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Posts tagged ‘Lessons’

Victim Mentality is an Insidious Symptom

Every Victim Brings a New Lesson

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Nothing sets my teeth on edge like someone who exhibits a victim mentality. I enter judgement mode without a nanosecond’s thought when someone launches into a diatribe about how co-workers, higher-ups, and everyone else they interact with in their work environment picks on them, holds them back, or otherwise abuses them. It doesn’t matter how many times they change jobs, the story remains the same.

It’s not only their jobs, but anyone who doesn’t give them what they want whenever they want it. Ultimately, this personality type will find someone who believes all their stories, and sympathizes no matter how outrageous and repetitive those stories become. The person becomes, if not an ally, a co-dependent dumping ground for all the woes they invent to support their own inability or lack of motivation to excel.

I realize it’s my own fault when I engage with them, whether I sympathize or judge. I spent a lot of years playing both parts, though without the afore-mentioned supporter. When I was the victim, I suffered alone, in a brooding silence which ultimately made people see me as angry and unapproachable. If others are a mirror into our own psyches, there’s clearly an element of that old victim mentality lurking inside me, waiting to be exhumed and exorcised. Meeting and reacting to someone else with those qualities is clearly a reminder to dig a little deeper, and make a few more incisions to ensure the demons of victim-ness are adequately expunged.

Another Narcissistic Game

Looking back, I can see how I allowed myself to act like a victim to offset the anger I felt but

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couldn’t express; anger at myself for not achieving more, but also anger with my parents for encouraging the belief I wasn’t enough. I didn’t know how to express the anger in the right direction, nor did I know how to change my own perceptions. That took time, experience, and some major internal excavations before I found the answers. My judgemental reaction to those who follow the same path is evidence I still have a lot of work to do.

What I’ve finally learned to do is two-fold. First, I put the perception back on the one playing victim, forcing them to choose, even if their choice is to do nothing. Second, I resist prolonging engagement when their ire over being thwarted spills onto me. I also learned I have to refrain from sympathizing when they, or their supporter launch, once again into a litany of the mistreatment and unfairness they’re suffering at the hands of co-workers and, in fact, the rest of the world.

Sadly, the behavior is somewhat insidious, and reminiscent of narcissistic behavior when it involves someone they’ve managed to lure to their side. It reminds me of the years I actually believed my alcoholic ex’s lies about his ex-wives, co-workers, and bosses which even included my own father for a time. I supported him, and believed his lies far longer than I should have. When I finished my degree and started getting better jobs I ultimately woke up to the dangerous game he was playing with my psyche. Even so, it took me years to start repairing the damage, and begin moving forward again.

Switching from Judge to Observer

As I watch people playing that game with others, I have to tell myself to lock down my judgemental tendencies even tighter, especially when the supporter is someone I care about. I know they wouldn’t thank me for pointing out what’s going on, nor would they believe me any more than I would have taken such information myself when I was in the mental and emotional clutches of, not only my ex, but others before him who recognized my need to please, nurture, and feel valued even if I didn’t. It’s a lesson each of us has to learn on our own, and in our own right timing.

Thus, my intolerance was born from learning to recognize the hidden agenda beneath the victim mentality. I learned the hard way that someone playing the victim can be one of the most self-serving, insidious creatures on the planet, and their prey of choice is Empaths who have not yet figured out all the tricks and ploys a Narcissist will enlist to have someone in their power.

In a weird way, most Empaths need to go through this rite of passage. We have to learn how to recognize the red flags that alert us to another Narcissist trying to suck us dry. The experience is never pleasant, and often brings out our own worst tendencies in the process. That isn’t such a bad thing, though. How else are we going to clear our own mental, emotional, and often physical closet if we don’t bring things out into the open to sort through, and discard what’s no longer needed?

Practicing Patience

My patience is taxed when I encounter another person who’s a victim in their own mind. patiencePerhaps therein lies the lesson I’m supposed to learn as patience has never been my strong suit, even if I’ve learned to exercise it more in recent years. I know I have a long way to go to perfect the quality.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in this journey called Life is every experience that upsets or irritates me contains a lesson I need to learn or perfect. As long as things keep bothering me, I know I have more internal work to do. As long as I have more internal work to do, I know my job and purpose are not yet complete, so I appreciate the reminders that I have a long way to go.

I may not always enjoy a leg of my journey, but I’ve learned there’s a reason behind each one. They all become clear if I keep moving forward, even when forward is a series of switchbacks, and even a few setbacks before my path gets smoother for a little while.

Grateful for Opportunities to Learn

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the twisty, turny paths my life has taken.
  2. I’m grateful for the journey, even the unpleasant parts. Every step has taught me something useful.
  3. I’m grateful for supportive friends and family who have made my journey more pleasant.
  4. I’m grateful for the roads I’ve yet to travel, and the mysteries and surprises I’ll unfold along the way.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; lessons, challenges, setbacks, successes, friendship, love, joy, happiness, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, peace, balance, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Namaste

 

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

Focus on the Task at Hand

Learning to Manage One Task at a Time

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I honestly believe I can multi-task, and do so efficiently. Sometimes it comes back to bite me in the butt, forcing me to acknowledge I’m much better at doing one thing at a time, and following it through, if not to completion, at least to a stopping point. When I start making stupid mistakes, or mis-sending texts and Facebook messages, I know I’ve reached the point where I’m trying to keep too many balls in the air, and they’re starting to fall, helter skelter around my feet.

I might try to pick them all up, but some keep falling out of my hands until I finally give up in frustration. If I let it get that far, I’m no good to anyone until I’ve walked away from it all and cleared my head by either meditating or doing something menial. Inasmuch as there’s always something to be cleaned or organized around here it isn’t a bad thing that I have to take a few steps back periodically. Maybe the Universe intentionally frustrates me so I can get to those tasks?

I’m particularly annoyed with myself when my lack of attention and concentration causes me to hurt someone’s feelings, or upset them. In truth, my communication skills can be clumsy enough at the best of times without adding the inattentiveness of my brain pre-coffee. Even if I’ve spent 30-40 minutes writing my morning pages, my brain doesn’t really engage until I’ve done my morning chores; making the bed, inserting contacts, feeding the cats, and fixing my breakfast. Those first few sips of coffee grease the wheels and make the gears engage more completely than all the movement or one-sided feline conversations could ever do.

Reeling Monkey Mind In

It isn’t easy to focus my attention on one task. In the midst of it, my brain wants to wander to at https://www.flickr.com/photos/52525615@N03/6290019994/in/photolist-azPZNA-pMAvoj-bZW7f7-ktt3qX-dmM9Nh-aiuvHt-9AZqjo-HroDJ-bgmHTc-6Yn6Gt-8qW4rV-7XtBPD-UgoaDG-8yA6ab-a9ECbd-PgYniP-6TiGs4-8CVWab-5Mco6D-uKKR-uULGS-GP7UJ-nGUuJn-b3sekX-4qJbEz-dWpWLD-a7FnDL-8KN6uk-nsnjLD-bf5xHt-9jrFVg-7ECRTt-9ccXQo-82Nw2x-JFdpdF-6PvtZ6-521MKn-eKJDMz-e59eoW-bDfUkn-ah3Q37-5UGd5P-8qZu27-ayTKRa-9xHr9N-hS5exi-9J3jPt-4Stp5J-8S5NwV-LAmruYleast 7 other things I want to do; none of which are critical. Yet I return to them because having them hanging over my head undone is annoying. I don’t believe I’ll ever reach the end of my personal to do list, if for no other reason than I can’t help adding things to it. These days, there’s very little on it other than my writing and administrative tasks which even need to adhere to a timeline.

Like the pile of dirty clothes in the corner of the room, or the dirty dishes in the sink, they’re things I get tired of looking at, but keep getting distracted every time they rise to the top of my list. I keep telling myself, I’ll get to it eventually. Don’t sweat it. But sweat it, I do, because I look at something I’ve been meaning to get to and like a spectre, it haunts me, both awake and in my dreams until I finally get tired of the reminders, stop whatever else I’ve deemed more pressing, and get it done.

Ceasing to Allow Waiting Tasks to Create Craziness

Right now, it’s a printer in what was once my office, pre-COVID. I had to buy a new one as I was having compatibility issues with my new computer, but months later, it’s still connected, and even available for printing if I want to walk to the back of the house to pick up the job. Meanwhile, the new one purrs happily on my dining room table where it’s used regularly, though infrequently, and the old one burns a little power, and collects dust.

I even got the box down from the rafters weeks ago, intending to pack up the printer and extra ink cartridges after photographing it for Buy Nothing. Yet there it sits while my mind is doing handsprings around rearranging my garage so I can move my old refrigerator in. I’ve determined one of the ominous noises that had me rushing out to replace it came from my water cooler, and not the refrigerator.

The problem is, moving the refrigerator has taken priority over getting rid of the printer because I need help to do it, and I’m running out of time. I suspect my neighbors are also going to get tired of seeing the refrigerator parked beside my garage. Not to mention the job I’ll have getting it clean if I let it sit there and collect dust while the winds rage, and the mornings grow damper.

Yet I sit here pounding the keys, thinking, I need to get x more blog posts written before I can clear space for the fridge, or deal with the printer. This is often why things don’t get done, and start haunting my waking and sleeping hours.

Lessons Learned From Past Transgressions

Years ago, when my daughter and son-in-law lived with me, my kitchen, and frankly, the rest of

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the house were always a mess. No one wanted to unload the dishwasher, or clean up the day’s dishes, so they sat there until I got disgusted, and tackled what was now a monster of a job, usually cursing under my breath, and blasting anyone who dared enter my space. Nowadays, I’ve learned it takes me maybe 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher, and 10 minutes to clean up any dishes I haven’t dealt with throughout the day.

I’ve learned to clean as I go, and make things like scooping and dumping sandboxes a daily priority. No task takes very long because I’m keeping  up with it. I only wish I’d learned the lesson years earlier, as it would have saved a lot of ill feelings over living in a pig sty. I’d also have less to deal with now that was left to molder while I was feeling too overwhelmed and angry to do the simplest things.

The biggest challenge I face today is making space to do one task at a time instead of haring off on a tangent when something wanders into my line of sight. There’s very little that can’t wait until I finish the current task, though my brain tries to insist I need to stop and deal with whatever it is right now. It takes an act of will to keep from following it’s lead, but I’ve finally recognized I’m the one who runs this circus, and I’ll deal with the monkeys when I get to them, and not before.

Whether it’s filling my blog queue, making another batch meal, clearing another task from my to do list, or simply giving myself some down time, I’m slowly learning to take it one step at a time. That way, I neither send messages to the wrong people, drop all the balls on the ground, or trip over my own feet. It’s a novel approach, after so many years of jumping around like a squirrel on caffeine, but I’m finding it’s actually a relief to get off my self-imposed hamster wheel.

Grateful for Where I Am Now

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned which help me slow down and enjoy the process.
  2. I’m grateful for family and friends who continue to show me better ways to build a mousetrap.
  3. I’m grateful for a life with less stress and friction.
  4. I’m grateful for coffee, and for learning to have it in front of me before I try to do anything that requires an engaged brain.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, forgiveness, energy, motivation, determination, focus, peace, friendship, joy, balance, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

 

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

Choices Without Clear Winners

Choices: Life’s Stepping Stones

You make a lot of choices every day. Some are clear as glass, while others, more like a muddy, reed-filled swamp. In any case, you make the best choice you can with the information at hand knowing, in most cases, you can always step back and regroup if new information proves the choice you made could stand some improvement.

There was a time I’d look back and regret all the “bad” choices I’d made. I don’t do that any more because I’ve learned I didn’t make any bad choices at all. Some may have taken me away from my purpose and desires, but they taught me valuable lessons, and added tools to my virtual tool box. I may not like how things turned out, but I needed to make those choices and learn those lessons in order to make better ones in the future.

Even “better” is a relative term. How is one choice better than another? Is it because it gets you where you think you want to go more quickly? Is it possible getting there quickly isn’t in your best interests? In fact, could “there” be the wrong place for you entirely, but you won’t know that until you learn more, or even get dumped on your ass to show you how wrong it is?

Change is the Key Ingredient

I’ve learned you don’t always know what’s best for you, but putting forth the effort is part of theTruth process of finding what is. Any inventor or scientist will tell you there were many iterations before they turned an idea into reality. There were lots of mistakes and wrong turns along the way, but each one gave them more information which ultimately led to the solution. Often, you make choices which won’t get you there (not intentionally, of course) so you can see what doesn’t work and figure out why.

I’ve learned more about the right way to do something by looking at what didn’t work for me or someone else. By analyzing why something doesn’t work, I learn more about what it will take to make it work. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but from a scientific standpoint, you have to rule out the choices that lead to unacceptable results so you can rule out erroneous elements while combining others with new information you’ve gleaned in the process.

Life is a lot like finding a vaccine for COVID. There’s a lot of trial and error using what you know to get closer to a solution, but also to augment what you know in the process. In other words, you’re continually tweaking your processes and methods in order to optimize them while gaining new knowledge in the process. Even when something seems to work perfectly in the moment, you monitor it to ensure it withstands the test of time, and a constantly changing environment. Some do, but most won’t, and you’re back to the drawing board, changing an element or two, and identifying the ones that foul the mix.

Cracking the Code by Trial and Error

If you’ve ever played Mastermind, or any other code breaking game, you might remember using trial and error as well as logic to crack the code. You start with your best guess. You might have one or two colors correct but in the wrong place, or none at all. You try to rule out what didn’t fit, replacing it with other colors until you’re able to narrow down both color and position.

Decision-making follows the same process, though you might not realize you’re employing it. You make choices based on what you know, or think you do. You wait for results, usually finding you’re partially right. You change out elements until you can rule out some, and rule in others. What differs is the element of change. You might think you have the right answer, then some kind of upheaval happens, and you find the solution is no longer correct, though some elements may still fit.

Embracing Change Rather Than Fearing It

Accounting for change baffles, and even frightens people. The brain is wired for consistency, embrace your fearbut I’ve learned it isn’t wired for boredom. There’s a fine line between the two. Some folks walk that wire, doing their best to remain in some non-existent middle ground, and frustrating themselves in the process. Others say “to hell with it!” and consistently color outside the lines. You might call them crazy. I call them innovators, and consider them the most courageous souls around. They’re the ones I seek to emulate.

It doesn’t mean I’ll be leaping from planes, or searching for the next adrenaline rush. What I will do is constantly challenge myself to build a better mousetrap. In my case, it will be with my writing. I’m constantly working on improving not only how I write, but when, where, how much, and the quality of the content. Heaven knows I’ve fallen on my face a few times, but I’ve learned when all else fails, show up.

I’m no perfectionist, and heaven knows, I’ve left projects when I felt they were good enough. Those weren’t the ones that mattered enough for me to make them stronger and more resilient. Meanwhile, there are projects on my plate that get revisited time after time as I seek to make them as close to perfect as possible, and as enduring.

Learning Not Everything is Meant to be Perfect

https://www.flickr.com/photos/photofarmer/6257525038/in/photolist-awXsbJ-duQquY-dDiY1D-y5suB-ps5ehG-abz714-o2taeS-ps2G5B-q2jANC-8f15SS-qFjEaK-2TNJE-4JDoLu-dSd8Jk-33E8ba-Ld6UzH-3r5Xf1-9Fy3LS-6V5Qwk-7mK27x-Dqqgc-8iVeJ-5qbL6X-4A42Dv-km1PMr-5c69aT-6wpwbs-6obFPX-4ohi6S-MhvW-3jdEjA-VBYVHD-cHm9EG-5eUJSD-8jzSfk-8Bs1dE-fAT6Ze-8CdsnD-b1Fxi4-8h1ahY-58C1fa-67UbYu-8Ebapf-fJbG1X-AeCBj-MZTR4-62zkMw-fF4Nre-4Dfjiv-4c3tayNot all your projects are meant to be perfect. Many are a means to an end. They teach you things you need to know in order to make your passion projects better, and serve no other purpose. They provide information for your data banks so you don’t keep making the same mistakes, and taking the longest road possible to reach your goals.

They also help refine and sometimes, redefine those goals. What you envision is often based on what you know is possible. By trying new things, and exploring new avenues, you broaden your perspective. You see more possibilities, and get the opportunity to get excited about something you never imagined was possible.

Think about it. Without electricity, there’d have been no need for lightbulbs, telephones, televisions, or computers. Each invention or discovery led someone to imagine something new that was impossible without what came before. You crawl before you walk, learn the alphabet before you can read, and, in my case, read before you can write your own stories.

Finding Comfort in Life’s Twists and Turns

You might think after reading the last paragraph that I believe it’s a linear process. Nothing Created with Canvacould be further from the truth. In fact, all the imperfect decisions and side trips you take prove it’s not. The failures are necessary and important in the process of finding the right path. Often, a mindset of “you can’t get there from here” is the best approach as you pick a direction and start walking, or even running. When you hit a wall, or go off the rails, you take what you learned from the experience, and decide whether where you were headed is truly where you want to go.

The best lesson I’ve learned in the winding road my life has taken is flexibility. Don’t get too attached to an outcome, because sure as shootin’, you’ll have the rug pulled out from under you. Instead, approach each choice you make as an opportunity to learn; a means to an end, so to speak. It’s not going to get you all the way to your goal, and it might not even point you in the right direction. It will give you valuable skills and information to either resume the journey, or make adjustments and course corrections before setting off again.

Feeling Grateful for Every Failure and Success

My gratitudes today are;

  1.  I’m grateful for my course corrections.
  2. I’m grateful I learned to alter my expectations.
  3. I’m grateful I learned to be more gentle with myself, and to have no regrets.
  4. I’m grateful for all the things that, at the time, looked like wrong turns.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, opportunities, challenges, change, joy, new experiences, an analytical mind, acceptance, forgiveness, peace, harmony, balance, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Namaste

 

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

Evolving Into Joy Like a Butterfly

Life Lessons From A Butterfly

butterflyWhenever I see a butterfly flitting past my window, or following me for a little ways while I’m out walking, I’m filled with a burst of incredible joy. Most of the time, I simply run with it, allowing the joyous creature to lift my spirits, soaring to the treetops along with those colorful wings, needing no reason or purpose for the euphoria.

But as the analytical side of me kicks in, I have to ask what makes the butterfly flit through the treetops above my head with such joyful abandon. Then again, wouldn’t you be filled with joy after making the miraculous transition from a caterpillar crawling on ground, plants, and trees, to a winged one limited only by how far those wings might carry you? Wouldn’t you revel in the weight you shed after emerging from your homemade shell; after going from worm, to goo, to butterfly?

In a way, the butterfly has shed excess weight and earthly constraints during its transition until what’s left is an entirely new world; an expansive new life where the sky is literally the limit. How can a mere human possibly understand the joy of releasing anything that held them back from soaring as high as they wanted? The truth is, we can shed our own constraints, but like the butterfly, it involves what may, at times feel like trauma, upheaval, and intense pain.

Transformation Isn’t Without Pain

Often, the transition is brought about by circumstances, even if, like me, you take a few years to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4figure it out, clinging to your old ways like the lifeline they aren’t. Perhaps you become inured to life’s endless series of small traumas at a young age because your family taught you to only allow your strong exterior to show, hiding your fears, feelings, and broken parts behind masks and walls so no one could make the cracks in your foundation any larger.

One of the toughest, most painful things I ever experienced was allowing myself to turn to a puddle of goo behind those walls, and to let the walls dissolve into the goo, exposing the weak, broken creature who crouched beneath the surface. Devoid of protections decades, and even generations in the making, I lacked the courage or knowledge to be the imperfect person who was left when the walls and masks dissolved, leaving me naked, exposed, and terrified.

Yet somehow, like the butterfly, I emerged from the transformation taking tiny steps while the goo reformed and my wings dried. Old paradigms and rules no longer applied. I had to learn to love and accept myself, traumas and all. In some ways, it was like learning how to walk again after a major accident.

The first few steps hurt like hell, and I felt utterly unsupported. After awhile, I realized my raw, exposed self attracted people who were loving and compassionate, and ready to help me adjust to my new form. People who, themselves had weathered their own traumas, and transitioned into their own butterfly selves.

Taking the First Steps and Leaps Alone

solitudeLike the butterfly, I neither wanted nor needed help while I shed what no longer served me. I did, and still do need support while I learn, grow, and jettison everything I’d stashed away behind the now-dissolved walls. I may have ditched the protections in a few gigantic, and not always self-propelled leaps, but what I’d stashed behind those protections needed to be peeled away carefully, layer by layer. That process would have been impossible without the help of people who could understand, or at least empathize.

With each layer I peel away, my wings become stronger and brighter, and I soar higher. I am dragging less weight behind me so those wings don’t have to work so hard to keep me aloft. I’m learning I spent a large part of my lifetime telling myself stories built from lies, when I was meant to tell stories woven from my truths, not only to myself, but to anyone who cared to listen.

In another time, I might have been a bard, drifting from town to town weaving tales colored by my experiences, or from my observations of human nature. I’d have spent endless days unobtrusively watching and listening so I could add character and substance to my tales. Watching a butterfly might take up an entire afternoon as I tried to imagine myself making random spirals through the air, then tracing back to my stay in the chrysalis, and my tenure as a caterpillar crawling on a leaf, munching placidly with no idea what I was to become.

In my mind, I’d become one with the butterfly, perhaps weaving a tale to be told to a group of children about the wonder of growing up to spread my wings and fly. Through my words, their awe-filled faces would reflect their own imaginations whirling with possibilities as I painted a picture of freedom, and perhaps in some, a desire to be more than fate and current circumstances decreed.

Realizing Your Potential

The truth is, we are all caterpillars with the potential to become butterflies, but we have to be potentialwilling to take some gigantic leaps of faith, and more, to refuse to let faith and trauma define us. The choices I’ve made, and the transformations I’ve experienced are an option for anyone. Some may have less to shed before emerging, while others like me may have several generations worth. Quantity and depth don’t really matter. The first leap or ten are tough no matter what. It’s all about leaving your comfort zone, and most of us are hard-wired to stay there.

The ones like me who ultimately leave experience an internal struggle between the safety and sameness of the comfort zone, and the rut that sameness creates. There’s a need for change, even if, at first, it seems like it’s only for the sake of change. In reality, there’s a need to grow beyond the walls that encase you, and to explore what’s outside those walls, even knowing you’ll get knocked down a few times in the process. What’s a little pain compared to being stuck in the same boring place for eternity? To being a caterpillar who never realizes its potential to be a butterfly?

Grateful for Opportunities to Transform

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the transitions I’ve made, the people who support me, and the adventures yet to come.
  2. I’m grateful for the time I have to simply observe and reflect.
  3. I’m grateful for a world that continues to be filled with opportunities, if you know where to look, and how to sit quietly at times and watch the subtle changes.
  4. I’m grateful for an adventurous spirit that’s willing to put myself out there and take a few risks.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; vulnerability, joy, transformation, growth, adventure, calculated risk, friendship, compassion, kindness, peace, balance, harmony, health, 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

Relationship Lessons from the Younger Generation

Relationships 101 Taught by My Kids

I didn’t make good choices when it came to relationships and marriage. In fact, it got so bad, I removed myself from the pool entirely over 20 years ago, and am trying to figure out how to re-open that door nowadays. As such, I gave my daughters a pretty lousy example of what a healthy relationship should look like. My son-in-law’s parents didn’t do any better. So you’d think neither of them would have a clue what a good relationship looks like, much less, how to create one for themselves.

Nothing could be further from the truth. My daughter and son-in-law have one of the most loving, extraordinary relationships I’ve ever seen. It’s not that what they have is perfect, but they don’t expect it to be. They know there are times they’ll piss each other off, and times when one or the other simply has to back down, or get out of the way while the other blows off steam. I’ve learned if I stay out of their way, and keep my well-intentioned advice and opinion to myself, they’ll work it out and get back to the strong, formidable, singularly focused unit they promised to be when they exchanged vows 8 years ago.

A Different Perspective

My generation saw an inordinate number of divorces; mine only a blip on the radar on the relationshipstatistical superhighway. Perhaps I’m seeing an unlikely cross-section, but the marriages I see from my daughter’s generation; OK, mostly her friends, are some of the most strong, resilient, unwavering I’ve seen in decades. I’d even venture to say, they’ve restored my faith in the institution.

I’m not sure why they’re doing a better job of it than I did; than my peers did. Maybe it’s simply the fact that I and my peers didn’t teach our kids the same thing our parents did. Marriage was never the be-all, end-all of their existence. In some ways, choosing marriage because it was what they wanted instead of going into it because of maternal pressure might be the key ingredient necessary to make better choices in the first place.

Though I wasn’t especially young when I married, I know I was feeling the pressure of still being single at 25. I grabbed the first proposal I got, and never learned how to be happy with myself before choosing a mate. Instead, I attached myself to someone who was as broken, and self-loathing as me, and who would ultimately feed my own self-loathing to push himself a little higher up the food chain.

Same Experiences, Different Results

That’s not to say my daughter, and likely many of her friends didn’t kiss a few frogs, and suffer a bad relationship or two first. They had the good sense to learn and walk away. It only took me 11 years of marriage, and another 10 years beyond that to realize I was better, and deserved someone who loved me without conditions or expectations. I it took me a little longer to figure out it had to start with me.

My daughter might have had self-love issues when she started dating her now-husband, but instead of feeding them for her, he starved them and allowed her to finally see what an amazing person she is, and how much she deserves to be loved and supported. He also gave her an incredible gift by allowing her to support him as well. The man I married as well as those I’ve dated didn’t understand either of those concepts, but then, my own examples didn’t either. Thankfully, my daughter learned from our mistakes instead of repeating them for yet another generation.

Watching my daughter and son-in-law, and many of their friends navigate the ups and downs of their marriages, I’m encouraged not only because I see more examples of how people can build successful lives together, but because I am confident future generations will learn from the example of these couples and parents, and form stronger, healthier relationships.

Who’s the “Me Generation” This Week?

I’ve raised my daughters, and they’re making their own choices now. They don’t need my https://www.flickr.com/photos/wjarrettc/2488063324/in/photolist-4MRYxw-36DBKU-4yjGyv-4kvZif-4ykSWp-nMsPRY-aVTWdt-79CRgH-dsBxgu-dsBx97-dsBpur-2uwWcf-dsBxus-N7dBE5-5EntRc-bt4c8c-3bjNi3-dsBxib-879Tow-4yjLf2-dsByNo-dsByuJ-dsBsig-bmrNub-dsBzhy-dwRrJT-dsBw3S-dsBpgg-4yoRPQ-4GAaun-4yq8F1-cf3JES-dsBpFp-4yoSpb-dsBs9z-dsBvjo-dsBpqZ-dsBo5R-dsBAa9-dsBn7k-dsBq5M-4yoPWS-47pe3o-dsBwSs-4yjHKv-dsBzaj-dsBxNW-4yjA4K-dsBA2j-dsBpxDapproval or blessing any more, though one still asks on occasion. Perhaps watching me struggle, and keep falling down gave them the drive to make better lives for themselves than I made for me while they were growing up. I’m awfully proud of the changes they’ve made in outlook and expectations in spite of the examples I set.

So many negative traits are attributed to Millennials, that things like this are often overlooked. If you ask me most of them are simply doing what we did at their age; learning to navigate a world that’s not always friendly or forgiving.

If I remember correctly, there was a time Boomers were called “the me generation” too. But it’s many Millenials who have actually figured out we’re better together, having each other’s backs than we are trying to stand alone against the world.

Being an Island Told My Kids what Not to Do

peaceI tried for years to be a strong, self-sufficient island. I learned the hard way there were far too many things I couldn’t do alone, and doing without wasn’t a viable option either. Islands get battered by waves, winds, and storms just like communities, but have fewer resources to not only withstand the abuse, but to rebuild after the more damaging episodes.

No generation gets it all wrong any more than they get it all right. Each one learns something from the mistakes of those which came before, correcting their own trajectory in some cases, over-correcting in others. Yet somehow, we all find our own true North eventually, even if it’s not the one that will lead to a happy, healthy, productive life for those who come after. How could it when the world changes so rapidly, and adaptation is the only real option?

Change is inevitable, and frankly, the ones who adapt to it more easily are going to create structures and methods more likely to survive the whims of both Nature and Man in the centuries to come. The wars and turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s drove too many of us into ennui and apathy. We’re seeing the results not only in the external chaos, but in all the broken marriages, and dysfunctional relationships we created along the way. Thank goodness our kids wanted to be different than we were, and to change the world in ways we couldn’t even envision.

Looking Backward and Forward With Gratitude

My gratiitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning from my kids.
  2. I’m grateful I stopped believing the examples I’d been set made sense.
  3. I’m grateful for the social consciousness our kids are more responsible for exhibiting and teaching.
  4. I’m grateful for a world where change is not only inevitable, but valuable.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, lessons, change, inspiration, community, support, self-love, opportunities, peace, health, harmony, 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

Recognize a Narcissist’s Signature Moves

Narcissists Play a Circular Game

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101561334@N08/10197031243/in/photolist-gx5s8v-jFvehZ-ceYKvY-gx4Gcf-Qv32MQ-gx58Ji-aavAwk-k15Tk9-gcokN-jYnA9p-pts3CH-KErQUu-fMFuKi-5gvfXp-gx5zqD-594W8Y-gx5GPp-gx4EMG-S7Jpw1-P5f7sP-VMMRHL-oiRYiu-7pPH6E-2bXKRhj-2cLerFQ-oxWTqS-psDwB2-ceXTFN-amxUkM-2bsd6t6-N7Lj5T-cbSXFd-YtbGJE-bNJ5H-RNvZP3-kiboPh-WmzxPu-7UzoSM-24eKtUM-cjgru7-n3pBeq-7PK4bp-ajX4J8-nk5bJN-88HFFJ-W18WBb-jBnrh2-ciDDMd-TzUwZm-8wqYSTI get constant status updates about my physical and mental state via my gut, my head, and my body. The ones best addressed as soon as the reminders arrive are those which involve absorbing other people’s energy and problems. When I fail to acknowledge and act on the first, more subtle reminders, the voices and physical effects become worse until I have no choice. I prefer to avoid having them reach such levels, but occasionally, I get so self-absorbed or otherwise focused I forget what will come from my lack of appropriate attention.

When things are relatively quiet; I have no pressing commitments, no deadlines crawling up my back, and no one other than my cats requiring immediate attention, it’s easy to become complacent. It’s also the perfect time for my mind to dredge up old, unmanaged trauma, small slights I failed to release, or recent exposure, both in person and virtually, to someone who needs an energetic house cleaning of their own. Often, the effects of such exposure hung around long after the person left my presence. Some weren’t even recognized until my environment cleared and I felt the residual oiliness of their cloying energies.

As an Empath, I’m not immune to the games and ploys of Narcissists. As many red flags and warning signs as I’ve stored in my memory banks, there will always be one who comes along with new tricks up their sleeve. I admit being impressed by the extent of their creativity, while making sure I add the new games and their defenses to my own arsenal. I suspect the level of creativity is inherent to the breed, else they’d run out of potential victims too quickly.

Seeing Everyone as Innocent Until They Show Their True Colors

While unintentionally studying the works and wiles of Narcissists, I’ve learned subtlety and https://www.flickr.com/photos/52525615@N03/6290019994/in/photolist-azPZNA-pMAvoj-bZW7f7-ktt3qX-dmM9Nh-aiuvHt-9AZqjo-HroDJ-bgmHTc-6Yn6Gt-8qW4rV-7XtBPD-UgoaDG-8yA6ab-a9ECbd-PgYniP-6TiGs4-8CVWab-5Mco6D-uKKR-uULGS-GP7UJ-nGUuJn-b3sekX-4qJbEz-dWpWLD-a7FnDL-8KN6uk-nsnjLD-bf5xHt-9jrFVg-7ECRTt-9ccXQo-82Nw2x-JFdpdF-6PvtZ6-521MKn-eKJDMz-e59eoW-bDfUkn-ah3Q37-5UGd5P-8qZu27-ayTKRa-9xHr9N-hS5exi-9J3jPt-4Stp5J-8S5NwV-LAmruYinsidiousness are the core of their tool chests. Like a poisonous gas, they seep in beneath the defenses, and often choose Empaths whose compassion and natural willingness to help lend themselves to a Narcissists insatiable need for attention, adoration, and fulfillment.

There was a time when being at the beck and call of a Narcissist was a life sentence for many Empaths who lost their will and identity to someone who could only take, and never give. Thankfully, as people become more open about their feelings, and concerned about how others treat them, information becomes available on breaking those ties and seeking healthier attachments. I suspect it’s also caused Narcissists to up their game by becoming even more creative. Else Empaths like me wouldn’t get caught in their snares even for a minute.

I’m not ashamed to admit I still get sucked in at times. The trouble is, I still go through a bit of self chastising afterwards because I think I should have seen it coming. To be honest, I’m not sure what stresses me out more; getting sucked in, or giving myself hell afterwards. I know the latter tends to last longer.

Their Success at Manipulating Is No Reflection On Me

Created with CanvaEventually, I take a good, hard look in the mirror and admit the person was remarkably skillful, but, as the song goes, I won’t get fooled again. It’s as if they left their mark in my guest book, and once they left, the ink started to simmer and boil. I realize in trusting them, I failed to engage my filters and shields, and have absorbed some of their discordant energy into my own field. Once I’ve finished beating myself up over allowing it in the first place, it’s time to engage my cleanup crew to remove the rotting, toxic carcass and allow my own energy to flow clean and clear once again.

Learning to see past the well-crafted facade of a Narcissist is a constantly evolving skill. No two people are alike, and though Narcissists share traits, the way they employ both traits and skills is different every time. Those who’ve been wielding their tools successfully for many years are typically the most difficult to detect as they’ve learned to hone in on their target and weave their web with preternatural skill.

If there’s anything I truly hate, it’s being manipulated. Even more, I hate being so easily read that someone can get past my guard to engage my compassion when they neither need, nor deserve it. Hard as I may try, I’ll stew about it for days, trying to figure out how they managed to fool me, even for a minute.

OJT for Narcissist Avoidance

The trouble is, I don’t know how to think like a Narcissist, and frankly, I’m not interested in self lovelearning. Nonetheless, each new experience; each new game I fall for teaches me how to avoid another kind of trap. In the meantime, I’ve learned to recognize the traps sooner than I used to, and I can tell when there’s a game being played whose rules are unfamiliar to me.

Though I may familiarize myself with those rules, it’s purely for avoidance purposes as it isn’t a game I choose to play. In the first place, it would never be a level playing field, and in the second, it’s a game that sets off every alarm bell I have. With everything I’ve learned in the last couple of decades, and the appreciation gained for my own gifts, I am physically unable to play the part required of me in a Narcissistic game any longer.

In my personal evolution as an Empath, I’ve discovered there’s no education like on the job training (OJT). The process is decidedly unpleasant and, for a long time, I chose avoidance over the painful lessons I needed. No one wants the lessons imparted by a Narcissist even if they don’t realize it. But the fact is, you can’t learn to both recognize the signs and protect yourself if you don’t know what to look for, or how much damage they can do if not parried.

In the end, I have only gratitude for those who plied their skills in my direction so I could learn how to be strong, discerning, independent, and protected. Their manipulations and machinations taught me how to see through facades when I encountered others of their ilk, and helped me recognize the only one who truly has power over my energy and emotions is me. I have to be willing to stand up for myself, and to take the painful lessons they left to strengthen my skills, and more importantly, my power of observation. Most of all, I’ve learned to trust my initial feelings…most of the time.

Grateful for Being My Innocent, Gullible Self

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the reminders when I let my guard slip.
  2. I’m grateful for true friends who give me the best examples of what I deserve.
  3. I’m grateful for the ability to recover more quickly from the gifts left by a Narcissist.
  4. I’m grateful for knowing where I belong, and who with.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, compassion, support, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, dedication, peace, health, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.

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

Reflections On My Own “Great Depression”

A Twisted Path to Overcoming Depression

Created with CanvaEvery so often I wake feeling unusually heavy; inexplicably sad. There’s nothing particularly wrong with my life, though things are far from normal these days. I can’t find a reason for these feelings of sadness; feeling like something isn’t quite right, or is off-balance somehow. I’ve learned it may be nothing, or something that will be explained at some point in the future. The best I can do is keep busy and ride it out.

Moments like these remind me of what I refer to with no fondness as “The Depression Years” which, to my recollection ran through my 30’s and 40’s. It was a time when I was married, gave birth to my daughters, divorced their father, and avoided my parents as much as possible. Little did I realize part of my avoidance was their own individual, and perhaps collective spiral into a deep, dark depression of their own which ultimately led to their suicides.

I recognize with the perfect vision of hindsight that I began to work my way up from the depths into which I’d fallen after my mom passed, and while slogging through my 3-year divorce. My life grew slowly lighter as I left the mental, emotional, and financial woes of marriage and divorce behind me along with the pall of my mother’s excessively heavy presence. Once my father took his leave as well, I have to admit, my own load got significantly lighter, and it was far easier to let go of the burden I’d been carrying for too long, and had feared releasing if only because it was the demons I knew.

Leaving Loneliness Behind

These inexplicably dark, lonely days bring back, not so much the years I was depressed, miserable, and alone, but the progress I’ve made since then. They also remind me it’s OK to have dark, lonely days. Hard as they may be to understand and accept, they provide a balance for me from all the time and effort I put into staying strong, positive, and inspired.

In sharing the roller coaster ride I’m on, though not as hair-raising as it once was, I’m learning even if it often felt like I was a single leaf being flung around at life’s whims, I was never truly alone in the frantic dance. So many of my friends remember similar periods in their lives, and are now sharing both the travails, and the successes they’ve found in leaving at least part of that chaos behind. To be honest, it’s the sharing, the connection, and the understanding which continue to keep many of us on the upward swing of our personal spirals.

The worst part of spiraling down into the dark, lonely pit of depression is the loneliness. It’s too easy to listen to the voices that continually hammer at you about your unworthiness, the busyness of others, and their own lack of interest in your predicament. Your eyes start seeing only the heads that turn away, and overlook those who reach out even as you turn away and focus on those who were never meant to be part of your tribe. Yet, they are your self-fulfilling prophecy.

Consciously Utilizing the Laws of Attraction

You believe you are being rejected, so you only see rejection. You become blind to acceptance; https://www.flickr.com/photos/22896868@N05/37793838064/in/photolist-ZzHikE-6CLwBp-PyxN8-ANdzYM-SSM2A-6Qk9hs-69XAJ-9MdXjn-uvM4e-5eEek1-B2g413-dfkzCM-3mvMPJ-sy5eXJ-6yqFqt-aMJyV-8PvV75-ex6FWc-dhhyHa-2gY3Afr-8PtSRX-d8oLd7-ex9Tbw-xL1LrQ-dbHZaf-ca4FGu-iRYLu-ecb2N3-dn657c-SjQ7Hr-bfBYr-ex9TuE-5ezLqM-5t7ew8-kTbbqe-feiC3p-DnH61-KqTHNu-5qAV2d-ex6Fyn-5Tgzt4-8mGSbW-8mGPjs-8mGSpS-8mGQ6Y-GCWsgx-8mDHWt-8mGRyY-Dt1i4M-8mGTs9to love and compassion. In the process, you may even cause those who do care to run out of patience, or get tired of being ignored. Before long, you truly are alone, and though a lot of that is your own fault, you fail to recognize it beyond the belief it’s what you deserve.

More and more, I see the Laws of Attraction in action. Looking back a couple of decades, I see how my expectations were matched over and over again. Though it wasn’t at the forefront of my consciousness, deep down, I expected to be rejected, and even made up reasons for it. I was a single parent among not-so-happily married women. I was a female manager in a company where females in management were treated with less respect than the rodents my barn cats hunt.  I was overweight and believed I lacked all the qualities that made a woman attractive and desirable. You name it, I found an excuse, not only to justify unfair treatment, but to allow myself to stop trying.

Granted, the first step to breaking the cycle was to stop allowing myself to dance to the beat of someone else’s drum. I had to learn to seek my validation from inside rather than outside. But in the beginning, I took it to extremes. I stopped putting any effort into my appearance. I dressed for comfort, eschewed my iron, and wore little to no makeup except when I was going dancing. That lack of caring snowballed until it encompassed even my work ethic. I did what I had to, and little more. Granted, the environment I’d allowed myself to settle for supported my behavior. No matter how much effort I did or did not put in, the rewards went to the men who fit the company image; who made management comfortable.

Loving My Beautifully Imperfect Self

created with CanvaI’d like to say it was one company; one job that saw this decline in the image I showed the world, but in truth, it was a long, slow slide into the final pit that led to my choosing to leave the corporate world entirely. In hindsight, it wasn’t a bad thing. The choice was a long time coming, but needed the right set of circumstances to manifest. I had to be confident I no longer needed the approval of anyone but myself to see how many people truly loved me the way I was; co-workers and employers excluded.

In the last decade or so, I’ve learned to love myself completely and unconditionally. In so doing, I’ve finally attracted people who have no hidden agendas. I’m not another well to drain before moving on to the next. I’m not a canvas they can fling paint on until they get tired of the mess they’ve made, again moving on. I’m just me in all my imperfect glory, willing to show off my imperfections so the people around me feel comfortable being themselves as well.

I’m part of a community of imperfect beings, who revel in the beautiful, multi-faceted mosaic we create when we come together, yet can break off, and create new and different mosaics in our kaleidoscopic adventure called life. Most of all, I’ve come to appreciate every step on my journey. I set goals, I have dreams, but the destination isn’t set in stone, and it isn’t the part I look forward to when I get up every morning, or go to sleep every night. The adventure, and the joy will always be in how I get there, and for me, that has never been a straight or easy path. What would be the fun in that?

Every Day is Another Reason for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for all the imperfect people who make my life colorful and interesting.
  2. I’m grateful for all the side trips my life has taken that make the journey more interesting, and often surprising.
  3. I’m grateful for a tendency to thrive on change rather than fear it.
  4. I’m grateful for learning I’m better as part of a community that accepts it’s members as they are, and encourages imperfection and vulnerability.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, community, friendship, honesty, vulnerability, self-acceptance, peace, harmony, balance, health, 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

Express Your Opinion With Kindness

Whatever Your Opinion, Be Kind

kindnessSome people feel the need to rant, or to meet every opinion that contradicts theirs with an argument. I’ve decided I need to let them rant or fume, but save my own sanity, and refrain from adding my opinion to their rant; which often means fuel to their fire. It’s taking me a long time to learn I don’t need to push my opinion on others, and especially when we are on opposite sides of an emotionally charged issue. Neither of us is going to change our view by being shouted at, preached at, or browbeaten, so why engage at all?

Each person has their own wants, needs, beliefs, and desires. They won’t all match yours. Be kind. You can’t possibly know all the reasons someone else believes as they do, any more than they can be privy to yours. I’ve learned through a few hard lessons the best thing to do is disarm your own triggers, and recognize when someone else’s are armed and ready to fire. In most cases, their battle isn’t yours to fight anyway.

Once upon a time, I dove into every fray with cannons ablaze, ready to fight for what I perceived to be the underdog. In at least 95% of the cases, I learned after I’d been bruised and battered myself that I’d been manipulated, and I dove into someone else’s fight with the sketchiest of information. It took several repetitions of the same lesson before I realized it wasn’t my job to fight someone else’s battles, or to succumb to their entreaties and altered perceptions about how they’d been wronged.

Picking My Battles on the Road to Compassion

I have strong opinions of my own about some topics, while others leave me feeling detached, battlesor worse, scratching my head in confusion. Learning to sit back and wait until I see a more complete picture, or, if it’s important enough to me, doing my own research has kept me out of many battles I wasn’t meant to fight in the first place.

Sure, there have been people who attacked me for remaining neutral, mostly because they were of the mistaken opinion everyone should believe as they did, and respond with equal parts outrage and chest pounding. Those who became abusive in the bargain are now history as far as my life is concerned.

As I continue adding years to my stay in this form (for which I continue to be grateful), I become more aware of what really matters. It isn’t joining every battle, or even those of the people I love and respect. The best way for me to show them my love and respect is to be supportive quietly, and to show as much kindness as I can to everyone—especially the ones I disagree with.

Leaving Regrets Behind While Taking the Lessons to Heart

Trust me, I’m no angel, and I’ve been unkind my share of the time. In my 6 1/2 decades, I’ve hurt https://www.flickr.com/photos/moonjazz/4322051067/in/photolist-7zVDcR-5HMRtL-WXwZ4x-5HwZ1W-W8gjMg-cmRixy-6QT7w5-644Ln2-aqnYV4-t3u4Vo-a3fPm8-96X9E-661V8k-7imNtn-dyL2X1-pqPPxB-8ZBwzC-6aTwUf-8X7nVL-98Xpyp-91GcS5-8QFSZ3-8QCL54-8QCLjR-fD8pbT-fke9kC-8rt4if-6eLvkB-2fF3nDE-8QFRwq-8VvhHg-39jdZK-fjZ1WZ-fjZ1nc-fjZ1JR-6jPBns-TCH7H7-dKE42n-GhN8P-21yUcgH-d5ogN-616Soq-7L5RSL-fjZ1PX-94tRCT-fjZ1AB-fke9Qh-SZrAL7-5ZFHzH-jSKjmJmy share of people, and try to see those episodes as lessons rather than adding them to a list of regrets that will only keep me from doing better next time. Of the many things I’ve jettisoned over the years, my own duffel bag full of regrets is the one I’m happiest to be rid of. It’s a heavy load I could never possibly fix or change, so it’s only purpose was to weigh me down, and slow my forward progress; sometimes bringing it to a standstill until I remembered to drop the heavy stuff.

It’s not that I don’t have people I’d apologize to if I were ever to encounter them again, which is unlikely, but I’ve learned to recognize my own unkind behavior as lessons I needed to go through. Most of all, they’re in the past. They happened. I may have been guilty at the time, but in all likelihood, most of the people I harmed weren’t permanently affected, and have long since forgotten not only the event, but the person involved. Of course, there is one exception, but she not only remembers the times I was unkind, but also some of my better moments I, myself had forgotten.

It’s been decades since I threw a block at a classmate, or said mean things to a fellow middle schooler. In hindsight, I know I was an unhappy child myself who was often verbally berated by both family and peers. I didn’t know how to do anything but pass the unkindness I experienced on to someone else. I certainly didn’t understand the behavior could stop with me. How many children and teenagers do?

Impacting the Ripples You Make

In truth, it took me several decades to finally learn how much power I had to shift the script, and in fact, how much I was responsible for doing exactly that; for my family, for the people I’ve wronged in the past, and for those who will cross my path in the future. I’m even doing it for people I will never connect with in person. In short, I’m changing the ripples I create by my own actions.

As I travel down life’s path, following some existing trails, and forging a lot of new ones, I realize how little kindness there was in my life for about 2/3’s of it. I probably could have changed things sooner, but I had to break free of a lot of the choices I’d made based on my own skewed perceptions. I had to heal some of the damage, but more importantly, learn there were better ways, and especially, better people I needed to allow into my life.

All in all, I think everyone has choices. You can be kind or not, as you see fit, or as your experiences dictate. It isn’t going to change what I believe I need to do, nor how I act upon those beliefs. I may comment on the occasional post when I think someone is being particularly unkind, or thinks shaming is OK, but I also respect the fact that they’re operating from their own set of paradigms. I don’t know what their life is like now, nor what they’ve had to endure, or compensate for up to this point.

Guidance by Affirmation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulhami/2993662670/in/photolist-5yxiBC-8U5hPD-3edYTu-4CUgRY-3zQatC-5vmZ5c-bu1dBi-aGGHJg-aGGHaR-BrnmAC-JDHRGr-aGGG6n-anNJMT-aGGJDF-nhi5kC-URiXsy-8TU5Uu-7RHX6n-dSUfp3-8pz3GG-ax1E17-Gf1oKW-5wx88t-66XiHU-7U9YpL-7fcpGE-6C7S53-6AEtio-8YbMjQ-587zbz-MiRWFF-5htVfK-onWKYE-edRR9q-9jX3Pw-oZ6LzR-8pRD6w-9eVxUz-axUgNW-F6D6yL-dbZeKc-4cLsjY-b8ppRD-FfTkWW-7Lsz4B-66Xk3Q-2zs3Zi-7Lxsep-kyFmeu-RNnFfMI live by a lot of adages and affirmations these days:

  • I am Enough
  • What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business
  • There’s Always Something to be Grateful For

To name a few. But the one that really keeps me, and the things I say and do in check is:

  • Until I walk in your shoes, it’s not my place to judge what you do or say, and why you do or say it.

I can have an opinion, and in many cases, I do. Shouting you down, trying to change your mind, or making you feel bad about it isn’t my job, and it really isn’t my right either. If I can’t express my opinion with kindness, I’ve finally, after many missteps, learned to keep my mouth shut—most of the time anyway.

Recognizing My Blessings With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for the healthier habits I’ve been forming, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  3. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I learned to be kinder, and less hard on myself.
  4. I’m grateful for choices: we don’t have to stick to the path we fell onto by default, and sometimes we tread that path so we learn what we need to to make significant changes.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, kindness, compassion, lessons, dancing, fur children, acceptance, understanding, peace, balance, harmony, health, 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

Learning When to Let Go

A Time to Love Enough to Let Go

Above my computer I had a picture of my daughter Jenni in a Popsicle stick frame, taken when she was in maybe 2nd grade. It’s been there so long, I’d ceased noticing it there until today. A similar one of Heather was moved to the bulletin board long ago. Today, I took the picture of Jenni down and threw it face down in the bottom drawer of my desk. I’m still purging her last act which finally forced me to accept she doesn’t want or need me as a mother, or really, as anything else in her life.

I was barely included in the birth of her daughter 10 years ago. She only called for me when they told her she needed a C-section, and her surrogate mother hadn’t had the experience. Even so, I got to see her for a minute before they wheeled her away, so rushing to her side proved pointless.

When she learned she was pregnant again in early 2019, I received a few texts until I said something (inevitably) to piss her off, effectively ending what amounted to a conversation for us. Four months later, I received another series of texts telling me she was having twin boys and giving me a due date of November. She seemed certain she’d make her due date, but as one who gave birth to twins, I knew it was more likely she’d give birth 3-4 weeks earlier.

In late October I received a text saying she’d given birth the day before, and learned indirectly that though her father had been at her side, she couldn’t be bothered to inform me until after the fact. Needless to say, I realized the past 14 years I’d spent hoping we could eventually get at least a little closer to the relationship we’d had when she was younger was pie in the sky. In short, I gave up the dream, and closed and locked the door.

Oblivious Until Necessary

So noticing her picture still hanging above my computer wasn’t even a painful reminder. It was just a reminder that I’d mentally given her permission to seek her maternal support elsewhere since it’s clearly what she wants anyway. I still admit to having given birth to twins, but at this point, I only have one daughter, and the children borne by the one no longer mine…they’re someone else’s grandchildren, not mine.

To an outsider, this might sound cold, and perhaps it is. But we all do things to protect ourselves first and foremost, even if it doesn’t always seem like it. In fact, it’s one of our greatest acts of self-love. Continuing to claim a child, albeit fully grown, as my own is an exercise in futility, and in the long run, will only cause more pain. I’m not into masochism so I take the easier path.

An old Jewish tradition involves spitting on the ground to indicate someone living is dead to you. I’m not inclined to go that far, maybe because I don’t wish her dead, nor do I deny her existence. I simply cut the cord that tied her to me as a child of my womb. At some point, I’ll box up the few things in my house which are hers in one way or another (pictures, Christmas ornaments, drawings, etc.) and send them to her, or have her sister do it. I want no reminders I had a child, or that she had someone who might have called me Grandma had we not drifted into entirely different universes.

I wish her well in the life she’s chosen, but the door I’d left open in case she decided she wanted a healthy relationship with me is not only closed but sealed over. My wall-building skills, while dormant for the last few years are still alive and well when the need arises.

Allowing Feelings of Loss

I won’t lie to you. I feel loss. I feel an emptiness where I once had a sweet, loving child. Maybe there’s even a little anger there, but it won’t live long. It’s soothed over by acceptance. She has a right to choose her own life and the people in it just as I do. Not everyone we choose will choose us. That’s life.

I look at my bulletin board now, and see other things that will come down in the weeks to come. It’s a time to purge what no longer works for me, and memories of someone who doesn’t want me in her life is one of those things that needs to go. The energy holds me back and might even block someone who’s waiting on the sidelines until I’m ready to welcome them in. Cutting a door in another spot is a lot easier than walling one up. But first I have to seal up all the cracks in the old one.

It’s funny though. As I type the words that fill this page, I’m not feeling a whole lot of anything. Maybe relief that I don’t have to keep propping that door open. Or that I don’t have to walk on eggshells if and when she contacts me. I’ve blocked the only means she’s used lately, and she’s living in another state now, rather than a mile or so away. I think I can safely say she won’t be getting in touch in the foreseeable future.

Feelings Need to Be Felt, Then Let Go

I’m not completely blind though. I experienced similar feelings of relief when my mom took her life. I’d no longer have to hear from her or deal with her criticisms. Granted, I had no choice in the matter, or any way to re-open that door. I doubt I would have as I only gained perspective decades later when I could write about it and her without her influence—at least not directly.

Like my mom, Jenni will always be in my heart. Unlike my mom, the box that holds Jenni and her memories will be locked from the outside, and buried in the file cabinets of stuff I no longer access. I still have to feel those feelings and release them, but the contents of those file cabinets are allowed out little by little, unlike the things I’m ready and able to see the lesson they taught me. If there’s a lesson in losing a child’s love and respect, I’m not ready to see what it is. I honestly don’t know if I ever will be.

So I stash away the memories, both physical and mental. If I reach a point where I am ready to see what they came to teach me, I’ll pull them out. If the Universe deems me ready, I’ll pull them out too, but a lot less willingly. I don’t have so many of those events these days, and I don’t miss them. The ones I enter into unwillingly invariably cause more pain and disruption in my life than I want or believe I need.

I guess the lesson here is we don’t get to choose our lessons. They’re given to us for a reason, even if we don’t understand the reason until decades later…if at all.

Grateful for the Experiences and the Lessons

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons, be they willing or unwilling.
  2. I’m grateful for the few years I had with my daughter Jenni. For awhile, she was both a joy and a trial. She made me laugh, she made me cry, and she made me scream with frustration; sometimes all at the same time.
  3. I’m grateful for my daughter Heather who may not always see eye to eye with me, but who teaches me so much about living a life of compassion and love.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who understand what it means to lose a living child.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, peace, health, harmony, justice, freedom, 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

Learning to Feed the Positive Vibes

Positive Lessons I Learned From “The King and I”

Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect
And whistle a happy tune, So no one will suspect I’m afraid.
The result of this deception, Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people I fear I fool myself as well!
And ev’ry single time, The happiness in the tune
Convinces me that I’m not afraid.  — I Whistle a Happy Tune

I’m not always positive or upbeat. Life kicks me around my fair share. But I’ve learned to keep a positive attitude even through the wildest storms. Unlike what today seems like another lifetime ago, I don’t mask my feelings. I feel them, acknowledge them, love them, then try to let the bad stuff go. The positive affirmations I share here and on social media aren’t meant to cover anything up, but to remind myself where I might currently be is only temporary. As long as I focus on the lesson rather than wallowing in the pain, I know I’ll navigate the current hazards and reach the other side only slightly the worse for wear.

It wasn’t always this way. The lessons I share today came at great cost. In learning them, I had to let go of the person I thought I was in order to become the one I was meant to be. There were times I was certain it wasn’t worth the pain.

Whether it was by choice or by design, I pushed through anyway, and today, I’m grateful I did. Not only have I gained an amazing group of friends who have essentially replaced the family which was one of the casualties of my emergence, I’ve found the child within, giving her the love and appreciation I withheld for decades. We are both richer for it.

Breaking Old Molds: Painful but Rewarding

I come from a long line of women who nurture their misery like it’s something to be cherished The Tower from the Spiral Tarotand protected. Some even raised it to deity status, so in my defense, I didn’t know better. But as I got older and interacted with people from other families; other backgrounds, I had plenty of opportunity to learn. It was my choice to remain in the dark hole I mistook for the warmth and comfort of the family womb. In truth, it was only a comfort as long as I followed their rules and lived my life within those confines.

Those rules proved to be structured in direct opposition to my own wants, needs, and talents. It was an untenable situation I’d either have to leave, or give up on the person I needed to be and the child who was crying desperately for release. In the end, I gave in to the child and gave up the family into which I’d never fit anyway.

I’d like to say it was a clean break and I’ve never looked back. That’s only partially true. I opened the door 20 years in when they offered me a chance to return to the family fold. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the price was higher than I was willing to pay. Just as I’d outgrown the friends I had 20-30 years ago, I’d outgrown most of my blood relations too. It’s no reflection on any of them. We simply don’t fit any more. We’re pieces of entirely different puzzles now. In many ways, we probably always were.

Accept, Acknowledge, Release

https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulhami/2993662670/in/photolist-5yxiBC-8U5hPD-3edYTu-4CUgRY-3zQatC-5vmZ5c-bu1dBi-aGGHJg-aGGHaR-BrnmAC-JDHRGr-aGGG6n-anNJMT-aGGJDF-nhi5kC-URiXsy-8TU5Uu-7RHX6n-dSUfp3-8pz3GG-ax1E17-Gf1oKW-5wx88t-66XiHU-7U9YpL-7fcpGE-6C7S53-6AEtio-8YbMjQ-587zbz-MiRWFF-5htVfK-onWKYE-edRR9q-9jX3Pw-oZ6LzR-8pRD6w-9eVxUz-axUgNW-F6D6yL-dbZeKc-4cLsjY-b8ppRD-FfTkWW-7Lsz4B-66Xk3Q-2zs3Zi-7Lxsep-kyFmeu-RNnFfMThese days, I acknowledge pieces of my past as they come up for review. I know there are feelings I still need to feel before they can be released and forgiven. There’s only one way through that storm, and it’s straight through. Fortunately, it does get easier, and most of the feelings I’m called upon to feel are less painful; less intense than the ones when I first tore down the walls.

At least they feel that way. Maybe I’ve just learned they can no longer really hurt me, or I’ve gotten stronger. In the process of becoming my true self, I’ve learned a lot of things. One is resilience. What might have broken me before is often no more than a small scratch or surface wound now; easily healed and quickly forgotten. The walls I once thought protected me actually bound me to the pain longer than necessary. Without the walls, what I don’t want or need dissipates more quickly.

Once the positive attitude was entirely an act. A way to convince people to leave me alone so my wounds could heal unimpeded. But like Anna in “The King and I”, after awhile, what I feigned became true, not because the world changed, but because I believed it with all my heart, and made it real.

A lot of folks these days are trying to discredit the “fake it ’til you make it” point of view. For them, I suppose it’s not the right approach, but it worked quite well for me with one qualification. You can only fake it for a short time. Eventually, you have to either have made it so, or revisit your expectations and revised them to fit who and what you truly are deep down inside.

Flipping the Script While Staying True to My Calling

I’ve revised and restructured many things in the last decade or so, but one thing remains constant. I am a writer. It’s what I was meant to be, and what I will ultimately excel at. No matter how many times I’m knocked down, discouraged, or criticized, it remains my singular focus. Even when I go months writing nothing but blog posts and morning pages, I’m still a writer. I’m still writing.

The fact that I’m writing constantly is evidence enough I am living my story; walking my talk. I’ll admit, the last year or so I’ve gotten into a bit of a rut, though the amount of words I’ve pounded out might belie that observation. I’ve neglected my memoir and more, my fiction writing. I think I needed to get some kind of structure with writing of any kind before I could get back on that horse. But with blog posts always 3 weeks or more ahead, Medium posts scheduled a month or better in advance, and chapters of “Sasha’s Journey” going up on ChapterBuzz with some regularity, I’m ready to up my game.

I want to do another NaNoWriMo, but more, I want to finish everything I’ve started, and actually publish something. I know that means focusing on things like building a platform, and learning how to publish and market my work. I feel, after all the roads I’ve traveled; all the words I’ve written, it’s well past time to point my trusty charger in that direction. Just typing those words makes me feel inspired, empowered, and energized, which tells me I’ve finally found the right mental state for my higher aspirations. It’s been a long time coming, and in a lot of ways, I’ve faked myself right into what I always wanted to be when I grew up.

My positive attitude may not be a constant thing, even today (but then, whose is?). It is, however, very real, and comes from the depths of my no longer frozen heart. May it inspire others to let loose the chains of their own checkered past and follow their dreams.

With Gratitude Every Step of the Way

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the family who raised me to recognize I didn’t belong, and to the family who has adopted me because I do.
  2. I’m grateful for the gift of writing. It’s gotten me through some of the worst times in my life, and helps me fully appreciate the best ones.
  3. I’m grateful for friendships that have become family; people who accept the weird, moody, quirky, hermity person I am without reservation.
  4. I’m grateful for dancing. It’s brought me my tribe, given me an outlet, and is a healthy passion.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, cats to love, electricity, running water, ample healthy food, family by choice, music, 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

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