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

Posts tagged ‘perspective’

Relationship Lessons from the Younger Generation

Relationships 101 Taught by My Kids

I didn’t make good choices when it came to relationships and marriage. In fact, it got so bad, I removed myself from the pool entirely over 20 years ago, and am trying to figure out how to re-open that door nowadays. As such, I gave my daughters a pretty lousy example of what a healthy relationship should look like. My son-in-law’s parents didn’t do any better. So you’d think neither of them would have a clue what a good relationship looks like, much less, how to create one for themselves.

Nothing could be further from the truth. My daughter and son-in-law have one of the most loving, extraordinary relationships I’ve ever seen. It’s not that what they have is perfect, but they don’t expect it to be. They know there are times they’ll piss each other off, and times when one or the other simply has to back down, or get out of the way while the other blows off steam. I’ve learned if I stay out of their way, and keep my well-intentioned advice and opinion to myself, they’ll work it out and get back to the strong, formidable, singularly focused unit they promised to be when they exchanged vows 8 years ago.

A Different Perspective

My generation saw an inordinate number of divorces; mine only a blip on the radar on the relationshipstatistical superhighway. Perhaps I’m seeing an unlikely cross-section, but the marriages I see from my daughter’s generation; OK, mostly her friends, are some of the most strong, resilient, unwavering I’ve seen in decades. I’d even venture to say, they’ve restored my faith in the institution.

I’m not sure why they’re doing a better job of it than I did; than my peers did. Maybe it’s simply the fact that I and my peers didn’t teach our kids the same thing our parents did. Marriage was never the be-all, end-all of their existence. In some ways, choosing marriage because it was what they wanted instead of going into it because of maternal pressure might be the key ingredient necessary to make better choices in the first place.

Though I wasn’t especially young when I married, I know I was feeling the pressure of still being single at 25. I grabbed the first proposal I got, and never learned how to be happy with myself before choosing a mate. Instead, I attached myself to someone who was as broken, and self-loathing as me, and who would ultimately feed my own self-loathing to push himself a little higher up the food chain.

Same Experiences, Different Results

That’s not to say my daughter, and likely many of her friends didn’t kiss a few frogs, and suffer a bad relationship or two first. They had the good sense to learn and walk away. It only took me 11 years of marriage, and another 10 years beyond that to realize I was better, and deserved someone who loved me without conditions or expectations. I it took me a little longer to figure out it had to start with me.

My daughter might have had self-love issues when she started dating her now-husband, but instead of feeding them for her, he starved them and allowed her to finally see what an amazing person she is, and how much she deserves to be loved and supported. He also gave her an incredible gift by allowing her to support him as well. The man I married as well as those I’ve dated didn’t understand either of those concepts, but then, my own examples didn’t either. Thankfully, my daughter learned from our mistakes instead of repeating them for yet another generation.

Watching my daughter and son-in-law, and many of their friends navigate the ups and downs of their marriages, I’m encouraged not only because I see more examples of how people can build successful lives together, but because I am confident future generations will learn from the example of these couples and parents, and form stronger, healthier relationships.

Who’s the “Me Generation” This Week?

I’ve raised my daughters, and they’re making their own choices now. They don’t need my https://www.flickr.com/photos/wjarrettc/2488063324/in/photolist-4MRYxw-36DBKU-4yjGyv-4kvZif-4ykSWp-nMsPRY-aVTWdt-79CRgH-dsBxgu-dsBx97-dsBpur-2uwWcf-dsBxus-N7dBE5-5EntRc-bt4c8c-3bjNi3-dsBxib-879Tow-4yjLf2-dsByNo-dsByuJ-dsBsig-bmrNub-dsBzhy-dwRrJT-dsBw3S-dsBpgg-4yoRPQ-4GAaun-4yq8F1-cf3JES-dsBpFp-4yoSpb-dsBs9z-dsBvjo-dsBpqZ-dsBo5R-dsBAa9-dsBn7k-dsBq5M-4yoPWS-47pe3o-dsBwSs-4yjHKv-dsBzaj-dsBxNW-4yjA4K-dsBA2j-dsBpxDapproval or blessing any more, though one still asks on occasion. Perhaps watching me struggle, and keep falling down gave them the drive to make better lives for themselves than I made for me while they were growing up. I’m awfully proud of the changes they’ve made in outlook and expectations in spite of the examples I set.

So many negative traits are attributed to Millennials, that things like this are often overlooked. If you ask me most of them are simply doing what we did at their age; learning to navigate a world that’s not always friendly or forgiving.

If I remember correctly, there was a time Boomers were called “the me generation” too. But it’s many Millenials who have actually figured out we’re better together, having each other’s backs than we are trying to stand alone against the world.

Being an Island Told My Kids what Not to Do

peaceI tried for years to be a strong, self-sufficient island. I learned the hard way there were far too many things I couldn’t do alone, and doing without wasn’t a viable option either. Islands get battered by waves, winds, and storms just like communities, but have fewer resources to not only withstand the abuse, but to rebuild after the more damaging episodes.

No generation gets it all wrong any more than they get it all right. Each one learns something from the mistakes of those which came before, correcting their own trajectory in some cases, over-correcting in others. Yet somehow, we all find our own true North eventually, even if it’s not the one that will lead to a happy, healthy, productive life for those who come after. How could it when the world changes so rapidly, and adaptation is the only real option?

Change is inevitable, and frankly, the ones who adapt to it more easily are going to create structures and methods more likely to survive the whims of both Nature and Man in the centuries to come. The wars and turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s drove too many of us into ennui and apathy. We’re seeing the results not only in the external chaos, but in all the broken marriages, and dysfunctional relationships we created along the way. Thank goodness our kids wanted to be different than we were, and to change the world in ways we couldn’t even envision.

Looking Backward and Forward With Gratitude

My gratiitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning from my kids.
  2. I’m grateful I stopped believing the examples I’d been set made sense.
  3. I’m grateful for the social consciousness our kids are more responsible for exhibiting and teaching.
  4. I’m grateful for a world where change is not only inevitable, but valuable.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, lessons, change, inspiration, community, support, self-love, opportunities, 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

Positive Affirmations and Being Not OK Aren’t Mutually Exclusive

Using Affirmations to Uplift, Not Mask

silenceI tend to share what some might consider an excessive number of positive affirmations, and inspirational posts. It doesn’t mean everything in my own life is hunky dory all the time. It means I share them because most of the time, I need to be uplifted as much as anyone else out there. I need constant reminders to keep putting one foot in front of the other even if I do so more slowly on some days than others.

I also need to be supported when I’m not feeling very OK. For most of my life, letting it be known that I wasn’t always holding it together perfectly was not only proscribed, but dangerous. To have friends who will now ask me if everything’s OK, simply because I shared certain posts is one of the biggest blessings in my life.

As a strong proponent of mental health awareness, I’m especially conscious about the highs, lows, and in-betweens that form the pattern of my mental state. I’ve learned to accept there will be days when it’s all I can do to perform the bare minimum of my daily tasks, and others when I’m my happy, over-achieving self. The truth is, most days fall somewhere in the middle, and that’s as it should be.

Changing Perspective

Granted, what constituted my bare minimum 20 years ago compared to now is a completely Created with Canvadifferent animal. Certainly, my actual responsibilities have decreased. I no longer have children to care for, nor do I leave the house to go work in someone else’s office 5 days a week. I’m also not the angry, frustrated, self-sabotaging woman who repeatedly failed at anything that would have improved my own circumstances. The most profound change I’ve made came in the last 5 years or so. I learned to commit to myself, for no other reason than I deserved it.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to value myself enough to honor those commitments, be they professional, physical, mental, or emotional. I suspect a lot of it had to do with early conditioning when I was never enough for my mom. She set expectations I eventually deemed impossible. Unfortunately, when I gave up on trying to please her or find success in any of her expectations, I essentially gave up on any I might have had for myself too.

I think for awhile, I’d allowed her to set my bar for me, relinquishing any responsibility for my own life. Her code was so powerfully embedded in my psyche, I didn’t realize I could rewire it if I wanted to. I ended up going through the next 20 years or so believing I was destined to be mediocre. Whether it was the way I looked, the jobs I landed, the relationships I attracted, or what constituted friendships, I led a life of settling. I believed I wasn’t worthy of anything better, much less following my own passions and believing in my own talents and skills.

Looking At Myself Through A Different Lens

https://www.flickr.com/photos/150484208@N03/44184429080/in/photolist-2ajqKpo-2iLh6WQ-2iBA7uZ-2iEvWFK-2iKWNFS-5wZd1M-UweR3b-2jc1suY-2iWZ1KF-2ht36Yo-J8P7Ws-2iXJHdW-KCZu4y-2iLV5ND-2jgHRX1-2iLsdSL-2iLwEjt-2ivpRhq-2iLiHgG-pqR24V-2iK8Wno-2jfL2sq-2jfH7qu-2jfMjsM-2irWkYR-2irvLb4-6XvHWe-2iBik4o-2iMdfG8-2jfHBBf-4izYnK-3YDemA-M2PYfg-8uXSYZ-9pbQWs-7wRDZ6-bjQUa-7PLAC4-6iTi1k-3eokAS-bXbdaM-Ltpr-9pgan3-6iThKx-aYXZsc-63Fnjj-7MQqK5-d8iCoN-fdKDCn-4PZadvSure, I had friends who complimented me on my intelligence, my wisdom, and my ability to quickly learn and remember line dances, but in most cases, I was quick to dismiss their words, saying I was no better than anyone else, or pointing to someone who was better than me. What I didn’t realize at the time was people get tired of being dismissed. I didn’t even notice when the compliments stopped coming, and often, when friends who might have been supportive drifted away.

When I finally took the leap and left a job and the work I’d come to, if not hate, at least lose interest in, I drifted for a couple of years. I lackadaisically kept up my blog, started a website, and signed up for courses in a few different areas. Nothing stuck, and I couldn’t find anything to hold my interest. Instead, I read books, watched TV, took naps, and eventually, started going to the gym regularly. When I found I’d started many things, including 3 novels and a memoir, but completed nothing, I knew I had to take a hard look at who and what I was, and where I wanted my life to go.

The initial picture wasn’t pretty, forged from years of self-criticism, and under-achieving. I knew deep down I had lots of potential, but I always seemed to find a way to stop well before I reached any kind of positive conclusion. Yet the roadblocks and obstacles that did the most damage were ones of my own creation. I realized I had to start changing my own story before I could take charge of my own destiny; a responsibility I hadn’t even realized I’d relinquished to someone who was, by then, long dead.

It began when I watched “The Secret” for the first time, and made a pact with a friend to help each other remove negative self-talk from our conversations. I’d like to say I’ve learned to remove it completely, but that’s a level of perfection I’ve yet to achieve, though not for lack of trying.

Putting Myself First

As time went on, I knew I had to make major changes career-wise, as I’d dug myself a hole I wasn’t even sure I wanted to climb out of any more. In truth, I was bored; with my life, with a long series of dead-end jobs with increasing responsibility but no recognition, and with the way I looked. To be honest, there was a long period of time when I didn’t even bother to put forth the effort.

The turning point came when I realized if I didn’t commit to myself, first and foremost, I wasn’t going to break decades-old patterns. I knew, at least vaguely where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to be. I didn’t have details, and have learned since, I don’t need to. The picture in my head and a passionate desire to be present in that picture are enough to start putting things in place.

Things like:

  • Scheduling regular, consistent blog posts
  • Mapping out steps to complete my current WIP’s
  • Doing regular Facebook Live Videos
  • Posting or sharing positive affirmations and quotes
  • Showing up every day with my face washed, teeth brushed, hair combed, and wearing something other than what I slept in (which means I’m putting a bra on every day)
  • Maintaining my physical fitness
  • Meditating regularly
  • Planning and preparing healthy meals, that require little to no daily preparation. This includes:
    • Making a large enough salad to last for 3 or 4 meals
    • Preparing batch meals that can be frozen in single servings
    • Taking advantage of seasonal produce to make things like gazpacho and fruit salad
  • Self-education

Adjusting Expectations

https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulhami/2993662670/in/photolist-5yxiBC-8U5hPD-3edYTu-4CUgRY-3zQatC-5vmZ5c-bu1dBi-aGGHJg-aGGHaR-BrnmAC-JDHRGr-aGGG6n-anNJMT-aGGJDF-nhi5kC-URiXsy-8TU5Uu-7RHX6n-dSUfp3-8pz3GG-ax1E17-Gf1oKW-5wx88t-66XiHU-7U9YpL-7fcpGE-6C7S53-6AEtio-8YbMjQ-587zbz-MiRWFF-5htVfK-onWKYE-edRR9q-9jX3Pw-oZ6LzR-8pRD6w-9eVxUz-axUgNW-F6D6yL-dbZeKc-4cLsjY-b8ppRD-FfTkWW-7Lsz4B-66Xk3Q-2zs3Zi-7Lxsep-kyFmeu-RNnFfMI’ve also learned there are times when I’ll slip a bit on due dates, and beating myself up about it won’t help me get back on track. I need down time, and there are times I’ll need it more than others. I have to honor those cycles, and recognize when they end, I’ll come back stronger, clearer, more confident, and more committed than ever.

So I share something positive on Facebook every day (usually several somethings) but recognize we all have “those” days. I encourage myself and others to respect our own cycles, and to honor our own boundaries and needs. It took me a long time to realize the only expectations I needed to meet were my own, and a bit longer to figure out what those were. I had to disentangle myself from all the things I’d been taught to believe by people who, in their own minds only wanted what was best for me. Unfortunately, their vision was extremely limited, and defined by what they, themselves had been taught to believe.

Always Something to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I finally learned to commit to myself.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who’ve come into my life at just the right time to help me learn, and sometimes unlearn what I need to know to move forward.
  3. I’m grateful for the successes I’ve had in the last few years which support the choices and decisions I finally made for me, and only me.
  4. I’m grateful for inspiration which never really deserts me any more, if it ever did. Learning to tap into it at will has been one of my greatest lessons and achievements.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, commitment, motivation, friendship, support, joy, peace, health, harmony, balance, 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

A Sad Anniversary Brings Perspective

Another Anniversary of Dad’s Death

When one of my posting days falls on September 11th, I’m sorely tempted to skip it, or at least move it to another day. But my innate sense of consistency won’t allow either, so at least it’s easier from a distance of 3 weeks or so which is when I’m pre-scheduling these days.

I don’t need to reiterate the significance of September 11th to anyone who is even remotely aware. Not only was it a horrific day in U.S. history, but reminders start showing up a few days before the anniversary.

There’s a small handful of us who are reminded of another anniversary which occurred 2 years after the WTC bombing, but which is much closer to home. In fact, my daughter and I typically disconnect from the internet on this day to do our remembering in private. As I’ve become more efficient about pre-scheduling posts, it’s become a lot easier to do so.

Moving On vs. Getting Over

Anyone who has lost a family member to suicide knows you don’t get over the loss. Like any other death, the impact eases somewhat as years go by, but it’s always there. Little things remind me how fragile life is, and how important it is to stay connected with the ones we love. It might not prevent the inevitable, especially when a loved one is faced with a terminal illness which will be long and painful if death is allowed to come naturally.

My dad made his choice, and for the most part I respect it. Still, I look back at how I distanced myself in his final couple of years when he became difficult to be around. He never shared the worst of his health issues with me or my sister. That was typical. He didn’t want anyone worrying about him or smothering him with attention. In a lot of ways, he was a very private manfar more private than I ever realized.

Even so, I could have made more of an effort to spend more time with him, despite the turmoil my own life was in. I could have brought his granddaughters to see him more often, or made a point of seeing him every week. There are a lot of things I could have done, but being patient with his grumpiness instead of distancing myself is at the top of the list. My only excuse is I didn’t know how bad things were. It serves as a harsh reminder of how little my dad trusted me with what really mattered.

Reflection Evolves Over Time

In past years, the anniversary of dad’s death was a time for reflection and remembering good times, most of which occurred years before he died. Too many things broke what I now understand was a tenuous relationship, often held together by other people rather than our own efforts.

At one time it was my mother. Even when she and I were estranged, it was her influence which kept my dad and me in touch. Sometimes it was the dysfunctional influence of my alcoholic husband who worked for my dad for a couple of years. Whether he felt a desire to stay connected for his own sake is something I’ll never really know. I have to believe he saw someone worth knowing in his eldest child.

An Unfortunate Accident of Birth

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqRevelations in the last year make me feel I was more of a disappointment, and mostly due to an accident of birth. The cards were stacked against me having a real connection with the man who helped give me life because I had the misfortune of being a girl.

I doubt he ever actually said the words out loud. Growing up, I didn’t notice his lack of interest in the things I enjoyed. Then again, I saw him through rose-colored glasses. He was the parent who loved me best, or so I thought. In truth, he was the one who minimized my accomplishments because most of the time, he didn’t understand them.

It wasn’t that I was overly feminine. I just wasn’t athletic or even coordinated except when I was dancing. In short, there was nothing he could relate to or share with me. Meanwhile, my mom fretted over all my injuries, allergies, and inherited health challenges. But I was so busy trying to please my dad, I didn’t notice how hard she tried to connect with me. At some point, we both gave it up as a lost cause.

Putting Things in Perspective

This is starting to sound like a long, self-pitying whine, but that’s not really where I want to go. I can’t honestly say I miss my dad, 16 years after he opted out of a long, painful death. I’ve simply come to terms with his choice, and don’t begrudge him for it.

But the years since have given me a chance to really look at our relationship, or if I’m honest, lack thereof. He was the first in a long line of people I tried to please by forcing myself into behaviors which weren’t me. I followed my mother’s example and tried to win his love. I’ve finally learned to accept there was nothing I could have done to change the fact he loved me as best he could, or that approval and love are two entirely different things.

I can, however look back and be grateful for what he taught me, even if the greatest lesson didn’t come through until long after he was gone. It was never my purpose to fit into someone else’s mold or vision. People will love me or not, regardless of any effort I might make to gain their approval. More importantly, I’ve learned to let my own daughters spread their wings and fly in the direction they choose.

Loving and Accepting My Daughters as They Are

They don’t need my approval, though one, at least seemed to want it a great deal more than was probably healthy. The difference between my relationship with her and the one I had with my dad is she always had my approval not matter what. I might not have liked some of the choices she made, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I love and approve of her and whatever paths she chooses.

The other rejected me as I did my mom, but I didn’t have her father around to help mend fences. In her case, I had to learn to let go and withhold judgement. Her choices are her choices, even if some of them shut me out of her life. In many ways, the distance works best for me too.

Looking Back So I Can Move Forward

Today is a day of reflection, but it’s no longer a day I mourn my dad. He’s gone, Created in Canvaand everything is as it’s supposed to be. I’m more aware of changes in mood in the people who are close to me now, and more likely to reach out. I don’t look at my dad’s death and my lack of knowledge with regret. It was put into my life to teach me a very important lessonone I would take with me into the next chapter in my life.

I’ve gone through a lot of withheld anger towards my dad in the last year, but I’ve purged a lot of misconceptions which negatively impacted my own sense of self-worth. In the end, no one else’s opinion affects my destiny unless I allow it. I’ve finally learned to stop allowing it.

Finding Many Opportunities for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve faced and the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for parents who forced me to learn to love myself without reservation or qualification because they truly didn’t know how.
  3. I’m grateful for friendships which have formed since I learned to love myself because of my imperfections instead of in spite of them.
  4. I’m grateful for a self-love that keeps me moving forward even when the tunnel ahead looks awfully dark and forbidding.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, dancing, kitties, compassion, kindness, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, 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

When Your Vibration is in the Cellar: Baby Steps Are Key

When Life Kicks You to the Curb

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 last month has been trying on pretty much every level; mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially. You name it, and I’ve taken a hit directly or indirectly. I’ve shed buckets of tears, though primarily in the privacy of my own home with the cats my only comfort.

That isn’t to say friends haven’t reached out, because they have—in huge and unanticipated ways. Some tell me I’ve been there for them, yet I can’t see it from my vantage point, any more than I’ve recognized, when a man was interested (not that it’s happened lately anyway. I travel in a world that tends to be weighted in favor of men).

The Games People Play

It makes me wonder where else I’ve had tunnel vision, oblivious to what’s right in front of my face. I suspect my long, unsatisfying foray into the Corporate world is one. I never learned to play the games, and found myself cast as the unwitting bad guy, or even buffoon on far too many occasions. Granted, some of that was because I didn’t allow myself to connect with co-workers or staff. But most of it was because I never learned the rules for office politics. Frankly, I never wanted to. I don’t like politics in general, and have always believed they don’t belong in an office.

It seems a bit ironic really. People go to work for a company, contributing to the company’s success, yet believe they need to go to extremes to assure their own success. How much personal success can you really claim when the ultimate recipient is owners or stockholders. You get what they’re willing to give you, and nothing more.

The Rocky, Peril-Infused Road to Success

Yes, the road to personal success is difficult and fraught with peril more often than not. In the end, both https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rthe successes and failures are your own. You get to keep the lessons for the failures without having someone else’s castigation added to the mix. When you fall on your face, it’s only you who has to get up, dust yourself off, look at what didn’t work, and try again with the new insight you’ve gained.

At the moment, I feel like I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded, but I have no one to blame but myself. I’ve succeeded at a few things, though, and am proud of those successes. Those, too are on me alone.

From the failures I’ve learned to reach out and ask for help because I don’t know everything about everything. There are areas where my experience and talent is decidedly lacking. Those areas give me the opportunity to network and develop new relationships.

The successes teach me what I have to offer to others; where I can offer to help them with their own gaps in experience. But most of all, they teach me more about connecting.

Creeping Slowly Out of My Hermit’s Hut

https://www.flickr.com/photos/binnyva/14856573264/in/photolist-oCPPCU-8f1nit-kNH87E-8rNdoG-6KCefX-9Bgqr6-Yi8x7C-XC2S6P-56Q2W-Vh4pvh-32EGJ7-M1eaS-ptvU3v-9Awj7L-wKmp31-8AvCj7-7bqtC-a5fJwH-kNFH9k-9G6tXM-24uVDRG-dDd9qu-Kwohct-Urtf8U-YDnn4J-6omdkQ-Dsesvd-puLasy-24vk2io-ktRkX-bbbDnP-pGjrym-4BEGNG-5jHBoS-5uRazj-9G9pbW-HcTbbD-a5ixA3-289TB1G-a5fHdv-i6HTk-4nHJbV-92qx88-smAuU2-WRJBho-7fLn3G-QENbeM-XS7dj9-kdP5rm-7f3qBEI’ve used the excuse: “I’m a writer and an introvert. I’m better off working alone” far too many times. I recognize it’s an excuse to be a hermit. Even more, I’m learning I don’t want to be a hermit all the time. I want to be around people and be part of a community. I want to let people see that I succeed sometimes and fail others, just like them. Besides, being a perpetual hermit is extremely unhealthy. Far too many psychopaths live in that world. I’d rather not be looked at through the same glass as someone whose moral compass hasn’t pointed to true North in a very long time, if ever.

I’ve learned to recognize when my sunny disposition has gone astray. Signs like negativity, judgemental-ism, excessive self-criticism, and even lousy eating habits show me clearly when my mood has taken a trip to the dark side. The years I spent wallowing in self-pity, angry at the world, and in an undiagnosed state of depression come back to haunt me. Yet they also scare me into making changes, reaching out to friends, or getting out of the house whether I want to or not.

Changing Perspective

So far this week, I’ve gone to the gym after first talking myself out of going, spent an evening dancing Created with Canvaafter trying to convince myself I shouldn’t share my sad state with others, and reached a saturation point with Hallmark movies. The last one, alone has pushed me a little ways out of my funk to get a few things done I’d been avoiding for ages. I’d convinced myself once again that I wasn’t worthy, lacked the necessary experience, and didn’t want to do those things anyway.

Sometimes, it’s a matter of perspective. We look at the things we accomplish as nothing special. We convince ourselves out accomplishments are no better than anyone else’s. We deny our part in making the world a better place. Or we minimize our contributions by treating them as commonplace acts performed by everyone.

Showing Up

There’s a time and a place to call “bullshit” on ourselves. I found mine when a friend knocked on my door on a cold, rainy night with a container of split pea soup. Her simple act reminded me how much my own simple acts mean to others. I realized it isn’t so much the what as it is the doing in the first place. Showing up is often the greatest gift of all, both for the giver and the receiver.

Over the years, I learned the climb from abject depression to joy is a long one, and isn’t accomplished in gigantic leaps while yanking on your bootstraps. It’s accomplished one step at a time, and often one backwards for every two forward. It’s easier to take 100 baby steps than it is sometimes to take one giant leap. In the time we gear ourselves up to take that giant leap, we could have already been there by putting one foot in front of the other, testing the ground with each step, and asking for help over the tougher spots.

Raising My Vibration A Baby Step at a Time

I may be in a bad place personally, financially, even professionally at the moment. I’m trying to get out of it, but my vibration is in the toilet. With each baby step I take; each proffered hand I accept, I leave the darkness a little further behind. The darkness is no longer the friend it once deceived me into believing. Instead, I reach towards the sunshine, the light of friendship, love, caring, and sharing.

The friends who show they care in so many ways are making the baby steps bigger by reinforcing the ground I walk on. I still have a long way to go, but knowing I don’t have to go there alone keeps me putting one foot in front of the other a lot more easily and readily these days.

A Heart Filled With Gratitude Vibrates on a Higher Level

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who have made the effort to get to know the real me.
  2. I am grateful for changes in perspective.
  3. I am grateful for baby steps.
  4. I am grateful for clear, sunny days when the wind finally dies down.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; emotional, spiritual, mental, health, connection, inspiration, love, motivation, opportunities, challenges, 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.

Cats Perspective of the Perfect Life

Cats Do Not Believe in Waiting

I start each morning the same way. I get out of bed and head to my desk to write 3 pages longhand aka “Morning Pages”. It wasn’t always this way. Though I’ve been writing every morning for over 2 years, it wasn’t until recently it took first place in my morning routine. Before that, feeding the cats was my first priority.

Though they’ve had to adjust to a 30-minute delay between rising and feeding, some are quite happy with the new arrangement. Dylan usually beats me to my office, settling himself comfortably on the corner of the desk to purr and await skritches when I pause to gather my thoughts. Though he has no trouble telling me if those pauses are less frequent than he’d like.

Recognizing Who’s the King in My Household

Sometimes, it’s a casual flick of his fluffy tail across the page. Others, he’ll walk across it forcing me to stop until he moves, willingly or not. But there are times when he feels particularly neglected. He’ll stand on top of my spiral notebook, shove my pen aside, and head bonk my glasses right off my face. You can be sure he always gets what he wants; skritches and maybe a head bonk in return.

When I stop and glance his way, he’ll roll over, giving me easy access to his fluffy white belly. I start giving him the belly rubs he loves and he grabs my hand between his paws, applying gentle pressure with his claws so I can’t pull away. It’s his way of saying hang for awhile. Give me some love and I’ll give you some back. At which point he begins licking my hand.

Time is Relative to a Cat

Being with my cats is one of my favorite de-stressers. Their soft purrs, their snuffly snores, even the weird chittering sound they make when birds or squirrels land in the tree outside my office window. All are comfort food for my soul. But more, they’re reminders to stop and be for even just a moment. We humans forget to do that more often than not.

To a cat, there’s a time to nap, a time to eat, a time to bathe—you get the picture. They know how to break their day down into pockets of time where everything has its place. Humans lose sight of this. All too often, we’re “go, go, go” and we forget to stop and catch our breath. There’s always too much to do and too little time. Or is there?

Trading in the Rat Race for the Cat Nap

Part of this mentality is due to the 9 to 5 (or in reality 8 to whenever) lifestyle of employees with jobs.https://www.flickr.com/photos/158790927@N08/25811269728/in/photolist-FjRveS-9bdN4K-dKT3m8-anLPS8-G2jGGP-666Dfo-9m3HTB-2ybGf6-9iiWLY-25XfULY-7a6uQa-U9eETw-7DiPVT-p9S65F-e2GNW6-vQhq-4X1zBQ-21j28Rw-aThcrK-RtCD8e-JQymgD-4tNbf5-pHEbRM-6Spn3F-q6BKxR-dFUcvG-pRv5H1-a83xB-3BDEC4-51zVdg-qDXFZQ-ZxzHMW-5QUcWa-sRkDaA-nwfiJe-D2A2dy-6mzNAb-51EaCE-dH2iC3-51zW7R-qy8Bsg-2fiQNc-4rnFvK-cGPQZG-jKU2zx-rpgXY4-oUjEqW-6AiPdn-8GTCLG-9VrnVK You’re expected to be in a certain place at a certain time, and stay there for a requisite number of hours in order to collect a paycheck which may or may not go up every year or so. That doesn’t even consider the bigger and bigger chunk the government feels justified to take out before you get the rest.

One of the best things I ever did was get away from living by someone else’s schedule. It was never natural nor comfortable for me, and often the worst part was being forced to interact with people every day. Though I’m still playing with my own schedule and routine, it will always be a much looser structure than any employer could offer.

Living a Healthier Lifestyle

My schedule these days allows for regular trips to the gym without having to join the masses either before or after regular work hours when I’d have to fight for time in the various stations. I can workout for 30 minutes or 90, or whatever feels comfortable to me.

It allows for a day mid-week to run errands, and opportunities to go to the movies with friends when it’s not only cheaper, but less crowded. Best of all, it allows me to work during the hours I’m most productive, and that depends a lot on what I’m doing. I’ve learned through experience, trial, and error that my optimum times for writing are far different than those for doing accounting or other analytical work, at least most of the time. I typically work at least a few hours on the weekend, but as it’s all my time, it doesn’t really feel like work.

What the Body Dictates

Watching my cats, I learn to follow my natural rhythm. I eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired (often only about 5 hours at night), meditate when I’m ready to stop and go within for an hour, and do chores in the midst of it all. Keeping up with laundry is easy when you can throw a load in, then go into your office and get some work done.

Even better, and more cat-like is the ability to work shoe-less and in comfortable clothes. I don’t need makeup. My hair is usually in a messy bun on top of my head. I wear a bra in the house only if I had to put one on to leave it. Even then, it’s usually off within an hour after I get home.

Sure, there are days when I get almost nothing done, but there are others where I’ll work 12-14 hours and never feel like I’ve worked at all. Still, the old adage applies: “if you want something done, ask a busy person” and the busier my schedule gets, the more efficiently I use my time. Words flow easier, topics fall into my lap, offers of further work come from unexpected but greatly appreciated sources. I rise earlier in the morning (the one thing the cats don’t appreciate) and stay up later.

Making Time to Be

Yet throughout the day, my cats remind me to stop, take a moment to give and receive love. They remind me life isn’t a long, continuous stream of doing. Sometimes you have to stop doing and listen, or feel, or breathe. Those reminders, those little breaks in my day make all the difference in the world. If something I’m doing isn’t flowing as easily as it should, the example I’m set let’s me know it’s OK to stop and walk away for a little while. The task will be there when I get back, and I’m not on a set schedule which says I have to be finished by 5.

As the days grow shorter, I find, more and more that I’ll be working away in my office and look up to find it’s grown dark while I’ve been immersed in my writing, editing, or accounting, and I need to go turn on some lights so I can navigate the hallway without tripping over someone. Though it surprises me to see it happening more and more lately, it’s also gratifying to be able to settle into that flow effortlessly and without fear of interruption or disruption.

Living and Loving the Non-Office

Life and work on a cat’s schedule may not be practical for many, but for some of us, it’s the only way we can do our job to the very best of our capabilities, and remain sane and grounded at the same time. Unlike some, I don’t function well on a strict schedule. I need the flexibility to stand up and stretch, meditate, get out of the “office” for a walk, or simply do a long, slow stretch inspired by my cats.

What’s your best work environment? How do you accomplish the most and feel like your most productive, least stressed self? Share in the comments. You never know who might gain something from your experiences.

Grateful for My Near-Perfect Life

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the slower, more natural pace my life takes these days.
  2. I’m grateful for unexpected projects.
  3. I’m grateful for setting my own deadlines and honoring them.
  4. I’m grateful for my cats from whom I learn so much.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, joy, friendship, companionship, unconditional feline love, morning pages, lessons, new information, change, progress, peace, harmony, 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.

Choose Your Words Carefully in Case You Have to Eat Them

May the Words We Speak Be Tasty

https://www.flickr.com/photos/162733867@N08/29086322568/in/photolist-Ljg1m9-8b3Bcq-8dftDn-8mKHGw-kNJinr-7G5qTG-qqkYQy-8diVHq-icq54s-7G1vvv-8wSgbU-icquZX-7G5rPh-icquE8-icqcvj-dumDWG-c2Bg2L-9tJW5E-c2BjJY-dug3Ya-6CY1c7-F2Dn7m-6RgcKS-oTJEvg-myPgtn-5JppCu-b8Mizx-6zQ5G6-8mKTLQ-7KP9jG-dumDnj-8mGTPt-ryq1RH-sve5aR-7KK6Ec-4JjASd-9ATqPS-7KKbkz-8mGXFk-8mL5Ld-7RZ28J-4Jfkoc-8dfkdv-8mGyHH-8mGJdK-8afnPD-6Lg64e-biSy3F-pihYMh-8sRJY6In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, Alice is called upon to make a speech at the Mad Tea Party. She launches into a typical wordy monologue. Later, she’s admonished by the other party-goers who tell her she should have chosen her words more carefully, as now she has to eat them. In this case, and given the many unusual events during Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole, a speech was simply another word for placing your food order.

In life, we do much the same thing. The words we speak define our lives, whether we realize it or not. If we spend our lives complaining about how imperfect things are, what we don’t have, and how lousy we feel, we’ll attract more of the same. It reminds me of my dad telling me “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”. In short, we get the life we order.

People Can be “Nellies” or “Pollies

Lately I’ve noticed my friends on Facebook (the ones I haven’t unfollowed for posting too much political https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulhami/2993662670/in/photolist-5yxiBC-8U5hPD-3edYTu-4CUgRY-3zQatC-5vmZ5c-bu1dBi-aGGHJg-aGGHaR-BrnmAC-JDHRGr-aGGG6n-anNJMT-aGGJDF-nhi5kC-URiXsy-8TU5Uu-7RHX6n-dSUfp3-8pz3GG-ax1E17-Gf1oKW-5wx88t-66XiHU-7U9YpL-7fcpGE-6C7S53-6AEtio-8YbMjQ-587zbz-MiRWFF-5htVfK-onWKYE-edRR9q-9jX3Pw-oZ6LzR-8pRD6w-9eVxUz-axUgNW-F6D6yL-dbZeKc-4cLsjY-b8ppRD-FfTkWW-7Lsz4B-66Xk3Q-2zs3Zi-7Lxsep-kyFmeu-RNnFfMnonsense, at least) seem to fall into one of two categories: Negative Nellies or Positive Pollies.

The “Nellies” are the ones who will post things like “I’m having a really bad day. Someone post the 12th picture on your camera roll to make me smile.” Or “I really hate my job. I wish I was {anywhere that isn’t their current reality}”. Or worse, “I’m so sick right now. I wish I could feel better”.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even click on notifications they’ve posted even though I know there is often something valuable buried amongst all the complaints. I almost want to shout at them If I wanted to see or hear something depressing, I’d watching the freaking news! But I restrain myself. I know they’re in a bad place, and may not even know how to get out of it.

Just as I choose not to see all their negativity, they can’t or won’t see all the positive quotes, comments, and graphics I’m posting, nor those shared by anyone else on their list. When we are deep in a wallow, we see all that positivity as a poke in the eye. How can everyone else be so perky and happy when we’re in the depths of despair? They’re probably lying. Nobody can be that happy with their lives because no matter who they are, shit happens.

Seeing the Value in All Experiences

The “Pollies” know shit happens, but handle it in a completely different way. They look for things in their life to be grateful for. They seek out other “Pollies” who post things that lift their spirits. The do their best to lift someone else’s spirits. Why? Because it’s a known fact if you do something for someone else, it will make you feel better!

That’s not to say the “Nellies” aren’t socially conscious, loving, giving people. I know some whose lives are spent doing good and helping others. Why can’t they find the joy in all they’re giving? Though it baffles me, I wonder if it’s coming from the wrong place. I don’t mean they’re giving with the expectation of getting something in return, and becoming despondent when that doesn’t happen. I think some of them give through a sense of obligation.

When my kids or a friend would thank me for a deed or gift by saying “you didn’t have to do that”, I’d always respond “if I had to do it, I probably wouldn’t have. I did it because I wanted to.”  The same holds true today.

Doing Good, Each in Our Own Way

Maybe I’m not working at a soup kitchen serving meals to people who can’t afford food. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s simply not where I choose to put my Samaritan efforts. Heaven knows there are more than enough causes and neediness to go around when it comes to doing our part to make the world better. I have causes I support, but have no need or desire to broadcast my efforts. I simply do what I can and know in my heart I’m doing something to make a difference, no matter how small.

“Pollies” go around spreading joy wherever they go, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when they need a boost too. It is a little harder to get them to admit it though! I have friends who are suffering from cancer, or a debilitating disease who are the most fervent broadcasters of joy and positivity I know. You wouldn’t even suspect there are serious challenges in their lives unless you get into a private conversation with them and give them the opportunity to open up a bit without feeling like they’re dumping on anyone. They find their joy and purpose in raising the joy level overall.

Giving From Our Own Well

There’s a younger couple I see at the gym whenever I’m there. They’re not the skinny minnie, or hard bodies, but they are something far more impressive. The first time I really noticed them was when the woman did squats holding a 75 pound dumbbell. You read that right. SEVENTY-FIVE FREAKING POUNDS! And she did really low squats, nearly to the ground, several times with that behemoth of a dumbbell. I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor!

Not only that, they usually have one of those skinny minnies with them, showing them how to use the machines and weights properly. I was so impressed I finally broke my usual silence while at the gym to tell them how much they inspire me, not only with their physical strength and dedication to their own health, but because they take the time to help other people too. Of course, they were incredibly humble, and touched to be recognized doing what they clearly love to do. I walked away feeling uplifted and blessed to have had the opportunity to interact with people like that. They are giving back by using their own skills and talents, yet see nothing unusual or noteworthy about what they’re doing.

I’m learning when we give back out of desire rather than obligation, and do so in a way that utilizes our own unique skills and talents, we generate positive energy effortlessly. We’re doing what comes naturally, and because it’s natural, we create something genuine, honest, and in most cases, heart warming too.

Are You Giving Because You Can, or Because You Believe You Must?

I think that’s the greatest difference I notice between the “Pollies” and the “Nellies”. “Pollies” give because they can, and without even thinking about it as giving. They share what they’ve learned with others who might need a little help getting going. They give from a bottomless well because they’re doing what comes naturally; from a well that never empties because it’s source is soul deep and each act of sharing replenishes rather than drains it.

“Nellies” give because they feel it’s what they’re supposed to do. It may also come from the core of their being, but because they feel it’s obligatory, they’re not refilling their own well with the joy of doing something simply because they can. They’re doing it because they feel they must, or to get recognized for being a good person, or some other reason known only to them. The giving drains and depletes them because they do the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

Negativity is a Cry for Help in Changing Perspective

I could hide every one of my friends who typically spreads sadness and negativity, but know it’s their Created with Canvaway of asking for help. Somewhere along the way, they might catch the attention of a “Polly” who can help pull them a little way out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. Though, sad to say, it’s likely they’ll attract more of what they’re broadcasting and dig themselves in deeper.

We all respond from our own perspective. Negative people don’t always see the positive aspect which exists in everything. For example, I started getting a migraine yesterday just as I was finishing my errands. My thoughts went something like this.

Dammit! Another migraine.

At least I’m almost done with my errands, and less than 5 minutes from home.

I’m so glad I have an early warning system that tells me a migraine is coming so I can do something to keep it from being really bad.

I’m glad I was able to get everything done before this came on.

In the end, I missed the night of dancing I’d planned, but instead, I got laundry done and got to talk to a friend, (another “Polly” as it happens) and learn a little more about her. In return, I got the inspiration for this post. In my mind, the migraine changed my plans, but put me exactly where I was supposed to be.

Learning to Flip Our Own Script

If I was still a “Nellie” as I was a couple of decades ago, the conversation with myself would have gone much differently, and I’d have missed an opportunity. I will always be grateful to the friend who introduced me to “The Secret” and helped me start recognizing my negative self-talk. The journey of discovery and resulting climb up the emotional ladder continues. I may still have begun without her help, but I’d have found the way a lot later, and suffered a lot longer.

I wish for all of my “Nellie” friends out there the help and guidance to start climbing out of their own emotional pit of despair. It’s a lot more pleasant up here where the sun shines and the flowers bloom.

Gratitude: The Ultimate Script Flipper

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have been put in my path at just the right time so I begin moving in a new and better direction.
  2. I am grateful for the coaches, cheerleaders, and butt kickers who ensure I keep moving forward instead of trying to revisit and regurgitate where I’ve been.
  3. I am grateful for the inspiration and motivation to get ahead on some things so I’m more likely to get back to those things which will ultimately propel me forward.
  4. I am grateful fro new ideas and viewpoints which are constantly appearing, exactly when I need to hear and see them.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, encouragement, support, joy, positivity, friendship, variety, people, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Special thanks to Becca Burnett who inspired this post.

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.

Dissed or Dismissed

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When We Outlive Our Usefulness

Recently I was forced to accept a hard truth. A woman for whom I’d been doing a few simple kindnesses had been accepting them with little more than an off-hand thank you, almost as if my actions were her due. Then I witnessed her offering to compensate someone else for a similar kindness. It made me feel that in her eyes I had little value, a feeling which was proven when she approached a group of us talking and acted like I wasn’t there.

Sure, I was hurt at first. But then I remembered a friend’s wise words. “Don’t take another person’s actions personally”. In this case and a few others recently, I saw how well the words applied and am doing my best to take them to heart.

People and Their Stuff

People are always going through their own stuff. We aren’t always aware of what that stuff is (unless it’s one of those people who broadcast their entire life in true basketball play-by-play fashion on social media). Some are truly going through a difficult time. But like it or not, some are simply narcissists who direct their attention towards those who can benefit them is some way and blatantly snub those who might somehow stand in their way or worse, offer them no value. Either way, their actions are a reflection of themselves and nothing more.

Unfortunately, they are often quite adept at drawing an empath into their game for a little while. Their very real struggles to achieve value and validation can tug at sensitive heartstrings and bring a desire to help. But eventually their true, soul-sucking nature comes through and it becomes clear that this person will continue to take, never to be filled and will, if they’re permitted, drain the empath dry before seeking another soul to suck.

With Age Comes Perspective

As I get older, I don’t stop being taken in but I do learn to recognize the signs and extricate myself before any long-term damage is done. The knowledge that it truly isn’t personal has done a lot to help me withdraw and heal more readily

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say these people don’t recognize their insensitivity or the harm they do, I do believe it isn’t a conscious choice to harm a particular person. They simply latch onto the easiest targets to fill a well in themselves which can never be filled. They themselves are a black hole of insecurities which absorb compliments and reassurances like a dry sponge yet never come close to saturation.

That would require becoming a complete human being capable of both giving and taking on a visceral level. They’re only capable of such actions on a superficial level at best.

Learning to Offer Pity and Nothing More

I’ve found such people earn my pity as they are incapable of having truly fulfilling relationships with others. They’ll always be looking for the next emotional well to drain in a fruitless effort to more than dampen the ground at the bottom of their own. But it just absorbs what it takes from others like a vampire sucks blood, never satisfied, never fulfilled.

I can’t imagine the emptiness of a life which depends on the emotions and approval of others, yet still finds no value in themselves. It must be a sad, lonely place where love and joy are just words with no meaning to which they might connect personal experience.

Experiences Help Me Better Understand My Mom

Then I think about my mom and the collection of faces she showed the world. I wonder if this emptiness I recognize in others was the life she lived and saw fit to cut short because she saw no reason to continue living in that infinitely dry well. Though I’m tempted to show more compassion for those who live their lives this way, I know it will not only pass unappreciated, but will end with me feeling used and hurt.

There are many people in this world who deserve our love and compassion; those who face their own struggles, yet put some effort into getting through each day on their own. But there are some who always expect others to fix what’s broken. Those who never recognize that in order to fix their own broken parts, they have to be an active and willing participant. To me, these people are no better than the man who pays for sex because he’s not willing to give something back to his partner other than the sightless, soulless cash he gives in exchange for a few moments of physical pleasure.

Recognizing Real Value

They believe they give value for what they receive, and I’m sure in their minds, that value is fair and reasonable. But that questionable value is something I’ve chosen to refuse. If I can’t give of myself willingly and lovingly, I’d rather walk away and leave a broken, lonely, confused person to someone else’s ministrations. To help them, even for the short time I’m able would only leave me drained and them searching for something they’ll never find.

Still, I can’t help giving them the benefit of the doubt for a little while, in hopes they can find the spark of humanity they’ve long since buried beneath layers of brick, mortar, and building materials proven impermeable to the balm of humanity we all come into this world bearing. My hope will always spring eternal. I’ll forever believe I can make a difference in just one person’s life. No matter how many times I fail.

There is Always a Reason for Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful I toppled my own walls, despite the agony it caused for a little while.
  2. I am grateful my well is always full, no matter how many people have tried to drain it dry.
  3. I am grateful for friends who value me even when I’m not behaving like I deserve it.
  4. I am grateful for my writing which helps me work things out, sort things out, and just gain perspective over that which weighs me down for a bit.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; prosperity, friendship, love, hope, joy, compassion, inspiration, insight, motivation, support, peace, harmony, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

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!

 

Photo courtesy of R. Crap Mariner via Flikr

Lessons Catch Us Unaware

Life: An Endless Chain of Lessons

If you’re doing more with your life than staring at a wall, you’ve likely experienced your share of lessons. Some of them are pretty obvious and come as a result of something you actually set out to accomplish. More often than not, though, the lessons have a way of finding you. This is especially true when it’s a subject you’ve revisited multiple times, yet have yet to quite grasp the concept. One of my personal favorites is patience. (In case it isn’t evident, the last comment was laced with a liberal dose of sarcasm. I, for one could use a sarcasm emoji!)

Since I seem to be uniquely resistant to this particular lesson, the Universe has seen fit to hit me with another opportunity to get it right when I least expect it, and typically, at the worst possible moment. Put me in a store with 3 screaming children when I’m in a hurry, have a blazing headache and haven’t eaten in hours and I guarantee my patience will be tested yet again. Seriously, who could be expected to assimilate the lesson under those conditions. Never let it be said the Universe lacks a sense of humor! I only hope it will avoid taking me into a situation where I learn patience or suffer serious physical harm.

Lessons in Camouflage

As I believe I am both a component of the Universe as well as it’s entirety, I feel it’s in both our best interests to protect my physical self, at least for as long as it is required to learn the lessons I came into this lifetime expecting to learn. That does not, however, preclude increasingly painful lessons along the way. Perhaps that’s part of the plan?

Although I’ve come to the conclusion painful lessons are often the most memorable (after all, who really wants to revisit an experience akin to being smacked in the head with a bat?), I am beginning to wonder if, in some cases, it’s truly about learning the lesson, or if the pain itself is the real lesson? Are we meant to experience a certain amount of struggle and strife in order to make us stronger and more resilient? Is that strength a critical component of our virtual tool box?

My perspective on life lessons is constantly evolving, but this is the biggest breakthrough I’ve had in a long time. To realize that sometimes the experience of the lesson is the real lesson is mind-blowing. So many times, I’ve wracked my brain looking for the lesson in the painful experience, completely missing the fact that the painful experience in and of itself was what I needed to learn. The real lesson, then wasn’t patience, or kindness, or compassion, or some other admirable quality. It was, instead resilience.

Finding the Blessing in Disguise

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned over the years is that seeming catastrophes are always blessings in disguise. They occur when we’ve become so attached to something, someone, or a situation that we fail to recognize when it’s time to let go of the old so we can evolve. We stifle our own ability to enter the next iteration of our life because we’re holding too tightly to what we know. No matter what our relationship to change is, there’s a time in every life when change has to occur. Most of the time it’s in baby steps, but periodically, we need a 1994 Northridge earthquake- or World Trade Center-size upheaval to shake us right out of our boots and into a new reality.

Even when these upheavals are strictly personal, the effect is the same as those occurring on a national or global scale. We are forced to re-evaluate what we need to keep and what we need to leave behind. These events might be brutal and painful like a nasty divorce or loss of a loved one by suicide or accident. But they can also be dangerously subtle like rising dissatisfaction with a job situation. Dangerous because the longer we ignore the signs, the more likely we’ll have the situation taken out of our hands.

Changing for the Better in Spite of Ourselves

I can honestly say I never left a job which no longer served my best interests at the first sign, or even the 10th. In fact, in most cases, I stuck it out until the situation was taken out of my hands in one way or another. And yet, in hindsight, I left at exactly the right time because the circumstances surrounding the parting of ways was a critical component of the lesson I needed to experience. It was especially scary when I had two young daughters to support, but I can look back now and see that I always managed to pull through. That, too is part of the lesson. I’ve always survived whatever I was dealt.

Granted, I have not been given some of the challenges I see others face: developing a terminal disease, watching parents age, sicken, and ultimately pass on, homelessness, or a multitude of other life-lessons. But those are not the lessons I came here to experience. At least not this time around. But the people who are faced with different challenges than I am simply get a collection that’s unique to them.

Recognizing Our Own Brand of Resiliency

Though family suicide is far more prevalent than even I had come to believe, I am uplifted not only by the stories I’ve been privileged to share, but by how many different ways people demonstrate their own resiliency. In the process, one of my major upheavals broke me off from a group of friends who chose to expend their energy complaining about their lives instead of changing them. Though it left me adrift and alone for a time, the conditions I, myself had put into motion by looking at the world through more positive, grateful eyes ultimately led me to friends who faced their challenges in a healthier manner.

From my newer circle of friends, I’ve learned that life will deal you some seemingly crappy hands just to force you to step up and accept the challenge. I learned I’m not the type to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me no matter how many times I wanted to do just that in the years following my divorce and my mom’s suicide. Somehow, I always found a reason to keep going. I always found a reason to keep trying. I found it in myself to find another way when the old ways no longer worked.

Not only did I find out I was resilient, I found out how to make that resiliency work for me. But most of all, I started learning how to ask for help; how to be vulnerable at times. And guess what? There wasn’t a single time when I actually shattered into a million, irreparable pieces.

Yes, some of life’s lessons can really kick the crap out of you. But getting to the other side with most of your pieces intact is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. And it’s one I give myself over and over again.

From My Eternally Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my resiliency.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunities I’m given to learn, even the less obvious lessons.
  3. I am grateful for inspiration which gives me not only an endless stream of Facebook Live topics, but an ever-growing list of blogs waiting to be written.
  4. I am grateful for being a constantly evolving being. Stagnation has never been my comfort zone.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, lessons, experiences, opportunities, joy, sorrow, pain, healing, vulnerability, and strength. It is only by experiences both sides of the coin that we become whole.

Blessed Be

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!

 

Photo Courtesy of Lucie Provencher via Flickr

The Tarot Card pictured is The Tower from the Spiral Tarot

Guest Post: From Losing My Job to Finding Myself

Tonight, I’m very pleased to present a guest post from a member of one of the communities to which I belong. These people encourage and support each other through whatever the personal journey might be. So please enjoy a break from my ADD style with a post from Nikita Ross.

It was the day I had been dreading for weeks: The day I would find out whether or not my contract was renewed. I tried to remain positive during the weeks leading up to the big meeting, but couldn’t shake the general feeling of malaise. In the eight weeks leading up to the end date on the contract, I had finally succumbed to a career girl’s worst nightmare: burn out. Despite my best efforts, the exhaustion had gotten the best of me, and I felt myself slipping in all aspects of my life.

As you probably deduced from the title, the contract was not renewed.

I started working when I was 12 years old. My first job was raking blueberries in the summers in addition to babysitting. If you ever get the chance to rake blueberries, don’t take it.

Though there were a few setbacks in my teen years, I became the golden child in college. One of my projects landed me on the radio and in Student Success magazine. I was on the fast track. So much of my identity became wrapped up in this idea of being a career woman that other integral parts of myself got put on the back burner; my love of literature, my creative writing, my easy going attitude, my parenting skills, my compassion, and understanding. Being driven is an asset. Being cold is not.

When the contract ended I found myself in a position I didn’t know how to handle. I had been working since I was a child. I was the girl who worked overtime and couldn’t stand beach vacations because the idea of doing nothing for so long would drive me crazy. With a history of depression and anxiety, I was not prepared for what happened when I lost everything:

I got really happy.

Sure, the first couple of weeks were full of crying jags and screaming “Who am I?” at the sky until the neighbors complained, but after the shock died down I felt strangely peaceful. As the weeks went by I found myself to be more patient, more compassionate, and much more relaxed.

While figuring things out life-wise, I was able to get back in touch with nature. I was able to help out family members who had been neglected due to the demands of my schedule with different tasks. I had quality time with my children, in a quantity I hadn’t experienced since maternity leave. I spent more time at the beach in the past two months than I had since my childhood. I’ve found the time to write again.

The biggest surprise was the notable decline in anxiety levels. It has since occurred to me that perhaps my inability to lay dormant on vacation had less to do with my love of being busy and more to do with the fact that I didn’t want to have the time to deal with some hard truths. I loved my job, but I’m not so sure I loved myself.

The future is a big question mark now. Maybe it always was. What I know is this: what I thought was the end of the world was the beginning of a better one. As the cliché goes, every cloud has a silver lining. I can only hope that anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation is able to find theirs.

NikitNikita Rossa Ross is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed bibliophile. When she’s not busy wrangling her children or plotting world domination, she can be found working away on her blog Strong in Body, Strong in Mind. An avid reader, runner, and weight lifter, Nikita believes that books and barbells have equal weight when setting goals for self-improvement.

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!

October 16, 2014 Perspective: Don’t be afraid to shine your light. #shericonaway #blogboost

In just a few hours, perspective can change.

This afternoon, I began to write a post about my dysfunctional family which has not enjoyed the loving, close relationships so many post about on Facebook. But now, a few hours later, after an unusually short night of dancing, I realize that I don’t want to write about that at all. The truth is, we all have some sort of skeleton in our family closet. So what? Because it isn’t where you come from, what advantages you had or didn’t, whether or not someone cherished you as you deserve to be cherished. No! It’s about what you do with what you have that’s important.

Too many people out there, from every, single generation alive, blame their parents for what they did not become, or for what they do not have. These people would have more luck selling me the Brooklyn Bridge or beachfront property in Arizona. Statistically speaking, our parents only influence our behavior and personality until the age of about ten, after which we are more strongly influenced by our peers, our teachers and a host of other people we interface with every day.

Put forth the effort or go home. This is a no whining zone!

If we want to achieve anything in life, we have to put forth the effort ourselves (I’m also speaking to myself here, as I have not achieved what I’d hoped to so far this year, but it is from my own lack of sufficient effort, and no other reason). People are rarely born into a life where someone takes their hand and leads them down the path of a successful life, however one might define it. If they did, we’d never be able to sustain it because we wouldn’t have learned how to achieve it in the first place!

The School of Hard Knocks is where we learn lessons that stay with us because of the hard knocks we received. There’s nothing like a painful lesson to keep it in our minds for awhile. Remember what you were doing the first time you burned yourself or cut yourself with a sharp knife. How willing were you to repeat that lesson?

It’s the same with lessons which are painful on a less tangible level. If they hurt, we naturally resist repeating something which was painful. Yes, I realize there are some folks for whom pain isn’t a reliable deterrent, but I’m addressing the majority of folks right now. How many people who are badly hurt emotionally in a relationship will resist getting involved until they learn that it’s not the relationship but the type of person they chose?

So I am not going to write a post about how I wasn’t close to my mom or my sister because it falls into that broad category called “So What?”. They didn’t choose the path I followed. I did. The successes, the lessons, the failures (which are really just lessons in disguise)…they’re all mine. Having nobody to blame also means that there’s nobody to steal your glory!

Live it! Own it! Be it!

Every one of us is an amazing person. Some of us just hide it better than others. We must never be afraid to allow our light to shine. You never know when it might brighten a dark road for someone who really needs it!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for attitude adjustments which brighten my perspective.
2. I am grateful for friends who chase away my dark shadows with their sunny dispositions.
3. I am grateful for knowing when to walk away and think something through more carefully.
4. I am grateful for the excessive amounts of positive energy flowing through me.
5. I am grateful for days when I think I’ve accomplished nothing, until I look back and see that I was moving so fast, the whole thing just blurred.
6. I am grateful for abundance: Love, health, positivity, energy, friendship, motivation, inspiration, vitality and prosperity.

Namaste

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