Money

To the charities begging for my help via email, they might as well take me off their list. Funds won’t be forthcoming this year. My charitable contributions are already set. As to the stores proclaiming the magnitude of their sales, you’ll not hear from me this year either. My shopping was done weeks ago.

The time I save by not wandering through the stores or piling up tons of things needing wrapping will be better spent on more human projects. I know I don’t have to look far to find people who simply need a bit of time. Even the Grinch learned his cold, broken heart could warm and grow, not by giving stuff, but by sharing a meal and giving of his not-so-cold-hearted self.

If I have a few dollars left over by not shopping, they will go to the charities I choose to support; whose causes I believe are important to the greater good. Thank goodness what’s important to me isn’t the same as what’s important to you, so in some way, everyone should get a little this year. And who knows? Maybe some of those email blasts will actually yield sufficient funds to continue the good work they do in 2020. Here’s hoping.

Giving the Gift of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned I have so much to give that doesn’t have a monetary value.
  2. I’m grateful for the delete button on my email program.
  3. I’m grateful for smaller, less financially burdensome holidays.
  4. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the hope I see.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, time well spent, kindness without reward or recognition, friendship, warm hearts, passion, inspiration, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

We All Get Depressed. Do You Go it Alone?

Alone Again, Naturally

Ever had one of those weeks where you started down the rabbit hole—and kept right on going? When you were fighting legions of ants, and the ants were winning? Where the lab work you’d scheduled was hung up at the insurance company because the doctor couldn’t see fit to do his part? When you got a rude awakening regarding who your friends really were, and how little even the real ones heard you whimpering in a ditch? When you knew you’d make it out eventually, but a hand up and help cleaning the abrasions and bruises would sure be welcome? When you realize all the talk about taking care of each other is well-received, but not so well acted on?

After living through one of those weeks, I’m coming to the conclusion alone truly is my natural state. When I do admit I’m struggling, the advice I’m given is so lacking in compassion, so full of “just suck it up. Get out of your house and do something” I realize all my posts about reaching out to people who are hurting are falling on ears deafened by years of hard knocks.

That’s when I remind myself I’ve managed to survive, and often thrive throughout my 60-odd years with little or no help from anyone. My daughter keeps telling me to ask for help, which is all fine and dandy if what needs fixed is a garage door, or a broken faucet. It’s an entirely different story when what’s broken is me. Funny, I learned not to ask for help for this very reason. All the times I told myself: “my friends have problems of their own” or “everyone is too busy to help me over this rough patch” turn out to be entirely accurate. They are all too busy, or immersed in their own problems. Why did I allow myself to believe it was any different?

We Learn to Detach, But is it the Best Way?

I understand though. They all have families, jobs, and a million other balls they’re trying to keep in the air. Some have serious health issues so why would they even begin to understand how freaked out I am that what’s going on with me has baffled my doctors for over 6 months, or that I’m fighting every step of the way to get answers? They already have theirs. One gently suggested my health issues might be resolved with psychiatry! As if I hadn’t written reams in my “eyes only” places about that possibility and come up empty handed…and still struggling.

It really makes me empathize with people who are depressed or suicidal. If they’re getting the responses I’ve been getting, maybe what we believe is true: nobody gives a flying fuck whether we live or die — unless we happen to have the bad taste to end things ourselves.

Even when I tried to explain that I needed to be sad for a little while, people were quick to refute my statement. How dare I take even one moment to be sad? What makes me believe I deserve to be anything but light-hearted and airy-fairy?

Re-setting My Mindset

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQI’m disappointed right now. In myself for believing; in the people around me who are slowly killing my hope; and for humanity as a whole which is so caught up in pretending to be OK, and failing to allow each and every one of us to be sad and need a little emotional support once in awhile that they don’t even mourn the loss of their humanity. Instead, they accept its demise like they accept the end of true communication.

Being without a computer for a few days gave me lots of time to think; lots of time to be completely disconnected.

Only 3 people actually reached out and I know they tried to understand. But their efforts were clumsy, either because it was a skill set that got little use, or because they didn’t know how to use it with me. I’m no less grateful for their efforts even if they mostly ended in frustration on both our parts.

Maybe that’s the real problem. We can talk ’til we’re blue in the face about being kinder; more compassionate. But we’ve lost the ability to actually be those things, or at least with someone we’re not close to and know well.

Sometimes I’m a Butterfly, and Sometimes, I’m a Turtle

Though I continue to fly like a butterfly, I’m starting to see I only do it from the safety of my https://www.flickr.com/photos/agathman/3650989528/in/photolist-6yCgZj-VVLoSu-7MroMo-7Qm6cs-5rbjmY-7Mr8VA-a1AWb-agdr42-7kAbcm-7MnazS-7MntX6-5SvNGx-5wLcys-5CmjGZ-6ots3g-z2ryt-bzCSo1-p9TuR-dCZKZb-aw63TG-9U8CDz-gTpsrQ-5wLcZY-nzJ3KU-7RT791-gTtH35-23uSAL-c2D2Jy-56nHTe-8r7R2L-4dsoz3-dQfRR7-8mBrMR-6iMmzx-d7tLjE-56nJb6-7Q4Z4U-7fX4B2-a7YTAy-23KksE-6Y6nkD-8cg7pv-dCUmcx-7LSJ6w-8ALqy6-cEVcBE-gFVXud-i2CNa-bd7Gkx-6v1NtKoffice with words on a screen. When it comes to real life; to giving and receiving compassion, I fear I’m destined to remain a turtle.

Still, the butterfly in me insists on getting up and flying once more, knowing if I hit another wall there will be no one around to straighten my wings or clean my wounds. For that, I’ll return to my turtle state until wounds heal or I’m ready to call it a day for the last time.

Yes, I always get back up and eventually resume my forward progress. Sometimes I’m more cautious but lately I realize I have nothing and no one to lose by forging ahead in my usual willy-nilly fashion. Those who feel the need to judge or disapprove quickly fall off my radar. Their opinions or rejections might sting for a minute but they ultimately fuel the inner fire that says “I will not allow you or anyone else to dim my light. You are operating from your own pain body. It has nothing to do with me, but says everything about you. The only person you limit with your behavior is yourself so screw you and the horse you rode in on!”

OK so I sound a little bitter. That’s on me and is one of the many things I choose to work through. My imperfections and pain body give me plenty to work on. But looking back for a brief moment, I see how far I’ve come. Most important, I see that progress was made alone; without anyone’s help. I’d like to continue believing life isn’t meant to be lived alone, but recent events prove otherwise. For now, it doesn’t matter that my absence goes unnoticed and unremarked. Someday, it might, but right now, I have enough on my plate that “someday” isn’t even on the menu.

Always Room for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my resilient and self-sufficient nature.
  2. I’m grateful for the few friends who at least try, despite their own heavy loads.
  3. I’m grateful for my daughter who does understand and somehow helps me beat the funkies.
  4. I’m grateful for my writing which has gotten me over the rough patches every time.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; stubbornness, tenacity, growth, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, letting go but not giving up, opportunities, inspiration, health, peace, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Embracing Our Inner Bitch

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

Sometimes, there’s no other choice but to stand our ground and not worry about what others think. After all, if we’re so busy pleasing everyone else, we’re neglecting the most important person in our own lives.

Recently, I had a conversation with a young woman about being called “bitch” both to my face and behind my back. She said for her, it was usually behind her back (which smacks of cowardice on the part of the name flingers, if you ask me). I said a had a few decades on her and a lot more practice at being firm, and even unpleasant if need be, so there were plenty who’d used the term to my face over the years, with less than the desired results.

Doing What’s Right

The funny thing is, most who use it intend it as an insult, but to me, it usually means I haven’t given them what they wanted, and above all, I have not been someone’s doormat. To me, being called a bitch affirms I’m not afraid to stand up for myself, my family, and my friends regardless of what others think.

Are there times I regret being forceful and immovable? Sure. Every once in awhile I discover I was in the wrong, and, if possible, do my best to apologize and own up to my mistake. Still, sometimes the best fix is to simply walk away. Engaging further when someone is already angry is guaranteed to escalate the situation rather than soothe it, mainly because everything you say from that point on is going to be wrong. As humans, once we’re angry, we tend to close down the listening side of our brain, replacing it with the reactive part.

Bitch is Often Another Word for Strong

There are many misconceptions about women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves, or just say no. We are not militant or frigid (as has often been appended to the “b” word for me). We simply believe in our own right to choose, and to defend those close to us from bullies and those who believe they have the right to shove their opinions down the throats of others.

We don’t hate men. Often, quite the contrary. We have many in our close social circle and, in many cases, a warm loving relationship too. (OK, so I’ve yet to figure that one out, but as I’m not dead yet, there’s still hope. And even some of my non-Jewish friends seem to have inherited the yenta gene of late!) I personally have a great deal of respect for the men I’ve come to know and love. But that love and respect goes both ways too.

All through history, strong, forceful women have gotten a bad rap. In the Corporate world what would be called “assertive” in a man would be “aggressive” in a woman. A man with strong leadership skills is respected and revered. A woman is “pushy”, or a “control freak”, or even a “ball buster”. The sad part is, some of the loudest complainers aren’t men, but other women. I think most of it is their own insecurities and even jealousy speaking. When they can’t be strong and assertive themselves, they’ve learned playing the weakling and tearing other women down can work to their advantage with the big, strong, menfolk.

Increasing Strength in Our Younger Generation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/17513112228/in/photolist-WfcVG3-sFzh7Q-7N47KL-bdHWBt-bdHsh8-bdJqxB-bdJqor-bdJq9F-bdGXdv-bdJ4UB-bdHajc-bdGXmk-bdJjLV-bdJjkB-6dHmj5-hXiifV-hXigTC-6dHn9w-6MEEFYI found myself at odds with women of my generation and even many younger than myself all too often while working for corporations both large and small. I haven’t worked as much with Millennials, but what I’ve seen socially is both inspiring and comforting. More and more of the young women I meet are strong, independent types who don’t allow people to push them around.

Many are entrepreneurs who are doing far better than I am at the moment, and from whom I’m learning a few new tricks. Their confidence and lack of concern over looking or acting perfect warms my heart, especially in light of all the reports of body shaming and other heinous acts meant to objectify and embarrass young women. The ones I know and see are happier in their skin than most of my generation learned to be. And they own it! Boy, do they own it!

What Others Think of Me Is None of My Business

The one thing we share is our amusement when someone sees fit to label us a bitch for being strong and self-assured. Many have already learned what took me decades:

What other people think of me is none of my business.

I actually had a former employee challenge me on this one time. In her opinion, I should care what others think of me. My question to her was Why? She didn’t have an answer which satisfied me, and frankly, I didn’t care. It was still someone else’s opinion, and was outside my own desire to understand.

Life is About Kindness and Compassion, Not Popularity

What truly matters isn’t what people think of us. It’s that we are kind and compassionate while https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhstill upholding our values and beliefs. Because someone doesn’t agree with my values and beliefs doesn’t make them wrong. It simply makes my standards wrong for them, and that’s OK. I never asked anyone to live by mine, nor am I willing to turn myself inside out to fit theirs just so they’ll like me.

Life ain’t a popularity contest. I couldn’t care less if I’m part of the “in” crowd. To be honest, it’s a lot more fun being a rebel. What matters is I’ve found the people who love and respect me for who I am without pretenses. They know what to expect, not because I’m conforming, but because I’m honest, transparent, and vulnerable. The people I’m drawn to these days value those qualities far more than a bunch of cookie cutter friends who try to look, act, and think alike.

Making Myself a Priority

I stifled my own entrepreneurial spirit for decades, and only made myself miserable in the process. I was stressed out, angry, irritable, and cranky most of the time—except when I was on a dance floor.

It’s no coincidence I learned to drop the pretenses when my life included regular dancing and a lot of internal work to heal the old wounds and self-limiting beliefs. It’s also when I learned to live a full, complete life, and to embrace my inner bitch.

A Daily Practice of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the example so many young women are setting today.
  2. I am grateful I learned to stop caring what others think of me.
  3. I am grateful to friends who’ve helped me own my honest, transparent, vulnerable self.
  4. I am grateful for my circle of friends which includes strong, straightforward women and men who appreciate us as we are.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, inspiration, vulnerability, transparency, strength, self-confidence, love, joy, friendship, community, 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

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

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.

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