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

Posts tagged ‘memories’

Clearing the Cobwebs of Painful Memories

Time To Do Some Clearing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/7849876896/in/photolist-cXEEV7-fPr3hz-ovy3Y-2TKGKr-RJSecz-81bjFu-o4c5Cv-5GdaKc-8D2F6U-22tfUjT-4DQbJU-5s2mHR-6En1bs-8n1pCV-dLvZgq-4Xbv3C-8n4xvC-nfdexu-cdNTt7-dRsadY-9gsEyT-8f7e7g-7JsrvP-6En2bL-8f7ibz-6EhUbV-fKGp59-5rR2oc-8f7fvF-8f7gWv-6En4DN-E8n3sk-dU6FTL-2ezHFm2-7H8SZN-2fyEitz-nrTHmV-21ULG68-gd3BS-5rVnWy-5rR3zM-cMbd8N-kzXmM-5rVneJ-5rR1VH-7hY577-oiDSem-DYf7cJ-ArNMhD-A6zcJMI’ve been suffering from a nasty case of ennui. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything, work-wise. I start writing only to push it aside as uninspired and dull. I do something less creative, and stop working on it when it will require creativity to complete.

I’m not really sure what I have stuck in my craw, but it’s also setting off migraines, or at least the beginnings of them with increasing frequency. This is not a good sign.

Meanwhile, I seem to be more engaged with taking care of myself; eating healthy meals, getting more exercise, and sleeping more than usual. But I’m frustrated with my lack of progress on the projects awaiting my attention. I’m annoyed by the things I’m not getting done, and the forward momentum which has come to a screeching, grinding halt.

Engaging My Tools to Free Creativity Held Captive

Venting my frustrations and irritation in this post is one of the ways I’ve found https://www.flickr.com/photos/eelundgaard/6843281107/in/photolist-bqHB4i-4nTQzD-7q252U-pbHQ71-7PAFYM-2em7Gkp-e44j5p-oBWaHi-4nSSHx-ZFC7EN-oAUXNJ-VBDg4S-XzbE8f-ghWwir-9DKTNV-5CrSjc-AGyeY-9kGdwf-eBVzrE-VnQuFb-8UQoiG-UfEVmU-Td5M2F-eauQmZ-dzQbgm-owmBAC-WSoCkm-c5MZNj-ebYA1j-9ijap5-5MLfF-9qug71-KAUJeL-jnr1Vx-ZFCdUG-6Nr9Fh-ZFCeYq-WewmJY-4MPtFk-TPDJ-VdcBDb-8pv5j-WqU5HJ-CDSsNh-CDSpbh-fNacTS-8XgrBS-g2iZgE-h3EJz8-4nGFiScan break up the logjam in my head and heart. But at the moment, the words I need to write seem to be stuck inside too. Hours before I usually retire, I’m ready to take out my contacts, brush my teeth, and go to bed. I toss and turn or fall victim to the cacophony in my head. I’m avoiding something with a vengeance, and that avoidance is leaking into everything I want or need to get to.

It’s as if the me who gets on a roll, knocking out articles and book chapters is being stuffed into a box with a rag in her mouth to keep her from screaming and disturbing the other inmates. She fights frantically but only succeeds in tightening the bonds restraining her and preventing her fingers from typing or scribbling.

The words pile up around her, filling what little space is left in the box until her efforts become more feeble, and ultimately she gives up, defeated, to lie whimpering at the bottom of the box, unable to help herself, with no one around to help, even if they could hear her or recognize her distress.

Fortunately, I’ve been here before, and managed to escape the box and spit out the rag. It might be a cafe writing session, or camping out for a few hours in the red Adirondack chairs on what I jokingly call my veranda, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood; birds chirping, a baby crying, a train tooting to warn cars at the intersections of it’s impending arrival. Occasionally, a fire engine’s wail intrudes as it rushes to another emergency.

Forging a New Path

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philipglevy/9462509263/in/photolist-fqaQkr-6B62hk-9jZwX5-4FH1En-54uCWa-a3Ns41-6BanmN-6DM4U9-5u49NP-6v9Puu-6DGTwD-4FMcCG-doJVpC-3ervgn-4FMcmC-pb1bmR-6v9McG-6DM5Wm-a71Zuu-5i6sb2-6B9Lkj-4FH1v4-gQpcex-jZKZ5o-6v9NNf-6B5zw6-89YYg5-6v9Xbb-6MPVRc-6v9Wow-6v5Gyk-aPQjfH-6v9QjU-6v5PF8-6v9VcG-cu2a4-DUvgxx-6v9YGJ-5oAaDQ-8ipJ7z-5VgzB9-6B9AVJ-5KTyGH-5Vce46-Uwsk9p-6vNzky-6v5FCV-6B5rgp-6v9UFb-6v9LjqThis time I choose the chairs and my porch. I pull out a spiral binder and my pack of multi-colored V5 pens, date the page, and bring up the next writing prompt from “A Writer’s Book of Days”. Propped up on the two-sided UCLA-USC pillows my evil daughter made me, I write a few words, digging into my subconscious for inspiration. My 3 garage cats, Max, Cinders, and Hailey come running as I settle in to assure me they’ve been neglected for days; maybe even weeks.

After awhile, the words start to flow and the dregs of my subconscious hit the page, drifting further and further from the actual prompt. It doesn’t really matter what I write. This exercise has one purpose; to get me writing and spilling my guts.

Revisiting Previous Epiphanies

One such exercise yielded the realization that I harbored a great deal of anger https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9Yqrtowards my dad, not because he took his life, but because of all the years, time,  and effort I spent trying to earn his approval. What I got instead was abuse and disdain. It also made me see the underlying cause of my inability to form a strong, loving relationship. What I’d been taught to believe was love was light years away from a relationship based on kindness, compassion, and respect.

The trouble is, once I recognized the anger, my mind wanted to clutch it close like the childhood teddy bear my cat Snowy had licked clean of its fur. Unfortunately, my anger wasn’t soft and benign like that bear. It was intrusive and destructive. Like the bear, it was dull and dingy, and needed to be tossed out.

Old habits die hard though. I’d just converted the love and devotion I’d carried for decades without reciprocation  to anger and hurt. The space it filled in my heart and mind wasn’t ready to be empty, if only until I could fill it with happier memories and emotions.

Allowing Myself to Enjoy the Empty Space

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/1074766279/in/photolist-Qq8gms-2CYsz6-9LDCMr-f2j8XG-9LDCYn-5Y9PzH-FkrgSH-nvoHbg-9mtAak-iD74WS-6mvA4s-4rrcvn-6Vw4xM-zHyznr-4LSv6x-8JNcR5-6TQeJd-7nXLkF-LciV1-5f6yL-9AuXrj-7o2EMh-69J8C8-8TorzY-5d1ns-JzytHf-26ReUcc-25BFXcJ-DmHVZK-qGRjJY-25BFVU3-25niJrT-iEZMGh-Jzyr59-6rXktd-6rXkoU-bYfvh-6jLb3F-ibKpJ7-6rXjNd-xkP6c-8jf2iK-V2pgYm-bYfvq-9LGr25-nqymWu-9Hspoj-77msAd-5V8poC-5zqHbfSuch is the challenge of replacing old hurts with something better. I have to be willing to endure an empty hollowness for a little while until the space has been swept clean of all the old cobwebs and can comfortably house something more pleasant. I’ve spent too many years filling spaces with anything just to avoid the emptiness.

But I’m learning. I no longer clutter up my personal space with stuff. I’ve discovered I love a clear desk, a clean kitchen, a dresser I can set something down on and not lose it amidst the junk piled on top. A made-up bed and an empty director’s chair make me feel happy and free rather than anxious these days.

I see the space I’ve filled with unrequited love, and more recently, anger as I view my desktop; more useful when it’s cleared off than when it’s piled with papers, knick knacks, and dust bunnies.  I see myself standing in the middle of a room where those negative, destructive feelings have lived and festered, feeling refreshed and vindicated as I vacuum up the cobwebs, stuff all the accumulated junk in a giant trash bag, scrub the walls and apply clean, fresh paint. I scrub and scrape until the floor is as clean and welcoming as the newly painted walls.

Another Painful Memory Purged

I stand in the doorway feeling lighter; freer; at peace. It’s going to be OK. The room can remain empty for now. I have new memories to make, new love; real love to fill it with. The emptiness isn’t fearful at all. It’s possibilities.

Gazing at the room, empty and waiting to be filled with light and love, I feel my ennui slipping away again. I know it will come back as it always does. It is my mind and soul’s way of telling me it’s time to clean out another room, or clear some weeds from my garden. The rooms have filled and the garden became overgrown over my lifetime. The changes and clearing need to take place over time too. If I listen to my heart, I’ll know when the time comes again.

Moving Forward With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the reminders that it’s time to do some more clearing. They may be frustrating, but they serve a purpose.
  2. I am grateful for the new memories I’m forming to replace the old, sad, angry ones.
  3. I am grateful for the tools I’ve developed to help me let go of things and move on.
  4. I am grateful for signs that tell me I’m on the right track, even when I’m feeling stuck.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, light, friendship, joy, health, harmony, peace, balance, 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

People, Places, and Things

Negative Attachments to People, Places, and Things

I was recently reminded how past experiences can attach themselves to people, places, and things coloring our perception without realizing it.

Since my usual dance club has been closed I’ve had to explore other options. One has been the club where I danced when my daughters were in elementary and middle school. For some reason, I’ve found a million reasons to either not dance, or go somewhere further away. Talking to a friend who goes there regularly, it finally dawned on me why.

The years I spent dancing there were tumultuous at best. My divorce, mom’s death, multiple job changes, a couple of really weird dating experiences, and a long-distance relationship. Through it all, I was angry, lonely, and depressed. In hindsight, what passed for friendships reflected the state of withdrawal I kept myself in, ostensibly to keep from getting hurt. Needless to say, going in there brings up all the old toxic waste even if I don’t realize it. Thus, old feelings of discontent and unworthiness come back to bite me in the butt.

While talking to my friend I realized it’s long past time to make new memories in an old place. And it’s time I let all the toxicity I didn’t realize I was hoarding go too.

Behavioral Memories Carried By People

I’m also discovering that new people can bring back old, painful memories. I’m particularly sensitive to the ones who thrive on drama, and even after a long hiatus, have once again attracted and unwittingly fed another one. Of course, they wear different disguises, so it takes me awhile for deja vu to kick in and tell me I’ve been here before. Still, each time it happens I seem to rebound more quickly and with less damage to my own psyche.

I recognize my own patterns. I’m attracted to someone who seemingly needs temporary emotional support. Ultimately I discover it’s an insatiable need they’ll feed, even if, as on previous occasions they have to cause me pain to feed it. This time though my red flags started waving and alarm bells started sounding more quickly. I recognized the pattern and have taken a giant step (or 10) backwards. The current production will be played out without me.

Ending My Role as a Drama Addict’s Buffet

I’ve created a peaceful life for myself. I am alone when I want to be and with friends when I want company. Most of my friends have the usual ups and downs. But occasionally someone who thrives on drama slips in and has to bounce around doing a little damage before I wise up and do emergency surgery to remove the cancerous body, preventing engagement of a tentacle or two.

I suppose I’m a rich feast for drama addicts, having been well-seasoned by my youngest daughter and quite a few others over the years. I’ve been sucked in by my own need to be helpful—to be accepted, all too often failing to recognize the tell-tale signs of someone who lives for the drama they cause. Fortunately, I do eventually learn as this particular lesson never ends well. Invariably, I’m the one who gets hurt, though I’m usually left thinking it was somehow my own fault.

I’m happy to say things are finally changing for the better. I might still play the stooge for longer than I should, but I’m learning to recognize when I’ve climbed onto another hamster wheel. I’m able to take a good, hard look around, realize I’ve been here before and say “I’m done!” But more, I’m able to mean it. I no longer need to repeat my assertions multiple times to convince myself.

Seeing the Message in the Lesson

Perhaps this time, the first step was recognizing how I’d connected a lot of painful memories with a single place, even though, in the years I spent there, it was a refuge and a sanctuary. Somehow, I managed to leave echos of the pain and frustration which colored those years in the very walls of the place without even realizing it. Now that I’ve made the connection, I can start banishing the memories so I can put an end to what’s been preventing me from joining my friends and doing what we all love most—dancing our way into joy and letting all life’s crappy parts pour off us like water off a duck.

As for the rest, I set my boundaries. I’ve learned in the last few years I have a right to expect my boundaries to be honored. I’m neither afraid nor unwilling to take rather drastic action should someone fail to respect them. I don’t see myself going there this time, but know I am able, if necessary. If nothing else, even the drama lovers in my life have more redeeming qualities these days.

People Are Constantly Entering and Leaving My Life

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rbh/4549085259/in/photolist-TBE2Nw-p4EDEt-TtPDPz-T6fYRE-WessCa-5aopSw-7VZfyt-ihp3jf-ekkzYU-dmX7yH-9XZhkA-5aooT5-TdHezm-b2Jtm4-ekkCk7-e2akL2-ekeVB6-k52jg-W218xN-5ahpwJ-9WoYHJ-d8ZSaC-9WVckM-dmX7a8-5a2rPt-bAkTRr-5aoogS-eQjvsU-fKHzgW-VeN9y3-5aimQk-5fy8qh-e2aadv-5anCeQ-ekkB5Q-W9ExL4-9mo7Zz-VZfQY7-fKraHx-aFayE2-ekkDFA-Sn7nK9-55Kh4v-ekeSRt-bk1R1Y-9DZ7ZJ-dmX9XU-RZ7W4o-chvcYj-qwtAJXI go through life forming some attachments and breaking others. Some are meant to last only a short time, others, for longer. All are meant to teach me something, even if sometimes, it’s how to walk away. Some of the lessons return over and over in different forms. I see it as a test to determine whether I’ve  truly learned the lesson, or only learned it for one set of circumstances.

I’ve been faced with drama addicts in so many different scenarios, I’ve lost count. It’s taken me a long time to learn to recognize the signs, and I still fall victim for a little while, every now and then. The difference now is figuring it out and extricating myself long before I suffer any real pain or damage myself. Maybe I’ve learned to withhold the part of myself that is most likely to get hurt until I am certain it’s not another lesson? I can’t really say. I just know my drama meter is becoming nearly as sensitive as my BS meter now. And for that, I’m grateful.

I Still Love the Drama Lovers in My Life, But Cautiously

There will always be people who feed on drama: their own, yours, mine, ours, https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvthe world’s…whatever they can get. They’re not bad or evil per se. They simply need a particular type of high. For some, it’s extreme sports. For others, it’s volunteering their time to help someone less fortunate. For these folks, it’s drama.

I’ve learned to love and appreciate a peaceful life. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ups and downs, but I’ve lived my share of extremes, and my slopes are smoother and less drastic these days. Just the way I’ve come to like it. But there are people who need extremes. I suspect there were times in my life I needed them too, to remind me how to feel. Or more accurately, to break through my miles deep walls so I could feel; something, anything, good or bad.

I need no such reminders now. What I do need is to purge those old, battle worn feelings from the places I used to go. As I’ve said in other posts, there’s a time to cut out old reactions and responses and replace them with happier memories—not only inside ourselves, but with people, places, and even things.

Gratitude Will Always Be the Most Effective Tool in My Toolbox

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for opportunities to improve on myself.
  2. I’m grateful for epiphanies which help me direct my energies better.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who help me figure out my blocks.
  4. I’m grateful for tests which help me see where I still have a lot to learn, or where I’ve come far.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, hope, joy, inspiration, motivation, health, harmony, peace, 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

People Are Not Labels

Labels are for Soup Cans

https://www.flickr.com/photos/poorcans/20900661451/in/photolist-xQVmtV-yh8Gq-8Br9Sd-4Maaoo-aQmNMR-6EtxkP-4yy1G9-2Pvp9C-8FsGxQ-7ACUMX-7YQMzo-sKdkT-6gF66N-4k4cjt-tH52Y-7wBA9z-Uq8r73-6naAjp-5WoaMD-7qEHtt-NphFXZ-8C8jQm-26PmX2c-8KwHYS-7Pc1gd-6BYvZN-2e9wtSE-EKpx8-6GaRw7-QtPQN8-283eQFu-s7emTJ-qJT9mH-zauotZ-21EW38n-C5z8wF-6KkmjD-HXUSJ-69sF6V-dPZ1QG-BL7Pye-m5bGQX-ajS8qC-8AyreB-8HEnCg-8gXZjp-6HNM47-bvN9eN-79sdVC-86nchvI’ve always found it both offensive and short sighted to assign labels to people because invariably it leads to a judgement based on generalized characteristics. Lately, I’ve realized I’m guilty of labeling and judging myself, and frankly, I don’t like what I see.

As an Empath who attracts other Empaths, I’ve learned to be especially aware of attracting Narcissists too. My fight or flight reflexes are set to ultra-sensitive after too many experiences with people who only loved my for my energy and nurturing qualities. But sometimes I overdo it, especially when I operate under the mistaken belief I need to protect my friends.

Observe More, Label Less

Lately, I’ve applied the label “Narcissist” too often and too quickly, instead of standing back and watching; allowing the person to show their many facets instead of focusing in on a single one. Needless to say, I’ve judged people overly harshly, overlooking signs there may be something far more complex going on.

When my daughters were young, a psychologist was quick to label them ADHD and ADD, completely overlooking their intelligence and ability to learn and understand complex concepts quickly, even at a young age. A year or so later when they’d tested into the G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) Program, I attended the parents’ orientation meeting. Large posters were tacked above the blackboards in the classroom depicting various aspects of the G.A.T.E. personality. Lo and behold, the characteristics were EXACTLY the same as the ones I’d been told were indicative of ADD and ADHD.

While contemplating my guilt in being too quick to apply the label “Narcissist” I’m reminded of that long-ago lesson. We all exhibit a wide variety of behaviors which are common to different personality types. That doesn’t mean we ARE a certain personality type. I suspect there are some who exhibit narcissistic behavior when they simply haven’t learned how to have a give and take kind of relationship. It’s not that they don’t want to be loving and giving. It hasn’t made it into their skill set yet either through nature or nurture.

Personalities Formed By Nature and Nurture

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mamnaimie/8680429035/in/photolist-ee4t8z-cNjy5-oKBJYc-7tRBmg-7dpdWv-buv1Nu-aDa4AY-51uTxq-fRQgnM-7zy4Hg-ceoS1-5u6JJ6-8JFHxV-7zy4Be-ceox3-apMg6S-bR4un-dq9xPC-4zmBQJ-hPY7A8-3bZjT7-daFcd2-6ZUq3Z-27uhQ9f-r7LzYM-K5keCM-L2RZSV-dg2mJw-2bFvdJJ-i63E4D-h9hrmr-JBNmhV-7pv8vg-f8R7b2-bj66S-rBh74r-DGtb3m-EkjWM8-dg2mfg-AcSwRy-26RUBUZ-fJwZNH-prZ4C3-23RFdN8-bj6mk-8zSsSY-defSSm-4Kx1jx-pEcuwd-eiC5SUMy family wasn’t the warm, touchy-feely type. I learned how to be affectionate and loving only after I started recognizing familial behavior patterns that needed to be broken and started breaking them. To someone on the outside looking in, I suspect a lot of my behavior was narcissistic in nature.

Someone on the Autism spectrum also isn’t inclined to show affection or even endure being touched. They might appear overly demanding while giving nothing back, even though they’re giving as much as they’re able.

Sometimes we have to take a step back and ask how we’d feel if someone slapped a label on us and dismissed us out of hand, especially when we’re doing so to someone else. When an Empath friend sees something of value in that person despite their outward behavior, it’s a pretty good indication we need to broaden our perspective and give that person another chance. Maybe there’s more than meets my admittedly jaded eye.

Never to Old to Form New Patterns

For years, I had few friends and no one close because I shut everyone out, or more accurately, https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQclosed myself in. But even as I open up to people, I still crawl back into my turtle shell when faced with behavior which at one time caused me pain. While it’s important for me to break old family patterns of behavior, I’m beginning to see I need to look at some of the patterns I formed myself.

Certain actions on the part of others trigger old memories. Those memories are painful, so the corresponding emotions are triggered causing me to shut down instead of protecting myself and adopting a wait-and-see attitude. By failing to give the person who triggered the memory a chance to show me the many facets of their being, I’m cheating myself out of getting to know someone who may have many amazing qualities, and who could bring new and wonderful experiences to my life.

Expanding Our Comfort Zone

By going with my first response and slapping the “narcissist” label on someone I don’t know very well, I’m ending a potentially wonderful relationship before it ever has a chance to take root. In every case, the only one I’m really cheating is myself, and to what purpose? Will their lives be less because I’m not part of their social circle? Probably not. Will they be hurt or slighted when I shut down and turn away? Maybe for a minute, but they’ll have plenty of others ready and willing to give them the chance I don’t.

I think instinctively I still believe I need to keep my circle small and well-known. But people become well-known and trusted over time. When we label people such that they’re unworthy of our circle, we’re really moving ourselves to the outside. Others are including them so our obvious negativity is going to affect everyone and leave us standing alone eventually.

I’ve been enjoying being part of a large, diverse group, but realize I’ll endanger my own acceptance if I believe I’m in a position to look down on anyone for any reason, much less a single behavior pattern which triggers unpleasantness for me. I need to remember ostracizing leads to being ostracized. I talk a lot about acceptance, forgiveness, and positivity, but there are times I fall back on old patterns, to my detriment.

Oh, Those Less-than-subtle Reminders

The Universe finds ways to remind me I’m being unkind and judgemental. It shows me myself 10 or 15 years ago, alone, lonely, angry, and judgemental. I had no compassion for anyone, not even myself. It’s a harsh but effective reminder I need to take a good, hard look at my own behavior and fix it before I break something important. I need to reach deep inside and connect, not with old pain that’s outlived its usefulness, but with the compassion I’ve found in recent years.

Do you assign labels before you get to know a person? Do you dismiss people without a fair chance? A chance you’d want to be given yourself? Do you allow old pain responses to cheat you out of adding amazing people to your social circle? Answer these questions honestly and without emotions clouding your judgement. You might find you’ve been unduly harsh a time or two like me. It’s not too late to fix what may only be chipped or cracked. Open your heart, and shut down the automatic responses. You might find a few diamonds amidst the rocks you so casually tossed away.

Showing Gratitude for Gifts Both Great and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders to be kinder and more compassionate.
  2. I am grateful for friends who set examples I need to learn to follow.
  3. I am grateful to be able to recognize and change some of my own conditioned responses.
  4. I am grateful for the experiences which created the conditioned responses, and the lessons I’ve learned which allow me to let those responses go.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, kindness, compassion, joy, 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

You Have the Power to Direct Your Thoughts

Thoughts Don’t Have to Become Things

Created with CanvaI’m not blind nor am I dead yet. There are some nice looking men at the gym and I admit I look. Before you think I’m a dirty old woman, many of the most attractive in my eyes are closer to my age than they are to my daughter’s. Yet after a particularly yearning observation I laughed at myself thinking: You know you won’t ever talk to him. Even if you weren’t hobbled by your introverted nature, this is the gym. You rarely talk to or even acknowledge anyone here. The ear buds go in before you walk through the door and stay in until you’re back in the safety of your car.

I also have it lodged firmly in my mind that I won’t encounter men who dance at the gym while I’m there in the middle of the day and I’ve convinced myself it’s a show-stopper.

Besides, that nagging little voice inside me contributes the ones you admire wouldn’t give you a second look. Your dedication means nothing as long as you’re still 40 pounds overweight, and sporting baggy shorts, a saggy men’s t-shirt, and a messy bun.

Nagging Voices from Distant Memories

How often do we let that nagging voice convince us we’re unworthy despite our best efforts? While we https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nmay be successful and confident in some areas of our lives, there are still places where that deeply ingrained insecurity cuts us into tiny pieces.

We can’t cut the voice out like the cancer it is. Instead, we must dig deep into our psyche and find the source. Typically it’s found in our earliest memories; in an event or series of events from our childhood. It’s there we must return and reprogram ourselves.

Too often, well-meaning parents seek to make us better people by pointing out our faults. I’m sure I did the same to my kids despite my best efforts to see the good in them first. Plenty of people manage to get through those early years with minimal damage to their overall self-esteem. But many of us don’t. We carry the wounds of all the not-good-enoughs we heard well into our adult years, and watch the demons rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune moments.

In my case, it tends to happen when I allow myself to want something too much, or feel left out because I’m hovering on the outskirts. Never mind in most cases the outskirts is exactly where I want to be, and have probably put myself there on purpose. When I start feeling left out of things, I quickly forget my own part in creating the space I’m in.

One Area of Our Lives May Be More Impacted Than Others

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-2b2aNGJMen are one of my biggest challenges. As a teenager, and well into my 20’s, I didn’t really date. I had lots of guy friends who’d use me as a sounding board for their girl problems. I never asked them to return the favor. Not that I didn’t date at all, but my experiences were typically short-lived and unsatisfying, probably for both of us. My awkwardness with anything remotely resembling intimacy couldn’t have been comfortable for anyone who tried to get past the hard shell which was well on the way to becoming the sky high walls of my 30’s and 40’s. Then again, the men I chose weren’t exactly looking for long, heartfelt talks. In retrospect, each one was broken in his own way, just like me.

The trouble was I, like so many others had learned to believe the negative voices instead of what I saw, felt, and heard with my own senses. I couldn’t believe someone would actually like me for myself, and had plenty of evidence to confirm my beliefs. Little did I realize it was me who created those failures by listening to the wrong voices.

These days, I’ve reverted to my teenage years in some of the more positive aspects. I have guy friends I’m comfortable with, and with whom I can be myself because I enjoy their friendship with no expectations, or even desire for something more. I can again be their sounding board and give my honest opinion without fear they’ll run away if we don’t happen to see eye to eye.

Recognizing Progress

But I’ve locked myself into a false sense of security. I stick with the “safe” ones who won’t try to breach my much less impenetrable barriers. I keep my distance from anyone who causes the slightest tingle of awareness, convincing myself there’s no possible way it could be mutual. And though the person I see in the mirror looks pretty damn good to my eyes, my mind continues to tell lies about what other people see. Most of all, I set unrealistic limits and expectations so no one will ever meet my requirements.

Yet I realize even being able to look in the mirror and see qualities instead of flaws is a huge step for me. It also gives me hope I’ll continue on the more positive road to where I allow myself to believe others see me as I do in those moments of clarity and complimentary awareness.

Beauty vs. Perfection

Created in CanvaI was reading something recently that said each and every one of us is beautiful. It didn’t say perfect, and frankly, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder anyway. What’s perfect for me might be the opposite for the person standing next to me. So realizing each and every one of us is beautiful in our own way is quite the revelation, yet so obvious at the same time.

Because beauty and perfection are in the eyes of the beholder, one of the first steps to shutting down the negative voice that says others see us a certain way is to realize we can’t possibly know what someone else sees. So why do we decide what others are thinking? Or how they perceive us? In doing so, we unconsciously carry ourselves differently, never giving them a chance to form their own opinions without us muddying the waters with off-putting behavior.

Re-reading the last paragraph, I find myself getting angry. How dare we prevent another person from forming their own opinion? How dare we put words in their mouths; thoughts in their heads. In our failure to shut down the negative voices, we do many people a disservice. At the same time, we deprive them of getting to know someone who just might be “the one”, or at least could become a close, trusted friend.

Doing Other People an Injustice By Listening to the Negative Thoughts

When we give into the negative voices, we’re not just harming ourselves. We harm a lot of people we unconsciously push away. Sure, they’ll never realize what they might have missed. They move on and find people who draw them in rather than pushing them away. But what a cruel hoax we perpetuate.

I’m learning, slowly but surely to silence those nagging voices, or simply tell them flat out they’re telling lies and I refuse to listen. More people get to see my soft, mushy side these days, though admittedly, the only men I include are those I consider “safe”. But changing our ways is a process. We start with the outermost layers and work our way inward.

So celebrate the small changes. Look in the mirror every morning and pay yourself a compliment. Listen to your friends with your heart open, and try to share the same way. In time, those negative voices lose their power over you. At first, you bounce back more quickly, but ultimately, you reach the point where they’re little more than a fly buzzing around the room. Irritating, but with no impact on your overall mood and outlook.

Finding Gratitude Everywhere

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the changes I’ve made in my life.
  2. I am grateful for friends who now feel comfortable sharing their struggles and challenges, and not just their successes and triumphs.
  3. I am grateful for the ability to see my own beauty even when covered in sweat and dressed in unflattering clothes.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities which are beginning to open doors and allow people to come to me with projects, ideas, and above all, hope.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, joy, love, confidence, dancing, kitty love, early rising, productive days, new directions, 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.

Dreams Plus Morning Pages Equals Inspiration

Inspired By My Dreams

I’ve often paid attention to my dreams. As vivid as they can be, it’s often hard to ignore them. I learned early on they contain messages if I take the time to look beneath the surface. Since initiating the practice of writing morning pages (a kind of three-page, longhand journal) first thing in the morning. I’ve become much better at figuring out those messages.

The latest episode contained messages that weren’t obvious from the context, but instead, made my mind wander back to my childhood while recounting the dreams. What I discovered was one of those “aha moments” when something finally becomes clear.

Blocks Inside Blocks

https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/4311678389/in/photolist-7z1tLz-6ozP47-49TbTB-eji6AL-cCFxZs-qeTkgD-61HbpH-6Ei84G-88YKH-5C4YF7-5DPjft-7wuv7v-7wuv2g-jnJcpy-taShD-5DTzWN-jnHtBM-9tjcuc-qxSg1z-Biynr-5ghCMA-amW2Li-qLAGJJ-ZwLqsP-21Ne6qu-BiyrN-Biyor-4DmfLc-Biypi-6tZjcX-BiykE-8ZtNme-UZzCU8-4fhMV4-5VT136-h1UG86-5VSZXc-8r3swd-deV9TW-8Z2A4R-bVKgAJ-5b4ZEA-m2xMz-jnJWhX-4eH6t8-xAgyPZ-u1Z1bp-u1tPx9-tJoBkg-tJfb7fI’ve talked a lot about searching for my money blocks, and was convinced they had a lot to do with all my parents fights about money. But as I wrote about a dream which took place in the house where I lived between the ages of 12 and 18, I discovered something more. I remembered digging through my mom’s purse to find loose change that had fallen out of her wallet, usually so I could go to Thriftymart and indulge my unhealthy passion for nickle candy bars. (Yes, kids, there was a time when you could buy a full-size chocolate bar for a nickel!)

I realized my feeling of lack, both for money and food (which by the way, was never a problem in our household) stems from my own behavior as a child. If I dig a little deeper, I’m pretty sure I used food as a substitute for the love I wasn’t getting, though I never connected the two at the time. I guess I believed my parents loved me. They just had a funny way of showing it. Or not so funny, really, as it’s given me some rather skewed ideas which I’ve unwittingly incorporated into my own life…until now.

Stop Justifying Self-Sabotaging Behavior

Suddenly, I have both a major money block and a reason for my self-sabotaging behavior with food all rolled up into one neat little package. But of course, life isn’t that simple, and rarely comes to us neatly. More often than not, it’s a convoluted mess of intertwining events, much like my dreams. Yet I know I’ve finally cracked the seal on some deep-seated memories and blocks. Like the feelings I unearth as I open the Pandora’s Box I so ignorantly and innocently packed them away in, unlocking the source of my money and weight blocks is a HUGE accomplishment.

I can’t wait to see what comes next, or how it arrives. I’ve learned sometimes the road to self discovery is agonizingly slow, like molasses in winter. Others, it’s a mad rush as I scramble to escape the deluge of a winter storm after the hills have been denuded of growth by the annual California wild fires.

Disentangling the Money-Food-Love Connection

Yet the idea of money equals food equals excess weight equals love keeps bouncing around in my head 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-7S9ue4as I go through my week, socializing, going to the gym, embarking on a program paid for by my insurance company designed to help me manage my weight. I know that until I get the issue of money-food-love resolved in my head, no matter how healthy my eating habits (and lately, with the return of a herniated disc, it’s never been so healthy! Pain is almost as strong a motivator as our need for love.) I’ll find a way to, albeit unintentionally, sabotage my progress.

Even now, I go to the gym regularly, dance often, and because I’ve improved my eating habits, I have more energy, yet, I’ve bounced in the same 3 pound range for weeks now.  I know now the heart of the matter is my unresolved issues with love. Not with giving it, but with receiving it; with believing deep in the cockles of my heart I deserve to receive love.

Recognizing Our Progress, No Matter How Small

Though I’ve yet to successfully scale that mountain, I’m seeing progress in seemingly unrelated ways. My dreams and meditations are more intense, but also yield some helpful insights. I’m connecting more with people on many levels. Not only have I become part of a small group of dancers who are getting out and doing other things like movies and museums together, I’m connecting with people on a much deeper level, both online and face-to-face. I’m listening to other peoples’ hopes and dreams, successes and challenges, and allowing myself to feel both their elation and their discouragement without intellectualization or judgement.

I don’t mean I’m opening up all of my protections and allowing those feelings to overwhelm me. Yet I am allowing connections, especially with other Empaths and HSP’s to form naturally and unfettered by my own preconceived notions.

Purpose, Like Social Mores is a Moving Target

In the process, I’m seeing the purpose I searched so hard to find, and only found when I stopped 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-7S9ue4searching and allowed it to arrive in its own way, is expanding. Initially, I saw it as opening the doors of communication between society in general and people who experience depression, suicidal thoughts, and mental health issues. I need to help people understand that all too often, help isn’t sought because of the stigma attached to admitting you need help in the first place. Far too many of us have grown up feeling we’re on the outside looking in because we couldn’t make our insides match the outsides people expected of us.

We live in a society that preaches “suck it up, buttercup” whenever we dare express feelings that aren’t aligned with some arbitrary norm which is, at best, a moving target. We believe we’re alone in finding it difficult to cope; to be strong and happy all the time; to be able to shove those nasty feelings out of the way and be responsible humans. The truth is, we all wear masks, and those of us who struggle the most are the ones who often, unbeknownst to us, are feeling not only our own inability to match the outside with the inside, but everyone else’s too.

Like Attracts Like

I told someone recently that at least 95% of my social circle are Empaths, HSP’s or both. In some ways, I https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmorgan8186/3517169324/in/photolist-6mNpUq-26E6p4f-95dTbr-mVNwHs-iAQRj-j6uYXT-4o29YS-kEHE1m-9i7rec-Vs2JYU-8yUQXr-dA5UcS-9myZC1-mGugNa-aC5mn6-2Nz9bP-6xmwca-27XDQk3-kJapD5-KU3F13-q9Zse5-wLj3kj-rdX15T-22MVxTW-25h7TL1-q1aauS-eTfrgU-ouf7RL-XgibmJ-VW61xM-SfoiaA-pbyvky-6dKQYf-R5jxrZ-5N3kCD-efHmnY-SQySB2-V3dy4U-WY52sf-DpwMMK-bzmwMC-7EXK4g-9jC53p-Curwec-ebm6MH-6kf916-bxhDVb-auWgjE-81ESCt-iirkvZfeel that estimate is low. And I’m adding more people, and consequently, Empaths and HSP’s to my circle of friends and acquaintances almost daily now.

When I first started talking about my parents’ suicides, people began opening up about their own experiences; often people I’d known for years, and even decades.

Even before that, my home, though frequented by a select few, and not always  because of my own selection process, were typically people who unknowingly discovered that while inside, they were shielded from a lot of the emotional and energetic “noise”; people who were unrecognized Empaths and HSP’s. Even now, there are some who know they can come here when they need a time out from the world and even their own families. The truth is, I learned how to filter out a lot of the painful and difficult emotions people can’t help exuding.

Advocating, But Being Flexible About Who and What

I’ve discovered my advocacy, if you will, isn’t limited to those who’ve been affected, be it first-, second-, or third-hand by depression, suicide, or mental illness. It extends to the Empaths, the HSP’s; the Lightworkers as a whole because all too often, their sensitivity is at the root of depression and suicidal thoughts and actions.

Some self-medicate, others, the rare few, seek professional help. Some of them find medication helps them live “normal” lives. I learned the hard way many would benefit from simply knowing how to filter out the noise that’s causing them so much pain. Even more, they need to be able to differentiate between the their own emotions and conflicts, and those of the people around them.

All Empaths Are Not Created Equal

Even there, the circumstances and abilities differ. Some feel only those in their immediate vicinity. Others are so connected to family and loved ones, distance isn’t a factor. Then there the ones like me. We have, for better or worse, a direct connection to the Universal Energy Field. It means that unless we’ve learned to create our own personal filter, we are bombarded by emotions from anywhere on the globe, regardless of whether we’ve ever had contact with someone.

If you don’t think that’s enough to drive you down a rabbit hole, try to imagine yourself standing in the middle of one of the detention centers, surrounded by frantic women who’ve been denied even the basic creature comforts, but who are more concerned about finding their children than anything else, even their own personal welfare. Now imagine you feel the pain, the fear, the confusion, the desperation of each and every person in that facility. If you can even conceive of how that would bombard your nervous system, you might have a thousandth of a percent view of what Empaths who are connected to the UEF feel every day if they haven’t learned to filter; to shield. Is it any wonder they retreat deep inside themselves, convinced there is something very wrong with them, and that they are completely alone?

Separating the Symptoms from the Causes

The more I talk to people, and the more research I do into suicide and depression, the more I realize these issues are the symptoms and in order to make a difference, I need to dig deeper and recognize the causes. I, no WE must acknowledge that the voices in their heads, the pain in their hearts, the demons they can’t escape are all too often not even theirs to control because they belong to someone else, and most of the time, a LOT of someone elses.

I’m not naive enough to believe this is the only solution. I do know in the last few years, I’ve encountered a large number of people who fit this pattern. The single common factor though is feeling like they don’t belong, that they don’t fit in no matter where they go or who they’re with. The reality is, rather than being a case of being disconnected, it’s a case of being too tightly entwined in the very being of people around them, and sometimes, humanity in general.

The Ultimate Double-Edged Sword

Yes, being an Empath is a blessing and a curse. Too many are diving for cover and closing themselves off because they can’t find the mute button. To sum it up, I can’t help change attitudes towards depression and suicide without finding a way to help Empaths learn how to navigate this slippery slope their minds insist on traversing. One purpose bleeds into another, and the almost ever-present tidal wave in my gut tells me the epiphanies and purposes have only begun to make themselves known to me. It’s a darn good thing I’ve always loved roller coasters because the road I’m now on promises to be one helluva ride!

When All Else Fails, Choose Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the Laws of Attraction which are bringing more and more of the people who spent years believing they were misfits before realizing they didn’t need to fit at all.
  2. I am grateful for the amazing people who are coming into my life, and those who were already here, and who I’m coming to appreciate more and more with every epiphany.
  3. I am grateful for people who are willing to talk to me about deeply personal experiences, enabling me to learn and grow, and be better able to help turn the tide of stigma attached to mental health, suicide, and depression.
  4. I am grateful I’m an Empath. It’s not always an easy road, but the blessings and what it allows me to do and be for others is worth the pain I’ve already endured as well as whatever might be ahead.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, compassion, kindness, connection, Lightworkers, fearlessness, intentions, inspiration, motivation, roadblocks that make me get creative, sorrows, lessons, challenges, and even frustrations. And for peace, harmony, health, 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 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 Sheri write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Putting the Honor Back in Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is More than Cards and Flowers

Mother’s Day as we know it today is a much different animal than the people who inspired and originated it intended. In fact, Julia Ward Howe who is better known as the lyricist of Battle Hymn of the Republic sought recognition for a Mothers’ Day for Peace. She was inspired by the devastation of the U.S. Civil War  as well as the Franco-Prussian War.

I set out to write something pithy about how commercialism has turned holidays like Mothers’ Day and Valentines day into nothing more than guilt-ridden farces which tell us that only by spending excessive amounts of money can we truly prove our love.

Keying the words “Mothers Day” into Google, took me on an entirely different path. What I learned by reading just a couple of articles both surprised and intrigued me. I can’t help myself. I have to share what I learned with you. Maybe some of you were already aware of the origins of this day set aside to honor the woman who gave us life, or in some cases, took us into her heart and home and helped us grow into the people we are today. If not, what follows might surprise you.

While Ms. Howe failed to garner support for her idea, two other women on a similar mission found a way to put the date on our calendars.

Mothers Organized for Compassion

20 years earlier, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers Day Work Clubs in West Virginia (later renamed Mothers Friendship Clubs) to combat poor sanitary conditions which contributed to the high infant mortality rate.  The clubs were instrumental in providing “…medicine for the poor, nursing care for the sick, and arranged help and proper medical care for those ill with tuberculosis.” (see site reference below). When the Civil War began, Mrs. Jarvis asked several of her clubs to uphold the friendship and goodwill practiced by the members. Many lives were saved because the women nursed soldiers regardless of affiliation.

After the war, she organized a Mother’s Friendship Day to help families heal the rifts the war had caused. Upon Ann’s death, her daughter Anna made it her life’s work to give her mother the day honoring mothers for their service to humanity which Ann had spoken of often.

Making it Official and Losing Sight of the True Purpose

The first Mothers’ Day celebration took place at Ann’s church on the anniversary of her death. Within 7 years, Anna and her supporters had gained enough momentum to persuade President Wilson to make the date official. By then, almost every state had adopted the holiday. Unfortunately, the focus of the holiday was changed from women’s activism to home and family. As time went by it became more common for people to buy cards and presents  rather than spending time honoring their own mothers. Anna fought against the commercialism which replaced her mother’s vision.

Life Changes and We Adapt

Here’s where I put my own two cents in. My daughter never missed celebrating Mother’s Day with me when she was living nearby. I have fond memories of many-course, microwaved breakfasts in bed from the time she was too young to use the stove without supervision. There was never any doubt that she loved and appreciated me, even during the teenage years.

Now that she lives nearly 200 miles away, we have to choose between celebrating Mother’s Day or my birthday together as both are in May. To be honest, I don’t need a special day to celebrate my motherhood any more. I have years of memories of simple but heartfelt celebrations. We spend the day with our own friends instead. She lives in a military community, so many of her friends are even further from their mothers than she is. I have friends whose children live in other states.

I’m also put off by the idea that people are made to feel guilty if they don’t honor their mother on this one, particular, manufactured day. It may have started with good intentions, but commercialism has turned it into a travesty. Just like Valentine’s Day. Just like Christmas. Greeting cards and gifts one day a year are poor substitutes for showing love and caring throughout the year, just because.

Finding Our Way Back to the True Meaning of Mother’s Day

The day was intended to be a celebration of those people who are the glue that keeps a family together through all manner of strife, to recognize the efforts they make to improve conditions, not just for themselves, but for everyone. In this world where women are once again coming together, protesting poor decisions fueled by testosterone and greed, maybe it’s time we got back to the original reason behind Mother’s Day. Maybe we need to reinstate Ann Jarvis’ Mothers Friendship Clubs and make Mother’s Day a day of community service instead of greeting cards and flowers which ultimately end up in trash bins.

Always Being Grateful for Things Large and Small

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful for the synchronicities which led me to research and write this piece.
  2. I’m grateful for women like those mentioned in this article who have helped restore peace and improve conditions without judgment or selection.
  3. I’m grateful for the relationship I have with my daughter which doesn’t require manufactured days of appreciation.
  4. I’m grateful for my friends with whom I’ll spend my second Mother’s Day in the hills overlooking our beautiful coastline.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, appreciation, 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!

References:
History of Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day’s Surprisingly Dark History

Photo courtesy of Chris Phutully via Flickr

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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