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

Posts tagged ‘Lessons’

Nostalgia in the Air

Drifting on a Wave of Nostalgia

Birthdays make me nostalgic. When another draws near, I seem to spend time revisiting memories, holding some close, releasing others. I listen to music from my younger days—songs that bring back simpler times.

I’ve created a couple of stations on Pandora which let me travel back in time, and let go of the things that stress me out;  things that bring on migraines when I forget to let go. I use the more upbeat “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” station when I’m active; cooking, working out at the gym, walking. But when I want to float on those waves of nostalgia, or find inspiration for my writing, I always turn to my “Simon and Garfunkel” station.

Whether it’s Peter Paul and Mary’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” or something more upbeat, I sing along, or simply drift on the waves of music as familiar as my breath. Though I may not have a voice that will move masses, I find joy in singing along to the tunes that defined my youth.

Music for the Ages

If you ask me, the music of the 50’s, 60’s, and early 70’s is timeless, both for the words and the melodies. Even my daughters’ generation embraced the music of the Eagles, and Santana, as well as Queen, making it their own. The lyrics  from those years still have meaning—still move me and made me feel. I think they always will.

What they can’t do is bring back a time when my mom and I weren’t at odds over something. They can’t help me remember a time when we weren’t fighting, and when I ever felt good enough. It makes me sad those years didn’t come until after she was gone; that I didn’t learn to appreciate her or feel compassion until long after she’d left me. Or that I didn’t learn to accept and appreciate myself.

Remembering Old Feelings So I Can Let Them Go

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrFeelings of abandonment began long ago, when my sister was born. Maybe she truly was an easier child, or maybe my mom had just learned a few things about being a wife and mother. Either way, I became secondary. Though I’ve come a long way in the last few years, the songs make me remember the hurts still haven’t completely healed.

Songs like “Puff the Magic Dragon” still make me want to cry. Somehow, I feel the things I’ve lost more strongly when I hear it, probably because my first memories are listening to it when I was young enough to feel less abandoned and more loved. Before I believed I’d never be good enough; at least for my parents. Even so, the song made me cry from the first time I heard it. The reasons may have changed since then, but the tears still fall.

Opening My Heart and Mind and Recognizing My True Value

I listen to the songs from a different perspective now. I’ve lived through a lot—https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqjoys and sorrows, wins and losses. I’ve torn down walls I spent nearly a lifetime building, reinventing myself without masks or pretenses. Another birthday reminds me how far I’ve come. And I’m not done yet; not by a long shot.

I was never my mother’s child. By the time I was 10 or 11, I’d stopped trying. I spent years trying to be my father’s child, but failed there too, though I didn’t really accept my failure until recently. That’s when I realized the failure wasn’t really mine.

My dad wanted a son, but my mom didn’t give him one. Instead, his first born was clumsy, awkward, and unable to conform with any of his expectations. I wasn’t good at sports, nor particularly interested in working with my hands except to build sets for theater productions.

I loved to read and write, neither of which were of interest to him. I got my love of reading from my mom. The only thing I shared with my dad was a fierce independence. Right or wrong, I had to do things myself and spent a lot of years feeling like a failure.

Taking the Painful Lessons and Leaving the Pain

Now I can appreciate how much I learned, not only from my failures, but from my inability to fit in, even with my own family. Watching my mother struggle for acceptance from her own family, I didn’t realize I was, in my own way following her example. I tried to be what my dad expected, never realizing it was a lost cause. Worse, I never noticed how often he ridiculed and shamed me; how often he dismissed my efforts.

Somehow, it made me stronger, though it also made me shut down to love and affection. Unconsciously I realized I’d never really get the love and attention I craved from my family, and for years, believed it meant I wouldn’t get it from anyone. But times change. I learned some life lessons, and the biggest was I didn’t need to make anyone happy but me.

Breaking Free of Family Patterns and Finding Happiness

My family didn’t understand me because I was different from the start. But I finally learned I didn’t have to gauge my success or my worthiness by their expectations, or their inability to love me the way I deserve to be loved. The lack wasn’t in me at all. They did the best they could with what they, themselves had been taught. It wasn’t their fault I knew deep down I wanted and needed more.

My family holds on to old pain, to grudges, to anger. I never understood it, and never shared their need to, in essence, allow others to live rent-free in my head for years; even generations. Where they held onto pain, I learned to forgive. Where they had expectations, I learned to accept. Where their idea of love was criticism and abuse, I’ve learned love is building up and supporting the people you care about.

The songs might me sad. They might make me nostalgic. But they don’t make me wish I could go back and do things differently. They remind me of how far I’ve come.

Old Patterns May be Standing in the Way of Your Success

Are old memories and patterns weighing you down? Do you feel like you have to do it all instead of asking for help? You’re not less worthy because you recognize you can’t do it all. In fact, you’re more, because you realize you need to free yourself to do the things you’re best at. Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Something to Be Grateful for Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for memories, both pleasant and not.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, even if I had to learn a lot of them painfully.
  3. I’m grateful for the gifts my parents gave me. In the beginning, it was strength, but in time, I’ve learned compassion too.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve finally learned I don’t need to be something I’m not in order to fit in. I’m perfect just the way I am. I needed to be me before I’d find those who accepted the real, honest me and not some fruitless attempt to be anything else.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, acceptance, friendship, inspiration, motivation, words that flow as freely as a waterfall after a storm, feelings I can now allow to come forth without judgement or shame, health, peace, harmony, 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

My Road Map is A Scatter Diagram

Defining a Road Map

Created with CanvaMy Mentor, Linda Clay is a big fan of plans and road maps for reaching your goals. Me, not so much. I’m more of a “set the intention and follow the breadcrumbs the Universe leaves me” kinda gal. Linda insists I really do have a plan, even if I can’t see it in all it’s map-y glory.

It occurred to me today I was looking at it wrong. Instead of trying to see the nice, neat little road leading from point A to point B, I have to look at the dots flung hither and yon and imagine a line connecting them together. It won’t be straight and it won’t head directly to my goal. My map has dozens of side trips and deviations to the original plan because that’s the way I think.

Looking at the Empty Spaces

I used to tease my daughter Heather about solving problem by going from A to Q. She tended to skip a lot of the steps in between because her mind processed them too quickly to mention. Such is the ADD mind, and mine works the same way. But by the same token, we may go off on tangents seemingly unrelated to our goal while we’re in that space between A and Q. People don’t typically see those either because, again, they happen pretty quickly.

But life, though it’s certainly a constant series of problems and equations to solve, isn’t a single one we can solve quickly, then get on with it. Instead, we may be juggling 6 or 7 things at once, and maybe more. While we’re solving one, another 8 are jumping on our backs like a bunch of hungry chimps, each certain it’s the one that should get our attention first.

The Disorderly Mind

To an outsider, or simply someone who requires order, it might look like I’m chasing my tail https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nmost of the time. In truth, I’m gathering data and learning new things with every side trip and switch back I take. Connecting my dots would reveal, not a clean, direct route, but rather a spiral which leaves some things after one visit, but goes back to others time and time again because there’s more to be gained after learning a few more things on my journey.

We aren’t always ready for the lessons life gives us. For some it means plugging away in frustration until finally, something falls into place and it makes sense. My frustration level is very low. I’m more likely to walk away, but experience has shown me that’s often my best option. By walking away, I turn my attention to other things, maybe discovering key components in something entirely unrelated. I clear my head so when I return to the problem or lesson, I approach it with a clean perspective, and often see the solution clearly.

Games Which Stretch Our Minds

I’ve always enjoyed doing logic problems, not because they engaged the analytical part of my brain, but because in a weird way, they didn’t. You’re presented with information that doesn’t seem complete, in pieces and parts that require you to put them together without an actual framework. Looking at 3 of the clues, you might find information to check off a box or two the first time around. But each time you go through the clues, what you’ve checked off previously coalesces to clarify the picture.

My approach to life and especially my goals is a lot like a logic problem. I don’t have all the answers or knowledge I need to get there right now. I have to keep picking up skills and information, then circling back to put a few more pieces in place. Once I do, more clues are revealed or I’m directed to another source of information I need to absorb before I can continue.

Traversing an Unmarked Road of Opportunities

My guides don’t provide flashing neon signs telling me “you need this piece before you can assemble Process Q47H”. Instead, they toss out opportunities to learn something, or people who offer something I need. It’s up to me to decide whether I’m ready to assimilate what’s offered, or even willing to put forth the effort. I might even know the offer is a one-time deal and won’t come back again. That, too goes into my decision to pursue or pass.

I know if I miss one opportunity, it will either return in another form, or it’s something which might have actually confused me and taken me further off course. There are times I have, indeed chosen something that took me far away from my original path. That’s not always a bad thing either.

Each Person’s Road Map is a Series of Choices

At different points in our lives we make choices. We decide how we want our lives to look in X years. But things change. New options become available. Or old options lose their luster for one reason or another. The dreams I have today and the choices I’m making are seemingly light years away from the ones I had 20 or 30 years ago. Even the ones I had 5 years ago when I quit my accounting job are considerably different than the ones I have now (except the house overlooking the beach on a private peninsula. I still want that!).

Why? Because as I’ve pursued the original dream, I’ve learned a lot of things. Some of them are still pointing me in a reasonable facsimile of my chosen direction at the time, but many of them have expanded my horizons—showing me how much broader and more diverse my options are. I didn’t have the knowledge or the experience 5 years ago to see past my personal horizon. I was also locked in a pretty constricting comfort zone.

Growth Occurs When We Leave Our Comfort Zone

In the last couple of years, I’ve taken some giant leaps outside my former comfort zone. It’s https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/31275407857/in/photolist-PDGD8X-bnbiQa-k7zt6d-6M2nn9-mAAwrU-k7wXWX-nhNH58-k7zDp9-k7xjWk-nJgXGP-nk9CP8-k7tAv4-nziGrM-6ez3RC-nxeRe7-k7zCqf-2fgYi1C-k7B7wo-c411jo-S3dRoP-k7zetH-aubYf9-5u7LHw-cDzxty-5u3mjF-efS9bW-9tURvV-MNVXL-dkbcr9-aMCP28-LFJ8h-HUeD1-87TPHZ-5u3o9k-4t8Czz-5u7Lnq-XBZhbM-Yz4KP7-dJTsqi-YfKzKY-5Xw9Tw-kYuVpf-9GbcYZ-7DuDAu-fkpUYM-zGvsDE-qxEs38-o6g4QL-pJaHTv-mmZ7Ucnow on the far-distant horizon behind me, and before me are endless possibilities. I certainly wouldn’t have considered ghostwriting as the piece to fill the gap between my memoir and novels, and making a living. But here I am, writing for other people and getting paid to do it. The crazy part is, I’m loving doing it! I get to combine my Empathic skills with my writing skills to get inside someone’s head and write as if I were them.

Sure, my insecurities stage a rave every time I take on a new client, but with each new piece they accept and often love, my confidence grows. It will never reach cocky as a little humility, nervousness, and work ethic drive me to offer my best product to each client. But maybe at some point the raves will become more of a line dance floor where common steps are given their own twist by the participants, and I’m more certain I’m at least doing the same dance.

Connecting my dots doesn’t have a single solution. I can connect them in a million different ways and ultimately reach my goal. But I spend less time connecting and more time experiencing because I know that goal will change a few dozen times as I draw closer, and by the time I do reach it, it will more likely be a way-station than a destination.

My Most Powerful Tool Will Always Be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful to all the people who inspire me with ideas. My blogs are from real life; mine, yours, the world’s.
  2. I’m grateful for disruptive dreams that show me I’m embroiling myself in nonsense and fruitless meanderings at times.
  3. I’m grateful for a new day when irritations fade and perspectives are back in place.
  4. I’m grateful for the plethora of inspirational material available on Social Media. It’s thought-provoking, conversation-starting, or sometimes, what someone really needs to hear.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, new clients to write for, inspiration, ideas that come simply by placing fingers to keys, friendship, motivation, support, encouragement, love, healing, joy, peace, harmony, health, 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

Detaching from Other Peoples’ Drama

OP Drama is Exhausting!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpFor the last few days I’ve felt lazy, withdrawn, and disinclined to make even the slightest effort to clean, complete tasks I’ve set myself, or even move. Instead, I’ve felt a need to connect with the Earth physically and at length to the point where I’ve moved my daily meditation from the couch in my living room to a blanket spread on the grass in my backyard.

I couldn’t figure out whether I was being affected by malaise, moon phase, or geomagnetic storms. Ultimately I realized that while any or all may be factors, the simple truth was I’d allowed myself, once again to be drawn into someone else’s drama. I know better. I tell myself every time to run the other way when I see drama looming. But friendship and a misplaced sense of responsibility always get in my way.

Revisiting Our Lessons

I suppose the lesson keeps repeating itself because I haven’t mastered it yet. Hell, I haven’t even gotten past elementary school with this one, if truth be told. But my energy body knows and has initiated a shut-down, preventing me from making plans away from home or doing more than thinking, meditating, or napping until I get this sorted out.

Part of the sorting will be posts like this, some will be meditation, and some will be as simple as cleaning the house and doing some self-care. Yet interestingly enough, as soon as I recognized the problem and began writing about it, I felt a burst of energy and started getting some of the things done I’d been neglecting since this bought of “drama flu” came on.

Finding My Cure in Nature

I’m grateful the weather has cleared, at least temporarily, allowing me to lay out on the back lawn, work with the window open, and watch, hear, and smell nature at her finest while I work. For the last couple of days, I’ve been delighting in the feel of the wind playing with my hair, the sight of painted lady butterflies passing through my yard in their usual meandering way, and feeling the sun warming my skin. The resident raven is taunting the cats from his perch in the tree outside my office window.

Interestingly enough, my normally noisy neighborhood is unusually lacking in sounds like lawn mowers, leaf blowers, revving engines, and air tools. Somehow, everything is aligned for me to free myself from the web of drama and do things useful, creative, or both.

Reminders to Detach and Reconnect with What Matters

It’s not unusual to get not-so-subtle reminders of a lesson which has yet to be learned. But Created with Canvararely have I noticed circumstances aligning quite this well for me to gather my resources and focus on the lesson. The cleaning I still need to do is perfect for getting some thinking done as it’s automatic and mindless. The weather is perfect for reconnecting with the Earth. My schedule has nothing in it which must be done in the next 2 days.

I’ve seen how the drama affected some of the people concerned with illness and fatigue. I neither want nor need to take myself down that far. It did take me through a couple of days of less-than-healthy eating. This morning, my weight and blood pressure gave me a pointed reminder I needed to get back on track, though I’d figured it out last night and made a big healthy salad. (of course, by the time you’re reading this, it’ll be a couple of weeks after the fact, but sometimes it’s hard to write in the past when it’s Now).

Catching On More Quickly These Days

It’s taken a lot of years and many painful reminders, but now I’m liable to respond to subtle hints long before I reach the point where a Universal head slap is required. I may be slow, but I am averse to pain. Hit me enough times over the same thing, and I’ll start paying attention. I may still fall into the same old pattern and need reminders, but at least I don’t need the ones that lay me out flat, rubbing my poor, bruised head and wondering what I did this time.

The truth is, I care deeply about my friends and hate seeing them get hurt or abused. But in the last few years, the friendships I’ve built have been with strong, resilient people like me. They don’t need me to absorb any of the negative energy or take on any of the drama they might be temporarily immersed in. They can take care of themselves, with perhaps a little moral support. In fact, I’m probably doing more harm than good by letting myself get sucked in.

Giving People Credit for Their Own Strength and Resilience

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to step back and let things unfold without our Created with Canvaobservation or influence. As I tell my cats sometimes “go find something else to do for awhile”. Like them, I’m more in the way and hindering progress right now, though my friends may be too kind to tell me so outright. If I stop trying to fix things, I’ll realize they’re pulling back and sharing less with me right now; a subtle reminder my help isn’t needed a this point.

They’ve got this, and I’m not helping by worrying and fretting, nor by getting annoyed at the person they’re managing quite well on their own. In short, it isn’t my problem to solve or boundaries to set, it’s theirs. If I keep trying to make it mine, I’ll end up making an ass of myself and having to step back and regroup anyway, so I might as well do it beforehand. Truth be told, I have enough going on in my own life. I don’t need to take on anyone else’s anyway.

Even if I could, they are far better suited to handle what comes their way than I am. They’ve traveled the pathways which gave them the tools they now carry just as I’ve walked my own. (Yet another lesson I’ve yet to master?) Maybe I need another affirmation for my ever-growing collection:

I will attend to my own life and stay out of other peoples’ drama

Stepping Back and Being Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for Universal reminders which come without head slaps.
  2. I am grateful for a loving heart to give to my friends and family, but also grateful I can limit what I give and what I allow myself to take on.
  3. I am grateful for a lifestyle which allows me time to step back and regroup.
  4. I am grateful for choices.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; a life well-lived, inspiration, friends, family, joy, laughter, wit, a strong sense of humor, motivation, energy, love, health, peace, harmony, 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

 

Seeing Improvements, Ignoring Flaws

Focusing on the Improvements

Created in CanvaLately I’ve found myself standing in front of the mirror and instead of seeing all the places in my body and face where I could use some improvements I’m seeing all the progress I’ve made.

Not only is the change of outlook uplifting instead of demoralizing, it motivates me to continue doing the things which contributed to the improvements. Best of all is the change in attitude which has me standing taller, walking more purposefully, and pushing myself to do more; increase the weights more frequently at the gym, do the heavier household tasks I’ve been putting off, drinking more water (5 gallons in about 4 days!), and getting up from my desk more frequently.

Yet the improved viewpoint with regard to my physical self also serves to amplify areas where I have work to do. It enables me to recognize the voices in my head telling me I’m not ready for certain kinds of work, and that there’s a very real chance I’ll let my clients down. I can say to those voices: I’ve achieved things I never thought possible physically, and at an age when most people are noticing their bodies are weakening and becoming less flexible. In many ways, I’ve reversed my own aging process. If I can do that, I can handle whatever I choose to take on, or, as happens often, what’s thrown at me.

Achieving the Impossible by Stretching Our Muscles

Everyone is capable of the impossible as soon as they realize the word can be re-read as “I’m Possible”. Once we recognize the impossible things we’ve already accomplished, we simply need to look at everything else we deem impossible and see how we overcame our own limitations and succeeded, often in extraordinary ways.

When I started managing my gym time and created a regular routine, I had only recently recovered from a herniated disk in my neck. I was unable to lift more than a couple of pounds with my left arm, and then, only a few times. Now, I’m doing chest presses with 35-pound free weights, 50 pound overhead presses, and shoulder lifts with 15 pound free weights. What makes these achievements more amazing is they’ve happened in about 8 months just by being persistent and consistent.

Writing and building a business use a different kind of muscles but muscles nonetheless. They need to be exercised and challenged to do more and do better. I look at what I wrote when I first returned to regular writing 9 years ago after a hiatus of several decades. While it wasn’t bad and my skills were still intact, I can clearly see how it improves over time when I exercise, not only the writing muscles, but those which have allowed me to chip away at walls decades in the making.

Detaching Ourselves from Outdated Lessons

Whatever we undertake which takes us out of our comfort zone is part of our journey and, as such doesn’t have a completion date. We continue to learn and grow, improving our skills and strengthening our muscles as we take on more and more, going beyond what we thought ourselves capable of when we began. The lessons we learned from early childhood forward are interwoven into our psyches and the root system is deeply embedded. We might pull some things out by the roots, but tendrils remain, intertwined with lessons we learned or revisited further along our path.

Like knots in a cord, we untangle things one at a time, often finding bits and pieces of other things interwoven like threads making up the cord itself. With each knot we untie, we uncover dozens of directions we might take to find the next one in the series. There’s no wrong direction or incorrect answer. Only more lessons to rework and, in some cases, unlearn.

Seeking Our Beauty in the Flaws

By far the most important of those lessons involves the way we see and judge ourselves. Until we https://www.flickr.com/photos/geekphysical/34110702621/in/photolist-TYfjPn-TYfjA6-SW9mjv-TYfhFV-nfDXTT-TzQShS-U7cbG3-TYfeGt-SW9q7a-TYffM4-TYfj3T-TYfgur-TzQSHS-U7cdRy-SW9oDR-SW9poM-UaL182-SW9rkH-SW9pEP-r9jQNK-U7ceT3-TYfhAp-TVUzJW-TYfhxt-TYfjgP-TzQM83-UaL13c-TYfeJn-UaL13x-UaL5av-TYfeRM-SW9oAz-SW9qAB-TYfhND-TzQPph-TVUyuw-p57Yrr-FjQDuX-TYffBp-TYfdzZ-UaL2kT-TzQSvY-U7cde1-UaL1Ux-TYffjF-TzQPku-TYfmMRrecognize the beauty in our differences, the value in what we unconsciously deemed flaws, it’s difficult to make progress untying those knots; unearthing the roots. Certainly, we could go about it violently, poisoning the roots and burning the cord. But doing so wouldn’t really alter our thinking or rework the triggers we’ve created through years of living life, falling down, getting hurt, and getting back up again.

We have to approach them as we might a timid animal, making it clear we mean the child within no harm. Otherwise we cling to those old ways, our preferred ways of reacting like a security blanket, refusing to let go no matter how old, filthy, and threadbare they’ve become. Taking the time to untie the knots carefully, we enable ourselves to see how and why they were formed, and where they are no longer necessary. Most importantly, we get to see how the strength we’ve developed has made so many of those old patterns unnecessary. We recognize how strong we’ve become and how much we’ve accomplished by handling the old wounds gently, cleaning them out and allow them to fully heal.

Our Kinder, Gentler Selves

A major part of our gentler handling of those old wounds comes from being willing and able to look at ourselves through kinder eyes with more realistic expectations. From a less lofty and unforgiving place, we see how far we’ve come, how much we’ve improved, and how clear our path is to continued improvement and previously impossible goals. In other words, by seeing how much we’ve improved rather than how much we need to work on.

We’ll always have room for improvement, if only because we, ourselves keep raising the bar the further along we get. We don’t necessarily do it consciously, but because we see that something is attainable and challenge ourselves to do even more. It’s normal and natural, and inspires us, as long as we don’t set the bar so high we can’t see any possible way of achieving our new goals. We need both confidence and hope in this journey we call “life”.

Gratefully Facing Each Day We’re Given

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the dance community which continues to amaze me with the love and support they share so freely.
  2. I am grateful for butt kicks. Even when they’re administered gently, they get me up and moving forward so I can achieve and attain all I have the talent and ability to achieve.
  3. I am grateful for friends who come together in good times and bad, ready to help each other over life’s humps and bumps.
  4. I am grateful for my home, my sanctuary where I can go to regroup when life becomes too challenging for me to handle without some respite.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, friendship, solidarity, support, inspiration, motivation, opportunities to step out of my comfort zone, people who allow me to give and take instead of either or, strength both physical and emotional, joy, peace, health, harmony, 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.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss Was a Major Force in My Earliest Forays into Literature

Thanks to my mom, I’ve been an avid reader since I was about 4. She took my sister and me on regular forays to Lewis for Books, a small, independent book store owned by a husband and wife who, to my young eyes, seemed as old as the dinosaurs. I suspect they were much younger than they seemed to me, but still, the store is long gone, which is sad for future readers. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis introduced me to books I added to my growing list of favorites, and later to those of my daughters.

I learned a lot from every book I read, whether it was horses, foreign countries, or, in the case of Dr. Seuss, how to be a good person.

The Man Behind the Moniker

https://twitter.com/drseuss20144783Theodore Seuss Geisel, known to the world as Dr. Seuss was a man of many talents. Author, poet, illustrator, cartoonist—he had all the bases covered. Though never a parent himself, he knew how to entertain children and give them a reason to want to read. His stories have a rhythm and tone that’s irresistible to children of all generations, and many have been turned into films and plays.

Though much of his work took him into the political arena, especially in the years which encompassed WWII, he had, in my opinion, a remarkable insight into social issues and a knack for simplifying them so they were both entertaining and enlightening for young readers.

Whether it was seeing the difference between right and wrong in the disobedient and often destructive Cat in the Hat, the inclusiveness and recognition that different doesn’t mean wrong in Horton Hears a Who, or our responsibility for the damage we do to our environment in The Lorax, it’s impossible not to consider the consequences of our behavior while reading the works of Dr. Seuss.

Inspired to Write Because of What I Read

Although the Dick and Jane books were still the staple when I was in elementary school (and prompted my infamous declaration: “This book is boring! I’m going to be a writer when I grow up!”) Dr. Seuss wrote in a way which not only used words at the right level for early readers (Cat in the Hat used only 236 common words), but injected lessons in a way which taught without pressure.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dogfog/5204935882/in/photolist-8VWE6Q-6FR4PG-DEEKw-bsF6i-cpi3Wd-dk9u1v-8BntLm-UGRZCH-fQcPnR-dhnn9s-fQcPgM-fQupxU-bKacYT-UGRZtV-iLNUA-kX4rWL-a3Sspv-61cUZi-AvxRBm-a3VVrF-i9PxxA-qHWpW2-AvxoHG-bz1N74-a3RRKM-fHdw26-BqLtuU-BqLFA7-B1WeW9-buhdFm-UGRZiK-UGRZpX-UQTX4N-EkYNF6-UQTX7U-UGRZsn-TC1PJN-fQuqyd-Unj5Bd-a3Spzc-rrT2hS-a3VxnA-BivGa1-UGRZma-UQTWLd-Bt5PfM-a3VvMo-61cUX8-z6xzb6-Avxt6EEven today, when I watch or read The Lorax I see how both collective and individual greed and lack of consideration for limited resources hurt us all, and think twice about making choices which exacerbate our already suffering Earth and society.

I’ve also learned a lot in recent years about how isolating ourselves in the mistaken belief we have every single resource we need to thrive and succeed within ourselves is hurtful and harmful, not only to ourselves but to everyone we deprive of our own gifts. Dr. Seuss was all about working together, even if, at first what you created was mischief.

He also taught me some things are worth the risk, whether that risk be physical, or emotional. Following the common school of thought may be safer, but there’s no room for growth, and what’s common isn’t always what’s right.

Above All, We Must Be True to Ourselves

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my 6 decades and counting. But I’ve also learned a lot of wonderful lessons. Some have been painful, usually because they were thrust upon me when I was most resistant. Others have been life-changing, like learning that my mother’s ability to express her vulnerability (willingly or not ) made her a stronger person than my dad who lived his entire life encased in an unyielding suit of armor.

In fact, it was by taking up the pen just as Dr. Seuss did that I learned the most about myself and the lessons which had created the person I looked at in the mirror every morning and night. My work may not waft through the brain with the flow of music; the point and counterpoint of poetry, but it reflects my own, true voice, just as his did. In fact, it’s because of Dr. Seuss that I do allow my own personal voice to shine brightly. He taught me I needn’t pretend to be or believe anything that isn’t genuine. He made me realize (though it took a number of years for it to truly sink in) that I am perfect the way I am.

But most of all, he taught me that being my unique, quirky, authentic self is exactly what I’m supposed to be, and that I needn’t make apologies to those who don’t understand. They have their path, and I have mine. Neither one is more right than the other. We’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be, and have our own set of lessons to learn. Just because I’m not as far ahead as some people with some courses of study doesn’t mean I can’t be further along in others, and in fact, in all likelihood, I am. As a result, we all have things we can teach others, and things we can (and should) learn from them too.

Using My Early Exposure to Dr. Seuss as a Compass for Life

Because he opened my mind to the possibilities, I continue to grow, even decades after I read his work on a regular basis. Because his messages were so powerful and applicable, I revisit them almost daily. But the one which resonates most strongly these days is one of social consciousness. I know it’s an area where I’m still lacking and put my daughter (a person half my age) up as an example of following a path towards a more conscious, aware, compassionate way of life.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ay

In fact, she has been motivated by her own early exposure to the good Doctor. She used one of his quotes in her wedding, engraving it on a piece of tree trunk for her ring bearer to carry in lieu of the standard satin cushion.Created in Canva

She had one of her favorites tattooed on her leg along with a truffula tree to remind her every day that success is simply putting one foot in front of the other.

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.

If you ask me, that’s about the best life-lesson we can have, and pass on to our children and grandchildren.

Gratitude, Too, Is Seussical

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful to my mom and Mr. and Mrs. Lewis who introduced me, not only to Dr. Seuss, but to literature as a whole. I’ve taken many a journey around the world and back (and even to the stars) between the covers of a book.
  2. I’m grateful for Linda Clay who has inspired me to get on with my writing and stop wasting precious time.
  3. I’m grateful for Trello which helps me keep on track with my writing, just as MyFitnessPal helps me keep on track with my diet and exercise routines. Tools are good things, especially when memory isn’t enough.
  4. I’m grateful for balance in my life. I switch easily between creative and analytical, self-care and work, recognizing it’s all necessary to make me a well-rounded and contributing member of society.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, challenges, my disappearing comfort zone, confidence, baby steps, successes both small and grand, friendship, joy, love, happiness, opportunities to help others, early mornings and late nights, peace, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

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.

Overwhelming Ourselves into Inaction

Life Can Be Overwhelming: Get Over It!

Oftentimes, the goals we set for ourselves are filled to the brim with all our hopes and dreams. This leads to goals as big as Mount Olympus, and often leaves us staring in open-mouthed awe. But open-mouthed awe doesn’t help us climb the mountain. In fact, quite the opposite, it leaves us standing in one place, unable to move, overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.

While we stand there staring, we lose sight of the fact that our goal is climbing the mountain. Climbing the mountain before us, or anything else we might imagine starts with a single step, a tiny action, and a plan.

Yet not all of us get stuck in the same part of the process. For some, taking the first step is their sticking point. For others, it’s the idea of creating a plan. We lose sight of the fact we don’t need to plan every single tiny step. In fact, that would inhibit the process even further as things happen along the way we can’t possibly plan for, and which will often alter our trajectory.

Breaking a Goal Into Manageable Pieces

I like to think of the plan as an outline where you hit the high points, but leave the details open. Those high points are your mountains, but the details in between are your stepping stones, and you can’t always plan where the next one will be. The real trick is to be alert for choices we’re given along the way; should we take the easy, already beaten path, or try our luck with one that’s overgrown and will require a little more effort? Do we always stick to the straight and narrow, or take a chance on the one that meanders its way through mountains and valleys, fording streams and climbing over boulders?

Your mind shifts, the world changes, and sometimes even the next milestone in your plan is moved, pushed back, or even changed entirely.

I believe that’s where so many of us get hung up. We believe even those milestones have to be engraved in…well…stone. Nothing could be further from the truth. They’re more like place markers giving you a direction to reach towards. How you get there will rarely be a straight shot, nor would you continue to hold onto the excitement of the journey if it were. A winding road with surprises appearing around each bend is not only more interesting, but leads to discoveries you hadn’t considered when you first drafted the plan. Better still, it challenges us and forces adaptation and learning of new skills which will be of use to us further down the road.

Detours Can Be A More Direct Route

As a child, my two favorite things were reading and making up stories. Along the way, I got involved in many things; dance, technical theater, accounting, even a little mentoring. I got married, finished college, became a parent, got divorced… My point is, life changes and plans fall through.

Do we sit down on the ground and bawl our eyes out about how mean the world is for knocking over our sand castle? Do we insist the road we were on was the best and only one for us? Not if we want to accomplish anything.

The world can seem like a bully, knocking down our block houses, rolling over our dreams like an endless tidal wave. Yet what happens isn’t personal. It’s simply a way to not only make us stronger, but more flexible. When one plan falls through, we need to figure out how to make another one out of the bits and pieces which remain. We need to learn how to build on a more solid foundation and to make what we build resilient enough to accept a bit of thrashing around; even some out and out abuse, and emerge from the chaos ready for the next wave of challenges.

Dealing With the Overwhelm an Moving On

We all get overwhelmed from time to time. Sitting down and having a good cry isn’t always the wrong answer. Sometimes, you need to let go of some crap before figuring out what your next step will be. The tough part is letting it go without trying to hold onto a couple of pieces you think you might need, or are emotionally attached to. Those things will weigh you down as you begin to rebuild from your new perspective. The purpose they were meant to serve is in the past. It’s time to set them down for someone else to find and use to move themselves forward, as you are doing now.

Many coaches these days tell us to come up with our “Big Why”. They’ll ask us questions, drilling down into the depths of our psyche to pull out our real reason for wanting this goal or that one. I’m finding it isn’t always easy to determine what my own “Big Why” is, and in fact, trying to figure it out was keeping me from setting a couple of goals and moving forward.

Making Life’s Imperfections Work in Your Favor

Sometimes, part of your plan won’t come to you. No matter how hard you try, you can’t figure it out. Whether it’s your ultimate goal or an interim one, they’re not always apparent when you set out. Sometimes, because I need to has to be enough for the moment. We don’t always know, nor can we put into words what drives us forward and makes us keep striving for something, especially when everything we try falls apart like one of my earthquake cakes. That’s OK.

Work with what you know. Focus on a goal you know you can attain, even if it’s only going to take you through the next three days. It simply means you don’t have enough information. You don’t even know what you don’t know. Standing in one place, contemplating your navel isn’t going to change that. Moving around will. Something or someone you meet along the way will trigger a question, or drag a memory out of your subconscious that gives you a clue, inspires you to keep moving. If nothing else, the process of moving will invariably shake loose a few cobwebs and clear your head, making it easier to recognize a clue before it smacks you in the head.

Sometimes You’re the Windshield and Sometimes You’re the Bug

I’ve been on all sides of this equation. I’ve had goals, like completing my accounting degree, which I achieved. I’ve had others, like making a living as a writer, which are still gathering steam. I’ve tripped and fallen on my face dozens of times. I’ve gone down countless dead-end roads. I’ve also slogged through swamps and dragged myself that one more step up my latest mountain, assuring myself I’d be glad I did in the end. And I always was.

What keeps me going isn’t a solid goal. It’s an image of the life I want to be living, the home, the people, the grove of fruit trees I can use to help feed the hungry in my community, the cats I’ll help save from euthanization or worse. But I succumb to overwhelm too.

Forgotten Victims, or Whatever it’s Called in the End

My biggest goal is to get my memoir about family suicide published and promoted on a broad scale. Yet since the writers’ conference in February, I’ve re-written 1 1/2 chapters; none of them in the last 2 months. Why? Because I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of re-writing what took me 9 years to create. I’ve even managed to mire myself in how much I dislike the current title!

I’ve re-thought my defining moment. I created a timeline of significant events. Yet my mind runs in circles, trying to decide whether to print the whole thing out on index cards so I can re-arrange them like puzzle pieces or sit down and work with what I currently have to re-shape the existing chapters first. Stuck in a mire of indecision, I’m doing exactly what I’m telling you not to do; I’m wallowing in my own misery and frustration and failing to move forward.

Making Your Own Small Successes

Sure, I’m now putting out 3 blog posts a week. I’ve joined the #HeartfeltAcademy to move my visions for my work and business forward. Most of all, I’ve realized I can break my re-writing project into even smaller, practically bite-sized pieces. I can spend an hour a day on it without reaching that point in every writer’s life where I want to set fire to the whole project and run away screaming “I suck at this! What ever made me think I could be a successful writer?”

Instead, I listen to my coach who is telling me to break it into smaller pieces. I step back and set a couple of shorter-term goals. Most of all, I make time in my day to act on those smaller pieces knowing when I can put a check mark next to today, I’ll feel absolutely fabulous about the small step I’ve taken toward achieving one of my many goals!

Gratitude is Always the Answer

Above all, I am grateful for every step I take, every stumble, every Universal head slap, and every bit of encouragement and praise I receive. I’ve even learned how to accept a compliment without qualification or underlying belief it’s undeserved.

  1. I am grateful to Linda Clay, Jessa Hargrove and the entire #HeartfeltMovement for helping me get out of my own way, recognize my qualities, learn to overcome my weaknesses, and ask for help from the amazing women who are joining the groups every day.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and the times I’ve fallen and picked myself up again. May I always pick myself up after each fall, and recognize what I’ve learned in the process.
  3. I am grateful for my daughter Heather who inspires me every single day. She may have spent the better part of 13 years at various community colleges, but she found her way back to her original dream, and will be graduating from the last community college with 2 AS Degrees before going on to SDSU in the Fall. She shows me every day how to keep putting one foot in front of the other, regardless of any obstacle. There isn’t anything we can’t overcome if we stay focused on our goals.
  4. I am grateful for friends who have become family and who are so incredibly encouraging. They may not know how much or how often their words have helped me keep reaching for my dream of being a real writer, but I wouldn’t have come this far without them.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, determination, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, love, joy, energy, kitty love, sunshine, rain, hope, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Choosing Your Lessons and Teachers With Care

Is Money the Only Object?

I come into contact with a lot of coaches these days. Many of them are true artists at their craft and need no justifications to do their job and do it well. But there are others who write long, impassioned Facebook posts about how they justify raising their rates, even, in one case tripling them because, in their words, they only want to work with people who are “…willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.” Unfortunately, these words conjure up a long-ago visit to an EST event where non-members were herded into a separate room after getting a taste of what they could expect from membership in this exclusive cross-section of society. A man stood before us speaking as convincingly as he could, saying that the program was worth anything we had to do to come up with the $200 fee (a lot of money for a college student in the early ’70’s). He lost me when he said “sell your car or your stereo or whatever you have to because you really have to be part of this.”

When anyone tells me I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to buy their program or services I am, as a result of the EST experience extremely dubious. Why? Because the mere fact that they are pushing their services and associated high price tag in this manner tells me it’s all about the money and not about what’s best for me. They are loyal to one thing only; the pursuit of the mighty buck.

Even worse are the ones who tell me to listen to them and do what they say without argument. Excuse me? You’re telling me to simply trust you and your advice because you say so? Without proof of its efficacy for anyone else, much less, me specifically? This approach usually leads to my distrust of anything else that ever comes out of their mouth. I’m a born skeptic and a critical thinker. The combination doesn’t do well with autocracy on any level. In fact, I’m more likely to poke fun at its use, poking crater-sized holes in any argument launched on those terms.

Setting the Right Parameters

I know I need to hire a coach or probably several to help me ascend beyond my current limitations. I also know that I have my own priorities, and nothing anyone else can tell me will change them until I’m ready to change them myself. When the time comes, the coaches I choose will be those who are in it for the satisfaction of helping others achieve their goals and release their blocks first. That those services come with a higher price tag is simply a testament to their success with others like me and a finite number of hours with which to work with their clients.

As an Empath, it’s hard (though not impossible) to convince me of a compassionate and loyal heart where none exists. That being said, there will be times, and have been in the past when I seek expertise from someone who, for all intents and purposes is truly in it for the money; who couldn’t care less whether I succeed or fail aside from how it might impact their own credibility. Yet they have achieved amazing success with their own lives, and have learned a thing or two about how it’s done. I don’t expect every expert I consult to have my best interests at heart. It’s up to me to weigh the pros and cons of doing business with them and decide whether I can tune out what doesn’t resonate to benefit from what does. It is not a perfect world, and sometimes, our most useful and long-lasting lessons come directly from our interaction with the imperfections. They often speak to an imperfection in ourselves which needs to be addressed and molded into something better.

Other times, as I’ve told my daughter many times, I learn as much about what not to do from people as I do what to do and why. Closing your mind to anyone who is not on the same wave-length cuts out at least 50% of the opportunities you have to learn and grow. I’m not willing to slow my own progress just because I don’t adore all of the teachers with whom I’m presented. They key is twofold: recognizing the opportunities and understanding where an emotional attachment is necessary and where it is not. Only then can we be open to learning and growing on all levels instead of living in perpetual myopia.

Gratitude. It Brings Us Exactly What We Need.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the epiphanies which came to my more open mind yesterday.
  2. I am grateful to be able to release old paradigms which long-ago stopped serving any real purpose.
  3. I am grateful to friends who are helping me see myself differently.
  4. I am grateful for the people who are being put in my path right now as teachers, guides, and new friends.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, love, challenges, harmony, peace, kindness, compassion, courage, beauty, friendship, honesty, loyalty, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Check out Wells Baum’s interpretation of today’s Daily Prompt.

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also check out her Facebook page at Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author.

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