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Posts tagged ‘organize’

Morning Pages Have Improved My Life

To Think Changes Began With Morning Pages

I don’t usually write or do much of anything besides going to the gym and running errands on Wednesdays, but for some reason I’m inspired to get the last May post written and scheduled a little ahead of time. Am I anxious to be in June? Not particularly. This year is going by fast enough without rushing into things.

I do find it amusing that after spending thirty years in accounting where we were always working on a month after it had ended, I’m now in a mode where I push myself to get as many weeks ahead as possible. Little did I realize when I flipped my entire career path on it’s head that the flip would involve more back flips, aerials, spins, and whoop-de-do’s than I could have ever envisioned. In hindsight, had I known, I might have run back to my safe but boring accounting job and never discovered that what I truly love to do is write; for me, for other people, for public consumption, and for my eyes only. It doesn’t really matter as long as I write.

The More I Learn, the More I Know I Have to Learn

I’ve learned a lot in the last few years, not the least of which is I have a lot more to learn. But I’ve also come to realize when I task myself with writing every day, whatever writing I might do counts. I used to think the days when I “only” wrote my morning pages were days when I did not write. But the truth is, every time I put my pen to paper and spew forth a stream of words, it’s writing.

Sure, the morning-pages-only days don’t necessarily result in something others might consider useful or productive. Yet the truth is, my creativity is oiled as soon as I get up. What I might do with it that day is anyone’s guess.

Sometimes, I get a blog idea or a chapter for one of my works-in-progress. Others, I simply get something off my chest which would otherwise weigh me down and prevent progress in any direction. And yes, there are days when what comes out is little more than a stream of words only loosely connected to a train of thought.

Working the Writing Muscle Any Way I Can

Whatever comes out of my mind and pen is exercising my writing muscle, which is the point of it all https://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_rogers/32072645186/in/photolist-QS9G29-7jFGWM-jSSXTn-gWnnAn-7jKzg7-k1Q3Ez-49HGS-JaXYoH-6HUNQF-7jFHgR-nQzqNh-fzUL6w-hx2nML-a4N44-Z3xc8b-6ef9HF-aEXdio-m2HqQt-bBKzg2-kbdf3P-5Db73z-b7AkyD-6zJzQw-7dEU9V-ZDftY1-fY9zv8-7pBPUc-bmfwto-7eXMSj-9NdNPm-8EVVBC-6JNLK8-6nNaux-c28A2C-9atUf8-7oMuuJ-9YvpG-vdJj7-ecCm-8LJzww-eEd6oi-BQX1p-XZKjij-k1Q1px-E6Miuc-6zrveY-j2kDUf-7vaq24-7fnH1m-dDHfZsanyway. There used to be days I’d bemoan my lack of inspiration, believing I had no good, creative ideas in my brain. By writing every day and not worrying so much about what comes out, I’ve learned the creativity is there. I just lock it up unintentionally at times. Writing what might to others seem like a bunch of nonsense loosens the clenched fist which holds those ideas hostage.

One of the best parts of writing morning pages is how it helps with my frequently vivid dreams. I have more than my share of WTF mornings when I wake from a dream that was both vivid and disturbing. By writing about it as soon as I get up, I’m able to sort through the craziness to see if there’s a message, or if the dream was meant only to get my attention.

Granted, there are mornings when I finish writing and haven’t answered that question. But there are plenty of others when I pull out the message I was meant to receive. Most of the time, the message is well-buried and miles away from the actual point of the dream. And because my dreams tend to jump around the same way my awake and ADD brain does, it’s often a jigsaw puzzle to pull out pieces which actually make sense and belong together.

Messages in Our Dreams

Our minds give us clues through our dreams. Of that, I’m certain. The clues may be completely nonsensical at times. They might just be telling us to be especially careful while driving that day, or there might be a repetitive number; a color that stands out for some reason; a name we don’t recognize, but which will be somehow significant in the next few days.

Once in awhile, I even get a precognitive dream. Once I dissect it, I might figure out I need to contact someone I haven’t spoken to in awhile. Maybe they’ve just suffered a trauma. Or perhaps we need to cross paths again for a singular purpose. Whatever the message might be, I’ve learned not to question, but to make an effort to understand, especially if certain details are stuck in my brain like the “Baby Shark” song when you unwittingly hit “play” on someone’s adorable Facebook post.

Starting the Day With a Clear Head

Mostly, though, when I’ve finished dissecting a particularly vivid dream, put down my pen, and gotten on with the rest of my day, I have nothing more than a clear head and the beginnings of a plan for how I’ll be spending the day. If I get an idea or two for blog posts as well, I consider it a bonus.

What I’m trying to say here in my usual convoluted fashion is I’ve put a lot of routines in place in the last few years; things which, in one way or another improve my life. I’ve learned to give myself credit for accomplishing those daily or weekly tasks, even on days when that’s all I get done. There was a time not so long ago when they didn’t get done at all. Things like:

  • Writing my morning pages
  • Making the bed
  • Cleaning up the kitchen before I go to bed
  • Going to the gym 3 times a week
  • Having at least 2 weeks worth of blog posts written and scheduled
  • Having posts for Medium scheduled, often a full month ahead

This list might not look like much to you or anyone else, but I know how much time and effort went into making these things happen consistently. I also know how much flexibility it allows me knowing if nothing else happens, these things are done.

Creating New Habits Gets Easier the More You Do It

I’m adding new habits to the list fairly regularly now, and often laugh at myself when I find a can’t not do some of the things which have become habits. As I de-clutter my home and my life, I both revel in the amount of clear space I have around me and rebel if I try to clutter things back up again.

When I started putting my shoes away instead of leaving a few pairs in the alcove next to my laundry hamper, I didn’t think a lot about it other than the convenience of not having to move them when I vacuumed. But lately, no matter how tired I am when I get home, I simply cannot kick off my shoes and leave them next to the hamper. I have to open the closet door and put the shoes on the rack. My mother must be laughing her butt off, assuming she’s watching me from wherever she landed. I know she despaired of ever teaching me to minimize the clutter in my house, much less keep it clinically clean the way she had to in order to keep her demons tamed.

Learning to Love a Certain Amount of Order

The older I get, the less patience I have for disorder. That’s not to say I don’t still have my share of chaos, but it’s more organized, and I no longer have all available surfaces covered with stuff. I’ve learned to love coming into my office and finding a clear space on my desk to work. Or going into the kitchen to find the counters clean and the sink empty.

Things others take for granted are novel for me, and I marvel at how much I’m learning to enjoy things like seeing my bed made up, the director’s chair empty, or dishes and clothes put away right after they’re washed. And to think it all started my morning pages. As I began to regularly de-clutter my mind, I found I had to expand the process and de-clutter my life as well. So to say my practice of writing 3 pages long hand every morning isn’t writing is, in my opinion, ludicrous.

Need Help De-cluttering Your Life?

Are you having a tough time getting everything done? Do you beat yourself up when your To Do list grows instead of shrinking? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Gratitude Helps Improve Your Perspective

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the practice of writing morning pages. It’s helped me see how much I really do accomplish.
  2. I am grateful for learning to clear the piles of stuff, and for recognizing when I need to do another purge. Clear space when and where I need it has simplified my life in innumerable ways.
  3. I am grateful for connections. Not a day goes by when I don’t communicate with at least a couple of friends. It might be one of us checking in on the other, or making plans to dance, meet for a meal, or plan an outing. Never being completely alone and disconnected is a new concept for me, and one I’m coming to appreciate more and more every day.
  4. I am grateful for friendship; true friendship. The kind where you’re there for each other, but not because anyone expects it. Because you’re exactly where you want to be.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, writing, opportunities, challenges, lessons, dancing, hugs, harmony, peace, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Organize, Intend, Resolve, Oh My!

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Organize, Intend, Resolve: Which Will You Do as the Year Begins?

Everyone has their own routine for ringing out the old year and ringing in the new. Like many, part of mine involves cleaning out the old year’s files and setting up new ones for my financial records. (yes, I still maintain files for hard copies despite the availability of paperless records. Old habits die hard.) Some years, it doesn’t happen until I’ve done my taxes (typically as close to the due date as possible).

This year, however, I’m endeavoring to start things off on a stronger note, and that means getting organized sooner rather than later. That being said, my 2017 files have been moved to the file cabinet, 2018 folders have been created, and I have a stack of paperwork to be shredded as I’m no longer holding things for 20 years before deciding it’s time to let it go. OK, so what remains to be shredded is from 2007, but 10 years back is better than 20, right?

In keeping with this mad desire to organize, I’ve cleared my desk of most of the extraneous paraphernalia and created a “To Do” folder to help solve the accumulation of papers on the corner of my desk problem. (Though as far as the cats are concerned, I simply cleared space for them to sprawl while I’m working to keep their bellies full and their bodies warm and cozy!) Here’s hoping I remember to use the folder, and, more importantly, look at it once in awhile!

Resolutions Are Made to be Broken

By now, many of you have compiled a list of New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions, especially made on a specific date and solely for the sake of making resolutions has never been my thing. I see it in the same way I see losing weight. If you lose something, it means you intend to find it, and if you resolve something, it means you’ll break those resolutions.

Enjoying the Flexibility of Intentions

Instead, I continue my practice of setting intentions whenever and wherever the mood strikes. It happens the mood struck on the last day of the year, merely by coincidence. I was mentally reviewing the year’s accomplishments as I wrote my morning pages on December 31st, and found I wanted to up the ante, so to speak, on what I could do with what I’d already done. Here are a few of the intentions I made:

  • Publish “Forgotten Victims”.
  • Write something besides my morning pages each and every day. (so far, I have not managed to get this one going, but setting intentions doesn’t imply we’ll achieve all of them at the same time).
  • Have more healthy eating days.
  • Get back to my 3 days a week gym routine (again, still working on getting this one going).
  • Forgive more and take less things personally. Everyone has their stuff and oftentimes, they are reacting to their stuff and not to anything I’ve said or done.
  • Have more “no sugar” days. (so far, so good. 4 days and counting).
  • Keep up with the habit of making my bed every day I set a couple of years ago. (we all need a gimme in our intentions. This is mine.)
  • Use the notes I’ve accumulated for books and stories in progress to actually create something new or improve on my works-in-progress.
  • Take the steps I need to move closer to the life I have been envisioning. (took a step closer when I signed up to beta test Josh Koerpel’s Fire Builders accountability program)
  • Deep clean my house more often than at the holidays.
  • Pull up the rest of the old, disgusting carpet in my bedroom.
  • Continue de-cluttering my space.
  • Devote more hours per day working on my career and less on wasting time/procrastinating.
  • Acquire and read more books on self-improvement and business success.
  • Resume the WTGOWL program and release the rest of the weight I need to divest myself of in order to reach my health and fitness goals.
  • Work on getting to bed earlier and rising by 8 AM more frequently.

In the last 5 years as I’ve gotten more consistent about setting intentions, I’ve learned that writing them down and putting them where I can see them every day is one of the best motivators, not only for manifesting my intentions, but improving upon them as I get closer, or even occasionally hitting one out of the park.

Planting Our Own “Carrots”

I’ve always been a proponent of baby steps; small steps taken on a regular basis to reach our goals, but in the process of following my own advice, I’ve learned we all need something to reach for; something which is not quite attainable at this moment in time. As I get closer to a goal, or achieve an intention, I am compelled to raise the bar and create something new to reach for.

Sometimes it seems like a mere blink of the eye to get past a block which kept me from fulfilling an intention, while others can and do take years. It took me 9 of them to finish the first draft of “Forgotten Victims”, and 4 to finally act on the one I set to attend a writer’s conference. Yet I know the timing for both was exactly right. There are goals we set which have steps we may not even see, but despite our lack of vision, we must take those steps before realizing the prize at the end. It may be frustrating at times, and we may fall into the trap of beating ourselves up about it. As self-flagellation is one of my many sins, I created a sort of mantra around it: Everything happens in its right and proper time.

Feeling the Energy of a “Life” Year

I can’t speak for everyone, but I feel an energy this year which wasn’t present in the past. A kind of cattle prod to the back, spurring me to move forward faster. It should come as no surprise, really, as the Hebrew symbol for “Chai” or “Life” is also the symbol for the number 18. Last year was, for me, more of a “ducks in a row” kind of year; a time for finishing old projects, self-care, and relationship-building.

Looking back on the year, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing I could have done more had I been less scattered and lazy. Yet, my mantra says it all. Just as “Forgotten Victims” took 9 years to write, those lazy, scattered, motivationless times are necessary too.

Last year, I found a book on my shelf I didn’t remember buying: Sue Monk Kidd’s “When the Heart Waits”. It sums up not only 2017 for me, but the years since I quit my day job. We have to allow those periods of waiting; of hibernation so to speak. That’s when our bodies, minds and spirits are going through huge transformations. Those transformations can’t be rushed or short-cutted. If we try to do either, we’ll only set the process back, causing it to take longer than it should. But even then, when we do feel like we’ve sabotaged the process, we’ve only done what needed to be done. There’s always a reason and a time, though we don’t always recognize it during the process, or even long after we’ve completed it and moved on to other things. Learning to trust in the process is, by far the greatest lesson I’ve learned while following my own path these last 4 years.

Making the Most of Our Time on the Planet

Whether you choose to resolve or intend, or maybe you simply go with the flow, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself and not judge. Trust that you’ll know when to move and when to sit still and listen if you let your heart and gut be your guide rather than you overactive, and overcritical mind. May 2018 be our best year yet.

Gratitude: The Ultimate Motivator

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the connections I’ve made or renewed over the last few years.
  2. I am grateful I’m able to learn new things all the time, and embrace life’s changes with less and less fear every day.
  3. I am grateful I finally completed “Forgotten Victims” and am looking forward to earning a publishing contract this year.
  4. I am grateful for the courage to step outside my comfort zone with larger and larger steps.
  5. I am grateful for the years of hibernation in which I learned to trust my heart, shut down my inner critic (at least for a minute or two), and attract the support I need to turn my baby steps into giant leaps.
  6. I am grateful for abundance: love, encouragement, courage, friendships old and new, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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

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