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

Posts tagged ‘pain’

Healing Our Anger: Hurting Others Isn’t the Solution

An Uncomfortable Walk Down Memory Lane

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hunky_punk/11123678116/in/photolist-hWXKXJ-bHomCi-brw9M6-75egof-72NYQx-4JuLr7-33JWWw-jk6B3G-pnN4h8-k1nyJg-GJoSmS-5rHHCd-7cZW4U-7xzS38-CwzBDm-eXj12u-ReySpF-XRcj38-YgMmPR-aWahxP-aGx4za-24eBDCd-bCWhDp-7xzRWp-pnxQ7d-7aXGh3-75MxFi-27yzyxF-9kk3k4-6zKq5L-rUoGZt-gJVVbN-cYedPm-4gUL7N-2aQHb4T-6DucqY-bb8PRX-WsMWaM-67dgcB-2dRzmBW-69e2pi-zmc5jK-hBXNWR-ovjuK-dXGFsj-8yM2W5-ay5R5w-hjWQqE-gf7icd-fy2vCPI happened to be in the neighborhood, so I took a walk past the house I lived in from the time I was 12 until I was 18, and left to spend most of the year in the college dorms (I actually moved into an apartment when I was 20, but I didn’t consider the house my home after leaving for college, even though most of my stuff was there for a couple more years).

I stood in front of the house, noting how big all the landscaping had gotten. Yucca (one of my mom’s favorites), now towering over the 6-foot walls, and the small patch of grass still ruthlessly manicured around the planter. Through the huge iron gate one of the later owners installed across the archway in the front wall, I allowed memories to flow while noticing changes. The most obvious was a second story added over the master bedroom. The original floor plan had a kind of half second story with a balcony overlooking the family room. In our version, it had 3 bedrooms and a bathroom with on oddly slanted roof which wasn’t good for much, but was a good place for our cats’ sandbox.

Walls and Gates: A Sign of Our Tumultuous Times

That gate made it clear it was no longer my parents’ house, but it also made me sad. The need for such a structure is truly a sign of the times. Friends who live near there report an increasing rash of robberies. People are coming from outside the area to burglarize the homes of people they assume are wealthy.

In truth, some people live in homes that were purchased for 30 or 40 thousand in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but are now valued (at least according to Zillow) from the 900 thousands to over a million. Small wonder those living in apartments and worse consider the residents rich and worth driving for miles to steal from.

It made me sad to realize how many people have become so angry they’re willing to drive for miles and risk arrest to take what they believe they’re entitled to, but can’t see ever having the means to acquire. And it’s not just theft. It’s the words spoken, injuries inflicted, and even murders. For what? The American Dream which has been folded, spindled, and mutilated until only the rare few get to experience it?

What’s Happened to the American Dream?

Or is it simply that we’ve lost sight of what the American Dream really is? It’s not stuff. It’s not where you live. It’s the freedoms we still have and the choices some of us still see we have, while far too many others don’t.

Maybe I’m naive, but I think when people believe they have no way to improve their lives no matter how hard they try, they’re going to get discouraged. When they see their children going without, or even getting shot at in the streets outside their homes, they get angry.

That anger infests their lives, and combines with desperation to create a “nothing-to-lose” attitude. They take risks because they see no other way out of the hell-hole they live in.

Fueled by Anger, Frustration, and Discouragement

https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwiThings I took for granted; a nice home, regular meals, new clothes, books, a car to use when I learned to drive; compared to those who are struggling from paycheck to paycheck just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I was and still am wealthy beyond anything they know. Kids watch their parents work long hours, never getting ahead. They see the defeat in their eyes. In their position, I suspect I’d get angry too, and feel like I had nothing to lose by taking what I want from those to whom it seems to come easily.

People are acting out their own pain with every act they perform. When it affects someone else personally, their own pain is triggered. It might not be poverty and defeat, but it is their own pain, and can be set off by just about anything because it starts in our minds.

When you add all the hate being spewed on the nightly news, social media, and even social circles, the stew of humanity grows more and more toxic.

When Did We Stop Trying to Get Along?

I talked to an acquaintance this weekend who sought to avoid a mutual acquaintance because of the political views she aired on Facebook. (they ultimately had a very civil conversation, by the way). Is this what we’ve come down to? Hating each other for the views we share?

I got called out recently because I said I was unfollowing people already who were posting political bashes. Someone accused me of dumping friends for small slights. I tried to explain I simply chose to stop seeing their posts on my news feed, but had no intention of removing them from my friends list. My words fell on deaf ears. The man chose to read what he wanted to see. He wanted to be angry with me no matter what. I’m not sure why I tried to reason with him, knowing he’d stopped listening after letting his feelings be known.

Putting Up Walls to Keep Us Safe

In the 1960’s I walked 2 miles across the San Fernando Valley to school alone every morning. It never even occurred to my mom I could be in danger—back then I wasn’t. No one ever approached me on the long walk down city streets. I felt perfectly safe, and actually enjoyed the time alone to think my thoughts and dream my dreams.

In the last 30 years or more, no parent in their right mind would allow their child to walk that far alone. We know it’s not safe; that too many outcasts, weirdos, and just plain angry people prey on other peoples’ children.

The ugly wrought iron gate on my parents’ old house is a sign of the times. People who “have” put up walls, barriers, and fences to keep out those who “have not”, but are willing to risk prison to have some of it. We’re too busy being angry about this cause or that to try to understand why others are angry too.

We’re too angry and misguided by the constant barrage of propaganda to care enough to sit down with each other and try to understand—more, to try to get to the truth buried in the bullshit.

Finding Reasons to Be Grateful In Spite of it All

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for reminders to be more open-minded and compassionate.
  2. I’m grateful for the ability to see how much I have instead of how much I don’t.
  3. I’m grateful for a house with no big, ugly gate.
  4. I’m grateful for the walls I’ve taken down over the last decade or so.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, fact-checking, opportunities, inspiration, friendship, connection, dancing, joy, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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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

Happy Dates When Our Hearts Lead the Way

Switching My Attention to Happy Dates

It’s a funny thing about January 25th. It’s my ex-husband’s birthday, and also the day I found out I was having twins—31 years ago <gasp!>.

In previous posts I’ve written about how dates bring back memories, but most of the time, I write about the sad ones. In truth, if we put our minds to it, we have far more dates we associate with happy memories than sad ones. The sad ones just have a tendency to leap into our brains faster, maybe because the feelings they elicit are somehow more intense.

It could also mean we aren’t done healing from the trauma, tragedy, or letdown seeing the date on the calendar each year elicits. Like the lessons we need to learn (like patience for me), things we need to heal come back to haunt us over and over until we do the work we need to and release ourselves from pain.

Telling Our Brain to Back Off And Let Our Heart Lead

Admittedly, our brains like pain because it means we stagnate, avoiding change and crawling 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-cS691Nback into our status quo cave. But when we listen to our ‘fraidy cat brain, I think our gentle heart breaks a little more each time we deny ourselves the pleasure of a little adventure; a little change. Sure, our hearts break when we try new things that don’t work out, but it’s a resilient sort, and knits itself back together each time, especially if we give it something new to focus on.

I’m not making this stuff up. Believe me, I’ve lived both ways, and I much prefer the bumps and bruises I’ve gathered on my adventures to the sad, lonely years I spent huddled in my hidy hole, afraid to venture out for fear of pain, ridicule, or humiliation. In fact, I’ve learned that being my own weird self is actually something people want to see!

Perfection is a Poor Disguise

Nobody out there is perfect, so seeing perfection in others is intimidating and off-putting. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to relate to someone who appears to have no flaws or weaknesses. The woman who shows up at the office immaculately groomed every day, and wouldn’t even flinch if you squirted ketchup all over her pristine, white blouse is probably a tumultuous mess inside.

That guy who always has the right answer and is organized to a fault probably has panic attacks when something is even a teensy bit out of place. He searches for controllable structure in a world which is unwilling to cooperate, so he spends his life waiting to pounce on the next nonconformity. He hides himself away, studying every possibility so he’ll be ready with an answer before the question is asked while life passes him by.

Taking the Lessons and Leaving the Pain Behind

Many people focus on the unhappy times, revisiting them over and over trying to figure out how they could have changed the outcome. It’s over folks. It happened, and you can’t change the past. Dwelling on it only screws up your future. Letting it go allows you to move forward with a clean slate, perhaps a little the worse for wear, but you’ve learned where some of the perils and pitfalls lurk in the process.

Bruises heal, clothes and bodies wash. So what if we end up rolling in the mud once in awhile. Who knows? You might just like it!

Go Ahead, Live the Adventure

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcaspers/3674508861/in/photolist-6AGPt4-9XPdGp-9AfZYv-asnfWg-2j1go4-7UukPU-a2XVdU-NqoUQ-dbkFUe-a2XRDb-6nnHrK-9EBf9b-9xemFj-cucYQS-cud1JC-cucV5Q-cucW5f-9GVbUK-9XS6cJ-53kCM9-8dXRc-ctMcPj-crXsXw-cutJfu-a3bJ56-9XS6GA-aspUtj-a3bRmp-rjDGsd-cudgUJ-9xeGYS-ctNGF1-cutroo-crYSB9-a2UPPe-crYbPw-6ZUrTn-cutJYm-jCRHS-cutQqA-csxxsh-sabp4u-aspXws-a3fFX5-cutPDh-dmd5Ze-asnkuX-cykHmj-9xAUFm-cutrGUTo be honest, I’m probably one of the least adventurous of my friends. One man in his 70’s still takes off on his motorcycle every week just for fun. He plans trips to Europe with friends where they ride all over the countryside, and he’s not looking to stop his adventures any time soon.

Another friend moved to North Dakota after her divorce and lived in a trailer without power for a couple of months, alone in the middle of nowhere. She followed Cavalia to Arizona when it’s California run ended. These days, she divides her time between cleaning pools and working with horses, with a little dancing thrown in for good measure. Unlike me, she dates now and then, not afraid to give someone a chance. In contrast, I either go on the defensive or am utterly oblivious; mostly the latter.

What these two have in common is they follow their hearts and don’t think about potential consequences or pitfalls. They’ve fallen and picked themselves up enough times, they don’t worry about it. They take one day at a time, and when life gives them rocks and mudslides, they find their footing and chuck the rocks back. They pile up the happy memories so those come to the forefront rather than the sad ones.

My Pushme-Pullyou Lifestyle

I’ve embraced adventure and taken some leaps of faith in the last few years, though I’m still retreating too often. It takes me a little longer to get up when I fall, yet I always do.

It’s funny, because as I look back on my life, I realize I’ve always lived it believing when things go wrong, it leaves me free for something better. Yet a lot of the wrongness in my life has been because I let someone else dictate the direction. So when they dumped me on my butt, it was a blessing in disguise to stop having to follow their lead. Even so, for years, I continued to put my fate in other peoples’ hands, never leaving until I was shoved, never learning to trust myself instead—until about 5 years ago.

I won’t say my road has been smooth, and I’ve given up a lot of things in the process. But nothing I’ve given up really matters in the general scheme of things, and some needed to go. But until now, I didn’t know how to do without them; didn’t believe I could. Now, I have trouble remembering why some of them were important in the first place except they supported an image that was never really me in the first place, or brought some relief from the stress and strain of turning myself into a pretzel so people would like and accept me.

Fitting In By Being You

You could say the leap of faith that left me intentionally jobless has taught me a lot of the things I did to fit in were never necessary, and were in fact, a waste of my time and effort. The real me, t-shirt and shorts, messy bun, bare feet, natural nails, and no makeup is a happier, healthier version of the woman who turned herself inside out to please the unplease-able, fit in with those who had no intention of accepting her, and worked overtime for those who were never grateful and only expected more.

Sometimes the adventure of a lifetime is getting up the nerve to be yourself and damn the consequences. For me, that happened on December 6, 2013 when I left the Corporate world forever. Suddenly, I fit just fine! Is it any wonder I look back less and less every day? What masks and ill-fitting characters have you shed lately? Is it time to do some more house cleaning?

Grateful Every Single Day For Things Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I’ve learned to listen more to my heart than my head.
  2. I am grateful for new adventures awaiting me around the next bend.
  3. I am grateful for the people in my life who love me as I am, messy, chaotic, clumsy, or brilliant. It’s all part of the unique individual I’m finally allowing myself to let show.
  4. I am grateful for rainy days and Mondays when I leave the house only to go to the gym, then come home to work with the sound of the rain spattering my window, and the cats going nuts because that’s what they do on those rare occasions when we get real rain around here.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, butt-kickers, cheerleaders, friends, love, joy, compassion, support, wisdom, non-conformity, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Is Old Baggage Weighing You Down?

Baggage From Our Past Can Haunt Us For Years

https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7By the time we reach adulthood, we’ve experienced a lot of things which can and do weigh us down and hold us back—if we allow them to. We don’t always realize we’re hanging on to the old crap until we find ourselves triggered by past events and wallowing over something old, moldy, and no longer useful.

Sometimes we’re aware enough to recognize it ourselves. More often we rely on real friends who aren’t afraid to tell us as gently as possible it’s time to stop letting old news drag us down into the dumps where we wallow over things we can no longer change.

Think about it. It happened in the past, whether that past can be counted in months, years, or decades. Even if it happened yesterday, we can’t change it now. Maybe yesterday is too fresh to let go of, but what about the things we’ve carried around for decades? Sure, some of them might have been horribly traumatic, but is it really helping to hold on to how awful we felt at the time? How embarrassed, or humiliated, or devastated? Wouldn’t it be better to use that space for new and happier memories?

Past Traumas Can Drive an Empath Crazy

I’m learning it’s even more important as an Empath to let go of past traumas and depressing events. In some ways, holding on to our own pain makes us more sensitive to deep-seated trauma in other people. That’s a double-edged sword. Sure, we understand why they’re holding on, but frankly, it’s hard enough feeling recent pain from other people. Old, settled in pain is a world in and of itself. It’s a close cousin to ancestral pain which has grown deeper and darker with each generation. When we’ve held onto something for years, we tend to magnify it, making the cause and result larger and more unpleasant than the original event.

As a visual Empath, I not only feel the pain, but can often see and experience the original event which embedded the pain into a person’s psyche, whether the event happened in the current lifetime or a prior one. For a few moments, I’ll share an experience complete with the misery, helplessness, and frustration that went with it. Unpleasant, at best, but sometimes, painful enough to hurl me out of the experience before I get drawn down too far, especially when the traumatic event was an untimely death.

For example, while studying healing a few years ago, one of the class members had issues with her knee. As I worked with her, I was taken back to a time in her distant past where she was forced to carry a heavy load for a long distance while her husband walked alongside carrying a lesser load. At one point, she fell on the dirt road and landed on a rock, damaging her knee and causing a great deal of pain. Her husband showed no sympathy. Intead, he forced her to get back up without his help, and without dropping her load, and continue the long trek to market. The combination of both emotional and physical trauma followed her into future incarnations as she had yet to resolve it. The class worked together to help her release the pain and the experience. She said the knee felt better afterwards, though I don’t know if the entire issue was resolved that day. It’s likely it took her some time working through the rest of it on her own.

One thing I’ve learned is healers don’t actually provide the cure, whether they’re working with energetic, emotional, or physical dis-ease (and often, a combination of the three). They merely serve to facilitate the healing which we have within ourselves to exact.

Reaching Out For Help

Which brings me back to releasing baggage. There are times we need some outside assistance to recognize when we’re shlepping around an old suitcase full of pain, anger, and hurt that should have gone in the dumpster long ago. If you’re fortunate, or have learned to drop your walls enough to let people in, your circle of friends acts as an extra set of eyes, pointing out to you when you’ve let something drag you down long enough.

I spent the first few decades of this lifetime adding to the suitcase of negativity. In those years, I didn’t let anyone get close (least of all the man I married) and never asked for help. Not only had I been taught you don’t share what’s inside or ask for help, but the help my mother gave without asking, or what she offered always came with strings attached. As I got older, I became less inclined to accede to those conditions, and as a consequence, less likely to ask for help from anyone. Her example set in my mind that all help came with strings. We all know what a crock that is!

By the time I was 40 and, as an added bonus, was six months into dealing with my mother’s suicide, those traumas and baggage had become a lifeline; my only connection to sanity and solid ground. Little did I know my “solid ground” was as riddled with holes as a good Swiss cheese, and equally stable.

Turning Curses Into Blessings

What seems like a curse in one moment, can turn into a blessing in another. So it was with a lot of what I carried for years. The sensitivity and easiness with which I could be brought to tears was the bane of my existence for a long time. I learned to cover it with aggression, or simply retreat deep within myself until it passed. The latter earned me a reputation for being incredibly scary when I was angry enough to go silent, and caused many a strong man to give me a wide berth until it passed.

I won’t say I don’t retreat when especially angry these days, but in the first place, it happens rarely, and in the second, I’m not carrying around a lot of old garbage so minor events become the straw that broke the camel’s back. Learning to talk things out with my friends and get a different point of view has given me much better insight, and a lot more compassion towards people when they do something thoughtless or even mean.

Understanding Anger at its Source

I’ve learned to use my Empathy to take a step back and look beneath their surface for pain that has nothing to do with me. Quite often, I reach the conclusion rather quickly that what was said or done isn’t personal. It’s simply them lashing out at the first available opportunity because of their own pain; their own inner turmoil.

These days, when I see someone who acts like they’re angry with the world, I’m not as likely to dismiss them as a crabby person. I’m more likely to send them a ball of healing energy, neither knowing or caring whether they use it or not. That will always be their choice. I’ve learned to recognize the anger as an expression of pain, or, as it was in me, an inability to reach out in a healthier manner. Like I used to, they put up a big, prickly wall so people will leave them alone and not try to interfere or touch them while they’re vulnerable. I’d like to tell them allowing that vulnerability to show is their strength, but know it’s their journey. They’ll listen when they’re ready, just as I did.

We go through our own challenges so we’re more understanding of the challenges which face others, but also so we can make a difference, even if it’s only for one person. I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced the pain, the trauma, and the decades of loneliness. Those experiences enable me to understand what others are feeling, and, if nothing else, refrain from adding to their load of misery by treating them unkindly, or worse, ignoring them.

When you learn to let go of the old baggage, when you learn to allow others to help you, and when you accept your vulnerability as an asset instead of a liability, you become part of the solution. Think about it.

Finding Gratitude at Every Turn

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for the challenges I’ve been given, the lessons I’ve learned, and the compassion I’ve gained in the process.
  2. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent emerging from my personal chrysalis. The process may have been painful, but in hindsight, was worth every second.
  3. I am grateful for the people in my life who show me new roads, or widen my old ones. Many have no idea how much difference they’ve made in my life, and I don’t think I could show them my gratitude if I had another 3 lifetimes in which to do it.
  4. I am grateful for getting ahead. I lost some ground on my plan to be a month ahead on blog posts, but am quickly bridging the gap as ideas have filled my Morning Pages, and I’m quickly working my way through them.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life lessons, challenges, inspiration, motivation, friendship, opportunities, new horizons, giant leaps and baby steps, love, insight, guidance, encouragement, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Empaths vs. Alcohol

New Insight Into the Drinking Game

I’ve always been uncomfortable around people who overindulge in alcohol. I saw it in my parents often enough, and later, my ex-husband. At times, I simply masked it by over-indulging myself, with obvious unpleasant consequences.

It wasn’t until recently I finally recognized the discomfort lay, not in the inebriated state of others, but in the results of that state and its impact on me.

I discovered what was there all along when I accepted that alcohol releases inhibitions. I used to believe those inhibitions were those which stopped people from making fools of themselves to they could relax and have a little fun. But there’s a somewhat sinister side to the lack of inhibitions.

Releasing the Pain Body With a Little Lubrication

We naturally corral what Eckhart Tolle calls our “pain body” when we’re sober, but the addition of alcohol in increasing quantities removes the filter which we’ve put in place to function within the parameters of society. When we remove those filters, thought it might not be apparent to most, we leak all of the sadness, pain, and misery we’ve kept bottled up until it’s flowing out of us like a veritable river of agony.

The average person won’t even notice, and will, in fact enjoy the crazy, uninhibited-ness of the the outwardly happy drunk. Not so with an empath like me.

Once I made the connection, I realized my real issue with people in an inebriated states wasn’t the alcohol (or drugs for that matter) at all. Instead, it was that they were functioning without the usual filters which protect me and others like me from being flooded with someone else’s emotions. You could say we were being drowned in sorrows of someone else’s making.

Once I realized what was happening, I could start taking the necessary steps to protect myself and above all, refrain from engaging with those who danced gaily around the room with their filters in shreds.

Mixed Reactions

I posed my conjecture to a group of empaths recently. In some cases, I was gratified to find others who recognized themselves in me. In others, I was saddened some took my words to mean it was open season on people who drink to mask their pain. Instead of finding an opportunity for compassion (once they’d protected themselves, of course), they took my words as permission to bash and abuse those who chose the only way they could manage to put aside their pain, if just for a little while.

The truth is alcoholism is a disease, plain and simple, and the people who use any kind of drug to excess do so for many reasons, one of which is a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. To crush them further with our condemnation will only serve to drive them further into they abyss.

Granted, it’s neither our place nor our gift to help them all, or maybe, not any of them. But neither is it our place to push them over the edge on which many totter. I am saddened and even mortified to learn my words caused others to take that path.

Self-Medicating to Mask the Pain

I know a number of people I reach are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics and can only imagine the strength it takes to challenge the addiction every single day. Far too many of them are probably empaths who chose alcohol or drugs to shut out the voices, the emotions which bombard us daily when we don’t know what they are or why we hear them in the first place.

I was one of them once upon a time. Though I didn’t abuse alcohol to excess nor use it to mask my pain on a regular basis as my parents did, I used my own equally ineffective and harmful methods for running away from myself and my true purpose. But I also used some healthy ones like dancing.

Learning to Embrace our Humanity

What it all comes down to is we are born compassionate human beings. Life and circumstances change that in us. Whether it’s family troubles or accepted behaviors, traumas we experience as life moves forward with or without us, or something seemingly innocuous. We learn to protect ourselves from mental, physical, and emotional harm in the best way we know how. All too often, the first step is shutting down our compassion for others.

I learned the hard way that shutting down, be it my compassion, sharing, connecting, or authenticity is equivalent to cutting off a limb which is perfectly fine the way it is. Closing ourselves off means we’re denying the very thing which makes us human. As time goes on, it becomes a lonely existence and one impossible to maintain without some hefty sacrifices.

Yet we’re taught to believe that only by functioning according to society’s rules; being cheerful, being gregarious, getting along, being easy-going; will we be able to get ahead, to make something of ourselves, to be a contributing member of society.

Here’s where I have to cry BULLSHIT! To be a true member of our beautiful, crazy, messy society, we have to be our whole selves. We have to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sure, we don’t want to go around harming others, but would that even be an issue if we were loved and accepted for who we are in the first place? Do serial killers kill because they were loved and cherished, accepted and celebrated? Do bullies tear others down because they feel good about themselves? NO! They do harm because it’s all they know to make themselves feel less ignored, less lonely, less apart.

Loving Each Other Beneath the Pain

We all have grumpy days. It’s a part of life. Those who deny they do are the ones who most need our compassion because they’re forcing themselves into a mold no one can possibly fit. Life is full of challenges. It’s how we learn, like it or not. It’s also an opportunity to reach out and ask for support, for help from other humans. And here’s a news flash. Other humans LIKE being asked for help once in a while. It makes them feel needed as well.

Yes, I learned a lot from putting my thoughts about alcoholics in particular out there for a group of empaths. Not all of it was good, but it was all useful for me. It reminded me to keep looking below the surface. It told me to put the judgment aside and look at the person underneath, the person the alcohol sought to mask. The mask is flimsy at best and the person underneath is crying for understanding and love, or perhaps just someone to say: “You’re OK just the way you are, warts and all. You’re loved.”

These little reminders make me grateful for the community I’m building, the people I reach out to, and those who reach out to me. You won’t see me marching in the streets any time soon. I’m too busy trying to learn my lessons and spread compassion in the world I know I can touch. In my own small way, this is how I believe I can make a difference. Imagine what would happen if we all spread some compassion. It might not solve all the problems of the world, nor stop all the anger, hatred, and evil, but where we start our journey is entirely up to us, and should be celebrated.

When we belittle the efforts of others, we minimize our own. Whatever we choose to do, it all makes a difference. Believe that, if nothing else.

With Love and Gratitude

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now and give you today’s gratitudes:

  1.  I am grateful for the people who show me both sides of the impact my words make.
  2.  I am grateful for my little forum where I hope to provide dialogue and the exchange of ideas including those which oppose my own. Only then will we all learn a few things we might have missed out on.
  3.  I am grateful for the new people who come into my life, the messages they bring, the help they offer, and the suggestions they make to help spread my own message further.
  4.  I am grateful for acts of compassion and love as they serve as examples of how much more I could be doing.
  5.  I am grateful for abundance; love, peace, compassion, lessons, people, examples, warmth, pleasure, pain, 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 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.

For Pet’s Sake: Making Choices on Their Behalf

Being Our Very Best Selves for Our Pet’s Sake

I’ve had a lot of time to think this week. I’ve spent several hours at the vet. I’ve waited a few days for lab results. I’ve wallowed in self-pity over possibly losing another cat way too young.

When all is said and done, things don’t look as bleak as they could, but then, the results are also inconclusive. The worst didn’t show up, but the vet tells me that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Meanwhile, as I wallowed and cried and moaned, Toby got sadder and lost his will to purr. Only when I kicked myself in the butt and ordered an end to the wallowing did he come out of the closet, climb into my lap and share that purr I’d thought I’d lost for good for nearly an hour. He’s back to climbing on me when I go to bed, and again when I wake in the middle of the night. He no longer feels the need to spend the entire day hiding in the closet, and is instead, hanging out in whichever room I’m in. He’s letting me know when he’s hungry, and consuming 2-3 jars of baby food a day.

I learned some really important lessons over the last week.

Our Mood Affects Theirs

I learned that no matter how lousy our pets might feel, they make our mood a priority. It’s all well and fine to tell ourselves to think about a positive outcome, but unless we actually act like we believe it, our pet will suffer with us. Since we want them to keep their strength up to fight off whatever ails them, we’re not doing them any favors.

Put Their Needs First

The idea of losing a cherished pet is devastating. But going to extremes to keep them alive a little longer has to be done for the right reasons. Our unhappiness is not the right reason. If those extremes can save both their life and their quality of life, it’s worth considering. If they’ll only result in a few more months or even years of pain and discomfort, think really hard. Would you want someone to put you through a long run of pain and life as an invalid simply because they couldn’t handle losing you? Probably not.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Express Your Love

Pet's SakeDo you give your pet attention every day? Do you remind them by word and deed how important they are to you? This might be as simple as cuddles in the morning and before bed, a clean litter box, fresh water and treats now and then. When they give you that look of love and trust, do you acknowledge it? Do you show them your gratitude? Do they know you love them just as wholeheartedly? In my house, we have a regular bed time ritual. Each cat has their own special part in this ritual (although Mulan, the Siamese thinks she has to be part of everyone’s ritual. Such is the belief of the born Princess). Toby’s part has always been to climb on top of me and purr for a few minutes after the girls have had their pets. Other members of the pack take turns guarding my head or just curling up in various places on the bed. And I miss each one if for some reason they fail to make their usual appearance.

Be Sensitive to Their Moods

Animals, and especially cats can’t tell you when something hurts or their tummy is upset. Aside from vomiting, they have no way to communicate with us unless we’re one of the fortunate few who can communicate with animals. I have wished I was on many occasions, if only to spare one of my own the pain they couldn’t express. But they do show us in subtle ways; changes in behavior, disinterest in food, lethargy, hiding. If we’re paying attention to them every day, we have a better chance of noticing when they’re a little off.

Know When Letting Go is What’s Best for Them

Giving up on someone we love is never easy. Whether it’s a child who insists on going down their own destructive path, or a pet whose quality of life is gone forever. It’s just not in our nature to give up on them. I’ve been guilty of dragging things on for too long because I didn’t want an animal to have such a short life. But the truth is, if they could have talked, they’d have told me to please let them go and be out of pain. Going to extremes to keep them alive isn’t doing them any favors, nor is it really helping us. It merely prolongs a decision which will eventually have to be made one way or another.

A few years ago, I had a cat named Loki who developed kidney issues at a fairly young age. We almost lost her on more than one occasion because of it. Eventually, we were giving her sub-cutaneous fluids twice a day, and the doctor had just prescribed an injectable medication that cost over $200 for a couple of doses. The last straw was the vet who suggested a kidney transplant which would have cost a “mere” $50,000 and came with no guarantees. Still, I persisted until the day Loki was in really bad shape. I ran her to the vet, still not ready to give up on her. I held her in my arms, crying and trying to make the best decision for her. Suddenly, she began to convulse. That was her way of telling me it was OK to stop trying so hard to keep her alive. She was done and was telling me so in no uncertain terms. I still question whether I did her any favors keeping her going that long. In all honesty, I kept her going more for my own sake than hers, and that’s a pretty lousy reason. She still lives on in my memories, but she is no longer in pain.

What I learned from the experience is that in a lot of cases, especially chronic illness, more is not necessarily better. When the cat is barely eating and is down to skin and bones, it’s time to consider what’s best for them and put our own feelings aside.

Short Lives Filled With Love

Most of our pets have much shorter lifetimes than humans. We have to accept that whenever we adopt. There have been a lot of beloved cats in my life and losing each and every one took a piece of my heart. Most of those cats shared a deep, abiding love with me that’s hard to find in humans. They don’t care what I look like in the morning or if I don’t shower or dress up nice. They simply want my company, some cuddles and pets, regular feedings, clean litterboxes, and fresh water. Their needs and their expectations are simple. What they give back is immeasurable. That kind of unconditional love deserves no less in return. I know I must not only ensure they live with dignity, but die that way as well. It’s the least I can do for their lifetime of devotion.

Gratitude Reminds Us

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the unconditional love of my animals.
  2. I am grateful for continued improvement in Toby’s health, energy, and appetite.
  3. I am grateful for supportive friends who understand the love and devotion I give my animals.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to spend as much time as necessary with a sick pet.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; work, love, inspiration, motivation, health, harmony, peace, friendship, clients, writing, reading, learning, playing, 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. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Fears: They Can Cripple or Inspire

Even Dreamers Have Fears

Whether it’s fear of a living thing; spiders, snakes, dogs, bears, fear of something physical; heights, crowds, flying, germs, or something intangible; success, failure, ridicule, exposure. We all have something which stands in the way of doing anything we want to do or being anything we want to be.

The major difference between those who go on to achieve their dreams and those who don’t isn’t lack of fear. It’s learning how to overcome or manage them. But it’s also learning how to use them to our advantage. In fact, learning to listen to our fears can sometimes save our lives.

We accumulate our fears in many ways. Some may be taught to us by our parents. Others may be the result of a frightening experience. Still others come when we make an effort to do something different and we are somehow shamed or humiliated for our trouble. Some may even have no discernible basis, yet they’re no less real than all the others.

Managing Our Fears

I’ve learned to ask myself questions whenever I encounter a roadblock in my life. The first is Am I stuck because I’m afraid of something?

But fears can be tricky little devils. Quite often, thee first time or two I ask the question, I’ll get an immediate denial. But if I keep asking, the denial grows weaker, more hesitant.

Our minds are conditioned to be resistant to change but this resistance isn’t as strong as we might believe. If we keep questioning and prodding, the affinity for sameness will falter. When it does, we need to ask the next question, What am I really afraid of?

Don’t expect the answer to come readily though. The protective instinct still has a few tricks up its sleeve. We might get a vague or generally unhelpful answer. The truth when we finally get to it might actually be a confusing conglomeration of fears which over time have coalesced into one massive excuse for maintaining the status quo.

How Our Fears Keep Us Stuck

But “status quo” or “comfort zone” are just fancy ways to say “rut”. I for one have gone out of my way to move on when I’ve found myself in a rut, regardless of whether the condition is due to outside influences or of my own making.

As might be expected, those of my own making are far more difficult to break free of. The mental resistance to coughing up the real reasons and fears which keep me in the self-made rut is often the work of a master brick-layer. Chipping away years of masonry quality excuses is a major challenge all by itself. But the mind has another weapon at its disposal. That weapon is pain.

Built into those solid stone walls filled with our experiences is all the pain, both real and imagined that we accumulated with those experiences.. When we demolish one of the layers, the pain is released and sometimes even relived. If we take a step back and observe without entangling our emotions, the pain doesn’t last. Doing so, however, requires a conscious effort we don’t always employ during the demolition process. More often, we attack the walls, yanking down bricks and flinging them, willy-nilly, behind us.

Stopping the Pattern of Pain

Far too frequently, part of the lesson we were meant to learn was short-circuited by the pain so we actually have to experience the lesson and the pain again. Only then can we release the pain and the fear it hid within its prickly womb.

So, what is strong enough to make us relive the pain and release the fear?

For me, it’s passion. It’s dreams so vivid I can feel the excitement and replace the fear-based pain with success-based euphoria. I imagine myself with those dreams already fulfilled—where I’m living my passion. I feel the energy of the places I visit and live, the people who are part of my life, the things I’ve accomplished to make at least part of the world a little better. It all becomes as real as my excitement and joy over living my dreams.

Making Sure We’re Headed in the Right Direction

But imagination can take us in the other direction as well. I wrote this post out long hand a few days ago, so I had to search through the collection of notebooks which litter my office, my purse, and random surfaces throughout my house to find what I’d written. In the process, I came across a story I wrote some time ago, detailing a worst-case scenario where I had never succeeded. I’d become so destitute I’d sold my furniture and books, but was still unable to come up with the money for vet bills to save my beloved cats. I won’t take you down the miserable path I’d detailed on 9 pages of college-ruled paper, but the picture I painted was the antithesis of my dreams. It was a picture of a woman alone, friendless and destitute who lived on only for the sake of the 3 remaining cats.

By the time I finished reading what I’d written, tears filled my eyes. But I also faced a harsh reality. I have a choice. I can face my fears, do some really uncomfortable things and manifest my dreams, or I can continue to refuse to do what’s necessary, hope for the best and, if not be quite as pathetic as the story in my dream, still find myself paring my life way back and having to make some tough decisions where future expenditures are concerned.

Keeping Our Choices Real

Life is always about choices, and how we deal with our fears is one of the biggest because it can mean the difference between living our dreams or our worst nightmares. Does anyone truly wish to live their nightmares? Yet many don’t realize they do so because of their own choices.

I don’t know about you, but I have some fears I need to drop kick into oblivion. I don’t know quite how I’ll do it, but I know I’m asking for help, which is something I don’t normally do. Sometimes, the first fear you have to conquer is the fear of being a burden.

Start by Being Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I find that remind me or shake me out of my complacency.
  2. I am grateful for choices.
  3. I am grateful for my friends and family who wouldn’t abandon me as my imagination sometimes believes.
  4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and those I’m still learning.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, friends, love, joy, dreams, fears conquered, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

The accompanying Facebook Live can be found here.

 

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

August 3, 2015 Pain: Nature’s Productivity Killer

At Times, We Need a Reminder to Appreciate the Simple Things

In the last couple of months, I realized that I take a lot of things for granted. Things like being able to sit down at my computer and type for as long as I want to. Like doing my daily chores without having to think about lifting something without pain. About even smaller things like washing my hair.

These are just a few things I found difficult while my shoulders and neck were out of whack. There are so many more things I do on a daily basis which were difficult if not impossible without suffering excruciating pain. Thankfully, it was only temporary and it forced me to adopt better habits in order to prevent a recurrence. It also made me realize that some people I know are in such pain all the time with little or no relief. So regardless of my higher than normal pain threshold, there is still a point where I will take the drugs and sleep the day away until the condition passes.

But what if it didn’t? Would I be as able to carry on, enduring the pain like some people do? I was flattened by a temporary situation, limited in my daily activities. It was only today when I was able to do that one, last task I’d been putting off that I really came to realize how lucky I am. My pain stops. My independence is secure. In fact, I can get my lazy butt to the gym again and regain the muscle tone I’ve lost. My pain was not chronic. It ran its course and moved on.

When I look at my To Do list for the last week or so, there are far less gaps and far more added tasks than I had for the previous month. As that last task was checked off today, I knew I have a lot to be grateful for and that I need to spend a lot more time expressing that gratitude, not just in words but in actions.

An Act of Kindness is the Ultimate Expression of Gratitude

I’m reminded of my friend, Karyn, who stopped in the middle of a conversation to get up and offer assistance to a man on crutches; who was kind to the salesman who showed up at her door, despite the fact that she wasn’t interested in what he was selling. She does these things without a second thought, in fact, they’re simply second nature to her. With all I have to be grateful for, her actions inspire me to be a better person too.

Pain may have killed my productivity for a few short weeks, but it reminded me how lucky I am and how much I need to show it. That is a lesson and a reminder I needed.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to be back to full functionality.
2. I am grateful for lessons that remind me to be more compassionate.
3. I am grateful for the many friends I have who set wonderful examples.
4. I am grateful that I’ve resolved several issues and increased my workload in the last week.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, work, people, compassion, kindness, painlessness, peace, harmony, productivity, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

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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