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

Posts tagged ‘light’

Christmas: Healing and Moving Forward

Healing: My Greatest Miracle

Christmas this year brings up a lot of emotions. I can’t help thinking back to last year when my entire community and family were reeling, not only from the murder of 12 amazing members of our dance family, but the brutal wild fires that ripped through our area the next day, leaving many temporarily displaced or homeless.

If that wasn’t enough, I lost my sweet Munchkin; another victim to feline lymphoma. Needless to say, it wasn’t much of a Christmas around here. I didn’t even go to my daughter’s as I usually do.

But it’s another year. A lot of healing has occurred; a lot of joy has been found in connections, new dance venues, and shifting priorities. New friendships have formed, and old ones have strengthened. Many of my friends are now couples as they’ve let go of old beliefs and embraced love and connection. Before you ask, I’m still flying solo, at least for the moment.

Embracing Change

This has been a year for making changes, most of them internally. I’ve focused on writing more, and putting my work out into a wider arena. I’ve gone out into the world to dance in venues new to me, though apparently, old news to many of my dance family. In the process, I’ve even reconnected with old friends.

So often, tragedy brings people together, though in my experience, it’s often temporary. Though it’s flung my dance family far and wide, in the general scheme of things, I believe it’s brought us closer together too. We saw how quickly things could change, realized how important we are to each other, and how much joy we share. We learned how much we’d taken things for granted, despite losing several of our clan in the last few years to cancer, suicide, and more.

Every day; every hour; every minute is truly a gift, whether it’s spent alone, with our pets, or with a person or people we love. The hugs I’ve always loved giving and receiving take on a whole new level of importance now; a new sweetness in the exchange. The person I’m hugging may need the hug more than I know. Life might be kicking their butt while they show the world a smiling face.

Allowing Myself to Need Other People

healing with hugsOr I might be the one needing that hug while wearing a smile. It doesn’t really matter. The hugs are heartfelt and filled with love no matter what, and the exchange makes the worlds of all participants brighter. In a lot of ways, it makes the whole world brighter as we add another injection of love and joy to help push back the darkness.

Light and dark can’t inhabit the same space any more than two physical objects or beings can. The more light we create through our actions and thoughts, the less room we leave for the darkness which creeps insidiously into any crack or crevice it can find.

Being a Light in the Darkness

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t spent time in a dark place thinking they were all https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEValone in their sadness; their misery. Many come out of it on their own, but the process of emerging back into a place of light and joy is expedited by the love and care of others. I read stories all the time of people who emerged on their own, and I’m one of them.

Am I proud I managed to emerge on my own without help? Not really. I’m grateful, but not really proud of eschewing all help and keeping other people out for as many years as I did. Granted, I didn’t know any better. It’s how I was raised. How my parents, and probably their parents before them were raised too. Perhaps there was a time when keeping struggles within was necessary for survival, but that time is long gone. Yet I had to figure that out for myself.

What I can say is I’ve made a lot more progress not only leaving my own darkness behind, but finding and exuding joy since I began allowing others to help, even if it was something as simple as a heartfelt hug. Then again, is a heartfelt hug that simple?

A Hug is Powerful Medicine

I still have friends who struggle with giving heart and soul to a hug. They’ll give a little scratch on the back, or a quick squeeze. I get it. It’s an intimate act when you put everything into it. Some aren’t ready to open themselves up that way. Others do it selectively. I’m selective about it myself, only going all in when I feel safe with someone.

Nonetheless, the mere act of hugging, whether full on, or with reservations is an act of love and trust. Like love and trust, we all give it when and where we feel comfortable doing it. I certainly don’t open my heart to everyone (except maybe on these pages where I’m safe behind my screen), and don’t expect others to either.

Sharing those intimate pieces of ourselves takes courage. I certainly have my share of trust issues after getting burned many times before I shut down completely. But like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, I’ve slowly learned to attract people I can trust enough to allow them to see my pure, unadulterated self.

Sure, it’s been a rocky road where I trusted a few I shouldn’t have, but each time I’ve retreated, it hasn’t been as far, nor for as long as it used to be. The value of evolution is learning when and where to trust, but also how to heal more quickly when I misplace that trust.

The Mating Game Goes On Around Me

It also means I can feel joy for friends who’ve found a mate without feeling envy https://www.flickr.com/photos/34167287@N05/23787059822/in/photolist-CeYUa5-f3skzG-26xyyFN-8Uqt6v-7RUJnT-5631Bv-9KzjET-otM3UU-9KC7p3-6EcqkE-rtobLr-5xx9XP-7Bj5nM-4JDZ1E-21oAHiQ-7Csyge-7YZVSv-7Z4a4L-7Z4a5b-4Btbxi-5m1iya-i54aYC-4BxARm-i54aXq-YA2ERd-4kmex7-WgVGRw-8GceK9-i548Lu-6m1sit-ospDf4-58cZtS-i54b7d-ggwmL-cKWfHj-bg5Uu-bsSgAg-8GcvXA-q68RzV-4fFkFc-e3cS7q-aQ7Ph-bg8hZ-q6pHnG-4VXWUt-dYksek-277AbZE-4VWArR-4VXUXR-2b2aNGJas well. There was a time I’d tell myself I was meant to be alone, and that I was OK with the idea. I’m starting to release that notion, though it’s happening in small steps.

First, I can see myself in a committed relationship, but still maintaining separate households and a fair amount of time alone. I recognize I need the space not only to recharge, but to create. I can start a draft of something in a crowd, but to truly get into the writing zone, I need ample time in my own company when I don’t feel obliged to give someone else my attention.

Whoever is meant to come into my life in that capacity will need to understand and accept that aspect of me. More, he’ll need the same kind of space. Hopefully, the timing of those needs will coincide at least part of the time.

Second, I realize I could go further, faster with regular encouragement, and even a kick in the butt or two. I’d love to have someone in my life who recognized that and was there to drag me out of those periods of sloth I sometimes fall into—far more often than I care to admit.

And third, I no longer see myself as an island who stands free and strong alone. I know I need people; not to make me whole, but to round out my life and world. I don’t feel envy for my coupled up friends because the person each of them is with is perfect for them, not me. I do feel a certain amount of wistfulness if only because I still have trouble picturing myself in the arms of someone who loves and cherishes me the way I want and need to be loved and cherished.

Learning to Love and Be Loved

I guess in some ways I am caught up in old patterns when I turned myself inside out to keep a dysfunctional relationship going longer than necessary. I’m a little afraid I’ll do that again, though I like to think I know better now.

Once again, I’ve talked myself around in a weird kind of circle. What I’ve learned in the last year is how much we all deserve to be loved and cherished, and how much better alone is than being in a one-sided relationship. In the last year, I’ve had the privilege of seeing a lot of beautiful relationships grow and thrive, as well as getting a closer look at those which have lasted decades.

The examples of the last year are slowly pushing the old, broken ones I learned from my birth family away; replacing dysfunctional with warm, loving, and beautiful. I’m honored to have the opportunity to see so much love first-hand, though somewhat saddened it took a series of tragedies to open my eyes and heart enough to see and appreciate what’s been there all along.

With Heartfelt Gratitude for All I Know and Love

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friendships which have deepened and grown.
  2. I’m grateful for life’s earthquakes which shake old, broken parts loose for good.
  3. I’m grateful for hugs.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve found people to accept and love me as I am, broken, clumsy, and awkward as I might be at times. Who know I’m still learning how to be human, and don’t hold it against me.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, hugs, acceptance, compassion, understanding, giving, receiving, dancing, new beginnings and endings in their time, peace, 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

Irritation as a Wake-up Call

Minor Irritants, Major Malfunctions

For the last week or so, I’ve found numerous things, both small and large have irritated me. Some have been clear like inconsiderate behavior, but others were a nagging feeling in the back of my brain. As the irritation came to a head in the form of a migraine, I was forced to admit I was reacting instead of responding, and that most of my irritation came from my failure to enforce my own energetic boundaries.

In short, I’ve been absorbing the energy from friends and acquaintances who are struggling with their own reactions to people, things, and circumstances in their lives. The truth is, my own life has been pretty smooth and easy lately. There have been no major upheavals, and in fact, a lot to be grateful for. Still, it took a migraine to make me realize how much I was allowing myself to be bogged down.

Whether it’s a friend with boyfriend problems, or one who has allowed family and friends to push her own boundaries aside; someone who is dealing with unavoidable challenges with kids or aging parents, or someone whose job is getting them down. I may not even know what’s bothering whoever’s energy I’m unconsciously absorbing, but you can bet I know the pressure they’re under is real, and is shoving them into a deep, dark pool at the moment.

Remembering to be the Light Instead of More Darkness

One thing is certain, getting down into that pool with them and wallowing is doing neither of us any Consciousness On the Risegood. What they need right now is a healthy dose of my signature positive energy to help them find light at the end of their tunnel. And to my regret, I’ve been failing to provide the light they need.

Like anything else, the first step towards solving a problem is to recognize there is a problem. Nobody spends time looking for solutions to a nothing, do they? For me, recognition leads to the first step in my process: apologies. I don’t mean walking up to everyone I’ve ever wronged and apologizing for my actions. It’s more of an internal process in which I look at what I’ve mishandled lately, and apologize to the energies I’ve been sullying with my own negativity.

Apologies and Forgiveness: A Powerful Combination

Apologies are useless without forgiveness, so after acknowledging where I’ve behaved poorly, I forgive myself. Why? Because I know in my own often clumsy way, I’m doing the best I can with this human existence, and the mistakes I make are part of my learning process. Those mistakes serve as guideposts to how I can do better next time, and how I can improve on or mitigate what I’ve done this time.

During this review process, I see and accept how and why I let my guard and energy down. In this case, it could be a not-so-gentle reminder to ensure my filters are firmly in place, as I’ll soon be putting myself in a situation which is scary on many levels. I’ll be spending a couple of days with hundreds of people I’ve never met and who I will need to interact with on at the very least, a professional level. I will also be exposing the first chapter of “Forgotten Victims” to a complete stranger and must do everything in my power to take their comments as they are given; as a critique of words I’ve put on a page rather than as criticism of me as a person. As those words are intensely personal, this will be a test of my ability to separate myself from those words, if only for a few minutes.

Irritations Manifesting Physically

In the midst of it all, I broke a tooth and needed to find a dentist to fix it before the writer’s conference. Since the dentist prescribed a root canal before the tooth can be fixed (crowned, capped, or whatever the best option will be), I’ll be attending the conference with a still-damaged tooth. Thankfully, it’s towards the back of my mouth. As there is no pain, I’ll just have to do my best to keep the poor, exposed thing clean.

If that isn’t enough to misdirect my attention and get my energies and filters in a tangle, I’m hanging in limbo over a decision which could affect my life for the next few months, or possibly longer. Low energy caused me to put off making some necessary phone calls, delaying things I shouldn’t have, which leaves me playing catch-up this week. However, I remind myself that everything happens at the right time and in the proper order. And by the way, stop beating myself up over what did or did not get done!

At any rate, the dentist recommended by a former classmate turned out to be utterly delightful with a wicked sense of humor (I know, a weird thing to say about a dentist, but he truly mitigates what is typically an unpleasant experience with his somewhat irreverent wit). I was like a kid in a candy store watching his assistant do digital x-rays and even take pictures of my tooth with a pen-sized camera as images appeared on the screen in front of me. Coming from an age when technology was initially non-existent, unless you count black and white TV’s with rabbit ears, I’m utterly fascinated by what’s possible these days.

Irritation Reminds Us to Check in With Ourselves

But I digress. As an Empath, it is essential to check in with myself regularly to ensure the energies and feelings I’m experiencing are my own and nobody else’s. When I fail to do so, I’m reminded, and not very gently. Those Universal head slaps, while often painful, get me back on track towards recognizing what is and isn’t mine, and re-establishing the filters which allow me to do the work I’m meant to do. That work does not include mirroring people’s misery and unhappiness. It isn’t comprised of sympathy and mutual wallowing either.

So for the last couple of days, I’ve used those feelings of irritation in a more positive manner by improving my own mood and shaking off the miseries that weren’t mine to begin with. I’m actually grateful for the reminder because the last event I attended ripped some impressively large holes in my defenses. It took me a good 3 months and help from Energy Worker and Healer, Michelle Evans to get rid of all the toxicity I absorbed by going into a group of strangers without my usual, basic protections and filters. Though this event shouldn’t be as emotionally taxing, you can bet I won’t be repeating past mistakes.  I’ll check and re-check filters before I ever enter the venue.

Getting to the point of this post (I’m sure you’re heaving a gigantic sigh of relief if you’ve made it this far), I find a lot of value in checking in with myself when little things start to bother me for no apparent reason. In most cases, I find it’s because I’m taking on too much of the stress and struggle of the people around me. I’m pretty good about filtering out those I don’t really know, but those I do know, and especially the ones I really care about can poke holes in my filters if I leave them unattended for too long.

Sage and Disengage

When all else fails, and I’ve taken care of my physical environment with sage, candles, crystals, and essential oils, it’s time to walk barefoot in the grass, let water pour over my body (a shower works, but rain is better), and meditate with a cat or three curled up in my lap.

These are also the times when I’ll hole up in my house for a few days and have little to no interaction with other people via phone, text, or social media. Nothing is truly wrong. I’m simply making myself right again. I’m fortunate to have friends who understand and wait for me to re-emerge (or write a blog post so they know what’s going on!).

Gratitude, the Ultimate Cure-All

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for little reminders which tell me I need to re-balance my energies and emotions.
  2. I am grateful for my empathic abilities even when they seem like more of a double-edged sword.
  3. I am grateful for lessons that hit me between the eyes, and that I no longer react, especially to lessons in trust, by pulling all the way back inside like a frightened tortoise.
  4. I am grateful for friends who both understand and relate to how I have to navigate the world around me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health, friendship, joy, compassion, kindness, humor, reminders, lessons, challenges, triumphs, dancing, work which keeps my brain strong, people to share with, the comfort my animals bring, getting out of my comfort zone, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports 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

When Life Gives You Manure, Grow Vegetables and Share Them

Using the Manure That’s Been Slung to Good Purpose

The last year has seen a dramatic increase in hate-filled exhibitions and exhortations, all to support someone else’s agenda than the perpetrators (with a notable exception or two). Much of it has been stirred up for a purpose which, even now, I don’t think most people can see. The biggest casualty has been to the belief we are all part of the same community called Humanity. Hasn’t enough manure been slung already? If you ask me, there’s enough to grow vegetables for the entire world!

I’ve seen this happen on a small scale such as a woman’s response to one of my Next Door posts in which she called me an outsider because I don’t live in her artificially elevated housing development located less than 2 miles from my own humble tract. I’ve seen it on a larger scale in the increase in hate crimes at our colleges and universities, and in elementary school children spouting sexist propaganda. Someone even tried to tell me they get it from their teachers!

But I’ve also seen an increase in posts and articles about love and hope. We are all in this together, like it or not, so why not make it easier on ourselves by choosing to help rather than hinder, or worse, tear each other down?

We Have a Choice to Spread Love and Positivity or Hate and Negativity. Which Will You Choose?

This quote appeared on my Facebook news feed yesterday, and I believe it sums up where we are quite succinctly.

-When great evil occurs, great good follows -Nichiren Daishonin

Think about it. In recent years, when terrorists took over airplanes and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, what happened?

In my neighborhood alone, neighbors who’d never even talked before came together. And it was true in communities all over the country. People came together with compassion and love. They offered encouragement, support and a sense of unity for the people in our country. The cooperative zeal lasted for a while, but without adequate fuel, people soon returned to their predominantly self-involved lives. The truth is, as a group, we humans lack the internal motivation to help other people just because we can.

Unfortunately, to inspire such cooperation typically requires a traumatic event and a major upheaval. What we’re facing now is considerably well thought out and insipid as hell. I’m not alone in feeling frightened by its very insidiousness.

Fear and hatred are what feed this beast. Divisiveness is its ultimate goal. As long as we’re afraid…yes, afraid to help our neighbors, the beast will win. The next Holocaust will be upon us before we even realize it, and we’ll be sucked into its gaping maw with little or no resistance.

We All Have Gifts. It’s Our Choice to Use Them, Abuse Them or Ignore Them.

Fortunately, there are many who are not letting fear paralyze them. Who are not willing to watch their neighbors face unchecked abuse while mistakenly thinking Thank goodness it’s not me. It will never happen to me. I, for one, applaud those who aren’t afraid or unwilling to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of someone they don’t even know. I’m not that brave.

But I won’t be an ostrich either, burying my head in the sand, never realizing how easy I’m making it for someone to come by and sever my head from my body. We each have our gifts, our tools with which we can spread a different message; a message of hope, love and global community. My gift is words, and I would be dishonoring that gift if I remained silent right now. I would be tossing that gift back in the Universe’s face if I chose not to use it to do good. In so doing, I would truly become unworthy of achieving my dream of becoming both a published author and a motivational speaker. I can’t, nay, I won’t take that risk.

I raised my children to appreciate any and all gifts and compliments, no matter how small. How can I not do the same? This gift of mine is huge, though it took me years to acknowledge both its existence and its purpose. With it, I add my voice to those who may be braver than I. I lend my support in a manner I know well, despite the fact, or maybe because it pushes me out of my own comfort zone. And I’ll use it to urge others to do the same.

Whether it’s wearing a safety pin on your shirt to show you’re a safe place for the oppressed (and thanks to my friend Lorna, I’ll be carrying several with me to share with other like-minded people), stepping in when you see someone being abused or taken advantage of, or simply sharing words of hope and encouragement. Please believe it all helps.

Random Acts of Kindness help. Paying it Forward helps. Sharing articles written both by supporters and groups being targeted helps. Be the one small drop in the sea of humanity which causes the ripple of love and healing. And if the messages I’m sharing here resonate, please share my posts as well.

Sometimes, the Answer You Seek Can Be Found in the Words of Others. The Answer Guides You to Be Part of the Change.

My friend Peter has been sharing a lot of very interesting and thought provoking work lately. I shared one of them in my last post, and share another today. This one really gave me a clearer perspective of the ramifications of the events of the last year or so which culminated last Tuesday. I encourage you to read it and to do so with an open mind and a receptive heart. Seven Thoughts on Waking up in Our America

I have my prejudices. We all do. That doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. To let them guide our actions. Before you generalize an ethnic or religious group; a gender or lifestyle; or anything different from yourself, take a moment to stop and breathe. Take a moment to look past the outer covering; the clothing, the flesh. You’ll likely find a heart which is either filled with love, or longing to be loved. Just like you and me. Even those spouting hurtful and hateful things have a heart capable of loving, and likely do love, if selectively right now.

At any time, we are being called to both the darkness and the light. The darkness is a tricky bastard though, and adept at masking its true purpose. Sometimes, it takes a light shined by someone else to pierce its veil. Some of us need to be that light in the darkness. Some of us need to put aside our own feelings and just shine with no agenda and no force behind our light except love. If we shine brightly enough, consistently enough, those who have been misled will find their way back. It’s not for us to push them. It’s only for us to light the path so they can find their way to it on their own.

Above All, Express Your Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the wonderful gift I’ve been given, and for the courage to use it.
  2. I am grateful for all of the people who have the courage to speak even when faced with darkness or a blank wall of hate.
  3. I am grateful for the people who are reading my words, and hope they will share the ones they think will help others.
  4. I am grateful for my own ever-expanding circle of friends who have learned to give and receive love, and from whom I learn something new each and every day.
  5. I am grateful for hope. It truly is an eternal flame.

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

Image courtesy of Don McCullough via Flickr

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