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

Posts tagged ‘motivation’

Learning to Appreciate Small Stuff During the Pandemic

Reveling in the Small Stuff

Created with CanvaI’m spending a lot more time with my own thoughts lately. It would be easy to let them take me down a long dark tunnel into a deep, gloomy abyss of self-pity. Once, I would have succumbed. Thankfully, I left that woman far behind, and none too soon. Now I use the time to think about the many things I have to appreciate; the many things that make my life and world a beautiful place even when I’m spending most of it alone for the moment. Here are a few of my mini revelations:

  • Tomorrow is often soon enough
  • Digging in the dirt is cathartic
  • Birdsong is the only music I need when I’m working outside
  • Getting a good workout doesn’t have to mean lifting a bunch of inert weights or riding a machine to nowhere
  • Patience is easier to achieve than I thought
  • There are days I just have to do nothing, and that’s OK
  • Being creative about how I stay connected with friends and family helps everyone
  • Sitting on the couch with a cat on my lap is often the best thing I can do for self-care
  • Being an introvert is a huge advantage. It doesn’t mean I’m always OK with being alone, but I can do it for a lot longer without going crazy.
  • Living alone is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. I don’t have to live with anyone’s quirks but my own and those of my cats.
  • Without people around, it’s unlikely I’ll become homicidal
  • My life moved faster than I realized
  • Slowing down doesn’t mean I don’t accomplish anything. In fact, in many ways, I accomplish more, especially when it comes to things I’ve been putting off for a long time.
  • Sometimes just showing up with a list of gratitudes or a Facebook Live can make a difference for someone else
  • Gargling with ACV and warm water really does clear out the goop in my throat the allergies deposit, thereby stopping the resultant cough.
  • The sound of Dylan’s (my cat) snore is one of the most comforting sounds I know

Shifting the Journey Inward

Nowadays, going inward is more a journey of discovery. I get to learn things about myself that were hidden in the normal hustle and bustle of my life. Staying home instead of going to the gym or dancing on specified days leaves me lots of time for introspection. The good news is, I really like what I’m discovering.

Sure, the first couple of weeks were hard. I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, and spent my days wandering around the house, plopping in front of the TV, and playing games on the computer. I couldn’t even manage to keep up with my blog writing or anything else that could be considered productive.

Yet it was time spent inside my head that actually cleared the fog and inspired me to start writing again, add some kind of physical activity to my days, resume my regular stretching exercises, and more. I discovered I’m not truly happy unless I can look back on my day and see that I’ve accomplished something, even if it’s tiny. As long as I’ve made progress, I feel happy and fulfilled.

Progress is Progress, No Matter How Small

Some days, that progress might be as simple as brushing my teeth, taking my supplements, and washing my face. Others, I clear another swath of weeds from the planter in my front yard, or vacuum and mop my floors. The more I focus on making my world a little brighter, the more I seem to achieve.

My sleep schedule has been turned on its ear lately which means I don’t really get going until 10 or 11 most days. Still, I’m able to work on a blog post or two nearly every day, post a list of gratitudes to Facebook, and even do a video. As an added bonus, doing the video ensures I brush my teeth, take my supplements, wash my face, and get dressed every day.

I’m learning one small change has a snowball effect, and soon, becomes a larger, more all-encompassing change for the better. There was a time I’d have said If I have to do all of those things before I can do a video, I’ll just pass on it. Now, I realize, it’s not a case of “have to” at all. I get to indulge in some personal care, and I get to show up every day for my friends and anyone else who’s interested. It is such a gift to be able to show up and give a little pep talk every day. How I ever saw it as a chore, I don’t know.

Movement and Momentum Are Relative

I’m fortunate in having my perspective change a little every day. I may not know where my next https://www.flickr.com/photos/40litres/7343613222/in/photolist-cbVWn5-u4MMU-6aVB1b-6aPWsX-6Ek1dd-6aU3qh-6EfSXP-6aQ3XM-6EfLdB-6aUxFo-6Ek9mS-6aPWTZ-6EjSKo-6aQ33v-2GzuMZ-6aQ5b2-6Ek5xb-6TPuoy-6EfFpx-6TKrxi-6EfXJc-6sEerV-7gFCUs-84Sj6i-99MKuh-4Riwhv-4VcHB1-6NjEte-6EjYgb-6EjWKJ-9zcdXd-9z9dwR-oNS2SE-6aU5Lw-6aQ1wr-akT8wZ-6aUbGN-akT8Pg-6NWnB8-6aPXoM-6aU2rN-5YTgXS-6aU1Y9-6aQnup-6aQ4zB-6aUa8d-SeHmuk-6aQ3wg-baVK6R-6aPUbxclient will come from, or what they’ll require, and the stock market is in the toilet at the moment, though there’s still hope as far as I’m concerned. What I do know is getting to show up every day to try to find that spark of hope for myself and everyone else is one of the greatest pleasures I’ve ever had. To demonstrate with my own life that things may be more thorns than roses at times, but patience allows the roses to bloom in time.

I’ve also learned it’s OK to struggle sometimes, and to fall back a few paces as long as I don’t plant myself and refuse to get up and try again. There are days when I need to sit down wherever I’ve landed and rest for a bit. There’s no shame or guilt in needing to take a break. Unlike Christopher Robin, there’s no risk of going nowhere if I stop hopping for a few hours, or even a couple of days. I’ve already proven I’ll ultimately get up and start moving again; slowly at first, but with increasing momentum as I rejoice in the small accomplishments.

Riding Life’s Roller Coaster More Consciously

My life has always been a roller coaster ride. Sometimes, I’m diving down into the pits, but I know now those dives will give me the momentum I need to rise up even higher the next time. The pits have gotten shallower too, and are rest stops before I have to pedal a little faster to get up the next mountain. It’s not always easy, but it’s exhilarating, and full of surprises.

When I was younger, I pushed the envelope a lot with my mom. I hated being held back by someone else’s expectations and rules. In hindsight, I had to learn how and when to successfully break free, which took me a few more decades. Now I know there’s nothing more enervating than making and breaking my own rules over and over again.

Rejoicing in Gratitude and My Many Blessings

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the time I’ve had to dig deep into my own psyche.
  2. I’m grateful for all the little things I’m learning bring me great pleasure.
  3. I’m grateful for Facetime with my friends, and Zoom with my dance community.
  4. I’m grateful for the opportunity to inspire others and bring hope to a difficult time.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; hope, love, friendship, community, inspiration, motivation, expanding, growing, believing, belonging, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

The Eternal Dilemma: Procrastination or Self-Care?

Procrastination is its Own Excuse

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rkramer62/14408695072/in/photolist-nXfk47-boRM3Y-gLQV6A-7doLzt-pxtazy-fTJNc-pzVZrR-okksBn-bqtiEe-dr1gyZ-b9vxxe-8GNAoC-gLzbZG-damKHJ-7s27dt-CcHHY-o8LekG-rA9NxG-qL4cja-5mxBJk-93xbFt-onA753-76sTY4-bK457V-7zzgeM-7zuCwU-8LUCuH-D9zJJ-doFURv-66BKVv-9GvN8B-q9uw7p-7Gh2sC-5iJYhN-9TKuQx-zMz4S-8VcyBZ-q4VX62-bBfuLa-8M3d4F-q4Uume-5RfibE-mcddtc-cJv1Co-amyxyn-7Ph1TH-d3tMtd-8oPghC-5Jc9SB-n9x4RnAfter a few days of being highly motivated and knocking out blog posts, chapters, and a few household tasks, I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I could point to the various changes in my world that are stressing me out, but that feels like excuses rather than reasons.

I could say it’s the recent full moon, or a solar wind, a coronal hole, or geomagnetic storm. Again, it feels like I’m looking for reasons to ignore the real problem which is firmly lodged in my own energy.

And yet the cats have been fighting more lately, and demanding more of my attention. Dylan lays on my chest for every meditation which has never been a spot he liked before. He follows me around the house, and except for a few hours in the morning, rarely leaves my side.

The obvious answer is they’re reading tension from me, and responding to how it affects them. Still, I have to wonder if what’s unsettling me is also unsettling them; that I’m not imagining a definite alteration in the energies surrounding us.

Using Guided Meditation to Find Focus

I started using the Stargate Experience Academy meditations again and among other things, I’mhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYp feeling calmer. When I do sit down at the computer to work, I’m more focused. Getting there is the real problem. I look at my Trello board and see I’m slightly behind on one project but ahead of schedule on my blog posts. Although I’m trying to maintain my original 4 week lead time I’d set as a goal, I get there, then slip back a few days. It’s not yet consistent.

I’ve also lost the walking habit I’d had for 6 months or so. Once the weather got crazy windy, or cold, or rainy, I used it as an excuse to start my day without the walk. Now that I’m dealing with swollen toes on one foot, I have another excuse to be lazy. I can tell you one thing. I do NOT like giving in to all these excuses.

Sure, you can say the obvious: “Then do something about it!” but if you’re one who procrastinates, you know it’s not that simple. Like it or not, I have to get to the root of the problem, or my procrastination tree will, like the kudzu vines in New Orleans, take over my life and allow nothing else to thrive.

Even the Big Names Must Struggle at Times

I wonder if I was a big name like Nora Roberts or Brenda Novak if I’d find it so hard to keep moving on to the next project, or finish the ones I have? Would a fan base like theirs drive me to finish one novel and dive right into another without taking more than a breath in between? Or do they have days like I do where dragging myself into my desk chair to write one more chapter or work on rewriting others seems like an insurmountable task?

In all fairness, they’ve put a ton of effort into building their fan bases, and even more in writing the number of books that grace library and bookstore shelves with their names on the cover. They’ve learned by doing the amount of effort it takes to be successful, and that it’s not an effort you stop making once you are successful. In all likelihood, when they were where I am now (though admittedly, much younger) they worked their craft like the full-time job it truly is.

I’d like to say I put in at least 40 hours a week writing, but even now, when I’m putting in more time than ever (except during NaNoWriMo) I can’t honestly say I am. I write for 30-45 minutes every morning. It isn’t anything that will ever be ready for public consumption, but I’ve gotten ideas for blog posts and book chapters from the exercise. In fact, that’s what it is. It’s like the spirals we used to draw when learning to write cursive. We got used to the motion and exercised the muscles first.

Exercising the Writing Muscle

Morning Pages is my daily writing warmup. I do it every day and have only missed a handful of in the flowdays in the 3-4 years I’ve been following the habit. There are days I point to my Morning Pages saying: “I wrote today. See?” But if it was the only writing I did that day, I don’t really feel that good about it. I still feel like I’ve let myself down.

In fact, recognizing how seldom I took myself seriously or honored commitments to myself was what got me to where I am today: 3-4 weeks ahead on blog posts, all Medium posts scheduled about half a month ahead, a month and a half away from having all 55 chapters of “Sasha’s Journey” revised and uploaded to ChapterBuzz, and 4 chapters of “Rebuilding After Suicide” rewritten.

Still, I beat myself up for the days when I get nothing done. Or no writing, anyway. I think part of the problem is I’ve become so accustomed to fighting procrastination, that it’s a spectre I expect to always be there, and always require battling before I can get on with what I want and need to do.

Ignoring the Voices, Both Internal and External

I also know when I ignore all the voices, all the excuses, all the temptations which try to drag my attention away from scheduled tasks and simply put my fingers on the keyboard, amazing things happen. Words flow, ideas form, and pretty soon, there’s a thousand words or more. I look back 30 minutes or an hour to when I was bemoaning my lack of motivation, and laugh at the person I let myself become, if only for a couple of hours.

Once upon a time, I was a mother, a wife, a student, and an employee. There were never enough hours to be everything to everyone. I took time out to take care of me, and took a lot of flack for it from people I used to call “friend”. In their eyes, I wasn’t allowed to take time out for myself until everyone and everything else had been seen to. That’s how they lived their lives, and like a religion, thought it was the only way to live. But none of them were happy.

Busy People Take Time for Self-Care

Yet here I am now, begrudging myself a few hours of down time because it means I’m not writing 8 hours a day, or keeping an immaculate house (which won’t happen in my life time unless I indulge in a live-in housekeeper). Where has all this unnecessary guilt come from? It wasn’t long ago, I was thrilled to have 2 weeks worth of blog posts scheduled. When I reached 3 and was consistent, I was ecstatic. Now I’m teetering on the edge of 4 and maintaining at least 2 other projects as well, and I’m unhappy??? WTH!

While it’s true a busy person will often make time for one more task, having done it at one time or another, I know it comes at a cost. Something gets pushed aside, and usually it’s something for myself. These days I indulge myself, sometimes to extreme. But I fail to give myself credit for what I’m getting done too. I think it’s time I focused less on the hours I procrastinate (and maybe I’m germinating ideas in those hours), and more on the number of words I’ve written, the interactions I’m having with people both virtually and live, and the ground I’ve covered without realizing where I used to be is many miles behind me now.

I need to remind myself life is too short to miss out on the simple pleasures like naps, reading, and sitting on the sofa cuddling the cats.

With Overwhelming Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the Universal head slaps that remind me I’m being too hard on myself.
  2. I’m grateful for all I’ve accomplished, and all I’ve yet to accomplish. When I put it all in the same place, even I have to admit it’s pretty impressive.
  3. I’m grateful for the roads I’ve yet to travel, but which I’m drawing closer to every day.
  4. I’m grateful I’m learning to push the fear aside and dive headlong into whatever makes the words flow.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, joy, friendship, dancing, health, humor, conviction, community, support, happiness, inspiration, balance, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Retaining the Right to Work Your Own Schedule

Sometimes the Best Schedule is a Loose One

I’m struggling to stay 4 weeks ahead right now, which is the goal I set months ago, and finally achieved recently. But it’s different these days. If I get a few days behind, I don’t get crazy or start beating myself up. I take it in stride.

I’m learning I don’t work in a linear fashion any more than I think that way. Instead, I’ll have chunks of time; days even, when I’m off doing errands, indulging in self-care, or catching up on my reading. Then I become a veritable writing machine and edit 2 or 3 chapters of “Sasha”, write a blog post or two, and get all my Medium posts scheduled for another month. I literally have an on/off switch but in my case, it is more of a gear changing switch in which I move from one mode to another.

I spent too many years fighting with myself about what I wasn’t accomplishing before I recognized a pattern in myself. This is how I work best, fueled by coffee, gallons of water, and inspiration when it’s good and ready.

There are days and even weeks when it’s all I can do to sit down in front of the computer long enough to share what I’ve already written and pre-scheduled. I’m learning to not look too closely at my Trello board on those days because I know when the lull is over, I’ll catch up and often exceed my target dates.

Cutting Yourself Some Slack

Learning to work within your own cycles instead of accomplishing what is expected of you is a accomplishmentshard habit to break. It took me about 6 years to finally figure it out, and to allow myself to be who I am, and work how I work best. Above all, I don’t need to take weekends off from what I love to do. I may take a day off here or there, or a few days off when I’m so inclined, but writing is something I do perpetually now, and more and more often now that I’ve freed myself of the shackles of unrelenting schedules.

Yes, I do need my schedules and due dates, but they serve as a guideline to keep me focused on producing what I want to in accordance with a loose timeline. Looking at my schedules these days serves more as a reminder that I need to have a day of furious writing after a couple of days of nothing, but it also gives me a sense of accomplishment when I’ve met or beaten my due dates. More often than not, I see the latter nowadays.

Whether it’s work for my own blogs and other sites where I share my work, or client work, the rules are the same. I do not have to push myself to write on a day that’s filled with errands and other tasks. I also don’t have to get up in the morning and force myself to sit at the computer right away. If I have a compelling book to read (and right now, I have about 4), or grocery shopping to do, or an Artist’s Date to squeeze in after avoiding it for months, I do it guilt-free knowing I’ll likely have a late night or two when I’m pounding away at the keyboard oblivious to the passage of time.

Finding Your Own Rhythm

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jessicamullen/15936340893/in/photolist-qheUWa-6tvCyC-mfcahW-kF42vg-7aHRKn-dozSYs-upc1JR-5nU36i-6ZX1X8-9soFsZ-b6p5F2-dKgSFh-9soP3r-9GGyf-edzaxy-dKgQLq-4oLacT-9z49UC-aBS6db-kF5mTy-dbhFbp-83VBDF-JGdSxG-dKgR3q-dKbnZX-kF3i5M-kF2WWF-25sqyfg-kF3het-dKgU63-7121pw-dKbnLT-6ZXghB-7aMFFo-6ZXfye-a6G8a6-26PQPAR-ceZ3mw-7aF5cr-7aHRUn-kF3FwP-dKboVp-dKbj4F-3jqo8-dKbmgk-kF5cCu-dKgPvE-edzags-dKbjKc-dKbjtVIt took me almost 60 years to figure out I work best when I can manage my own schedule and work the hours that are most productive for me. I’m not a 9 to 5’er, nor do I work well when stuck in a stagnant work week. I may work 4 days or 7, but feeling and honoring my own body’s rhythm is essential to maximum productivity.

I can get up by 7-ish on rare occasions, but don’t expect it of me on a regular basis. I get bored, but I also feel somewhat resentful. I can and do get up by 8 on a regular basis, but need days when the alarm stays silent and I get up when I’m good and ready. Once I began to honor that, I stopped sleeping until 10 or 11, and am usually up by 9 even on my laziest days.

On the other side of the coin, some nights, I need to stay up until 3AM, while others find me falling asleep at my desk or on the sofa by 10 or 11. Without a set schedule or meaningless expectations, I’m free to honor them all. The sense of freedom I get and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with honoring my cycles, whatever they might be is unbelievable!

What Really Motivates You?

I realize now, more than 6 years after leaving the Corporate Jungle that my resentment and lack of motivation wasn’t entirely the environment I was working under. It was also a lack of respect for my own cycles. Learning to honor my cycles gives me the motivation I lacked and then some.

Granted, I’ll never be able to work under someone else’s guidelines. If I tried, the same resentment and lack of motivation will ultimately set in. But the people I work with now don’t have expectations from me other than a due date we agreed on. How I get there, or when I do the work is irrelevant to them. They want results and are uninterested in micromanaging those who give them those results.

The Truth About AB5 and Your Right to Work

At the moment California’s AB5 and the Federal PRO bill are putting what I and millions of others do at risk, but as I write, many are working on repealing or fixing one, and stopping the other in its tracks. On my own list is a slew of letter-writing and phone calls to help the cause. The writers and supporters in their Tinker Toy castles are currently oblivious to the the negative financial impact their well-meaning bills have on the economy and a lot of marginalized groups like seniors, disabled people, minorities, single moms, and women in general.

Why does this translate into negative financial implications State- and Nation-wide? Because many of us are unable or unwilling to go on someone’s payroll. It would mean a lot less income for us, and for some, more dependence on State or Federal aid. It also means less money paid in taxes, and less ability to contribute to the overall economy.

How You Can Help

Groups like Freelancers Against AB5 are compiling actual cases of financial hardship and lack of ability to enter into new, or renew existing contracts. They have created files of resources to educate people as to the actual issues with bills which supporters (read “Unions and the politicians they feed”) insist will better things for everyone. In truth, most freelancers make far more than they ever could as employees, and truly do function independently. By narrowing the requirements to operate as freelancers, they don’t create more jobs. Instead, they take jobs out of the states like California who are enacting these laws, and give them to people in states without the risk of exorbitant fines.

The joke is on the AFL-CIO if you ask me. The 35% of dues they contribute to political campaigns will continue to shrink. They won’t see more dues-paying members joining their ranks to comply with a poorly written law or two. People like me might earn less for a few months, or even a year. Many will apply for public assistance to help bridge the gap until someone…anyone comes to their senses. Budgets will have to be revised to allow for a drastic reduction in tax revenues.

Sadly, the people who deserve to suffer for the lack of foresight will continue to draw exorbitant paychecks unless or until they’re voted out in favor of someone who might actually read what they wrote, and like many of us, shake their heads at the idiocy of it all.

Raising Voices Against Inequities

If you’d like to help return us to a more rational world where earning a living isn’t unnecessarily restricted, please check out the Facebook group above, where you’ll find resources to:

  • Contact your legislators
  • Download files to add support to your letters
  • Get help understanding how you or the services for which you contract are impacted
  • Wade through the political double-talk
  • Call Governor Newsome (if you’re in California) at (916)445-2841 and say you’d like to add your name to the list of constituents demanding a repeal of AB5

Other groups have also formed based on profession.

California Freelance Writers United supports writers, bloggers, ghostwriters, and journalists. There are groups for performing artists including musicians, actors, and all supporting professions, as well as one for court reporters, and most of the other industries and professions affected. Type in “AB5” in the Facebook search bar for a list of groups and who they represent.

I cannot stress this enough. We are rapidly losing our right to free enterprise to people who don’t even understand what they’re doing, and are simply dancing on the string of their political contributors. There are more than enough of us to make our voices louder, and to highlight the negative implications of bowing to someone else’s agenda.

 

OK, stepping off my soapbox now.

Showing Gratitude No Matter What

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who are putting their time and energy into helping all voices be heard.
  2. I am grateful for more dance nights since BL Dancehall and Saloon has opened.
  3. I’m grateful for inspiration.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve learned to recognize and honor my cycles.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, dancing, friendship, inspiration, motivation, productivity, self-care, progress, goal meeting, writing, reading, exercising, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Recognizing Stress for the Fears it Masks

Self-Imposed Stress Inducers

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-cS691NHoliday stress. It affects each person in different ways, and for different reasons. For me, like most people, it’s a combination of things, but not what you might expect.

Cleaning stresses me out. My house is never pristine, and though I keep up with things like the kitchen and cat boxes, I am lucky to vacuum and mop once a week, much less, the two or three times my house needs because of my messy little fur balls. I’m not as bothered during the normal course of the year, but while getting ready for my annual Thanksgiving Feast, I pushed myself pretty hard to get floors and bathrooms scrubbed. As a result, my weekly cleanings suffered for a little while after as I recuperated from the frenzy; more mentally than physically.

Maintaining my writing schedule, while a labor of love can make me a little crazy during the holidays too. After Thanksgiving, it took me a couple of weeks to get back to my schedule of three weeks ahead. By then, Christmas week was looming, I had wrapping to do, and plans to make for the trip to my kids’ house. Still and all, I managed to get the wrapping done and all the paraphernalia stowed away for another year with about four days to spare; a new record!

Recognizing My Worth Via Someone Else’s Eyes

Leaving home for a few days stresses me out too. I know my home and cats are Created in Canvain good hands while I’m gone, but I do miss waking up to my own furries, especially Dylan and Pyewacket who love to sleep on my head, and wake me with kisses.

My biggest stresser, 6 years and a month into my self-employment journey is still marketing. Both my daughter and I have a hard time talking about ourselves, our strengths, and our accomplishments. She’s figured it out a little better than me, though. She roughed out what she needed for her grad school application, then sent it to me to, in her words, “fluff it out”.

What it really meant was I took what she wrote and added in some more of her relevant experience and accomplishments which triggered her to expand on them herself. It made me realize maybe I need to draft something to promote myself and give it to her to “fluff out”. She certainly sees me through more generous eyes than I do.

Learning to Focus on My Qualities

The question is, what might that be? I’ve put my second pass through LeadsLab on hold for the moment, while working on getting back on schedule with my writing projects. Maybe when I get back to it, I should write something up, then pass it on to her to inject some of the me she sees?

I admit I’m my own worst critic, and am least able to recognize the things I do well. I annoy the crap out of my daughter when I dismiss her assertions about what she thinks I’m good at. In the first place, I do her a huge disservice by dismissing her perfectly valid and objective opinions. In the second, I short-change myself. I’m not sure which hurts her more, to be honest.

Letting Go to Move Forward

The Tower from the Spiral TarotIn the weeks leading up to the New Year, I wrote a lot about changes I want to make for the new decade, and goals I want to accomplish. I think it’s also important to focus on what needs to be released. Here are a few of mine which really need to go:

  • False modesty
  • Disrespecting people by dismissing their positive opinions regarding my work and talents
  • Fear of disappointing anyone, including myself
  • Procrastination
  • Quitting before I give it a genuine, heartfelt effort
  • Letting one person’s opinion stop me in my tracks
  • Submitting to the distractions of Social Media and email

This list might be short, but each item is holding me back in many ways, and it’s time I stopped allowing excuses, fears, and outdated beliefs to stand between me and the greatness of which I’m capable.

Self-Motivating

Some say you have to either get angry enough or desperate enough before you’ll fight for what you truly want. I can see the truth in someone like J.K. Rowling who was in dire straits when she fought to get her first “Harry Potter” book published. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for an external reason to get my butt in gear. It motivates some, but it doesn’t mean everyone needs an external force.

I look back over my life and see how many things I’ve accomplished on my own. I also see I could have done so much more if I’d learned to ask for help a whole lot sooner than I did. I was taught not to by a long line of ancestors. It’s been my daughter who’s helped me see what I was taught was probably my biggest self-limiting belief.

Old habits are hard, but not impossible to break. I’m still learning who and what to ask when I need help. I don’t always recognize I’m doing something which could be greatly simplified if I ask for help from the right people. I’ve also asked for help from the wrong people at times, which made me a little gun shy. Not to mention the many times I asked for help in the wrong way. Small wonder I didn’t get the results I’d hoped for, and I’ve no one to blame but myself.

Using Other People as a Mirror

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rLife is one long learning curve with switchbacks, dead ends, and the occasional sharp, steep drop that lands you on your ass in a pile of rubble. I’ve learned the hardest part of those falls isn’t getting up afterwards. It’s finding the lesson and not giving up. It’s far too easy to say: Doing that made me crash and burn. I guess it means I’m not meant to succeed. I used that worn out excuse too often myself, and have likely missed a few amazing opportunities.

Yet I’ve learned by watching my daughter that sometimes we’re supposed to miss a few opportunities so we have time to build our confidence and get ready, not for an amazing opportunity, but for the amazing opportunity.

In spite of it all, I’ve always told my girls that when things seem to be falling apart the worst, be it a lost job, lack of opportunities, a few harsh realities smacking you in the face; if you hang in there, things always turn out better than they would have been had you not been booted out of a comfortable, if uninspiring place. My words have not proven false yet.

Timing Isn’t Everything. Starting Is.

It’s taking me a little longer to find my footing this time, but until lately, I really wasn’t putting forth a lot of effort. I wasn’t expecting much of myself. That all changed a couple of months ago, though it’s taking me a little while to hit my stride. Perhaps making major changes just before the holidays wasn’t my best choice of timing. I do, however, work best under pressure. I had to learn how to do it when the only real pressure came from inside myself.

I’d say it’s working if my jumpy stomach and anxiety over catching up on missed deadlines is any indication. At the moment, there’s absolutely no one breathing down my neck or having expectations of me. I have no one to satisfy; no external deadlines to meet.

What I do have is a Trello board full of deadlines for my own work:

  • Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday blog posts
  • Edits and postings of chapters of “Sasha’s Journey”
  • Re-writes of all but 4 chapters of “Rebuilding After Suicide”
  • Research into publishing options
  • Learning to write an effective query letter
  • Learning to create a synopsis for non-fiction
  • Publishing both books

Recognizing and Acknowledging My Support Team

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 have at least two people who’ve been kicking my butt to get these things done. One has even implied I’m depriving a lot of people of my work by failing to complete the re-write and get the darn thing published. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. I may have had a few experiences with people benefiting a little from the words I wrote, but not enough to make me believe my words and experiences could actually help a lot of people.

Looking back at that last paragraph, I realize it’s partly a lie I keep telling myself. I wouldn’t be driven to keep writing and sharing my own struggles if I didn’t truly believe they might help someone else who’s having a tough time. If I’m lying to myself to hold back from rushing headlong for some of the goals I set 6 years ago, it’s because I’m allowing fear to take the wheel. I talk a good story about letting fear have a voice but no voting rights and no driver’s license, but my words have no meaning if I don’t live them myself.

I think the theme for 2020 and beyond is not so much facing my fears, as living my truth.

Gratitude to Chase Away the Fears

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the reminders to put fear back in the corner.
  2. I’m grateful for the people in my life who push me to be my best, and remind me of my worth.
  3. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve set for myself, and how I’ve been able to rise to and even above them.
  4. I’m grateful for the physical reminders that I’m on the right path, even though it’s often scary as hell.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; supportive friends and family, topics to write about, motivation, inspiration, love, joy, productivity, health, peace, prosperity, harmony, balance, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Attitude: The Ultimate Motivator

Analyzing My Attitude

As I recently embarked on a new version of my lifelong weight management journey (courtesy of Julia Cameron’s “Writing to Diet”), I tend to think about it more than usual. Being the analytical sort, I take it apart and put it back together in various configurations. In one scenario, I look at how others treat their less-than-perfect bodies. Let’s be honest, here. I’ve never met a woman who couldn’t find something she didn’t like about her body!

Still and all, I find those who are more successful focus more on changing one thing, and it has nothing to do with food or exercise.

Re-assessing the Messages I Send Myself

You’ve probably seen a lot of meme’s and posts lately dealing with how people 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-cS691Nrespond to the messages they receive. Whether you tell a child she’s smart or dumb, she’ll more often than not meet your expectations.

Humans like you and me grow up on the outside, but there’s a part of us which will always be that child who’s easily influenced by expectations; both internal and external. When we tell ourselves things like:

You’re a mess. You need to clean up your act.

or

You’ll never lose the weight you need to. You’re a fatty who can’t control her eating.

or

You gained back 3 ounces. Might as well go scarf that gallon of ice cream. You’re a failure.

In one sense, you’re ripping away at your own self-confidence, and in another, you’re giving yourself permission to keep failing—to keep disappointing the most important person in your life—YOU!

Self-Improvement is the Ultimate Goal

One of the requirements for the new self-improvement program I’ve embarked upon (and yes, I see it as self-improvement rather than weight loss) is to take a 20-minute walk every day. As it happens, I’ve been trying to get into the habit of walking daily for months without success. Somehow, though, when Ms. Cameron wrote about it and offered examples from students who’d followed her plan successfully, I came up with my own plan to make it work.

I know myself well, so getting dressed and out the door had to be a first-thing-in-the-morning task, or it would get put off the way my gym workouts were until I created a plan. If you’ve been following me for the last year or so, you know I’ve been incredibly successful at meeting my 3-day-a-week gym goal, because I assigned myself specific days with their own specific workout. (Monday; legs, Wednesday; chest and triceps, Friday; back and biceps).

As a result, I’m stronger, leaner, and have more energy. I also know it’s not enough, because I wasn’t sticking to my healthier diet so my weight was going up and down like a yo-yo. I’d like to believe at least half of the poundage I reacquired is muscle mass, but who am I kidding? Indeed, a part of it might be, but my clothes were fitting tighter again, and contrary to popular belief, they did not shrink in the wash!

Motivation According to Plan

In order to make the daily walk work with my schedule, I had to put it after writing morning pages and feeding the cats (tasks I can’t move around any more than I already have!), and before coffee and my usual yogurt and blueberries breakfast. Trust me, when coffee is the reward for getting my sneakers on and heading out the door to walk for a mere 20 minutes, little if anything gets between me and that walk!

Now, I could tell you I motivate myself by looking at the too-high numbers on the scale or the ample figure in the mirror and berating myself, but not only would I be lying, I’d be doing you a gross disservice. The truth is, I look at the numbers on the scale and, even when they go back up a bit, I look at my excel spreadsheet and see how many pounds I’ve released over time rather than what I regained over a day or two. It reminds me how much I’m capable of, and that there will always be setbacks.

Positive Reinforcement

I also look myself in the mirror and notice the positive changes. I tell myself how proud I am of those changes, and the effort I made and continue to make. I recognize the effort and forgive the imperfections.

Sure, I’ve changed my eating habits a lot. I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and less sugar and flour. I try to track every bite that passes my lips, though with more success some days than others. The question remains, how was I able to turn a life of sloth and often depression into one where the weight is coming off, albeit slowly, and my energy is increasing, not so slowly.

The answer is really a single word: Attitude. Changing my attitude and appreciating my smallest wins turned everything around, and gave me the drive and desire to add new things like daily walks to my routine. Attitude makes me stand straighter and taller, suck in my belly without having to remind myself, and make better food choices.

Ask Not “What Can I Eat?” But “Am I Really Hungry Now?”

It’s taught me to ask myself when my stomach growls at 10 PM if I’m truly hungry, and if so, will a small slice of bell pepper be as effective (if not more so) in silencing the dragons than some sweet or salty snack (for the record, the answer is always yes these days).

I listen to friends complaining about the way they look, or some flaw nobody notices but them. That was once me, and while I focused on the flaws and the failures, my progress was limited if not negative. I had to learn to love myself as I am, at any given moment.

Seeing Myself Through Less Critical Eyes

That doesn’t mean I have to stay in the place I spent so much time beating myself up over. It simply means that each stage of my progress is good and praise-worthy. Wherever I find myself is better than someplace I was at some point in the past.

The changes might not be visible to anyone else, but like everyone, I have laser vision when it comes to myself. I know the frame I live in once carried 20 or 30 more pounds, and that those pounds were pure fat. I know I’m starting to see collarbones I haven’t seen in decades, and silly as it may sound, it makes me dance with joy. Does anyone else notice the faint hint of bone at my neckline? Doubtful. But what anyone else sees has nothing to do with my attitude towards myself—unless I let it.

The Only Opinion That Matters is Mine

If you ask me, the biggest mistake you can make is to allow anyone else to influence your attitude towards yourself. I did for a very long time, and am working on fixing the damage it did.

I’ve also learned no matter how much I’ve shored up my attitude, people and things can still shake it. Still, it’s up to me to remind myself of one of my favorite quotes:

What other people think of me is none of my business.

Whether you’re struggling with your weight, building a business, reaching a goal, or simply giving yourself permission to succeed, I’ve learned it will continue to be a struggle until you can tell yourself with complete confidence that you deserve to succeed at whatever you want to do. The rest is just logistics.

Supporting Myself With an Attitude of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to love myself as I am, and not some pie-in-the-sky image of perfection.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve learned to set new goals, and to find a way to achieve them instead of talking myself out of trying.
  3. I’m grateful for new adventures.
  4. I’m grateful for dreams fulfilled. It means I get to dream new dreams.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, love, self-confidence, attitude, friendship, inspiration, motivation, new experiences, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Procrastination and De-Cluttering: Two Sides of the Same Coin

12 Steps to End Procrastination

My name is Sheri and I’m a procrastinator.

There should be a 12-step program for procrastinators, but I’m sure the main reason it doesn’t exist is because we’d put off going to the meetings, or even scheduling them in the first place.

I’ve been putting off starting the re-write of Forgotten Victims since I got back from the writers’ conference over a week ago. Yes, I got the new first chapter written, but diving in and re-writing the rest was as daunting as de-cluttering the house of a hoarder (which I was at once time, though not to the degree of the ones you see on TV). I looked at the overwhelming task of re-writing over 71,000 words and simply froze. I didn’t know where to start! Despite the hours spent creating a timeline of significant events, I couldn’t find my starting point.

I lost sight of the advice I freely give to anyone wanting to clear out a room, a garage, or a house: pick a spot and start.

Finding Help in Unexpected Places

Fortunately, I signed up for a session with someone in one of my Facebook groups. She challenged me to devote 15-20 minutes a day to working on the re-write, and 15-20 minutes to researching publishing options and requirements. So far today, I’ve spent close to 4 hours between them. Why? Because I rarely back down from a reasonable challenge (bungee jumping is not something I consider reasonable, so don’t even ask!), and the truth is, this one is a win-win for me. Also, I’ve learned my problem isn’t following through. It’s getting started in the first place.

This little exercise in getting off my butt reminds me how much I need an accountability partner who will not only kick me into high gear when I need it, but will read the pages I churn out and help me see what I still need to fix.

Learning to Overcome the Costs of Procrastination

Yet procrastination costs so much in the long-run. And bringing procrastination to an end feels so darn good! It’s like going to the gym regularly. I have to push myself to do it, but I’m so glad when I do! Who’d have thought I’d come to appreciate a nag, both internal and external?

Over time, I’ve learned to set myself achievable goals and to stick with them until I form a habit. Yet, even there, I am easily thrown off track. Take my thrice-weekly gym routine which I’d thought was well-cemented last year. It only took a couple of weeks of curve-balls to kill that hard-earned habit. I’m still trying to get it back in place, but oversleeping, or client work I simply need to finish, or excessive wind…you name it, I’ll use it as an excuse to miss another day at the gym. Of course, I then perform the requisite self-flagellation for failing myself yet again. It’s rather a vicious cycle, really.

Procrastination’s Vicious Cycle

Do all procrastinators do as I do? Procrastinate—Let Ourselves Down—Castigate ourselves, repeat as necessary? Or do they procrastinate until the last possible moment, then practically kill themselves to achieve the stated goal? Or are we a combination of the two, depending on the circumstances?

I’ve learned over time that if the beneficiary of my actions is someone else, I’m more likely to push past my tendency to procrastinate and deliver on time, or, more often, early. But when it comes to myself, I can make excuses forever and a day why I can’t even start working on something which is clearly for my own benefit. Even things like Forgotten Victims which many have assured me will, as I hope, help a lot of other people. Although I will always believe the 9 years it took to write the draft were both right and necessary, I cannot, in this Universe or any other, justify it taking that long, or even more than a couple of months, to re-write it and get it ready for editing and ultimately, publishing.

Getting to the Root of the Matter

It occurs to me that because procrastination is selective, it might behoove me to get to the root of why I procrastinate over one task and not another. Though the beneficiary is certainly one factor, I suspect there are others as well.

Yet, I even find myself procrastinating over getting client work done at times, though it’s always done before the end of the month. Again, once I start, I’ll work steadily for however many hours it takes, or until I hit a point where I need more information before I can go further. But there is a clear deadline, even if it’s just in my mind. My current clients are typically lenient about when they see their monthly reports. I’m the one who insists on providing them on a regular, predictable schedule. Old habits die hard.

Routines, Schedules, and Expectations

I also believe keeping myself on a somewhat regular monthly schedule for them allows space for more. I know when I need to start working on their books each month, and which weeks will be heavier or lighter as a result. Conversely, I know which weeks I can devote to my writing, which turn out to be the weeks my tendency to procrastinate is at its highest. Knowing someone is going to check in with me in a week to see if I’ve followed the schedule she set me for re-writing and researching is turning out to be very helpful.

I’ll admit, last night I was working until about 9:30 because I’d put it off for most of the day. Granted, I was doing client work, and warding off what would have been a debilitating migraine (thank goodness for early warnings) so procrastinating was situational rather than deliberate. Once I did sit down to fulfill those external expectations, I, as usual, got into the task and was hard-pressed to stop. I guess that’s why NaNo works so well for me. Once I start writing and working to achieve the 1600-word-per-day requirement, I’ve been known to write for as long as 5 hours at a stretch, and churning out anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 words.

I also found through experience that setting specific times to do the writing helped, but then, having a day job limited my choices and forced me to get up and moving earlier in the day, even when I was up writing until 2 or 3AM. With my looser schedule, the alarm is either not set at all, or subject to many whacks of the snooze button. Still, my days of sleeping until after 10 are long gone. These days, I’m consistently up between 8 and 9:15, with or without the alarm. Another habit I’ve worked to form.

Learning to Outwit Ourselves

In short, I believe the key to outwitting our natural propensity for procrastination depends on several factors:

  1. Who we are serving.
  2. Accountability.
  3. Outside influences (like migraines or other things which make us unable or unwilling to work).
  4. Perceived importance of the task at hand.
  5. Getting started.

The last is probably the key to the whole package. Putting off getting started has extended the duration of just about every task I’ve set for myself. When I get past that single sticking point, I’m often a bulldog with a bone. I don’t let go, even to eat until I’ve made what I’d consider reasonable progress. I know that last part sounds a bit bizarre, but when I’m in “the zone” it’s all I can do to remember to drink water. In fact, I’ve learned to fill my 40-ounce water bottle and put it on the desk before I start. Otherwise, I get that irritating cotton-mouth feeling in the middle of my best flow of ideas, and there’s no way I’d stop for something as trivial as filling the bottle.

Heading Our Excuses Off at the Pass

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictoquotes/26362491806/in/photolist-857d63-7jecuc-4EKXjp-d1fXnd-dGxXva-CWZ3qm-pEtDtE-3LiJjP-UaGqaP-U4nkQR-pRhHt6-bGpmxT-cYxRaG-9o9aCf-ebCGqX-5i8fuy-84yuGJ-etwRi8-FFKb5u-4G5gCd-awsadF-9pfapc-hsE8Ey-qQun96-5JpNWp-HP9Nyr-BGZwA9-6Ls9DX-TsKYM9-hxME-SsNQJ8-6tki6x-xyvfhG-GayEmN-ytRii1-s5DRhg-ndkt2wIf you’ve ever been hammered by a migraine, you know dehydration is one of the worst culprits. And nothing pisses me off when I’m in the zone more than to have to stop because my vision is going squirrelly and I’m in danger of being sidelined by a headache that makes labor pains feel like a slight tummy ache. So I keep the bottle full and my body happy, even if it means halting the creative flow for a bit, hoping it won’t come to a screeching, grinding halt in the time it takes me to fill said bottle again.

Looking back at this post, I see I’ve done it yet again. I’ve broken away from my tendency to procrastinate, and written for longer than I’d intended (both time-wise and word count). Now it’s your turn. What makes you procrastinate, and how do you make it stop? What are your triggers, and your releases? Are some tasks easier to put off than others? Do you value your own time and needs as much as you do those of others? (your boss and co-workers, family, friends, strangers) Please share your thoughts in the comments. They will be extremely valuable to your fellow procrastinators who are always looking for ways to outsmart ourselves.

What’s a Post Without Gratitude?

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to be continuing my blog posting schedule, even if some go up later on the designated day than I’d like.
  2. I am grateful for a schedule that is filling up with people, places, and things which take me out of myself-imposed hermit hole.
  3. I am grateful for friends and acquaintances who give me reason to finish what I started, encouragement, and even motivation.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to hyper-focus once I actually start a task. I lose hours at a time while accomplishing so much.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friends, family, opportunities, encouragement, love, joy, my expanding network (thank you, #SCWC), motivation, inspiration, frustration because it kicks me out of the depths of ennui, peace, harmony, and even righteous indignation. For health, balance, 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

The Mind Might be in Denial, But the Body Knows!

Inattention Provokes Physical Reaction

Writing my morning pages today after doing the unthinkable yesterday and skipping it without a valid reason (gasp!) I realized how little attention I’d been paying to my writing, among other things, since November began. I’d like to say it was a gentle realization with soft music playing, and a gentle breeze teasing tendrils of my hair from my customary messy wad on top of my head. But the truth is, the Universe gave it to me with both barrels, as usual.

Yesterday, after sleeping until 11, which I haven’t done in months, I recognized the tell-tale signs of infection in my right ear. I took the entire day off to be lazy, improve my eating habits which had been pretty awful lately, and supercharge my body with homeopathics and natural remedies (turmeric and propolis are my go-to’s, in case you’re wondering).

I woke this morning slightly later than I’d like to find the pain had subsided but now the ear felt like it was filled with fluid. Moving around has helped a bit, but the pressure remains. However, that didn’t stop me from immediately grabbing pen and notebook (after feeding the resident furballs, of course) and resuming my morning routine.

Morning Pages vs. Brain Dumping

If you’re not familiar with “morning pages” you might want to pick up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. It’s a great book if you’re a creative who needs to learn to honor the artist within, begging to be allowed to come out and play. One of the biggest take-aways I got from the book was the practice of writing 3 pages longhand every morning, aka “morning pages”. The idea is to sit down and write before you do anything else in the morning (coffee and cat feeding notwithstanding) to clear your head of all of the accumulated folderol from both the previous days’ challenges and the dreams from which you’ve just awoken. If you’re like me, those dreams alone can clog up the works as they’re quite vivid and memorable most days.

In many ways, I guess you’d call the morning pages journaling, but in a very raw, directionless way. In the past, I’d have called it a brain dump, though those typically were a fingers-to-keyboard kind of exercise as I type much faster than I write.

The purpose of the morning pages is not to pour out your guts as fast as possible but instead, to slow your mind down, forcing it to connect with your entire being instead of running amok like a hyperactive child on a sugar high.

I’ve found a great deal of insight from my morning pages though admittedly, there are days when I struggle to sit still long enough and slow my mind down sufficiently to write those 3 pages. Today was one of those days when the process worked.

Recognizing the Wake-Up Call of Physical Ills

I’ve learned that maladies in the body are simply a reflection of dis-ease in our energy field, which, left uncleared start manifesting in ways meant to get our attention. Yet it took slowing my mind down, getting the words on the page to connect the dots this time.

Once I started putting it together, I realized I’d not been communicating via my writing for quite some time. My ear was giving me a huge wake-up call that my hoarse and phlegm-y throat had failed to do.

I needed to get back to my writing!

While pouring out the contents of my muddled and over-stressed brain through the fingers of my right hand, I saw what I’d been, unbeknownst to me, making a concerted effort to ignore. I hadn’t written a single blog post, or even started one since the end of October. I hadn’t edited more chapters of Forgotten Victims as I’d planned. I had barely even interacted on social media for the last 25 days. In fact, I’d developed a bit of an aversion to it. No, more of an ennui. Nothing held my attention. I spent my days (when I wasn’t working on accounting clients) watching sappy Christmas movies and playing word games on my computer.

Finding the Blessing Buried in the Muck

On the up side, I increased my vocabulary a bit and kept my mind somewhat sharp, but my creative side was screaming for attention. Have you ever tried to quiet a 2-year-old mid-tantrum? Well, Creative Sheri knows exactly which buttons to push to get Unproductive, Slothful Sheri’s attention. In fact, administering physical pain is a particular favorite.

I may have created a bit of a monster when I chose to release my creative side, because once released, there’s no effective way to stuff the creativity back into a box permanently. What Pandora released when she opened that box has nothing on the creative monster once I gave her permission to come out and play. She is especially cranky when I make excuses for sitting down in front of the computer and writing. The words that come out don’t really matter. They just have to find their way to page, screen, or whatever medium I choose.

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Are Signs

https://www.flickr.com/photos/swampa/8512656992/in/photolist-dYeAm9-5MBAS5-4wH48T-5M2k2z-9j9QT2-8RVu1X-6juK2V-a18M9W-5taS34-fMS1SQ-cDQLUb-6GZmA2-oUv5Wv-5AvF8V-paqKFx-4LicMW-s48LVr-57gaP7-39DFEc-nu6Svm-bCRkBB-21uvr7L-7H9fXU-h4hoeh-8kP7PC-3F7yE-AXQ82E-RCHfaj-ftXr8F-6agM2v-pCAFRA-57uGKU-5qGnVx-gYU9Q-6aCF6B-7SC734-5hDawR-6pT1cL-58x9Gg-7tPaUX-pfNVHB-7BnSAE-a56YeV-83T4NJ-6wgZex-e58EmP-9tnDYY-gmjSdW-55pwGE-4CCrfbMaybe it was the Hallmark movie I watched last night about a writer who left home to follow his passion. Maybe I related well to his being stuck and needing new inspiration. More important was his regular routine. He went to the same coffee shop every day, sat at the same table with his laptop and wrote. Writing my morning pages every day only gets me halfway there.

I choose to believe that things are put into our path for a reason, be they physical pain, a message delivered via movie or book, or a person who helps us find our way back to our true path. When we do our best to ignore the signs and signals as I’ve been doing for the last month, those signs and signals become more persistent, and eventually, painful. Like the lessons we’re given, the signs that we’ve wandered off path are not about to be ignored indefinitely.

Sure, I could be one of those who self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to shut those voices and the pain out. Fortunately, I’m not. I have a strong aversion to drugs of any kind and if I have one drink per month, that’s a lot. So I’m forced to acknowledge the signs, the warnings, and especially the Universal head slaps which tell me I need to get off my ever-lovin’ arse and do what I was meant to do—WRITE!

Getting Back on Track…Again

This is my long-winded way of saying I’m back and will do my best to entertain you with regular blog posts like this, both here and on my website. I welcome your comments and would love to hear about what motivates you and gets you back on track when you stray.

The Many Faces of Gratitude

What would a blog post be without my gratitudes? Here are a few for today.

  1. I’m grateful for the subtle and not-so-subtle reminders that I’m not being true to myself.
  2. I’m grateful for family and friends who inspire and challenge me.
  3. I’m grateful for the reams of words I’ve poured out on pages like this one as well as all of my works-in-progress.
  4. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met lately on social media. Some inspire me to greater things, and others show me what I don’t want to be or aspire to. All are helpful in their own way.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; the words that flow from my fingers, the portfolio I don’t always appreciate, the dreams that fill my head at night (and other times too), love, friendship, communication, health, joy, compassion, kindness, generosity, peace, hope, harmony, 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. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

What? You Want me to Change my Look?

The More We Change, the More We Stay the Same

In the last couple of days, two different articles/videos showed up in my news feed about the importance of changing your hairstyle. Crazy hairOne even had the commentator declaring “You must change your hairstyle at least every 2 years to avoid looking older.” I found this especially amusing because I haven’t changed mine in at least a couple of decades yet am constantly mistaken for 10-15 years younger. So much for that idea. Or, do they mean, I could look 35 again if I changed my hair? Hmmm, let’s think about this for a minute. The men my age are going for the 40-year-olds so if I look 35, I’d attract the 50-year-olds? This could work for me!

But I digress. As focused as I am on all things ‘change’, the whole scenario got my attention and started the gears turning. I claim to have made some significant changes, and indeed I have, but are they really enough? I’m still a terrible procrastinator and I’ve yet to publish so much as a short story (assuming I could limit myself to 5,000 words instead of 100,000). I’m watching fellow freelancers and other entrepreneurs making up their former salaries in a matter of months yet, to quote someone in my networking group, there are times when I feel like I’m hemorrhaging money. OK, so it’s not really that bad, but unlike him, I don’t have an office to pay for or anything other than my existing living expenses and those of my cats.

Sure, my hours have changed. I’m living a 9-ish to 2-ish lifestyle now, but I’m not working enough to even make me happy. Then I hit a rut like I’ve been in for the last few days and get very little done. I know I’ll make it up by working some long days to catch up, and I did get my personal books updated, but what about those long-term items on my to do list? I haven’t knocked one off the list in quite awhile, and let’s not get started on the gym routine which started off so well at the beginning of the year and has been non-existent since June.

Yes, I’ve decluttered my life a lot but I haven’t finished. Yes, I have gotten into some very good routines so my house isn’t a complete pigsty. But would I be embarrassed to have visitors right now? Yes, I would. Until I get the nasty, stinky, stained carpet pulled up in my bedroom, I would. Until I figure out how to at least get the kitchen cabinets in, the wall torn down and the tile installed, yes, it looks like I’m living in a war zone. Sure, it’s an easily maintained war zone, but a war zone nonetheless.

I’m also lacking the get up and go I need, or maybe it’s the confidence, to bring in new business, sell my writing, finish at least one novel all the way through editing and formatting and just start living up to my potential (hear that, Mom. I’m agreeing with you now). I need a better plan. I know that. But I don’t know where I want to begin. It’s not that I don’t have several quite viable directions I can go. My problem lies in choosing one, mapping it out and running with it.

Does Changing the Outside Change the Inside?

I have to wonder if changing the outside really would have the “King and I” effect? Would I be able to convince myself that I’m the successful and prolific author of my dreams by changing my outward appearance? By giving up the natty t-shirt and gym shorts in favor of stylish duds, makeup and an actual hairdo that doesn’t involve a scrunchy? Does hair really make the girl?

I’m opening this one up to my readers.

Have you changed your life by changing your look? For the better? Was it a major change or a minor one?

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for continuing to step out of my comfort zone.
2. I am grateful for new ideas.
3. I am grateful for change, even if it’s smaller than I first thought.
4. I am grateful for progress; slow, sometimes unsteady, but progress nonetheless.
5. I am grateful for abundance; peace, harmony, prosperity, forward momentum, friendship, love, connection, inspiration, motivation, and philanthropy.

“font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>Blessed Be

“font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://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!

September 13, 2015 Blame it on the Moon

Under the Bottom Unproductivity

The last couple of days have seen me at new lows for productivity. I just can’t seem to get myself to focus on anything for more than about 5 minutes, and that includes eating. I kid you not when I say that it took me two hours to eat a single enchilada.

I don’t lack for tasks or even deadlines. What I lack is energy and motivation. I suspect the first begat the second. Even last night, my dance night and Heather’s birthday party saw me sitting a lot and yawning more. I was more than ready to leave by about 8:00 but stuck it out until 9:30, then stood in the parking lot talking for another 20 minutes or so. Since Mr. Scrappy Doo and I have come to terms with his naughtiness at bedtime, I can’t blame it on lack of sleep. In fact, I had one of the best night’s sleep ever last night.

So where the heck did my energy go? And whoever might have absconded with it, please return it post haste. I really must get things done tomorrow. I can only get by for so long accomplishing little more than making the bed in the morning and cleaning up the kitchen at the end of the day. Those blog posts and novel edits aren’t going to write themselves!

If the moon and last night’s solar eclipse are, indeed the culprits, they’re sending me some interesting dreams in the bargain. Marriages to Danish princes, battles in cages where the loser is dumped into a vat of milk, murder plots and neglected trombones are only the beginning. I’m definitely going to have to sit up and start writing in the journal I keep next to my bed as so much is lost when I go back to sleep and wake a few hours later. I really hate losing so much good material!

Tonight, I’ll retire early despite the 2-hour nap I took this afternoon in hopes that my energy, or at least my motivation will return full-force tomorrow. At the very least, I need to stop mooning around.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the nights I get to sleep without locking Scrappy Doo up.
2. I am grateful that exhausting and lack of motivation are only rare occurrences.
3. I am grateful for an enjoyable weekend with my daughter and son-in-law.
4. I am grateful for the progress I’ve made on my novel and the lessons I’m learning along the way.
5. I am grateful for abundance: energy, motivation, inspiration, productivity, love, friendship, joy, dancing, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://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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