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

Posts tagged ‘normal’

Cementing Healthy Habits During Quarantine

Healthy Habits Old and New

I’m finding the healthy habits I established both pre- and post-quarantine are becoming engraved in stone. I might think to myself, I’ll skip something like cleaning  up the kitchen, or brushing my teeth before bed, or washing my face and brushing my teeth after breakfast before doing my Facebook Live for the day, but it seems I can’t do it any more. I can’t undo the habits I’ve been performing diligently for so long.

Heaven knows there are days I’ve tried. I’ll walk into the kitchen late at night and think: I’ll just leave this for tomorrow. There isn’t very much. Every time I even think about leaving dirty dishes in the sink over night, I’m overwhelmed by the feeling I get when I see a clean kitchen both before I go to bed, and when I get up in the morning. Needless to say, the task gets done every time.

It isn’t just the big things either. I was having trouble remembering to defrost a cup of blueberries for breakfast the next morning. I discovered if I refilled the little bowl right after I emptied it in the morning, I was more likely to remember than if I put it off until I did dishes at night. I was forgetting to take my second round of supplements until I incorporated it into my night time teeth brushing/face washing routine. Habits are more effectively solidified by a slight tweak rather than by beating myself up for forgetting yet again.

Establishing a New Normal

The first month of quarantine I let a lot of things slide. I realize now it was a kind of grieving Created with Canvaprocess for things that were no longer available, and that I wouldn’t get back for an as yet unspecified amount of time. It wasn’t unlike the much longer process I went through after leaving my last full-time job.

I have a habit of wandering around aimlessly for a little while when something in my life changes drastically. It isn’t that I don’t like change. In fact, I embrace it. But I have to go through a kind of transition period between one lifestyle and another when, apparently, I don’t get anything done for a little while as I adjust to the changing demands (or in some cases, no demands) on my time. In both cases, I essentially had to reinvent myself and set my own priorities because there was no one in the outside world who was setting them for me.

Not only were trips to the gym removed from my schedule, but so were regular dance nights, running errands once a week on the same day, and even my daily walks. The last was a personal choice because there are too many people walking the streets in my neighborhood, and I don’t feel comfortable around that many potentially germy people right now.

Changes for the Good

It hasn’t been entirely bad so far. I spent the better part of one week binge reading seven Mercedes Lackey books on Kindle. My friend parked her motor home beside my house (my property has RV access) instead of where she’d originally planned on the street near her condo, because she works in a hospital and needed to distance herself from her significant other to protect his health.

The addition of a roommate, even if we’re not actually sharing the house has actually had a major positive impact on my life overall. It’s given me someone to talk to many nights, albeit from at least 6 feet away, I’m using my patio and porch more than I have in years, and we get a small group of people together once a week for dinner and some line dancing. In short, we’re making lemonade with the lemons life’s thrown our way (and I’ve even gotten a small Meyer lemon tree for a recently cleared area of my yard.

Speaking of yards, my friend and her S/O pulled some yard equipment they’d been storing in her mother’s garage since she moved to a condo, got the lawn mower fixed, and gave me the tools I needed to regain control of my badly overgrown yard. It’s a process that isn’t going quickly, but not only do I have the tools I need, but some help in whacking it all down and taming the persistent weeds and trees that were doing their best to return my yard to it’s natural state.

If Not This, Then That

Gym visits have been replaced by yard work, heavy house cleaning, and, just recently, twice-weekly ballet classes. There again, I’m surprising myself. I would have told you even a week ago that balancing on one leg was something I simply couldn’t do. The classes give me a chance to wobble around in the privacy of my own home (mostly) but to also discover that by following the instructions from my teacher, I can actually succeed where I was certain I’d fail.

My arabesques and other one-legged stances may not be anything close to perfect. I can’t raise my leg as high as it’s supposed to go, nor straighten my leg out all the way yet. Each session sees some improvement, and I’m left with not only a feeling of accomplishment, but a little more strength, balance, and flexibility. I can’t tell you how much those things are improving my self-image. An added bonus has been an end to persistent lower back pain I’d come to accept as part of my aging process. Whodathunkit?

Opportunities abound for those of us determined to maintain the exercise regimen we’d established, or even to start new ones. Whether it’s online yoga classes, line dance gatherings, or other forms of movement, all you need is the desire, and a little determination to stick with it even when you’re tired, or out of sorts. For myself, those are the times it’s most important to tell my inner child to shut up and get moving.

Acknowledging the Small Things

There are days I still feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, yet if I look back on the day honestly and uncritically, I always find something I took off my plate, or something good I did for myself. Sometimes, it’s just washing my face, brushing my teeth, taking all my supplements, posting daily gratitudes and doing a Facebook Live but there was a time those things didn’t get done every day, and it wasn’t so long ago. More often than not, I get some writing done, or an administrative task crossed off, or another area decluttered.

Whatever it is I’ve done, I make sure to acknowledge it and compliment myself on the achievement. Some people will spend the quarantine continuing to work their old job, but from home. Others will spend it sitting around and feeling unmotivated. There are those who, like me, see it as an opportunity to try new things and stay relatively active (many are doing far more than me). It’s important you don’t compare yourself to anyone else. One person’s self-care isn’t a good fit for the next person.

If sitting around is what you’ve chosen, look closely at what you’re doing. It is as much a type of self-care as anything else. It’s entirely possible you’ve burnt yourself out running in seventeen directions at once. Your body, mind, and spirit are taking this opportunity to recharge. It may have only taken me a few weeks to find my stride, but I wasn’t overly stressed out by life. If it takes you longer, it’s because you need it. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to find your own new version of normal. There are no wrong answers.

Feeling Grateful Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for new opportunities to indulge in self-care and self-improvement.
  2. I’m grateful for all the instructors and teachers who have embraced technology to bring me classes and dance events that keep my body active, and even more limber than before.
  3. I’m grateful for long, quiet days when I can read, write, or do whatever I feel I need to do with my time alone. It’s all good.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who share inspiration and motivation and encourage me to do the same. Being there for others is the greatest kind of self-care I know.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, silence, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, books to read, small gatherings with friends, new experiences, completion of old tasks, peace, health, balance, 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

Self-Care While Isolating

Self-Care is the Little Things

Self-careAs days stretch into weeks with no direct human contact, I realize one of the most important things you can do is pay attention to self-care. It goes further than simply trying to eat right, get some exercise, and plenty of rest. Those things feed your physical body, but do nothing for the parts of you which derive energy from the seemingly meaningless interactions you have with others, and for which you, without realizing it, take better care of yourself.

In the first few days, I found it easy to skip the simple things:

  • Washing my face
  • Brushing my teeth
  • Showering
  • Washing my hair
  • Getting dressed

The advent of regular dance nights via Zoom made me more conscious of my personal hygiene even though I was one of many images on everyone’s screens. But I also discovered I was more productive and positive when I spent a few minutes taking care of myself.

Keeping Up Normal Activities in Creative Ways

It isn’t just the hygienic practices that need to continue. It’s things like sitting on the floor and doing a nice, long stretch; showing up on Facebook Live to encourage my friends; spending time out on the patio getting some fresh air, and listening to bird song. I’m quickly realizing how much I’ve taken for granted over the years. Even the attention my cats both give and demand has become more meaningful; more intense.

Even from the seeming solitude of my own home, I’m learning I can reach out to friends and offer support, encouragement, and connection. Many are doing the same for me. Not a single day goes by when I don’t at least talk to someone via Facebook Messenger, if not by phone or Zoom. My friends and I are in and out of each others’ homes, in much the same manner as I did as a child when doors weren’t locked, and all the kids in the neighborhood wandered in and out of several of the houses.

Necessity is causing a new normal to emerge; not one that will continue in the same form once restrictions are lifted, but one which gives a new appreciation for the value of human contact. It’s a case of not knowing what you had until you lost it, though in this case, it’s a temporary loss. I know I’ll hug longer and tighter, pay more compliments to strangers, and even find the patience I’ve long thought elusive when I go out into the world unrestricted once again.

Hoping for A Pandemic of Kindness and Compassion

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-di6ynQWill others be kinder and more patient too? That’s not for me to say, but I tend to hope for the best most of the time. Will I see more of the good in people, and be less likely to see insensitivity and selfishness? I think so. I’m already trying to look past those who do things which seem selfish and uncaring, trying to understand what drives people to do what appears to me to be, if not morally, then ethically wrong.

More and more, I’m seeing peoples’ judgemental remarks as simply frustration, and a lack of understanding for what someone else is going through. For some, it might be an inability to find toilet paper. For others, it’s the real fear of losing their home. Somehow, in the minds of each, the problem is insurmountable and frightening.

I’m learning by watching and reading that everyone has their trigger point. Everyone’s ire raises at different levels. When I worked in an office, I called it my “bullshit meter”, but I’m learning it’s more than that. It’s what we are able to tolerate based on our own past experiences.

We Each See Lack Differently

I once had a friend who would tell stories about how his mother only bought him a limited amount of underwear and socks, but spent thousands on face creams and clothes for herself. As an adult, he hoarded socks and underwear because that was his trigger point indicating lack. My own mother didn’t allow us to have pillows as she believed it was bad for our necks. Today, I have more pillows on my bed than I need, though I often take full advantage of the abundance when I’m having trouble getting comfortable.

Who am I to say there aren’t those who lived in a household where toilet paper was in short supply and they had to make do with something else? How can I possibly know if someone lived where cleanliness and hygiene were ignored, and where members of the household were often ill as a result? If I learn nothing else from spending far too many hours in my own company, it’s that compassion and kindness can’t be limited to those I believe, based on my own experiences, deserve it. If I’m going to err, it has to be on the side of abundance; abundance of compassion with no restrictions or exclusions.

Compassion for Those Unable to Shelter in Place

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhI saw a man walking down the street carrying a large duffel bag and checking car doors as he walked. I called the police for the sake of my neighbors, though most these days lock their cars. It wasn’t that I wanted the man arrested. There had to be something very wrong in his life for him to walk around in broad daylight doing something that could be construed as looking for something to steal. By the same token, the people in the neighborhood didn’t deserve to be robbed simply because they might have what he lacked; a home and a working vehicle.

I was gratified to see a police car going down my street mere minutes later, not because it increased the chances of them finding him and talking to him; perhaps offering him assistance if he seemed to be in distress, but because it meant people were staying inside like they’re supposed to instead of being out on the streets, making work for the police officers. It proved my belief that people are basically good, caring, and considerate of others.

I know I won’t come through this unscathed; unchanged, nor will anyone else. With compassion guiding me, my hope is I’ll come out the other side a little kinder; a lot more compassionate; and a lot more willing to give of myself for the sake of others.

Finding More to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers.
  2. I am grateful for the givers who set an example for the rest of us.
  3. I am grateful for friends who are making an effort to see the good in a difficult situation.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to reach out to others in any way I can.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, inspiration, motivation, self-care, love, friendship, dancing, kitty loves, health, harmony, 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

How to Stop Letting Numbers Define You

Numbers Lie

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mmorgan8186/5946796450/in/photolist-a4uTph-35M1oL-4kTW2k-fEnnfR-7MsZTS-bWivcN-dAf9wg-9SiJYe-4F1i2b-66Qx7W-4T41Jv-7yb9p-bMAZVp-6icCnG-dnvqz-c8d8eC-gtQV8D-9BdSxF-ntPo1h-hjfdc-6wne3B-59XGCB-kwYMv-6G9t2V-kTMJJV-bCrf2x-9ieKNX-md8mQV-dTk9N9-Coxd6Q-bEgddA-cw85Yo-f5iy6J-sbG1m2-b9S1Y-2bRKD-bstqbk-aGBVmF-5rhRXf-cw86h3-5taTd4-df6xsW-8MJGJH-pCbL7K-9TFcA7-7ACch6-62fnMk-bBZdu3-ifz6wb-6GdzxJIn some shape or form, every one of us lets numbers define us, and the image is always a false one. Think you’re immune? Let’s find out.

Do you step on the scale regularly, allowing the numbers to raise or lower your spirits?

Do you refrain from certain activities or social events because you think you’re too old? Or too young?

Do you aspire to a certain pants size and feel disappointed when you’re not there yet?

What about test scores?

Or IQ?

Let’s not stop there. What about the numbers that command you? Clocks, speed limits, “now serving…”, telephone numbers, street addresses, even the invisible stall number in the bathroom at the gym where you always head without even thinking about it.

And if you sit at a computer or use a smart phone at any time during the day—you guessed it! Numbers are behind the programming that allows you to execute a program or launch an app.

The truth is, we couldn’t get away from numbers in our lives if we tried. But we don’t have to allow them to define us either.

The Shape You’re in is the Right Shape for You

https://www.flickr.com/photos/humanstatuebodyart/9574499492/in/photolist-fA4P8s-64jAgV-r6p7N-76vs5P-EjjZwo-o7CesS-skmCMm-fqQmFy-oacke-ThJrVb-oaB2Zh-mpKd5G-pMipDg-bHpGHT-o9P9JY-cjTNJY-mF4Kcr-dDVh8m-rqJjwh-5oeK6W-mpHg2Z-htZwAk-ceZV6N-bN3dNP-28pVJwm-broCzF-7d7bpm-63DL2t-mpKgTy-otGNci-c6yJ7h-na7FuS-5CDH1x-skmKmd-9TiJj8-cCTX1E-c9Cm8C-519n9v-broCEp-mpH2wn-23XZSt3-35X4FU-b8z2e2-dWSrLT-hHCVob-3an73G-doThtp-rfoAQP-b8yWHn-6hVHYZWe are not whatever number appeared on the scale this morning. We are more than just the inches in height people use to decide whether we’re short, tall, or average. Our life path isn’t determined by either of those numbers unless maybe you’re a super model. They’re merely distinguishing characteristics, with no hidden meaning, any more than the color of our eyes or the texture of our hair.

Sure we can’t change our actual height, but anyone who has dieted knows, though at times, it might be tough, most of us can change our weight. Are we a different person as a result? Maybe in our own minds, but really? Has the beautiful soul who lives inside our skin changed because we gained or lost a few pounds? Of course not!

Yet every day people allow themselves to be defined by those numbers, those arbitrary measurements of attractiveness which don’t tell a thing about the heart and soul of the person defined either favorably or unfavorably by those figures.

Averages Are Not Real

I get on the scale every morning, and it tells me not only my weight but my BMI. What it doesn’t, and can’t take into account is that though I’m in the “obese” range for my height and weight, more and more of my weight (and most notably in my arms and legs) is muscle. It weighs more than fat, so it tilts the scale further to the right, but I’m willing to bet there’s a whole lot less fat on my body than many who are my height and weight.

Yet every day, women especially are negatively impacted by the numbers on their scales, or the years in their lives, or other facts and figures some “expert” has decided is outside the normal range. Screw normal! It’s nothing more than a setting on older washing machines. It’s not a desirable aspiration. We were all meant, not to be normal, but to be extraordinary. As soon as you realize and accept that, the numbers will matter less and less.

Y B Normal?

Case in point. I have a friend for whom many of us put the word “Tall” before her name to differentiate her from others with the same name. Recently, she told me that she doesn’t like being defined like that, and it brought me up short. Of course she doesn’t like it. It makes her sound like she’s abnormal, which she is not. She is a beautiful, statuesque, graceful woman with a brilliant mind and a dancer’s body. She takes good care of herself, has a multitude of interests, and scores of friends who love her for the person she is, not whether her numbers are within the normal, acceptable range that between you and me, is pure crap anyway.

Could you imagine a world where we were all within a couple of inches of the same height? Where our bodies were the same shape and weight? (it would put the scale manufacturers out of business since nobody would need a scale to know they were right there in the normal range). I love it when someone who would be deemed outside that range absolutely rocks their body, whether it’s someone I see out and about, or up on the screen. And clothing companies would no longer need to design for women seeking to hide or augment certain features. We’d truly be a one-size-fits-all world. If you ask me, that’s the very definition of boring.

Getting Motivation From Women Brave Women

I watched a movie recently which co-starred Rebel Wilson (Fat Amy of “Pitch Perfect” fame). She is as far https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/17513112228/in/photolist-WfcVG3-sFzh7Q-7N47KL-bdHWBt-bdHsh8-bdJqxB-bdJqor-bdJq9F-bdGXdv-bdJ4UB-bdHajc-bdGXmk-bdJjLV-bdJjkB-6dHmj5-hXiifV-hXigTC-6dHn9w-6MEEFYfrom the currently accepted version of body normal as possible, but she totally owns her size and shape. Not only does she own it, she makes it work for her by making her stand out from all of the cookie cutter, gorgeous, skinny girls in Hollywood. Those may be a dime a dozen, but there is only one Rebel Wilson, and boy, is she an inspiration to us all. We need to pay attention to women like her instead of those who got in with their looks first.

I’m not saying that those gorgeous women are any less talented or hard-working. I admire the hell out of Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Keira Knightly, and quite a few others. We just need to realize those who are admired for their looks not only work damn hard at what they do, but also to keep those perfect figures.

In the article about Ms. Wilson I linked above, she says something quite profound that I’ve said myself on many occasions. Like me, she’s healthier than many of the “twigs”. She exercises regularly and eats healthy most of the time so she has the energy to keep up with the life and lifestyle she’s chosen.

In my case, it’s dancing. I need to keep myself healthy and my joints well oiled so I don’t have to sit on the sidelines while everyone else dances. (and so I can dance with those crazy younger men who put me through every pace I have and a few I didn’t think I did in the space of a two-step song or two!)

Skinny Isn’t Always Healthy

https://www.flickr.com/photos/freestocks/27179261063/in/photolist-HpJPpn-4tRVx9-4vV5t6-dN6Ti-3ouww-65gGLr-65gGBe-5YQC4q-5YLoQ6-5YLpuR-5YLpHM-4vZcRN-H375d-66ysUM-66D4RG-66yMuK-66yPcZ-66CFos-66yPRF-66yLFB-66CH6E-66yL9x-66ysh8-66yJFn-66yJ6V-5YLoZ2-66CFzu-66yLYt-5YLv86-66yrxg-66CKh7-65HNHL-5HkkB-66yMeF-66D3vC-66CJD5-5YLu68-66yoip-66D2o3-5YLqf2-5YQJTQ-66yN6v-5YQGkY-rMXkRb-cBCZDo-66D5Fd-5YLug4-5YLtVR-5YLqHi-5YQBUoI see young women who would blow over in a mild So Cal breeze nibbling on plates of cucumbers, little realizing they’re depriving their bodies of important nutrients, and asking for health issues as they age. When they dance, they tend to conserve energy, and only last a dance or two before they’re back at their table nibbling those cucumbers. Meanwhile, the 50-, 60-, 70-, and 80-somethings are out there dancing every line dance, most of the couples dances, and a fair share of two-steps for three or four hours at a time, several times a week.

Sure, we all watch our weight, but not fanatically. We eat healthy meals most of the time, allow ourselves to deviate at now and then, and get off our butts regularly to play sports, lift weights, walk, and of course, dance. Some like me wish they’d known then what we know now, but it’s never too late to appreciate what you have, stop living by the numbers, and take care of the slightly battered version of what’s left. There’s still plenty of mileage in a body that’s taken several decades of turns around the Sun, and the first step in preserving what’s left is to appreciate it as it is. After all, we take better care of the things we appreciate don’t we?

Treating ourselves like trash starts with believing that the numbers matter; height, weight, age, clothes size. When we stop letting those numbers hold any weight, we learn to love and appreciate our meat suit and all it allows us to do. It’s up to you. Are you gemstones or trash? Choose wisely.

Finding Something To Be Grateful For, Not Just Every Day, But Every Minute

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for people like Rebel Wilson who show women that “perfect” ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
  2. I’m grateful I learned to appreciate my body with all its imperfections before it was too late to undo the damage I did as a feckless youth.
  3. I’m grateful for all I’m able to do because I nurture myself.
  4. I’m grateful for a life where stress is, if not non-existent, at least manageable through diet, exercise, and most of all, connection.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, health, energy, acceptance, joy, dancing, inspiration, motivation, support, connection, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: