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Posts tagged ‘loss’

Mired in Negative Energy, Looking For Solutions

Recognizing Energy Drains

As more time passes and the dancers are scattering further across the available venues within 100 miles of #Borderline I’m seeing a palpable difference in our habitual positive energy. Many of us are quick to find reasons why an alternative location won’t work instead of looking for ways to be happy and engaged no matter what.

I’ve fallen victim to the malaise myself, discounting an old club where I used to dance for any and all reasons, good or terrible. Sure, I’ve found places I like to be even if they’re not optimal. But no one place makes our entire group happy any more. What some of us find enjoyable, others find reasons to dislike, often sight unseen. Again, I’m as guilty as the next person.

One thing is certain. It’s making me sad to see my family fragmented in this way; unhappy with no good solution in our foreseeable future. It’s not that people aren’t trying to find solutions which work for everyone. But really, how is that possible short of turning back time and making it so the shooting never happened? We’re all carrying around feelings we don’t express, often because we’re still confused and trying to come to terms with our own loss; our own grief.

Replacing the Irreplaceable

I know a huge part is the uniqueness of Borderline. Windows all around so we could see when the sun set, the moon rose, the weather outside, even traffic on the freeway. Missing too is our twice-weekly dose of youthful energy. As much as so many of the younger crowd ignored dance floor etiquette in their youthful exuberance, they could be forgiven because of the joy and carefree-ness the injected into our home; the place we all came to dance.

By contrast, our temporary home, while welcome, is dark and cave-like. The black-painted walls and ceilings disappearing into the darkness, the tables so spread out and separated by space that the closeness, the intimacy we took for granted is elusive at best. I no longer wander the room connecting with my friends. Everyone has formed groups which are no longer as open and welcoming. It feels instead like we’re all holding on for dear life and frankly, slipping deeper into the abyss for all our efforts. It scares me to see us falling into such disarray so quickly.

Finding an Island in Our Sea of Darkness

Created with CanvaThe one place I believe the feelings are still holding is the paltry, one-night-a-month gathering we’re allowed at the winery which so graciously hosted us in November and December. Though they’ve expressed a willingness to host us more often, out of respect for Borderline’s owner, we’re only taking advantage of the offer once a month.

But Thursday nights at the venue he’s secured don’t work for a lot of the older crowd because it’s at least an hour away for those of us either close to, or West of our dance home. I’m not alone in my unwillingness to spend an hour or more in rush hour traffic to dance on a sticky floor when I could have been dancing on the winery’s more knee-friendly one. I feel bad not supporting the staff during the shut-down, but as a better alternative is available closer to home, I’m doing what most of us do and looking out for myself (and my poor, abused knees) first.

Weakening Old Familiar Bonds

In the process of figuring out and meeting my own needs, the part which saddens me most is it https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4seems I’m leaving some of my old friends behind. As we split apart based on our dancing preferences (predominantly couples dancing with some line dancing mixed in vs. predominantly line dancing with some couples dancing) we spend less time together. Our regular dance nights of Thursday and Saturday are difficult to maintain, especially Saturdays. Thursdays, though they’re mid-week seem to be easier to fill for some reason, so we’re challenged to find places for Saturdays which suit more of us, or doing something else entirely.

Lest you think I’m giving up, willingly allowing it all to slip away, let me assure you, nothing is further from the truth. I’ve seen some excessively late nights when I joined a group traveling to a club over an hour away which has an amazing dance floor. The patrons and staff has opened their arms to us homeless ones. I’ve stayed out far later than I’m used to as part of a carpool which likes to stay well past midnight as opposed to my usual 10 or 10:30.

Creating Our Own Alternatives

I visit the club created for us as a temporary home and on a night which had typically been “College Night”, dancing selectively to spare my knees and doing my best to stay connected with those I see less often now. Granted, I don’t go every week, but at least once or twice a month; sometimes more.

And I either hold or participate in gatherings at peoples’ houses where we talk, laugh, eat, and maybe play board games. I’m also there when one of the dance instructors graciously opens their home to the dancers. In fact, those are often my favorites, second to the dances at the winery. It’s a time when we can all connect and try to make up for the times in between when we’re so far apart, and not just physically.

We’re all adjusting, while we continue to hope police reports, insurance claims, and lawsuits are resolved sooner than later so our home, or a reasonable facsimile can once again host us on Thursdays and Saturdays. So our lives can, with dancing at least, return to some kind of normal. The dancing we do now is healing. But I believe the healing process will be greatly enhanced when we can at least get back to our regular nights, in a regular place with the staff we’re used to seeing every week. At least those who remain.

Always Finding Reasons to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the strength and resilience of the dance community.
  2. I am grateful for the efforts of all concerned to get things back to normal.
  3. I am grateful for my friends, the circle that was, and the circle that is now.
  4. I am grateful for routines I’ve set for myself; gym, writing, working, meditation. They all serve to keep me grounded when my world is tilted off-kilter.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, dancing, inspiration, hope, confidence, dreams, visions, opportunities, 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

Acknowledging the Right to Grieve

Telling Ourselves We Have No Right to Grieve

I’m no stranger to grief. I’ve had enough opportunities in my life where it was not only appropriate but necessary. But I’m no stranger to suppressing or denying my grief either. When each of my parents died, I made thousands of excuses to keep going on, business as usual while I broke into a million little pieces inside. I convinced myself the grief wasn’t necessary and got in the way of doing the things I was supposed to. In a lot of ways, both my family and Society had trained me well—too well.

I mistakenly believed, especially in my mother’s case I didn’t really deserve to grieve since she and I had such a contentious relationship. Feeling relief for one less stressful component in my life when she died made it easier to believe I had no right to grieve because it wasn’t a loss at all. Or so I believed.

Grief Has No Comparison

In the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit grief, and my ability to justify denying my right to grieve. I watched while people lost their homes, their lives, their pets. I sat glued to the television in horror while a dozen people I knew mostly in passing were gunned down by a man who ultimately took his own life.

I’ve watched as parents buried their children, families buried their fathers, husbands, sons, and daughters. I ache for them all, yet the voices inside me tell me I have no right to grieve because the pain I feel from losing the place I dance and gather with friends, albeit temporarily, is nothing compared to what they’ve lost.

When Our Hearts Connect

Yet it’s more than the loss of a place because Borderline Bar and Grill has always been more than merely a place to dance. As stories are shared of celebrations, of countless marriages which came about because of meetings at that particular place, of families sharing, of connections that last for years, even when people move away; I realize not only for me, but for thousands of others, it became a home. We came together, some as friends, others as strangers, and became a family connected at the heart.

Even as so many communicate only by text message or social media, it’s been a place where cell phones are put down, if only for a few minutes, and connections are made on the dance floor, doing something that brings joy not only to the dancers, but to those on the sidelines watching.

Hitting Close to Home

We didn’t just lose people on November 7th. Even those we didn’t know well were familiar, comforting faces we saw every week. Some helped maintain order and kept the place friendly and the dance floor safe. Others were a smiling face that greeted us or served us food and drinks, raising our spirits no matter how the day had gone. No matter what role they played, they were familiar faces; people we’d come to know by sight, and who, in their own way, brought joy into the place by their very presence. But more, they were part of a family which shared in each others’ successes, commiserated when jobs or family were lost, celebrated birthdays, weddings, births, anniversaries…

Right now, the whole family is grieving. Maybe not in the same way as parents who are burying children way too soon, or fathers who had only just begun to realize dreams, or brothers who were always there to lend a hand when the road got rough. But we grieve for the huge gashes in the fabric of our family and for the pain those close to them are suffering right now. It might not be our own pain, but the pain is soul deep anyway because our family has been violated.

A Need to Justify the Unjustifiable

Still, I fight the feeling that my loss is comparatively small when I look at the people who lost a father, a child, a best friend. As part of the extended family, though, I feel the pain of unshed tears, of unanswered questions, of grief that like mine can find no outlet. I feel even more strongly the connection between me and my fellow human beings.

There is also the unpopular and often sidestepped grief for the shooter and his family as he is repeatedly denounced and excluded from the memorials as being unworthy of mention or inclusion in a group of people who, in many cases were heroes trying to make the world better, or sacrificing themselves so others would be safe, or simply a smiling face lifting the spirits of everyone around them. But I believe we as a society failed him as we fail others who feel detached and disconnected.

Digging Deep to Find Our Compassion

Admittedly, it isn’t easy to reach out to people who are continually angry or depressed. They’re harder to be around, more difficult to love, and sometimes impossible to understand. Some isolate themselves, then blame their isolation on society, and rightfully so. Even in a family, you often have to fit in first before you can start showing your broken parts. Some people are so broken, they believe the only way they can hide those uncomfortable parts is by staying within their own four walls.

I’ve been that person, though never with murderous intent. I’ve been alone and angry with the entire world, yet desperate to belong somewhere, in need of comfort that wasn’t forthcoming. But I was fortunate. I learned to find and be my happy self until I found acceptance and windows of opportunity to allow the chinks in my armor to widen and eventually break off in chunks. I’ve opened up too much to the wrong people to be sent scuttling back into my shell to lick my wounds and regroup. But thankfully, I’ve never spent so much time inside my own head where those wounds fester and infect my entire being. Too many aren’t as lucky as I’ve been.

Helping Each Other Unlock Our Self-Imposed Prison Doors

Still, the grief continues to be locked inside me. I still feel I need justification to share my grief with those Created with Canvawho’ve lost so much more. Even in the privacy of my own home, I’ve yet to shed more than a few tears, though many more are dammed up inside me waiting for an opportunity to flow.

The walls I reinforced after my mom swallowed too many sleeping pills, and again after my dad put a gun to his head to end his pain are no longer the insurmountable edifices they once were. Some came crashing down with the violence of a 7.0 earthquake. Others have slowly dissolved into dust. Clearly, some still remain if I believe I need justification to grieve this latest loss. As I look around, I see others who struggle to grieve, to understand, and who continue to wrangle with the right to be compassionate with themselves.

I realize we all have a right to grieve, but in some ways, it’s also a responsibility. We have to release the pain, the anger, the confusion so we can begin to heal. Without healing ourselves, we can’t help others begin the long journey from a place of immeasurable pain to where they can start to feel those angels on their shoulder who are never truly gone.

Finding the Gratitude in the Grief

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my writing which is a constant source of comfort and release during a time when the news and faces around me are a long chain of tragedy and loss.
  2. I am grateful for my friends who are connecting more strongly and deeply than ever, though I wish it didn’t have to involve so much loss.
  3. I am grateful for all the people who have come forward to support others, even mainly strangers in time of need. It gives me hope for the overall human condition.
  4. I am grateful for compassion. We need more of it. We need to recognize how much more valuable it is than power or control.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; compassion, love, connection, support, family, opportunities, soul searching, recognizing each others’ hearts, peace, hope, 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.

Letting Toby Go

Sweet Toby: Gone But Never Forgotten

Last September I had to say good-bye to one of the sweetest cats to ever walk this Earth, however briefly. At barely 11 years old, cancer wracking his body, I had to admit the kindest choice was to let him quietly slip away. I decided one night I’d take him in the next morning, then sat with him on my desk, petting him, loving him, and saying good-bye.

The Universe somehow knew I needed a helping hand, and guided me to accidentally give him the wrong dosage of one of his medications. The error stopped his heart, and he died in my arms, convulsing once, then going quiet.

For a while, I blamed myself for making his end so abrupt, for failing to look at the container before administering the fatal dose. Eventually I realized it was for the best.

Yet until now, I’ve kept my favorite picture of him as the background on my computer. With the onset of October, I knew it was time to let him go; let his spirit race with the other cats I’ve loved and lost over the years. So I changed the picture to one of Munchkin and Mulan, two of my zaniest and most loveable girls, and bid a silent farewell to my sweet boy. His spirit no longer needs to linger, watching over me as I extend my grief. I’m ready to turn all my focus on the furry family who I’m allowed to love and care for right now, though each will, in their own time, leave a hole in my life too. May that be later rather than sooner.

Autumn Brings a Season of Endings

October, at least in the Northern Hemisphere where I live means falling leaves, harvest, and shortening days. It’s a time for letting go of what no longer serves us, or, for that matter, what we no longer serve. Not always an easy thing to do, and at times, involving a great deal of soul-searching. I’m finding it also means being brutally honest with ourselves.

I’ve been looking lately at what I’m doing or holding onto that’s holding me back from writing as much as I need to, or growing my business as much as I want to. I discovered a lot can be found in who or what we grieve.

The losses aren’t necessarily due to a death. We enter and exit relationships our entire life, unless we lock ourselves in a cave of our own making and subsist on home delivery. But to do that, we still have to have a way to generate the funds to support our connectionless lifestyle. It’s becoming easier and easier to do both, much to the detriment of our society.

Connections Aid the Grieving Process

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyI suspect living without connecting removes the problem of grieving. If you never have anyone to love, you can’t lose them so you don’t need to grieve. Somehow, that seems beyond unnatural to me.

Grieving is a natural part of life. Yet when we do lose someone, it’s not only the individual person or pet we grieve, but the connection we had. Because we miss the connection, we’re more likely to step out of ourselves and look for other opportunities to connect. Our grief itself is a means of connection as sharing it opens us to connecting with others who understand loss.

Each time I lose a cherished pet, I share the loss with friends. Each one understands and offers their support while I come to terms with another loss. I do the same when one of their pets or a family member crosses over. It’s the human thing to do, and brings us closer. We can all relate, at least in one area of our lives.

Learning Lessons Better Late Than Never

I wish I’d known this when I lost each of my parents. Instead, I stuffed my grief, anger, self-blame, and everything else into what would become my own personal Pandora’s box. The unreleased emotions gnawed away at my innards leaving me short-tempered, angry, and unapproachable; the exact opposite of what I needed to be. Withholding grief isolated me when I needed most to connect with others who understood loss.

Life has a way of forcing our hand when we’re too stubborn or afraid to do it ourselves. My wake-up call came in the form of a parent’s ultimate loss. One daughter had long since moved out, and the other was talking about moving out too. I realized if and when she did, I’d be completely alone except for my cats. I had no other real friends because I didn’t let anyone see my vulnerable side. As far as I was concerned, I was a brick wall, and I gave no one any reason to look for a gate or try to climb over.

Sometimes What We Need is a Swift Kick in the Gut

I’d like to think I was impervious. Instead, I kept all my feelings; the hurts, the disappointments, the neglect bottled up inside. But glass is fragile, especially when it’s battered and tossed around. My protections were no less fragile.

I believe my daughter did me an enormous favor in broaching the subject long before she took action. It was the fear of being completely alone which had me following her suggestion to start writing about my parents’ deaths. And I’ve been writing about them more and more openly ever since.

These days, I’m quite content living alone with my cats. I have as active a social life as I desire. I follow a healthy routine which gets me out of the house more often than not, whereas I used to go days without leaving the house. I’m interacting with people almost on a daily basis now; sometimes directly and sometimes it’s simply a matter of being in a place where other people are.

And I know when I’ve grieved long enough and need to let go and move on, for my sake as well as for the one I’m grieving. By holding on, I’m holding them back from the next step in their soul journey. I’m sad, and I will shed a few more tears, but I know it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it. Toby and all the rest of my fur babies will always know I loved them fully and completely, and will forever remember them and the piece of my heart they took with them when they left. But they also left a piece of theirs with me, and those pieces make me better for the beautiful gifts they are.


To all the cats I’ve loved before, love now, and will love in the future, I’m so grateful for the time you were a part of my life.

Keeping the Gratitude Flowing

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the signs I receive telling me when it’s time to let go and move forward.
  2. I am grateful for the love of so many cats over the years, and the ability to share my home with the lost and abandoned ones.
  3. I am grateful for stories of people with philanthropic natures and the means to indulge them. It inspires me to reach higher, build bigger so I, too can follow my philanthropic inclinations.
  4. I am grateful for the variety in my days, some busy and running, others, quiet and introspective.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, companionship, help when I need it (and can break down my own barriers towards asking), inspiration, motivation, changes in routine, focus, scope, goals, dreams, plans, successes, failures and the lessons they bring, 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.

 

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