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

Posts tagged ‘Now’

When Times Are Tough, Take Time to Simply Be

Taking the Time to Live in the Now; to Be

Sitting at the gym on a break between sets, knowing I had a rough week ahead of me I realized what I truly needed was to stop and just be in the moment. And in that moment, I recognized I was strong; I was healthy; I was loved. And you know what? Sometimes that’s all we really need to focus on. Sure, there were other machines and sets ahead. And cleaning, and writing… but none of that was in the current moment. I couldn’t do anything about those things in the current moment—in the “Now”.

I bought Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” several years ago. The first time I started to read it, I couldn’t get into it, and eventually put it back on my shelf to read another time. The second time I picked it up, it had, quite literally cracked me on the head by falling off the shelf. By then, I was ready to read it, and got something out of it. Still, there was more to glean from between its covers, and I read it a second time. Something tells me I’m ready now for round 3.

I know on a conscious level I can only change the moment I’m in. I cannot change the past. It’s done and gone. I cannot change the future. It’s not here yet. No matter how much I may be struggling in my day-to-day life; no matter how many times I’ve fallen down; no matter what challenges I know I have to face tomorrow, the only moment I’m guaranteed is the one I’m in.

Causing My Own Mental Clutter

All too often, I lose sight of the moment I’m in while making lists or plans, fretting over getting 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-di6ynQthe house thoroughly cleaned before my daughter arrives, or Thanksgiving gets here. I’ll focus on the next machine at the gym when I still have a set or two to finish on the machine I’m on, worrying someone will get there before me and I’ll have to change up my routine. That’s when I drag myself back to the moment and remind myself none of it matters.

Somehow, I’ll get the house clean, even if the kids have to help me. If the next machine isn’t available, there’s a gym full of weights and machines I can use instead. If I client I’ve been talking to is sitting on the fence, or decides to take another path, there’s really nothing I can do to change it, nor do I want to try to talk someone into anything. If we’re not a good fit, we’re both better off finding someone who fits us to a “T” than settling for less-than-perfect.

Over time, I’ve tried a lot of things, taken a lot of courses, and listened to a lot of people. It took me a lot of trial and error before I learned to trust my gut. If what they were saying made sense and felt good, I’d hang around. If not, I’d take what I could from the experience and move on. These days, I’m able to make that assessment more quickly and get out of the ones that don’t feel right before I’ve invested too much of my most valuable commodity; time.

Feeling Pressured by My Own Expectations

Even as I sit here, a week behind on my blog writing (which, by the way, still puts me at 2 weeks ahead and a little more), I have to remind myself to be kinder and gentler to me. If I’m not getting things done according to my own expectations, there’s an underlying reason. Still, in the current moment, it doesn’t matter that I need to get at least 2 more posts written by Wednesday in addition to this one, or that I have a full week ahead of me, so I’d like to write a total of 5 in the next 2 days. I can only get this one written, and even then, it may take more than the next few bits of Now in order to accomplish it.

I’ve gotten pretty good about not beating myself up over failing to meet deadlines I set for rewrites of “Rebuilding After Suicide” or posting chapters of “Sasha’s Journey” on ChapterBuzz. I was pretty proud of myself when I achieved a long-desired goal of having 3 weeks worth of blog posts written, formatted and scheduled, so it irks me to slip. Never mind the crash of both my PC and laptop last month, and my 2 days without internet last week. I still try to take it all on as my sole responsibility, and worse, my failure to measure up.

I look up at the shelf full of self-help and motivational books right above my monitors and they remind me that self-flagellation is neither effective nor warranted. I do the best I can, even if my best is sitting in front of the TV watching Hallmark movies. My subconscious knows it’s what I need even if my inner critic thinks it’s a waste of time and energy.

I Get to Choose Whether or Not to Listen to My Inner Critic

Today, I’m focusing on reminding that critic to STFU. I know what I need. I know what’s best for Created with Canvame in this moment. Nothing and no one can guide me better than my kindest self who keeps whispering: “The only time you have is now. Use it wisely.”

Whether I get 3 posts written tonight or only this one, I feel confident I’m doing my very best with each moment. The posts will get written. The house will get cleaned. My books will get finished and published when the time is right. Forcing a fish to swim upstream isn’t going to make him go where he’s not meant to go. Forcing myself out of my flow won’t get anything done faster, and certainly not better. Sometimes, I have to live through a few more things before a task can be completed. Pieces are still missing, and forcing myself to complete it before it’s time means it won’t really be finished at all.

It took me 10 years to finish the draft for “Rebuilding After Suicide”, during which I changed the title at least 4 times. If I’d finished it sooner, I’d have left out important discoveries I made about myself, and my healing journey. It may take me a few more to revise it as I’m still making new discoveries. I continue to heal the wounds I re-open with those discoveries. Some will become an integral part of the book, and some will not. Meanwhile, I’ve given myself permission (with a little push from my daughter) to give my attention and effort to “Sasha’s Journey”, my very first NaNoWriMo that’s been sitting in the bowels of my cloud storage for a couple of years now.

Sometimes you have to put one dream on hold to realize another. Knowing when it’s time to do that takes listening to the inner voice who wants the very best for you. I’m choosing to turn up the volume on that voice right now.

Putting Gratitude First

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for side trips.
  2. I’m grateful for changes in direction.
  3. I’m grateful for reminders to stay in the moment.
  4. I’m grateful for people and books who have given me incredible guidance and clarity in the last few years.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; courage, love, friendship, hope, lessons, challenges, highs and lows, joy and sadness, family by choice rather than blood, peace, health, 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

Depression Hiding Amongst Us

Hiding Depression is a Way of Life for Many

https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsexagesima01/3612047773/in/photolist-6vbFXK-7mfHK5-82q4rd-7Ku82r-7xTufQ-7xTvNm-noV2nx-8v7yLg-7xTtxw-b5JoM-awiDbx-74ofjQ-4xTEyL-aFUvSc-2nJqV-pnUS3J-UZSY-KSCvY-q54hFw-74jkL8-57r2Za-rXWSV-RAqoKt-wCAn3-74jkCt-459Ltf-8VkKtr-jrTTpy-7Mx4vz-9gJ6Hm-q2BAZF-A1eTBs-4sLmnj-7hJteh-nDn5BQ-98W5r7-4oJBHP-FUYqD-66WsR1-aaLTe-9gF1wt-7AibaD-cof4ks-bKGrY-7pamwZ-9yY17Q-2QEkGc-qtnpn9-qUrb5H-5EB1gvEvery day you interact with other people; the clerk at the grocery store who always greets you by name with a warm smile; the friend you met for lunch; the guy at the gym who keeps to himself, safe inside his noise-cancelling headphones; the woman pushing her young child in a shopping cart, his innocence shining through his smile. From the outside, they all seem perfectly content with their lives, but are they really?

Society has taught us to hide our pain behind a smile; behind routine tasks; behind a collection of masks. Although the media and various health organizations are trying to reverse generations of conditioning with their “let us help you” ad campaigns, the stigma remains for many.

The prospect of being shunned, losing a job, or being humiliated for showing weakness play an enormous part in a continued unwillingness to seek help. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg of depression. Getting past a deep-seated belief that you don’t deserve to ask for help, or you’d be a bother to others for asking keeps many locked inside their own minds. That there’s no basis in fact for their beliefs never comes into question.

Getting in Touch With Your Emotions

Even before you consider asking for help, you have to actually be in touch with your emotions, and recognize when you’re just down over a specific event vs. down in the grand scheme of things without specific reasons. In her article “How to Develop Your Emotional Intelligence”, Angela Duckworth talks about an enormous gap in our educational system. If we can’t identify our own emotional state, not only are we unable to help ourselves, we can’t set an example for our kids, or recognize when they’re flailing. Is it any wonder so many people think the problem lies within themselves; that they’re broken and can’t be fixed?

I’ve learned by reading books from people like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and a few others, you need to learn how to not only be more self-aware, but more in the moment. In order to assess your true state of mind, you have to focus on where you are at this very moment, tuning out any future plans and lists, worries and concerns. Tolle calls it being in the “Now” and advises you ask yourself if all the problems and plans running through your head are an issue at this very moment.

Managing Life in Smaller Bites

For example, say you’re stressing out over necessary car repairs you can’t afford. If you ask yourself whether it is an issue in this moment; if it’s something you have to deal with in this exact period of time, the answer is likely to be no. If you neither need to, nor are able to deal with it right now, worrying about it won’t change things. He advises setting it aside until its proper moment, and dealing with what is right in front of you. Typically, what’s right in front of you is a small, manageable portion of your life and will be better dealt with if you’re not worrying about something in the future. And who knows? All those smaller pieces may lead you to a solution for the car repairs as well!

Another benefit to focusing on the moment you’re in is you’re able to determine whether what’s dragging you down even belongs to you. If you’re like me, you’re sensitive to the energies others are putting out. At times, it’s difficult to tell whether your stress and even anger belong to you, or to someone else entirely. When you step back and ask yourself what you can truly deal with in this moment, what isn’t yours won’t even make the cut. The truth is, there will never be a moment when you can manage what belongs to someone else.

I know this sounds complicated, or at least it did for me when I first read about it in “The Power of Now”. Like anything else, you get better with practice. Now, when someone in my world is suddenly cranky for no apparent reason, I can take a mental step back (even if I’ve reacted in kind), focus on what’s really mine, and send them compassionate thoughts for whatever is causing them to act out. It helps me release any ownership of their anger or frustration, and allows them to do with it as they see fit.

Take a Moment to Breathe and Assess

I was sitting at a machine at the gym one day, looking at my phone as I rested 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-di6ynQbetween sets. One of the trainers who is usually very sweet, comes up and practically snarls, “Helloooo, I need this machine!” I snapped back that I’d just gotten there, had two more sets, and had to rest a bit between sets (something she should have been aware of in the first place).

I could have allowed the exchange to make me rush through my last two sets, but decided I’d finish them in my normal time. In the first place, as a trainer, she should have a large enough repertoire of exercises she could easily substitute something else. In the second, it was clear something wasn’t right in her life for her to be uncharacteristically snotty.

It doesn’t mean I didn’t stew a bit before showering her with compassion from afar, nor feel slightly annoyed when she (as she should have) had her client working on a similar machine and never did use the one she tried to kick me off of. I did cut my workout a bit short as I needed to get away from the toxic energy, but not so short that I didn’t use all the machines I needed to.

Small Improvements With Consistent Practice

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAStaying in the “Now” isn’t something you learn and perfect in a few sittings. As far as I can tell, it’s a lifelong pursuit. The more you do it, the better you become, but there will still be times when you let someone piss you off, or feel cranky and out of sorts for no reason. But the more you remain aware, the more time you’ll spend in a calmer, happier place. Better still, the more you’ll be aware when someone around you needs an extra dose of understanding and compassion, or maybe assistance in identifying what’s causing their mood to swing downwards.

Sometimes, no, oftentimes, all they really need is for you to be there with a smile, a warm hug, or quiet companionship. In doing so, you let them know they don’t have to face whatever they’re facing alone, even if they don’t want to share it. You’re there, you’re supportive, and you’re not pushing them to divulge more than they’re comfortable sharing. When someone is sad or depressed, knowing you’re there with unquestioning support could be the small reminder they need to see they really do matter. It could be the spark that helps them start turning things around.

Sure, you and I aren’t going to eliminate depression by being there for a few. Depression is a complicated animal. Some people need professional help to manage it. Like the cats I’ve rescued over the last few decades, I’m not going to change the world for everyone, but for the ones I brought into my home, and will in the future, I’ve changed their world.

Think about changing someone’s world, if not for a lifetime, at least for a moment. Consider how you feel when you’re able to lift someone’s spirits, or when someone lifts yours, and pass it on.

Using Gratitude to Keep My Spirits High

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for all the people who have lifted my spirits, often without even realizing it.
  2. I am grateful for my own experiences with depression. The memories help me avoid slipping back into that pit of despair.
  3. I am grateful to friends who’ve become comfortable letting me see when they’re down, feeling lost, left out, or alone, and need a little extra attention.
  4. I am grateful for my lower stress world where even a bad day can be made better with a few kitty cuddles, head bonks, and cat facials.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, laughter, friendship, dancing, long walks in nature, energy, answers, questions, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, balance, 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

Promise in the Sunrise

The Phoenix and the Sunrise

The Sun card in the Spiral Tarot is an image which has always uplifted me, but it wasn’t until I’d faced yet another spell of darkness that I realized the image is essentially a Phoenix. As I mulled over my epiphany, I thought about what the Phoenix represents and how the Sun really is a Phoenix every day. It rises every morning, bringing with it promise and hope of a day we can use to be the best of ourselves, spreading joy, love and hope to others. At night, it sinks into the sea (or at least it does where I live), to rise again the next day.

We have only the moment at hand to be and do our best; to spread kindness, to take another step on our path towards our dreams and goals. Tomorrow isn’t promised, and yesterday is no more than a pile of ash. For me, life is truly the Phoenix/Sun, but for a little while, I lost sight of it.

Seeing the Lessons Life Brings Us

Life brings us reminders, both subtle and intense to help us learn and grow. Unfortunately, it’s too easy to get caught up in our thoughts, our daily struggles, and the trouble and strife in the world where we live. When we get caught up, we lose sight of the wonder and beauty waiting patiently until we stop, breathe, and be in the moment. It’s easy to forget we’ve handled whatever life threw at us all our lives, or how pointless it is to worry about something until it’s actually here and requiring our attention.

I, for one need little reminders. Not just the ones the Universe sends me, but those I create myself, like a picture of the Sun card posted above my computer to remind me each day is a brand new gift for me to open and show my gratitude. Or a picture of myself as a young child as a reminder to speak and think kindly to the woman I am now.

Remembering to Breathe

You’d think because I no longer punch a time clock or work according to someone else’s arbitrary definition of a work day I’d be more likely to take time to stop, breathe, and look around at the wonders of my world. Yet too often I still crawl deep inside myself in not-so-blissful oblivion of little things like how each day is a rebirth, a renewal, and an opportunity to start all over again.

Last weekend I visited my daughter and son-in-law who live about a 3 hour drive away. As I typically do, I made the drive down late at night after dancing in order to miss the traffic. Needless to say, there’s not a lot to see while driving through the pitch-black night so it’s easy to focus on one of two things: being in the moment and enjoying the peace and quiet of a solo drive, or my mind ticking away at a million and three things I want or need to do.

Though I’d planned on leaving in the evening (which in hindsight would have been harder as I’d be driving into the setting sun), plans changed and I embarked on the return journey mid-afternoon. The first thing I recognized in the first half hour was it is an incredibly beautiful drive. The route I take goes through miles of open spaces dotted here and there with cities and mega malls. Even the 20-mile stretch where one city blends into the next, the mountains are still visible from the highway.

Staying in The Now

This time, I made a conscious decision to focus completely on getting home safely, paying attention and being in the moment. Every time my mind tried to drift to all the “shoulds” in my life, I gently pulled it back into the moment. Maybe it was a cloud that looked like a crocodile with it’s mouth wide open, or a particularly beautiful stand of trees marching atop a buff and green hill. Either way, I was immediately back in the moment, or what Eckhart Tolle calls “The Now”.

The funny thing about being in “the Now” is you don’t really notice time passing. Small delays are a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery. Most of all, you get where you’re going and are a little surprised to find you’re already there, and more, that almost 3 hours has passed though it seems like no more than moments. In short, watching the time and trying to calculate when you’ll get from here to there makes it seem like forever. Enjoying each moment for itself makes those moments seem to fly by as one blends into the other.

Clothed in Kindness

What really surprised me about the drive is after I told myself it would take as long as it took to get home, I encountered very few delays, and each one was fairly short, at least given the amount of time it took me to reach home. Highways which typically carry too many cars were almost empty. Events which normally have drivers on either side stopping to gawk were barely a blip on everyone’s radar. People were considerate about allowing others to merge and change lanes, even in places where they’re suddenly trying to navigate 3 or 4 lanes in order to make an interchange.

Was I just seeing what I wanted to see? Did I have a bubble of kindness around me because of the attitude I adopted when I embarked on my journey? I don’t have the answers to those questions. All I have is gratitude for a safe, uneventful trip. That’s enough for me.

We can look at our world and see a series of challenges, trials and tribulations, and more than our share of failures. We can also look at it as a single moment in which we choose to experience joy and connection. Either way, we’ll get what we expect.

Breaking the Cycle of Worry and Anticipation

Like many people, I spent a lot of years feeling like I was fighting an uphill battle; at work, at home, with life in general. I was essentially in a holding pattern. Not sinking very low (at least I’d managed to get through that cycle), but never rising very high either. My attitude of resignation was equivalent to putting a cinder block on my head and removing my ability to look up and out of the cave I’d built myself.

Breaking free of old cycles hasn’t been easy, and if I’m honest, has come at the cost of some things I once believed important. I still have days when I slide back into old patterns and let worry and woe overtake me. But I’m also able to recognize the reminders all around me to appreciate the moments and allow things to come to me in their own time and manner.

Worry, like anticipation makes whatever we believe is coming seem monstrous. We imagine the best or the worst instead of allowing perfection to unfold in its own way, and often miss those amazing moments because we’ve geared ourselves up to expect something else. At those times, I remind myself to look to the sunrise for guidance and inspiration. The sun doesn’t rush to rise any more than it does a swan dive into the sea rather than await the gentle slide downward each evening.

Stop and Watch the Sunrise

We can learn a lot from watching the sun rise and set, or a flower slowly open its petals to the sun. Everything happens in its right and proper time. By remaining quiet and alert, we are in the right place and mindset to clearly see the next step in our journey and take it without hesitation.

Today, what I’m working on may not generate income in the foreseeable future. This might be a time to build a foundation, or even erect a couple of walls of the structure I’m creating for my new life. Tomorrow, I might put in 18 hours on client work, or 12 on a proposal for a new client. Or I could just take the day off and go to the beach and write. I don’t know when I lay my head down at night what the next day will bring. I don’t even know when I get up and start my morning routine. I only know I need to be aware and awake so I’ll recognize the clues when they appear.

Staying in the flow takes practice as our nature insists we push things along. We’re in a society which thrives on instant gratification and becomes anxious and frustrated when forced to wait. Yet the most valuable things in life are those we don’t rush, don’t push, but instead, wait patiently, taking our baby steps, and allowing ourselves to be amazed as they unfold.

May we allow our child-selves to emerge and see life through eyes of amazement.

Finding Gratitude Everywhere

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for life’s little reminders.
  2. I am grateful for my child-self who reminds me to wait, watch, and be amazed.
  3. I am grateful for my moments of darkness because they give way to moments of intense light and beauty.
  4. I am grateful for my quiet time for contemplation, creation, and revelation.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, light, beauty, new experiences, wisdom, lessons, friendships, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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