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Posts tagged ‘love’

Eradicating Self-Judgement

Judge Ourselves as We Endeavor to Judge Others

If we’re working on self-improvement by paying attention to our tendency to judge people harshly, why do we apply the process only to other people? When we’re halting our tendency to think unkindly towards a slow checker or erratic driver, why do we fail to turn the magnifying glass back on ourselves?

How many times do we call ourselves stupid, or lazy, or even resort to name-calling without giving ourselves the same level of respect and understanding we give the mother whose child won’t stop screaming while we wait in a line of 20 people to check out at Costco?

Yet with judgement just as it is with forgiveness and acceptance, we unerringly turn our kindness and compassion outward long before we ever consider turning it inward.

One of my daughters had a tendency to treat friends and even strangers with more consideration than she would her sister and I. For a long time it puzzled me until I realized she knew we’d love her no matter what so she saw no reason to make an effort to win either our acceptance or approval. We do the same thing with ourselves. We know we can’t run off and leave ourselves behind so we believe we can turn our attention and effort elsewhere, thus earning a greater reward.

How Can We Give What We Refuse to Receive?

What we fail to understand is by subjugating our own need for love, acceptance, and kindness, we actually hinder our ability to give them to others. We create an uphill battle for ourselves where we have to be consciously diligent about our actions and reactions. Whereas if we create habits of kindness, of not judging ourselves for the missteps we take while learning new lessons (and life is a constant series of lessons) they become an integral part of our persona. We don’t have to force ourselves to be kind and understanding towards others because we treat everyone like we do the most important person in our lives—ourselves.

The Ugly Faces of Self-Judgement and Criticism

Judgement is a particularly insidious creature. We start by allowing criticism of something small; the waysomeone pronounces a word, an unusual trait that doesn’t fit our view of normal, even the cut of their clothes. Pretty soon we’ve created a false persona we hate and find fault with for no valid reason. Yet it’s really coming, not from the person we’ve targeted but from our own self-loathing. We’ve transferred it to another, most likely because they remind us of something within ourselves we mentally judge, criticize, and maybe even hate.

It’s like a disease run amok that no antibiotic can eradicate.

We’re living in a world where too many are driven by self loathing to say and do things to others which they cannot truly justify or excuse from a rational place. Deep inside they become angrier, blaming the people who drive them to act hatefully instead of doing a little soul-searching to find and heal their own wounds first. Many would say it’s selfish to take care of yourself first. But I believe if we started with the most important person in our lives, healing and loving them first we’d have a much harder time blaming, criticizing, or hating anyone else. We’d remove the triggers to our own self loathing because it would no longer exist. Think about it.

Misused Judgement is Abuse

That isn’t to say judgement is always a bad thing. Our good judgement keeps us out of trouble, helps us make sound, responsible decisions, and is one of our best problem-solving tools. But like all good tools, it is often misused.

When judgement is used to cause pain, or to place one person or group above another, or worse, to pit people against each other, a handy tool becomes a weapon. When used on a larger scale, it truly is a weapon of mass destruction. On a smaller scale, when frequently and mercilessly applied, it causes permanent damage.

Yet the damage caused by misplaced judgement isn’t always visible to the naked eye. Self-judgement in particular doesn’t give the outside world a sign saying “self-judgement practiced here”. If I had to classify it, I’d put it with other forms of emotional abuse; invisible, insidious, and wreaking havoc from the inside out.

The Visible Effects of Judgement

Eventually the effects do become visible; down-turned eyes, slumped shoulders, withdrawal from society, social awkwardness, all can be signs of some kind of emotional abuse. Granted, it may have started from the outside, but when we start believing someone else’s lies; when we internalize and believe we’re unworthy, it’s not uncommon to start measuring ourselves by the same flawed yardstick.

Breaking old patterns isn’t easy any more than breaking an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. Like any addiction, though, it starts with recognizing the problem, and admitting it needs to be solved.

Once you’ve crossed the biggest hurdle and begun your journey to self-acceptance and healing, Though some of us continue the journey on our own with many false starts and dead-end roads, I’ve learned the road is a lot easier with support.

Seeking Help to Heal

Having people around who can not only help you see the lies others have put into your head, but point out the words you speak and the actions you take which support those lies creates a kind of road map out of the negative space you’ve created. It eliminates some of the false starts and endless switchbacks you’d take on your own in the process of finding your way from judgement to acceptance. What you do for others in stopping the judgemental thoughts is reciprocated by your community.

Case in point. When I first watched “The Secret”, the friend who recommended it became my unofficial accountability partner. We’d help each other out by shining a light on things we said which were impeding our personal progress. Most of it was simply negative self-talk. We’d both, for reasons of our own developed a habit of being self-deprecating, little realizing how much damage it did to our psyches. The first step in repairing the damage had to be stopping the flow of negativity emanating from our own minds, hearts, and mouths.

Treating Ourselves with the Same Love and Respect We Do Others

There’s a passage in the Bible which says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many of us treat others better than we do ourselves. I think there’s a good argument for re-stating the passage to read “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others”. In my opinion, kindness and compassion start from within and emanate outwards, rather than the other way around. Unless you love yourself, you cannot truly love another.

Watch the Facebook Live episode about Self-Judgement here.

Gratitude and Acceptance Are Our Greatest Tools

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the flow of ideas when I set an intention to write more frequently.
  2. I’m grateful for the way my self-awareness is increasing as I recognize old patterns and triggers.
  3. I’m grateful I’ve started learning to love myself, and to reflect that love with the way I present myself, and care for my meat suit.
  4. I’m grateful for self-care. Quiet days at home, regular gym visits, tuning into my cats’ purrs, dancing, and all the things which feed my body, mind and spirit, and ultimately help me be a contributing member of society.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, motivation, inspiration, support, encouragement, butt kicks, drive, focus, consistency, stick-toitiveness, family, hope, peace, harmony, health, 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 specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook: Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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Getting Back to Our Passion

From Sound Bite to Epiphany

I caught a sound bite while at the gym and it got me thinking. It said a lot of the chaos being caused in places like NATO, G7, and other high profile political arenas is solely for the purpose of generating anger and divisiveness. I can’t say the news surprises me as I’ve said the same thing so often it’s becoming almost redundant.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/whoisthatfreakwiththecamera/2128863889/in/photolist-4f7Z4P-qjFHFf-98uNgj-6rDocS-UiQVsw-9MwMca-Re3oF7-XGTMLU-on6pwo-SB9A6F-54qPeB-7H8Pz8-7SMaC-R6RucA-cdbJBE-XGU7Q5-bGtTU6-8YKrbu-4CRGDp-bfqo4k-PEvGt-6Q9zSA-mJQyHS-4Ew2AY-Sfkwdo-5vKK9X-aDJhs6-FWXiy-76To7V-PFoqM-6r9hiY-5YcHEt-bqFdZH-dzVpN2-df1Kzf-oG6Szg-oE5cau-49Ytgo-7dHNJe-76XiVw-5YcKbP-4S24ZU-5YcKtz-5YcJFF-bpo9oP-76Tjkx-4HL5yc-5YcJoT-8f2fwB-6km6WdCreating anger, pitting people against each other, and glorifying hate feeds the bullies, the ogres, and the demons who have been released upon our world to run amok unchecked. The sole purpose of this feeding frenzy of greed and hate is to allow the soulless, heartless minority to steal everything we hold dear while we’re too wrapped up in being angry to appreciate and protect our inalienable rights. To me the most important of those rights are the right to love and be loved, the right to treat others with kindness and receive the same, and the right to join together in communities working towards common goals for the greater good.

Bringing Idealism Back Into Fashion

This may make me sound like an idealist and in many ways I probably am. Yet I have faith we can create the world I’m not alone in envisioning where we can have different beliefs and still come together in a single cohesive, productive unit. A community which understands different opinions make us stronger because they encourage us to look at our world from alternate points of view without treating disagreement like a personal affront.

I believe we can and will turn our world around and bring people together. We’ll return to a place where freedom of religion, and liberty for all once again actually means something. Where people no longer need a designated scapegoat to excuse their own unwillingness to put forth the effort to achieve their own goals and dreams but instead ask for help from others regardless of heritage, beliefs, religion, race, or sexual preference. Most important is getting back to where we understand, believe and act on the truism that the community is stronger which takes care of its own. In other words, where helping each other is part of our nature and not an obligation.

Imagine

John Lennon envisioned such a world decades ago when he wrote his song, “Imagine”. That world may https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcaspers/3674508861/in/photolist-6AGPt4-9XPdGp-9AfZYv-asnfWg-2j1go4-7UukPU-a2XVdU-NqoUQ-dbkFUe-a2XRDb-6nnHrK-9EBf9b-9xemFj-cucYQS-cud1JC-cucV5Q-cucW5f-9GVbUK-9XS6cJ-53kCM9-8dXRc-ctMcPj-crXsXw-cutJfu-a3bJ56-9XS6GA-aspUtj-a3bRmp-rjDGsd-cudgUJ-9xeGYS-ctNGF1-cutroo-crYSB9-a2UPPe-crYbPw-6ZUrTn-cutJYm-jCRHS-cutQqA-csxxsh-sabp4u-aspXws-a3fFX5-cutPDh-dmd5Ze-asnkuX-cykHmj-9xAUFm-cutrGUnot have come to pass in his lifetime but I believe the seeds were sown long ago. We need to nurture and cultivate those seeds. The more of us who choose to nourish the crop, the more abundant it will become. There will come a point where our fields of love, kindness, and acceptance will be sufficient to choke out the weeds of hate, greed, and divisiveness. In my mind, that’s the love people like Dr Martin Luther King tried to tell us would overcome the evil and hatred running rampant in our world. Many have lost faith in his timeless words, but the few who keep it alive are stronger than they might think.

The interesting thing about feeding the love seeds is not only do you feel good when you do it, you don’t need constant infusions to maintain the level of intensity you reach. In fact, unlike hate which only grows stronger with regular infusions of pain, love grows stronger the more you give of yourself for the benefit of others. Even better, the well of love is infinite. It never runs dry.

Fake News Creates Fake Hate

The artificially instilled anger being poured into the world right now is continuously depleted and can https://www.flickr.com/photos/eamoncurry/28268951669/in/photolist-K52Lsr-byVMMC-RPS3xW-UdGABu-ZyoRJD-UGD7PB-F5Q7kv-VP4Csi-mHt88T-k3iA6-Hfjmzh-dcxTkQ-RtTnPj-U65Sq9-dcujdB-RSrN3T-bMQU4K-SWh6K3-Tb77Ki-T7xwTo-RTDHJ3-T7xp7w-3KKPDt-o6oKQv-SWh5YJ-UN97Sy-prgzdM-bMCdYe-qhS8Xz-byKj5d-qs4b7R-byL2XC-bMCd9p-SAfRWS-dzNBJu-fwWtJt-JjEtwP-bMBxtP-byKnuf-272uDNX-TuBQdv-26wihPC-EQiBwn-dabUNz-rLf7Sy-27u72yF-SLfJYB-dkAN6H-24szGFw-bWK2Xtonly find more fuel in the pain and suffering of someone—a whole lot of someones. Right now, we are all “someone”. We are the pool from which those who feed on pain, suffering, hate, and anger will draw. We alone have the power to stop being used as fuel for a machine which operates in the best interests of only a select few who care nothing for the well-being of the world as a whole or the people in it.

It starts with a pebble in the pond of humanity. The pebble creates ripples which meet ripples created by other pebbles tossed into the pond. As more pebbles are tossed and more ripples created, connections form and the potential for a global support system becomes, not an impossible dream, but the reality we all deserve. But it won’t come by pointing fingers or blaming others for our imperfect lives. It will only happen when we realize we are the pebbles creating those ripples and make a conscious choice to fill our ripples with love instead of hate. We have to lose the destructive us-them mentality and realize we have the potential to be one global community where we give of ourselves unselfishly and receive what we need with gratitude.

Making the Dreamers’ Dreams a Reality

If you ask me, we owe it to the dreamers like John Lennon and Dr. King to turn their dreams into reality. It starts with a single person; a single act. Holding a door for another person, letting a car merge in front of you on the freeway, speaking out when you see someone being mistreated, rescuing an animal, listening to a friend, or smiling at a stranger. What I’m saying is making those dreams reality starts with caring.

For me that means redoubling my efforts to reach out to people who have been impacted by suicide or suicidal thoughts, depression, or mental health. I’m learning something really incredible; something I’d have deemed impossible even a few months ago. Hold onto your hat, because I’m going to share what for me at least was a HUGE epiphany.

Passion: The Strongest Catalyst We Have

When you discover your passion, the thing that makes you light up like the Aurora Borealis just thinking about it, and as brightly as the mid-day sun when you start talking about it, people who will either enhance or benefit from that passion will appear in your life almost magically.

You heard me right (or rather, “read” since I’ve yet to move from blog to vlog). Passion is one of the most attractive forces in the Universe, for both definitions of “attractive”. Feeling and expressing that passion is akin to becoming the most powerful magnet imaginable. But the glow you engage when you bring your passion out to play brings out the passion in others as well. If you ask me there is nothing more beautiful than people and their passions coming together to create a world of love and cooperation.

What makes you light up brighter than the sun? How can I help you turn your spark into a blazing fire that encompasses all humanity? It all begins by tossing the first pebble into humanity’s pond.

Fueled by Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the amazing, inspirational people who have not only come before me, but the ones who are in my life right now, inspiring, encouraging, and occasionally butt kicking.
  2. I am grateful for the virtual flood of ideas I’ve been getting this week.
  3. I am grateful for blocks I’m discovering and learning how to release them, not just for the moment, but forever.
  4. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others and the inspiration to find ways to do just that.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, brilliant people, warm friendships, encouragement, opportunities to leave my comfort zone further behind, love, peace, joy, harmony, health, 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 specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Epiphany Central

Opening the Epiphany Floodgates

This has been a week of epiphanies. I’ve cleared the cobwebs and the fairy dust from several things, though they all, in their own way boil down to how I’ve mis-perceived my relationship with my dad, both while he was alive, and until recently.

As I’ve mentioned more than once, my relationship with my mom was virtually non-existent unless you count being like two angry bulls spoiling for a fight just for the sake of fighting a relationship. Early on, it was clear I was destined to disappoint her, though I never really figured out why. She had about 2 1/2 years to bond with her first-born before her second came along, and she, like her mother before her, tossed the first one aside to dote on the second. Nowadays, I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that she was young when I was born, and made her mistakes with me. It wasn’t necessarily that my sister was an easier child, but by the time she was born, mom had figured out some of the ins and outs of motherhood, just as she had with cooking.

Searching for a More Hospitable Host in my Dad

Somewhere in my young mind, I must have understood, and given up on trying to please her long before my 4th birthday (and heaven knows, I became an expert at displeasing her!) and turned my attention to my other parental unit, believing I could bond with him while my mother was turning all her attention to the newest addition to the family.

By then, I had become accustomed to being ignored or yelled at, so I figured any attention I got was better than nothing. My dad did what he knew best; he teased and tormented me, and when he had had enough, he yelled at me and sent me to my room. Even as a teenager, my mom would wield the over-used admonition “wait until your father gets home”. When he did, she’d whine and complain about my latest misdeeds until you’d swear I’d committed murder, or at least a federal crime. After a long day, it was the last thing he needed, so of course, he took it out on me.

Thus began another round of trying to win my dad’s approval. A game I’ve recently come to realize was one I could never win no matter how hard I tried. Eventually, I accepted his demanding nature and verbal abuse as approval, or the closest he ever came to giving it. I loved him unconditionally and accepted whatever small crumb of attention and affection he could spare.

Breaking the Rose-Colored Glasses

https://www.flickr.com/photos/derekgavey/5403628476/in/photolist-9ev1ud-9odiqE-99hCeK-28aMBcv-L2NkmJ-L2NjGN-9aaEe6-kvx1iw-rkYv1m-4JnGd-en3MZM-qccpV9-FVyYz-7qbqYL-JvQXse-28aMnuk-25pJMJY-286n5WU-L2Nm3o-275n4TN-25pJMX3-25pJUrq-6xmHDy-275nbsE-21iHwcY-L2N9Pw-286mVTd-C3YxBB-275nbQo-25pJFVo-275ntKf-Ehpm5G-27cSKLm-fpFWJU-275naRu-26NbLs2-286mVgm-L2N1uA-6xhy1c-25pJHDU-JvQCMP-8w3ARY-275naAu-djcYHr-L2N3yA-4jqADJ-r2KRCc-bSaaQx-dy1jLj-275noVqFlash forward to a night when I sat in the ER awaiting test results, and doing writing prompts to keep myself amused. As often happens, the seemingly innocuous prompt became a veritable rant about the times my dad had mistreated me or shown preference to a virtual stranger over me (like the time he let my then sister-in-law drive his RX7 but made some lame-ass excuse for not allowing me the same privilege).

The word storm escalated, and had I been sitting at a table or desk instead of resting the spiral notebook on my knees, I fear I’d have ripped holes in the paper, I was gripping the pen so tightly.

And yet, it was cathartic. It made me realize I’d been dishonest with myself, holding back feelings I actually believed I shouldn’t feel. But the truth about our feelings is they are what they are. If we try to restrain them, they burst forth in other less productive ways. Since my habit was to stuff mine into a bottle and seal them tightly, it was only a matter of time before the seal dried out and cracked, leaking those old, never-dealt-with feelings out in a random moment of inattention. The beeps and buzzes of monitors, crying babies, and cranky, confused old men appears to be the trigger that broke my seal and let all the messy, convoluted, unkempt feelings spill out in an inglorious mess.

Letting the Myriad Feelings Flow

While I sat in my curtained cubicle with my earbuds in my ears, the music only slightly reducing the ambient noise around me, the emotional cacophony poured forth as years of pent up anger demanded release. I cursed and railed against the man to whom I’d given only love and devotion, at least until even his crankiness became exhausting if taken in large doses. Yet I still called, I still checked in, and I still listened to him rail about this person or that, murmuring sympathetic noises while he ranted.

When the dust cleared and I’d had time to sort through my feelings, the anger subsided. Instead, I felt hurt, disillusioned, and disgusted by how much time I’d wasted trying to earn the love of a man who didn’t really know how to give it. He taught me to give my love unconditionally, whether or not it was returned. What neither he nor my mother taught me was how to receive love unconditionally as well.

Seeing What I’d Been Missing All My Life

I’ve lived over 63 years of this lifetime going from one unfulfilling relationship to another until I realized the problem was me, not them. At that point, I did something reasonably sensible. I stopped trying to find someone other than my daughters to give my love to and put my effort into fixing and loving myself.

If I’m honest with myself, I don’t know if I’m capable of allowing someone to love me like that, though it’s also my dearest, most heartfelt wish. I’ve learned to shrug it off saying “I like living by myself”. Those closest to me aren’t buying it, yet until now, I couldn’t understand why.

They’ve seen and experienced my capacity to love and to give, and I wouldn’t be surprised if several hadn’t already discerned my problem was on the receiving side. It explains a lot with regard to my difficulty asking for help. Granted, I learned it from a long line of brutally independent people. But as is my wont, I took it to a whole new level.

We All Deserve to Be Loved

It isn’t that I haven’t told myself over and over I deserve to be loved. I never managed to actually convince myself to believe the words I spoke. I’ve made great inroads into positive affirmations about my outside packaging, and really do love my meat suit, flaws and all. But that inner marshmallow, the young girl whose face peers back at me from an ancient black and white photo above my computer still believes she doesn’t deserve to get as much love back as she gives. Despite all of my exhortations to the contrary, a piece of that little girl is my mom too.

As with anything else, the first step in solving a problem is to recognize the problem. I’m recognizing mine. The question remaining is whether I can fix it and turn things around in whatever time I have left in this Human form? Stick around, if you dare, as I step off onto the next leg of my journey. At least I’ve finally learned I don’t have to do it alone. As the Beatles so aptly sang “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

So Much to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful for the friends who are helping me get by these days; who are helping me recognize what I’m missing, and helping me figure out how to fix what I didn’t know until now was broken.
  2. I am grateful for epiphanies. They come when they’re supposed to. It’s never too late, nor the wrong time, but exactly the right time to bring in new data.
  3. I am grateful for loving my dad. I think in his own way he needed someone to love him unquestioningly, even if he didn’t respond in kind.
  4. I am grateful for the swings I’ve taken as I come to understand the parents I chose this time around. I may never have all the answers, but the number of questions dwindles just the same.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, understanding, compassion, kindness, epiphanies, new outlooks, peace, harmony, health, 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 specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Empaths vs. Alcohol

New Insight Into the Drinking Game

I’ve always been uncomfortable around people who overindulge in alcohol. I saw it in my parents often enough, and later, my ex-husband. At times, I simply masked it by over-indulging myself, with obvious unpleasant consequences.

It wasn’t until recently I finally recognized the discomfort lay, not in the inebriated state of others, but in the results of that state and its impact on me.

I discovered what was there all along when I accepted that alcohol releases inhibitions. I used to believe those inhibitions were those which stopped people from making fools of themselves to they could relax and have a little fun. But there’s a somewhat sinister side to the lack of inhibitions.

Releasing the Pain Body With a Little Lubrication

We naturally corral what Eckhart Tolle calls our “pain body” when we’re sober, but the addition of alcohol in increasing quantities removes the filter which we’ve put in place to function within the parameters of society. When we remove those filters, thought it might not be apparent to most, we leak all of the sadness, pain, and misery we’ve kept bottled up until it’s flowing out of us like a veritable river of agony.

The average person won’t even notice, and will, in fact enjoy the crazy, uninhibited-ness of the the outwardly happy drunk. Not so with an empath like me.

Once I made the connection, I realized my real issue with people in an inebriated states wasn’t the alcohol (or drugs for that matter) at all. Instead, it was that they were functioning without the usual filters which protect me and others like me from being flooded with someone else’s emotions. You could say we were being drowned in sorrows of someone else’s making.

Once I realized what was happening, I could start taking the necessary steps to protect myself and above all, refrain from engaging with those who danced gaily around the room with their filters in shreds.

Mixed Reactions

I posed my conjecture to a group of empaths recently. In some cases, I was gratified to find others who recognized themselves in me. In others, I was saddened some took my words to mean it was open season on people who drink to mask their pain. Instead of finding an opportunity for compassion (once they’d protected themselves, of course), they took my words as permission to bash and abuse those who chose the only way they could manage to put aside their pain, if just for a little while.

The truth is alcoholism is a disease, plain and simple, and the people who use any kind of drug to excess do so for many reasons, one of which is a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. To crush them further with our condemnation will only serve to drive them further into they abyss.

Granted, it’s neither our place nor our gift to help them all, or maybe, not any of them. But neither is it our place to push them over the edge on which many totter. I am saddened and even mortified to learn my words caused others to take that path.

Self-Medicating to Mask the Pain

I know a number of people I reach are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics and can only imagine the strength it takes to challenge the addiction every single day. Far too many of them are probably empaths who chose alcohol or drugs to shut out the voices, the emotions which bombard us daily when we don’t know what they are or why we hear them in the first place.

I was one of them once upon a time. Though I didn’t abuse alcohol to excess nor use it to mask my pain on a regular basis as my parents did, I used my own equally ineffective and harmful methods for running away from myself and my true purpose. But I also used some healthy ones like dancing.

Learning to Embrace our Humanity

What it all comes down to is we are born compassionate human beings. Life and circumstances change that in us. Whether it’s family troubles or accepted behaviors, traumas we experience as life moves forward with or without us, or something seemingly innocuous. We learn to protect ourselves from mental, physical, and emotional harm in the best way we know how. All too often, the first step is shutting down our compassion for others.

I learned the hard way that shutting down, be it my compassion, sharing, connecting, or authenticity is equivalent to cutting off a limb which is perfectly fine the way it is. Closing ourselves off means we’re denying the very thing which makes us human. As time goes on, it becomes a lonely existence and one impossible to maintain without some hefty sacrifices.

Yet we’re taught to believe that only by functioning according to society’s rules; being cheerful, being gregarious, getting along, being easy-going; will we be able to get ahead, to make something of ourselves, to be a contributing member of society.

Here’s where I have to cry BULLSHIT! To be a true member of our beautiful, crazy, messy society, we have to be our whole selves. We have to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sure, we don’t want to go around harming others, but would that even be an issue if we were loved and accepted for who we are in the first place? Do serial killers kill because they were loved and cherished, accepted and celebrated? Do bullies tear others down because they feel good about themselves? NO! They do harm because it’s all they know to make themselves feel less ignored, less lonely, less apart.

Loving Each Other Beneath the Pain

We all have grumpy days. It’s a part of life. Those who deny they do are the ones who most need our compassion because they’re forcing themselves into a mold no one can possibly fit. Life is full of challenges. It’s how we learn, like it or not. It’s also an opportunity to reach out and ask for support, for help from other humans. And here’s a news flash. Other humans LIKE being asked for help once in a while. It makes them feel needed as well.

Yes, I learned a lot from putting my thoughts about alcoholics in particular out there for a group of empaths. Not all of it was good, but it was all useful for me. It reminded me to keep looking below the surface. It told me to put the judgment aside and look at the person underneath, the person the alcohol sought to mask. The mask is flimsy at best and the person underneath is crying for understanding and love, or perhaps just someone to say: “You’re OK just the way you are, warts and all. You’re loved.”

These little reminders make me grateful for the community I’m building, the people I reach out to, and those who reach out to me. You won’t see me marching in the streets any time soon. I’m too busy trying to learn my lessons and spread compassion in the world I know I can touch. In my own small way, this is how I believe I can make a difference. Imagine what would happen if we all spread some compassion. It might not solve all the problems of the world, nor stop all the anger, hatred, and evil, but where we start our journey is entirely up to us, and should be celebrated.

When we belittle the efforts of others, we minimize our own. Whatever we choose to do, it all makes a difference. Believe that, if nothing else.

With Love and Gratitude

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now and give you today’s gratitudes:

  1.  I am grateful for the people who show me both sides of the impact my words make.
  2.  I am grateful for my little forum where I hope to provide dialogue and the exchange of ideas including those which oppose my own. Only then will we all learn a few things we might have missed out on.
  3.  I am grateful for the new people who come into my life, the messages they bring, the help they offer, and the suggestions they make to help spread my own message further.
  4.  I am grateful for acts of compassion and love as they serve as examples of how much more I could be doing.
  5.  I am grateful for abundance; love, peace, compassion, lessons, people, examples, warmth, pleasure, pain, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She 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.

For Pet’s Sake: Making Choices on Their Behalf

Being Our Very Best Selves for Our Pet’s Sake

I’ve had a lot of time to think this week. I’ve spent several hours at the vet. I’ve waited a few days for lab results. I’ve wallowed in self-pity over possibly losing another cat way too young.

When all is said and done, things don’t look as bleak as they could, but then, the results are also inconclusive. The worst didn’t show up, but the vet tells me that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Meanwhile, as I wallowed and cried and moaned, Toby got sadder and lost his will to purr. Only when I kicked myself in the butt and ordered an end to the wallowing did he come out of the closet, climb into my lap and share that purr I’d thought I’d lost for good for nearly an hour. He’s back to climbing on me when I go to bed, and again when I wake in the middle of the night. He no longer feels the need to spend the entire day hiding in the closet, and is instead, hanging out in whichever room I’m in. He’s letting me know when he’s hungry, and consuming 2-3 jars of baby food a day.

I learned some really important lessons over the last week.

Our Mood Affects Theirs

I learned that no matter how lousy our pets might feel, they make our mood a priority. It’s all well and fine to tell ourselves to think about a positive outcome, but unless we actually act like we believe it, our pet will suffer with us. Since we want them to keep their strength up to fight off whatever ails them, we’re not doing them any favors.

Put Their Needs First

The idea of losing a cherished pet is devastating. But going to extremes to keep them alive a little longer has to be done for the right reasons. Our unhappiness is not the right reason. If those extremes can save both their life and their quality of life, it’s worth considering. If they’ll only result in a few more months or even years of pain and discomfort, think really hard. Would you want someone to put you through a long run of pain and life as an invalid simply because they couldn’t handle losing you? Probably not.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Express Your Love

Pet's SakeDo you give your pet attention every day? Do you remind them by word and deed how important they are to you? This might be as simple as cuddles in the morning and before bed, a clean litter box, fresh water and treats now and then. When they give you that look of love and trust, do you acknowledge it? Do you show them your gratitude? Do they know you love them just as wholeheartedly? In my house, we have a regular bed time ritual. Each cat has their own special part in this ritual (although Mulan, the Siamese thinks she has to be part of everyone’s ritual. Such is the belief of the born Princess). Toby’s part has always been to climb on top of me and purr for a few minutes after the girls have had their pets. Other members of the pack take turns guarding my head or just curling up in various places on the bed. And I miss each one if for some reason they fail to make their usual appearance.

Be Sensitive to Their Moods

Animals, and especially cats can’t tell you when something hurts or their tummy is upset. Aside from vomiting, they have no way to communicate with us unless we’re one of the fortunate few who can communicate with animals. I have wished I was on many occasions, if only to spare one of my own the pain they couldn’t express. But they do show us in subtle ways; changes in behavior, disinterest in food, lethargy, hiding. If we’re paying attention to them every day, we have a better chance of noticing when they’re a little off.

Know When Letting Go is What’s Best for Them

Giving up on someone we love is never easy. Whether it’s a child who insists on going down their own destructive path, or a pet whose quality of life is gone forever. It’s just not in our nature to give up on them. I’ve been guilty of dragging things on for too long because I didn’t want an animal to have such a short life. But the truth is, if they could have talked, they’d have told me to please let them go and be out of pain. Going to extremes to keep them alive isn’t doing them any favors, nor is it really helping us. It merely prolongs a decision which will eventually have to be made one way or another.

A few years ago, I had a cat named Loki who developed kidney issues at a fairly young age. We almost lost her on more than one occasion because of it. Eventually, we were giving her sub-cutaneous fluids twice a day, and the doctor had just prescribed an injectable medication that cost over $200 for a couple of doses. The last straw was the vet who suggested a kidney transplant which would have cost a “mere” $50,000 and came with no guarantees. Still, I persisted until the day Loki was in really bad shape. I ran her to the vet, still not ready to give up on her. I held her in my arms, crying and trying to make the best decision for her. Suddenly, she began to convulse. That was her way of telling me it was OK to stop trying so hard to keep her alive. She was done and was telling me so in no uncertain terms. I still question whether I did her any favors keeping her going that long. In all honesty, I kept her going more for my own sake than hers, and that’s a pretty lousy reason. She still lives on in my memories, but she is no longer in pain.

What I learned from the experience is that in a lot of cases, especially chronic illness, more is not necessarily better. When the cat is barely eating and is down to skin and bones, it’s time to consider what’s best for them and put our own feelings aside.

Short Lives Filled With Love

Most of our pets have much shorter lifetimes than humans. We have to accept that whenever we adopt. There have been a lot of beloved cats in my life and losing each and every one took a piece of my heart. Most of those cats shared a deep, abiding love with me that’s hard to find in humans. They don’t care what I look like in the morning or if I don’t shower or dress up nice. They simply want my company, some cuddles and pets, regular feedings, clean litterboxes, and fresh water. Their needs and their expectations are simple. What they give back is immeasurable. That kind of unconditional love deserves no less in return. I know I must not only ensure they live with dignity, but die that way as well. It’s the least I can do for their lifetime of devotion.

Gratitude Reminds Us

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the unconditional love of my animals.
  2. I am grateful for continued improvement in Toby’s health, energy, and appetite.
  3. I am grateful for supportive friends who understand the love and devotion I give my animals.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to spend as much time as necessary with a sick pet.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; work, love, inspiration, motivation, health, harmony, peace, friendship, clients, writing, reading, learning, playing, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Positively Positive: Sharing Inspiration

Why I Promote Positivity

About 20 years ago, I began my personal journey out of the abyss. Like everything else in my life, it hasn’t been a straight path, nor an easy one. There was a lot of backsliding, especially in the early years as my brain fought to keep me in the safe, comfortable, familiar place it loved.

But my desire for happiness has prevailed and I’ve managed to flip the switch which gives me more happy days than sad ones, more positivity and gratitude, and less self-pity and blame. A good part of my success has been the manner in which I’m currently using Social Media.

First let me say that I have to have a really good reason to unfriend someone, and putting up negative or uninspiring posts isn’t one of them. (that’s why we have the option to unfollow friends. That way, we simply don’t have to see their posts on our news feed). I do, however, insist on predominantly uplifting or at least humorous posts on my social media pages.

Over time I’ve subscribed to a number of groups and followed people who regularly share evocative, uplifting, humorous, or inspiring material. Those I particularly enjoy are set up on my Buffer account where I share them on my pages to provide something thought-provoking, humorous, uplifting, or inspiring for the people who follow me.

Hate Begets Hate

While there has always been more than enough negativity and downright hatefulness out in cyberspace, the last year or so has seen a dramatic increase in hateful words and acts, anger directed outward, and a general ugliness permeating the whole of humanity. None of us are immune.

Even the best of us (and trust me, I’m no angel!) don’t completely refrain from venting our anger or frustration from time to time. Everyone has a cause they feel strongly about. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Often, it’s not the message, but how it’s conveyed. I, myself am less than tactful when I’m frustrated. (just ask the rude group who kept assuming any table in the place was for their personal use last night!) I recognize and accept that. There are a number of people who regularly share things that make me smile or think, but have their pet causes. Like most of us, they might get a bit in your face about those causes. If it’s not something I share, I just scroll on by. I know a few posts down will be something I’ll really enjoy.

There is a point to this, I promise. I’m just a bit long-winded getting to it (unusual, I know. 🙂 ).

More Than One Way to Fight for a Cause

More than once, I’ve been called out for not supporting a cause publicly. But I believe there are plenty of people flinging angry words and righteous indignation. It’s not for me to add to that cacophony. Instead, it is for me to try to hold a sort of Switzerland where people can share their viewpoints in a loving way instead of trying to rip out the throats of those who disagree with them.

Do I have things I feel passionate about? Hell yes. But screaming about them from the roof tops isn’t going to change them, in my opinion. Finding ways to love ourselves and the people around us through the chaos and the maelstrom of hate is far more effective in the long run.

Think of it this way. Those who hate and stir it up in others are broken in their own way, but they feed on anger and hate. Those emotions make them stronger and help bury their own pain with things like power and recognition. Though it’s not a perfect substitute, they believe it is what they need.

Hate vs. Love

A few years ago, I attended an event where Marianne Williamson spoke. She said something which has stayed with me ever since. She said that people who act out in anger are doing so because they lack love in their lives. If you think about it, one of the surest ways to still someone’s anger is to wrap them in a warm, sincere hug.

I’ll take this one step further. When you enter a competition, you try to have the best tools and skills so you will prevail. If you went into a competition using only your opponent’s tools against them, you’d always lose. Why? Because they’ve honed those tools to be perfect for themselves and their personal strengths and skill sets. Soldiers have swords weighted for their own physical strength and build. Magicians have wands which complement their skills. If anyone else used their tools of the trade, they’d find the tools wanting when in reality, they’re simply mismatched to the user.

If you’re trying to overcome anger and hate, why would you throw more of the same at it? It’s no different than throwing gasoline on a wild fire. You give it more fuel and it will continue to grow.

I’m trying to do the unexpected in my own small way. I share positive quotes and inspiring stories. I post cute animal videos and tales of triumph over adversity. I’ve even been known to share things slightly political, but only if they’re humorous rather than hateful.

Keeping Dr. King’s Words Alive

I may not agree with a lot that’s going on today, but adding my voice to the already overwhelming complaints isn’t going to change any of it. What will is finding the silver lining or the lesson and sharing that instead. I might still get criticized for having my head in the sand or for not openly taking a stand against any of it. But I’m also not adding to the anger. I’m not fueling the fires of hatred which are burning as brightly as the fires in Montana, and are a million times more virulent. I can’t say it any better than the late Dr. Martin Luther King who said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

What he said then still holds true today. So enjoy the happy quotes I share. Laugh at the cute videos if you can. I want to be that beacon of light when everything seems dark. I believe in love when so many around me disagree. I know I’m imperfect and act unkindly at times, and each time I do, I have a nice self-flagellation session. Then I forgive myself and go back to posting positivity. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. And some, like Dr. King gave it all to bring the light of love into the sometimes overwhelming darkness.

Finding Gratitude in Every Little Thing

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the continued inspiration I get to keep writing.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn every day.
  3. I am grateful for my imperfections as they make me work harder to do better next time.
  4. I am grateful for the improvements I’m making in my physical environment. As it is outside, so will it be inside. My inside is getting clearer with each coat of paint and piece of clutter I clear.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, sharing, compassion, lessons, challenges, problems and solutions, opportunities, dreams realized and dreams yet to manifest, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

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. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

 

 

 

Blame it on the Moon: Reflections on Mom’s Birthday

Remembering More as the Years Pass and the Clouds Clear

This morning as I realized it would have been Mom’s 82nd birthday today that, aside from the extensive writing I’ve done about her in my yet-to-be-published memoir (or yet-to-be-finished to be more accurate), I’ve written little about my feelings about her or her death.

Today, as I typed my typical “today would have been” post on Facebook, something changed. I first noticed it by the words I chose to use in my post. Then I turned on my Rascal Flatts station on Pandora instead of one I typically listen to. 3 tracks in, “What Hurts the Most” played and I felt tears coming to my eyes. That’s when I knew I needed to write this post.

Full Moons Are a Time to Reflect

Now, maybe it’s the impending full moon which always makes me more emotional anyway, or maybe it’s the chapters I’ve started adding to my memoir lately, but I received one of those infamous Universal head slaps this morning.

It made me realize just how far I’ve come in resolving my hopelessly twisted feelings towards my mother. The short version is I’ve come to realize she was exactly what she needed to be both for herself and to help me become the woman I am today. But as with all things, I’m never happy with the short version. So buckle up for some intensely personal revelations, if you dare.

Finding Appreciation: Too Little, Too Late?

I’ll be the first to admit I never appreciated mom’s many qualities. I was so busy being at odds with her that we pushed each other away when I was quite young. Nurturing my baby sister was far easier for her to cope with than a headstrong 2-year-old. I don’t think I ever quite got over that feeling of abandonment.

It’s not that she turned her back on me, per se. She simply found more joy in doing things with and for my sister as we got older and the paths of our interests took different routes. My sister’s musical prowess and outright tenacity far exceeded my own. Mom could point at her playing first chair clarinet or performing with the prestigious Royal Cavaliers and feel proud of the daughter she’d raised and shlepped to endless music lessons.

Was She Aware of My Love of Writing?

I was a disappointment across the board. I preferred to pursue my passion behind the scenes. Whether it was building a set for the latest drama production, running the light board or applying makeup, I was never front and center to stoke her motherly pride. As for the stories and poems I wrote, regardless of their quality or, in most cases, lack thereof, I can honestly say she never read a word. Of course, I never showed them to her either, so how could she know or even have the opportunity to refuse, or worse, offer a patronizing word of false encouragement?

The real truth is, by the time I was doing any writing to speak of, I’d long since ceased valuing her opinion about anything important. Maybe that’s part of the reason I have trouble accepting my daughter’s encouraging comments about one of the novels she’s reading. I learned not to show anything to my family for fear of the requisite “that’s good, dear” which might or might not have been delivered. I do my daughter a disservice by not valuing her opinion. After all, she’s been reading voraciously most of her life. She knows what she likes to read and what she thinks sucks.

Lessons Offered, Lessons Learned

Again, I digress. Because I started tuning Mom out from an early age; a trait I’m pretty sure I learned from my dad, I missed out on the many things she had to offer. She kept a beautiful house, entertained magnificently, and taught herself to be a gourmet cook. I am decent, but I’ll never have her skill, much less her patience in making every detail perfect. Thankfully, though those skills were lost on me, my daughter inherited them with a vengeance.

I’m reminded of the chicken and egg scenario. Did Mom stop encouraging me in the things which made me shine because I pushed her away; shut her out even? Or did I shut her out because she turned all of her attention to my sister’s pursuits, relegating mine to just sweet little hobbies?

Family Dynamics Are a Balancing Act

I’ll never know the answer, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t changed. I realize now it doesn’t really matter which came first. What matters is that despite the gigantic chasm which existed between us, she gave me so many invaluable gifts. She helped me learn to stand strong and fight my own battles. But she also tempered the gifts I got from my Dad.

Where he was stoic, she was sensitive. Though it might have seemed like she was too sensitive at the time, her sensitivity wove itself into my persona despite my best efforts to be as unlike her as I could be. So well in fact that Dad’s stoicism became my protective shell until I learned when and where to let my sensitivity show.

Where Dad was stubborn and dogmatic, Mom was more malleable, often to her own detriment. Again, I used the stubbornness to counteract my tendency to be easily manipulated. All too often, both tendencies have blown up in my face, forcing me to learn to find the balance.

An Introvert in Extrovert’s Clothing. Who Am I Really Fooling?

I think the most valuable lesson she gave me was negotiating an extroverted world while keeping my soft, mushy, introverted self safe and hidden. Yes, I took it to extremes, but so did she. She smiled and entertained and got involved in charitable causes. She even tried her hand at a career in sales. I know now from my own experience that these are all ways introverts learn to cope with the outside world when they’d often rather just hide away with a book and their pets. The difference between us is she needed validation from others to replace the love she didn’t feel from her family. I learned to be loud and entertaining (though some would probably call it obnoxious). I had a wall around my heart acres deep. Very few have ever gotten close enough to be able to hurt me. I can’t say the same for Mom.

In hindsight, I think Mom hurt every day of her life until the day she decided to end it. She suffered emotional rejection from just about everyone in her life, and certainly her entire family. Sorry folks who might be reading this and are part of that group, but I see no exceptions to this observation. Not one of us took the time to try to see behind her extensive collection of masks.

When Someone No Longer Feels They Have Value

Which brings me to my final point. Collectively, we helped mom feel that she wasn’t needed; was not important to anyone. I have to believe that was the final contributing factor. It was what made her decide suicide was her only viable option. I cannot even imagine reaching the point where you believe with all your heart that nobody will miss you when you’re gone, but I think that’s where Mom was when she carefully followed the instructions in the book she’d bought. When she closed the guest room door where her granddaughters slept when they visited, lay down on the bed she’d shared with my dad for 40 years and took the last, fateful step.

As I type this, my eyes are filling with tears, and my faithful cat, Dylan is on the desk giving me head bumps. Mom died on December 27, 1993…and it hurts more now than it did when she died. In the ensuing years, I’ve put aside the relief, the guilt, the blame, and the anger. I’ve replaced them with forgiveness, compassion, and understanding. And finally, the tears of grief and sadness for the daughter I couldn’t be for her are flowing, cleansing my heart and her memory.

I love you and miss you, Mom. Know you were important even if we didn’t show it. Know your granddaughters remember you with fondness and show that love in all the things you taught them to love and do well. Rest well until we meet again. I hope I’ll be kinder next time.

In Loving Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons my mom so patiently taught me, whether or not I was listening.
  2. I am grateful for having finally learned some of those lessons, albeit decades after her death.
  3. I am grateful for the living embodiment of love for my mom in my daughters.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to allow my emotions to flow all the way to the surface instead of keeping them bottled up like I’ve done for so long.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, lessons, compassion, understanding, epiphanies, gratitude, releases, friends, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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

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