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Posts tagged ‘Reading’

August 26, 2015 Embracing Self-Discovery

A Continuing Voyage of Self-Discovery

I spend a lot of time in my own company, whether at home or out running errands, most of what I do is a solo act. This gives me a lot of time to think, especially when performing the myriad mindless tasks necessary to take care of myself and my cats.

Tonight, while scooping sandboxes and cleaning the kitchen (not at the same time, of course!), I realized that what a friend of mine said recently is frighteningly accurate. I have patterns. Not the normal kind, all neat, tidy and in order. But I do have patterns. For instance, I’ll go through spells when I’ll spend my non-dancing evenings parked in front of the TV, something mindless on until the wee hours, plinking away on my iPad. These are my cats’ personal favorites as it means they can pile into my lap and fight over whose turn it is for skritches.

After a time, I get bored of this, even if I’ve interspersed it with time on the computer, reading and writing. Here’s where my patterns start getting dark and twisty. Tonight I found that the one-eyed monster was boring me more than usual and endless games of solitaire and kitty cuddles just weren’t enough to ward off the twitchiness unrelieved boredom morphs into. Suddenly, more than a night or two a week of TV sitting is no longer do-able. Sitting still for that long is no longer do-able. I feel like I will jump right out of my skin if I don’t get up and move around; clean something, organize, research…anything but sit with my brain atrophying behind my eyes.

This is a fairly new development for me. After a day of running errands or brain work, or both, I was, until very recently content to have a veg night.

I’ve noticed something else as well, and maybe the two are related. Instead of nibbling on this and that throughout the evening, I’m fixing a meal of sorts most nights and once it’s done, except for a few almonds later in the evening, I’m done eating. I haven’t even been inclined to buy snack-type foods other than fruits and veggies.

So I have to ask myself: “What’s changed? Why do I no longer enjoy the pattern of relative sloth I’d fallen into?”

I was about to type something about human beings in general until I remembered something I learned in a parapsychology class in high school. I dream in vivid, living technicolor and tend to remember at least part of a dream every morning. I assumed this was normal. It wasn’t until I took the afore-mentioned course that I learned most people do not dream in color, nor do they remember a single, solitary snippet from their previous night’s rambles! That being said, I’m not going to make the mistake of assuming that other people get bored with their routines and frequently have to change them up or risk going bat-shit crazy like I do.

Now, if you were to ask my daughter, she’d likely tell you that I’m a creature of habit to the point of being anal. I like to get up in the morning, make the bed, stretch, feed the cats, get my coffee and breakfast, and sit down at the computer to check email, my website and blog, and Facebook. I also like to clean up the kitchen before I go to bed, but am liable to leave every dish I used throughout the day in the sink until that time. Unless, of course, I did a freezer-stocking batch of something. I typically clean those up as I go. There are a few other things I like to accomplish each day but I won’t bore you with the details here. What she doesn’t realize is that by being a creature of habit about some things, I am able to clear my path to allow for wild deviations in the things which are more important to me. In a nutshell, I’ve learned to regulate the tedious to leave more room for the extraordinary. After all, which would you rather spend your time doing?

I Know There Was a Topic Around Here Someplace

Which brings me back to my original topic, more or less. Watching television and piddling on my iPad is tedious and boring, though less so with a lap full of furry bodies. Reading, writing, researching or anything else which engages my brain is not boring or tedious. Maybe that’s why I have had such a tough time getting back into my gym routine. Although I like the way it makes me feel, it’s still tedious and boring, for the most part. Having headphones in while listening to music helps, but when the right song comes on, it’s all I can do to keep from breaking out into a line dance in the middle of the gym, and I really don’t want to attract attention to myself while there. I’m a ‘get in, do my thing and get out’ kinda girl!

I realize my blog posts have been getting less regular lately too, and think I might have been getting stuck in a rut here as well. These one-sided conversations do tend to get a bit old, and I’m still learning how to engage my readers enough to comment. I have a few who comment every now and then, letting me know they’re still out there and at least entertained if not sometimes thought-provoked. But greedy girl that I am, I really want more!

When I began this blog nearly 6 1/2 years ago, it was to share something deeply personal in hopes of touching someone who needed to know they weren’t alone. In many ways, that premise hasn’t changed, though the topics have become more diverse (at least, I hope they have) and I spend more time writing about epiphanies and self-discovery than about healing these days. That isn’t to say that I’ve completely healed. Do we ever? Each of us is a work in progress, sometimes moving forward at a rapid pace, and others, doing the Cha Cha. We learn, we grow, we stumble, we fall flat on our face and we pick ourselves up again. Each time we get back up, we’re a little wiser, but also a little more resilient.

Success isn’t in Mastering the Mountain. It is in Refusing to Allow the Mountain to Conquer us.

Each time we get back up again, we earn the right to consider ourselves successful. Not because we’ve scaled a huge mountain, but because we’ve allowed ourselves to be human, we’ve been imperfect, but we’ve survived to try again. In truth, we have very few huge, world-shaking successes in our lives. What we have is far better; it’s a series of wins interspersed with all of the attempts we make while learning how to do better. I think if it as an endless game of trial and error. We try something, if it works, great, move on to the next thing. More often than not, we don’t achieve the results we desire so we tweak what we’ve done and try again. It is through this series of trials and tweaks that we eventually figure things out and maybe find a better solution than we’d imagined. Because the steps are often tiny, we don’t even realize how far we’ve come or how much we’ve accomplished. But at any point in our lives, we’re both standing on a mountain top we’ve spent ages scaling, and we’re in a valley with the next mountain rising up before us. I think glancing back every now and then is a good way to remind ourselves that we can do whatever we set our minds to, climb the tallest of mountains stretching out before us…because, a quick glance back will show us that we’ve done so over and over again. Pretty impressive, aren’t we? Don’t you deserve at least an ‘attaboy’ today?

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for those moments of self-reflection.
2. I am grateful for a mind which grows more easily bored every day. It keeps me looking for new ways to challenge it.
3. I am grateful for the people who have been following my blog; both those who’ve been here awhile and those who’ve just come on board.
4. I am grateful for lessons and for falling down and getting back up again. It hasn’t killed me yet, but it’s certainly made me stronger.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, challenges, lessons, goals, opportunities, changes, hope, dreams, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

August 9, 2015 Books, Books and More Books

Getting Lost Between the Pages, or Losing the Pages

I have what I would consider an impressive collection of books. booksSo many, in fact, that I don’t even know what I have sometimes. My shelves are overflowing despite the fact that many are stacked 2 and 3 deep and 2 high. My daughter took a lot of her books when she moved into her own place, including both sets of encyclopedias, yet still, my shelves runneth over. bookshelves-cornerBecause of my propensity towards obtaining more and more books, I have, on occasion, purchased duplicates. Which brings me to my next sub-topic.

Finding Lost Treasures

Many times, I will purchase a book, read a couple of chapters and find I’m not able to get into the book, at least at the moment. I’ll put it aside, often with a page marked with a sticky note or receipt as if, when I pick it up again, I’ll start where I left off instead of at the beginning.

A couple of days ago, I spotted one such book on what I’ve dubbed my Spiritual Shelf. It contains books on Tarot, all of my decks, Angel Oracle cards, books on Kabbalah, and various books on laws of attraction and the like. At one point, it also included some of my books on healing but when I rearranged my shelves to open one up for my growing collection of books on writing, some of the healing books ended up there as the Spiritual shelf was exploding.

But I digress. Looking up at the shelf which sits right above my monitor, I spotted Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now shining like the proverbial beacon at the back of the shelf, laying across my kabbalah collection. It was one of those books I’d bought on someone’s recommendation, read a chapter or so and just couldn’t get into it. But that was then and this is now. I removed the Starbuck’s receipt from the last page I’d read and started at the beginning…and could not put it down! Suddenly, this book I struggled with the first time around was resonating so strongly that I just had to devour the words as our local coyotes would devour an unattended chihuahua.

Not only did I consume the words, but the exercises just worked, resonated, blossomed inside me. Out of curiosity, I checked the date on my ‘bookmark’. It seems I’d purchased a venti latte to drink with my book on September 22, 2010, nearly 5 years ago! It isn’t as if the book has been hidden away, either. I’ve arranged and rearranged the shelf it was on numerous times in just the last year.

To Every Book, There is a Time, a Season and a Reason

I’m sure I’m not the only bibliophile who purchases books she doesn’t read for years. I’ve learned that I have to be in a certain mindset to read different kinds of books. Sometimes, I want something really deep and insightful, others, something light, easy and fun. Still other times, I want something suspenseful and filled with plot twists and edge-of-your-seat moments where I can’t read the words fast enough. There are also times when I want to lose myself again in one of my old favorites, which is why my collection grows. I don’t give my books away because I know that I will want to read many of them again someday, or share it with a friend who shares my taste (or one of them as I have so many).

There are authors I’ve read over a dozen times like Potok, Heinlein, McCaffery, Lackey and Roberts, and others who were just a phase and whose books I actually gave away like Danielle Steele and all of the Harlequin Romance novellas. I know just where to go depending on the kind of reading I want to do, though sometimes, it requires digging through my collection to find what I want.

That, in itself is an adventure. Many is the time I’ve found something I forgot I had and stopped searching for the book I originally wanted to sit and read a long-forgotten tale. I’ve tried to put all of my favorites in the front of the shelves where they are easily accessible, but to be honest, I just have too many favorites. I’ve threatened to catalogue my collection many times, but then I look up at the shelves and gasp in dismay. Just the idea of taking all of them down to see what I have is more overwhelming than facing a cluttered house worthy of a hoarder.

Allowing Old Ways to Reign

So I comfort myself that between my bookshelves and the ones I have on Kindle, I’m not likely to run out of reading material any time soon, yet still, I buy more. I can’t help myself. It’s a passion and and obsession, but one I don’t choose to cure. When the world gets too annoying or my writing is stuck or I just want to take a trip to someplace new, my books will take me there, even when my own imagination flounders.

Do you have a collection you wouldn’t part with? Do you add to it despite the fact that you already overflow the allotted space? What is it that makes your heart sing and your mind happy?

My gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful that my obsession is one that builds rather than destroys my mind.
2. I am grateful for new discoveries of old purchases.
3. I am grateful for the time to stop, listen and read.
4. I am grateful that my life has a balance of mental and physical energies.
5. I am grateful for abundance: books, love, friendship, dancing, brains, mental acuity, energy, meaningful work, generosity, kindness, compassion, peace, harmony, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

February 10, 2015 Reading to write better

Sometimes you need a writing break to read someone else’s work

I wasn’t happy with my characterizations. My characters were feeling very flat. So what did I do? I gave in to the desire to read, but instead of picking up the Mercedes Lackey I’d borrowed from my daughter, I immersed myself in “Fifty Shades of Grey, Volume 1”. I wasn’t overly impressed with the writing, to be honest, and was especially conscious of repetitious phrases (other than the ones which were intentionally so) and some stilted dialogue.

What hit me the most, though, was that it was a very toned down take off on a book I read years ago called “The Pearl”. The Pearl (A Magazine of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading) was published in Victorian England from 1879 to 1880.

I was intrigued by the unique challenges of writing an entire book from the first person POV which is something I’ve yet to attempt. My tendency is to write from the POV of third person omniscient. Whether or not this is the best option remains to be seen, which is also true with regard to purchasing volumes 2 and 3 of “Shades”.

On the one hand, the pace was decent and I didn’t find it dragging anywhere, at least not for long. On the other, there was a certain childlike simplicity to much of it, which, admittedly suited the character whose POV was being used. However, that simplicity, had me, by about halfway through the book, skimming more than actually reading. Perhaps this is simply my own lack of patience, but the story seemed to become decreasingly compelling from about the mid point on for me.

What was the real purpose for this exercise, this divergence from my own writing?

In truth, I needed to step away from my own decidedly flat characters and see how someone else, someone published and, in this case, with a movie deal would do it differently. Instead, I came away with the realization that what I really need to do is take a page from one of the members of my critique group and just sit down and develop my own characters.

The exercise didn’t yield the expected results, but it did give me a new direction to try, so I’d have to say that the operation was a success despite the fact that the patient died. But that’s what autopsies are for!

Resetting intentions

A couple of days ago, a fellow blogger, Nicola Sunny blogged about her progress since she set a number of intentions at the end of last year. It reminded me that I have intentions of my own and progress reports are a good way of staying on track. I mulled over her list for awhile, especially in areas where we paralleled. Then I took a look at the recalcitrant (and evil) scale in my den and decided to try to again replace the batteries in case the ones I’d last installed had been on their last legs. Much to my surprise (I won’t say joy), the new batteries did the trick, but the reading on the newly revived scale was less than auspicious. In the months since I have not been using it at least weekly, I’ve also stopped using MyFitnessPal to track my food intake and exercise, and have dropped back from four days a week at the gym to a weekly high of two days.

Back pains and food comas and weight gains all added up to one thing: I needed to take myself firmly in hand and get back to those better habits I’d formed but somehow drifted away from. So, this is it. I’m resetting those intentions to be healthier. I’m tracking my food, eating the ready made meals in my freezer, working back up to four days a week at the gym and, with luck, three nights a week of dancing. Because the truth is, if I’m taking care of my physical self, the rest of my intentions start falling into place much more harmoniously.

Those flat characters I mentioned? Well, increased health on my part should fill them out nicely too.

Stay tuned, right here, for healthy updates and the return of my muse in a bigger, better, stronger form.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for rude awakenings.
2. I am grateful for inspiration from others who tread my lonely but satisfying road.
3. I am grateful to be getting back into my healthy and productive routines.
4. I am grateful for messages from the Universe, reminding me that I am the only one who can take care of me.
5. I am grateful for abundance: inspiration, guidance, lessons, healthy habits, gratitude, friends, love, joy, happiness, peace, harmony, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

February 1, 2015 And a Super Time was Had by All

Take several dozen dance friends, a smorgasbord of food, football banners, posters and pennants, three TV’s and a barbecue: what do you get?

Once again, a large chunk of the dance crowd gathered at Bill’s for his (almost) annual Super Bowl Party. My day was especially nice as I got an unexpected visit from my daughter and grand puppy. which only made the party that much better! It was a day filled with laughter, eating too much and actually getting to talk to people instead of running onto the dance floor for a line dance or two step or trying to shout over the music. Oh, yes, there was actually a football game on the three tv’s, should anyone be interested in watching.

I look forward to Super Bowl Sunday every year, not for the game, but for the friendship, the fun, the food and the chance to actually talk to people. Yes, we dancers are a bit crazy when it comes to the music and the dance floor. We’ll literally stop mid-sentence to go out and dance. The conversation may be taken up again later, but in my experience, that happens rarely. We are there to dance. The chatting is certainly a part of the experience, but frankly, we are there to dance. I’d try to explain, but only another dance fanatic will understand. Fortunately, I know just where to find them.

As is true each year, there were people I had never met before and others I hadn’t seen in awhile. No matter. Everyone is friendly and we talk as if we’ve known each other forever. This time, it was such a delight to intertwine the mostly country dance crowd with the mostly WCS crowd. Many of us know each other, but don’t cross paths as often since our schedules and venues don’t always mesh. But dancers are dancers, and unless you’re one who thinks we’re not serious enough about our dancing (yes, there are some, but then, every crowd has a couple, but I guess someone has to take themselves too seriously), it’s easy to just fit in with everyone. We’re an easy crowd to love. After all, how can you not love people who say hello and goodbye with a hug?

Of course, seeing the people I’ve met at WCS events reminds me that I need to get off of my tush and do some more of it. I enjoy it when there are enough guys to keep the girls dancing, and love the “hijacking” aspect of the dance. You can play a lot more with your partner in WCS (not that we don’t play off of each other during line dances), and it really is fun to learn something new. I know so little, pattern-wise, in WCS that one move could increase my repertoire by at least 20%. The people are just as friendly and welcoming as the country crowd, after all!

What do you mean, you only dance two nights a week? Are your legs broken?

Not too long ago, I danced five or six nights a week, but that was when I frequented a small local bar which has a live band 7 nights a week. These days, my club of choice only has country dancing twice a week, not counting the Wednesday two-step lessons and college country night. This means I have to actually drag my tush to another dance venue or dance on nights which do something other than two-step and line dances.

My writer friends will understand how easy it is to get caught up in our writing, or reading or reading about writing and lose track of time. I can’t tell you how many times a Tuesday evening rolls around and I look at the clock to find it’s after 6 and I’m still in my sweaty workout clothes. The WCS lessons start at 7 and are, without traffic, a 30 minute drive. Adding in time to get cleaned up and make myself presentable means that it is impossible to arrive on time, so, once again, I stay in my sweaty workout clothes, reading, writing or reading about writing. In this case, the body is willing but the mind is miles away.

Making a promise to myself I hope I can keep.

Yet, after seeing some of the WCS crowd today, I’m going to go out on a limb and promise to at least try to get to a WCS dance at least once a week. I can even use the rationale I’ve discovered recently: I need to watch people to gain insight into my characters and I won’t find people to watch by sitting at home, writing, reading or reading about writing. Do you sense a pattern here?

Stay tuned. I’ll share my progress on this new mission to dance more and become less of a hermit (or maybe a hermit crab as I can become very crabby at times!)

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the fun and friendship at the annual Super Bowl Party for the dancers and others.
2. I am grateful for an unexpected visit from my daughter, even if it was short.
3. I am grateful to my friend Bill for opening his house again for all of us to pig out, chat, hug and enjoy, especially as his grandson decided to arrive early, leaving his grandfather somewhat sleep deprived.
4. I am grateful for the quiet of my own little abode after a day of noise and people.
5. I am grateful for the time I have to read, write and read about writing.
6. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, health, happiness, laughter, joy, connections, inspiration, harmony, peace and prosperity.

Blessed Be

Please welcome Ms. Heather Hewes to the blogging community. She will be sharing her travels and travails in the Culinary Arts program here—> https://heathersculinaryadventures.wordpress.com/
I also invite you to check out my new website: http://www.shericonaway.com and my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. Leave a message, say hello, or just like the pages. I’d love to have you visit.

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