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

Posts tagged ‘perfection’

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

Aging Gracefully With Gratitude

Selling Their Wares By Making Us Feel Ugly

Turn on the computer or the TV, listen to the radio, open a magazine, even see a passing bus, and many carry the same message: “We know you’re embarrassed by the normal signs of aging on your body and face. We’ll sell you a product or service to erase those signs and let you live a happier life.”

It begs the question: Why should my perfectly normal signs of aging make me unhappy? We should be looking on those imperfections; those signs we’ve used our faces, our bodies, our hearts as indications of a life well-lived.

Yet too many people buy into this crap. I have countless friends who, though the weather might hit triple digits and like me, don’t let a little heat keep them from dancing, are miserable in their long pants because they claim to have ugly legs. Most of them, just from what I see inside those hot, confining pants have perfectly nice legs. They’ll say “I’m not like you. You have beautiful legs. Mine are {fill in the blank with: fat, crepe-y, vein-y, cellulose-y, or other body shaming adjective}.”

Good grief! In the first place, it’s a bar so the lighting is low. In the second, if they could see all the flaws I carry proudly and without shame, maybe they’d be kinder to themselves…or maybe they wouldn’t. They’ve conditioned to believe they’re supposed to hide their imperfections.

It makes me sad to see and hear that, but even more when it’s perpetuated by other women (I refer to the self-professed beauty consultant who was quite offended I didn’t take her advice to cover up my own, in her words, awful legs). We should be each others’ best friends and staunchest supporters. Instead we are often the first to put another woman down.

Wearing the Signs of Aging Proudly

Worse still are all the women who are behind these purported miracle creams to erase everything from age spots and unwanted hair to cellulite and crepe-y skin. They should be ashamed of themselves for making their sisters feel bad about themselves in the first place.

Those age spots they want to erase are badges of honor for a life well-lived. Creases in face, neck, hands, and chest celebrate a woman who has ridden the waves of life supporting her family and friends with love and compassion. The gray in her hair is the thousands of hours she sat up waiting for a child to come home, a diagnosis to come in, or simply holding the hand of someone so they would feel less alone and scared. And the crepe-y skin is a woman who had more on her mind and in her heart than remembering to apply moisturizer every 5 minutes. She was too busy seeing to the needs of the people in her life she loved, and continues to love.

We don’t need magic potions or pills to change who we are—what we’ve become with time. If you ask me, we need to wear it all proudly, and be grateful for every minute we get to wear it. Too many are gone long before such imperfections begin to appear.

I continue to applaud the young people I see who let no one tell them they’re too fat or too thin, too short or too tall to wear the clothing of their choice. But more, I give credit to their friends who don’t need to resort to shaming another to feel better about themselves. I’m far less impressed with the ones who walk around with others with similar body shapes, all dressed alike. Sadly, they’re the target market of the future for an industry which wants us to believe our differences are flaws.

Lotions and Potions and Gadgets, Oh My!

I’ve been watching Hallmark movies late into the night more often than I want to admit lately. The commercials get worse and longer late at night when only night owls and sleepless tune in. Maybe they think we’re more susceptible to the gold-plated thingamjig that gently removes hair, or the miracle cream that makes you look younger. I wonder how many of those doohickeys that hold your earrings up higher are sold during the wee hours?

I get it that companies spend massive R & D and marketing budgets creating a need where there wasn’t one. I understand that someone somewhere thought some of these things were actually a problem, even though no one ever noticed until they created a solution and started their marketing campaign.

I also wonder how many products like these were total flops. How many manufactured needs never caught on? How far would they go, not only to insult our perfectly wonderful bodies but our intelligence to make a sale?

One Industry Breaks Us So Another Can Fix Us

Is it any wonder one of the most visible markets these days is the one dealing with giving people back their self-esteem? The advertising industry has normalized insulting and shaming people who don’t match their idea of perfection (usually anything that makes people want to fix the imperfection enough to buy their product). It seems that one industry wreaks havoc, giving rise to another claiming they can repair the damage. Don’t get me wrong. Some who promise to teach self-respect and a positive self-image do deliver on their promises.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest all the money spent to break, then fix women into a fund to teach girls from early childhood that being different is an asset, not a liability? That being their beautiful, wonderful, unique selves is the best thing ever instead of pushing them towards the “next best thing” to fix what was never broken in the first place.

Perfection is a Killer

Too many women of my generation and earlier pushed themselves to be perfect, and suffered greatly from the frustration of setting themselves an impossible goal. My own mother thought she had to be the perfect hostess, the perfect cook, perfectly groomed, the perfect guest…I could go on. Sadly, even if others told her she did something perfectly, in her own mind there were always flaws. She always fell short of her own expectations. To my knowledge, the only thing she found even the slightest joy in was her grandkids, and any imperfections she saw there were clearly my fault. Somehow, I think she’d eventually take that upon herself as well.

As a writer, I’ve seen many get stuck in an endless loop of editing while they’re still trying to get the story out. I’ve seen others who do manage to get the story out, but edit 100’s of times searching for an elusive perfection they’ll never find.

In writing and in life, we need to realize that perfection does not exist, and that being able to accept good enough is perfection in itself. It allows us to move past our stuckness to go on and achieve even greater things.

That would make a wonderful mantra if you ask me.  “I am forever and always good enough.”

Healing With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my spots, lumps, gray hairs, and all the imperfections that show I’ve lived my life instead of trying to be perfect.
  2. I am grateful for friends to laugh with, cry with, and live life to the fullest with.
  3. I am grateful for dancing. It keeps me young, healthy, and mentally sharp. It gets me out of the house regularly, and among wonderful, heartfelt people.
  4. I am grateful for my quiet house in the morning, and cats who sit on the alarm clock so I sleep later than intended.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, friendship, coffee, music, sharing, caring, the energy to enjoy it all, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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