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

Posts tagged ‘relationship’

You Gotta Have Friends

True Friends Came Late In Life

There’s nothing like forced isolation to make you realize how important it is to have, not just friends, but close friends. When you don’t have the option of going out to your usual haunts to hang with friends, sharing a mutually loved activity like dancing, life becomes an endless slog from one faceless day to the next without people to talk to via phone, text, Zoom, or Facetime.

You need people who understand your weird sense of humor, recognize when you’re not your normal, perky self, and can ask the tough questions without judgement or expectations. But if you’d told me this 20 years ago; even 15, I’d probably have argued it was true for some people, but not for me. Was I ever wrong!

Leave out the part about friends giving me things to write about (which they do quite often). Without my friends, I’d be spending a lot more sleepless nights, my yard would be more of a jungle than it is right now, I’d be at least 10 pounds heavier, and I might even be so depressed I’d be at a loss for reasons to get up in the morning. The good news is, none of those things are true.

The Give and Take of Real Friendship

Sure, my yard will require a lot more work before it looks decent again, much less until it’s readyCreated with Canva to plant vegetables and herbs. But because of friends, I not only have tools to make the job easier, but someone who is more than happy to get out of the house and do a little mowing fairly often. The dandelions cringe when they hear the mower firing up, as they know it’s time to have their little heads shorn yet again.

My friends also give me a mirror in which to see areas in myself that still need work. They allow me to help them, even if all I do is listen. It’s hard enough for me to accept help, but if I didn’t have opportunities to give back, you can be sure I’d refuse all offerings. Thankfully, I’ve finally learned, if not to ask, at least to accept help gracefully. I know right now, everyone needs to do some giving, if only to break up days that allow boredom to raise its ugly head if the monotony isn’t broken somehow, even if it involves physical labor.

Not that physical labor is a bad thing with dance halls, gyms, and hiking trails closed for the time being. The first couple of weeks, my body ached in all the wrong places because I spent too much time sitting on my butt in front of the computer or TV. My friends have helped me get out from in front of the computer, and turn the TV on only late at night, and then, mostly for noise and kitty cuddles.

Cultivating Friendships While Socially Distancing

Created with CanvaThey’ve given me dance nights, evenings on the porch having socially distanced conversations, hilarious Facetime conversations, and more. I’m learning to enjoy yard work, and heaven knows, it’s been years since I picked up a rake or a cultivator. (I think that’s what the 3-pronged thingamjig is called.) I’m delighting in the sight, smell, and feel of good, rich soil in my garden-gloved fingers.

Many nights, I don’t have to eat dinner alone in front of the TV as I have a friend to sit with, even if we have to bundle up a bit against the still-chilly evenings. Speaking of which, I’m getting a lot more fresh air than I used to too. I’m finding a lot more reasons to get outside, even if I’ve stopped walking while there are too many people out and about for my liking. I’ve acquired a new appreciation for my large yard, and the fact that my house was built at a time when land in this area was cheap, and builders saw no reason not to give homeowners a nice plot of land.

My friends keep me humble, and let me laugh at my own foibles. We have our inside jokes, and often laugh like loons over the same ones. They also help me see my own value which I’m wont to underestimate, or even disparage when left to my own devices. They build me up when I need a lift, or take me out of myself to do the same for them. Life may not be perfect, but it’s a lot closer to it, knowing I’m never alone.

No Longer Walking Through Life Alone

Knowing someone has your back, and will check on you if you’re out of touch for too long is a new, but heady experience for me. I know it seems odd for someone to learn so late in life the value of friendship. But the person I was raised to be, and who never questioned what I’d been taught in some areas wasn’t big on connecting with people. She didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone see her soft, mushy insides. She hid it all behind a thick crust; a wall that by her mid-40’s had achieved epic proportions.

What I didn’t realize then was it was mostly a facade, and one with a network of fine cracks to boot. It didn’t take much of an effort on my part to send it crashing down, though I learned the hard way I didn’t have a stable foundation to build on once I’d removed the vaguely protective layer. I was basically a newborn chick whose feathers were still wet, but I lacked the safety and security of a mama to protect me.

Looking back, it was a stepping stone I needed to tread, and it taught me not only to let people in, but how to be and have friends. There are moments I wish I’d learned the lesson sooner as it would have made my life and its many traumas a whole lot easier. Then I come to my senses and realize all those pieces; all the traumas I lived through alone; all the struggles I endured are what make me value and appreciate my friendships today. I never got the chance to take them for granted, and I don’t think I ever will. What I experienced was necessary, and wishing it were different won’t change that. So I push aside thoughts of what might have been and simply bask in the glow of something that, for me, is new, different, and makes me infinitely greater than I am alone.

Finding an Endless List of Reasons to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people who accept me as I am and allow me to call them “friend”.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the roads I had to travel alone to get where I am now.
  3. I’m grateful for broken, twisted roads.
  4. I’m grateful for sunshine, rainbows, storms, and clouds. All of one thing would get boring, and I’d become complacent. Variety keeps me on my toes.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, commitment, compassion, kindness, health, companionship, hope, health, peace, 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

Dressing for Myself Unapologetically

Deciding Who I’m Dressing Up For

While on the annual line dance cruise, I got into a discussion with my cabin mate about who I dress for. It started when I said I didn’t think I’d bother putting on makeup for the evening’s more casual dinner. She was horrified I’d neglect my appearance in such a manner, and I finally agreed to at least put on the small amount I used on dance nights. It was a small concession, and in truth, I probably felt better about myself by making the minimal effort.

Over the course of the weekend, we spoke several times about the things we do to attract the opposite sex. Granted, it’s been years since I was aware of anyone showing any interest in me as anything more than a friend or temporary dance partner, while she’s dated a couple of different guys, but I felt, and still feel if someone is going to be attracted to me, it needs to be something more than my pretty packaging. In fact, as I told her, I have no idea what men find attractive these days, but whatever it is, it’s not something I am or do, given my experiences over the last couple of decades.

We talked about one friend who, until she settled on one guy, had men buzzing around her like bees to honey. Not only is she cute, vivacious, and prone to being the center of attention, she has a way of making whoever she’s talking to feel special. I’ve always envied that quality in people, as far back as I can remember. It truly is a talent in my opinion, and one I never acquired. There will always be people to whom I give my full attention, and those I give none at all. Sure, there are degrees in between, and there are certainly those who prefer my lower-key attentions. But I just don’t enjoy people-ing enough to make everyone I encounter feel special.

Oblivious in So Many Ways

Over the years, I’ve learned, sometimes decades after the fact that someone was attracted to, but I was oblivious to the signs they emitted to test the waters of my own affections. I think my natural oblivion is what makes it difficult for me to know what look or behavior might give someone a clear message I’d be open to exploring the possibilities. It also means I have no idea what a man is looking for either visually or on other levels. When I mentioned my lack of knowledge to my friend, she didn’t have any answers.

I’m wondering if the ability to attract is more of an innate ability. Some women have it, and others don’t. I do know the one who seems to attract them all has had a few get angry when she didn’t choose them. Since she made them all feel special, it probably came as a shock to the ones who hung on, believing they were her “one”. I can see how some might see her natural friendliness as stringing them along. After all, people see what they want to see, and will hang around longer than they should. Heaven knows, I’ve told myself I saw signs where there clearly were none my share of times.

I suspect the conversation will make me more aware of the male-female dynamics around me now. I may or may not learn what the magic ingredients are, but at least observing will give me something to write about in the future.

Visible from the Outside Looking In can look at people and see why someone would be attracted. Whether it’s the woman who’s vivacious and friendly, or my friend who is more beautiful and exotic than she probably realizes. There’s also the tendency for Empaths to attract Narcissists. I shut that door long ago, so for the most part, I repel rather than attract, tending to err on the side of caution these days. Some of my friends are still building up their complement of red flags and warning signs, so a few get past their ever-growing defenses. Frankly, I’d rather be alone than attract a Narcissist. I’ve had my share of pain and self-destruction from that kind of relationship. I don’t need new reminders or lessons.

I did learn how differently we can view the world and our lives from my friend. She feels appearances are important, and, I think, attracting someone to share her life is always in the forefront of her mind despite her strength and independence. In contrast, I’ve grown accustomed to being alone. That’s not to say it’s my condition of choice, but as I haven’t figured out how to change it, I’ve accepted my single state, though that door remains ajar nonetheless.

I dress for myself and for comfort. When I put on makeup, it’s for me, and not to attract attention or compliments (though it’s nice when someone does notice). I go to the gym, dance, and try to eat healthy meals for me; not because it will make me more attractive to someone out there who hasn’t even hit my radar.

Showing My Unvarnished Self to the World

People find it difficult to understand when I say I don’t care what others think. It’s not that I Created with Canvadon’t listen to what some have to say, and mull it over later like I’m doing with this one. It’s that I know what I like, and how much effort I’m willing to invest. I’ve reached the point in my life where people are going to like me for who I am or they’re not. I can’t change their minds, and putting on what I see as a costume for their benefit would be a return to the masks I cast off long ago. The process was painful at times, and freeing at others, but it isn’t a venue I’m anxious to revisit.

After much soul searching and internal work, the only person I can be is my own pure, unadulterated self. The outside now reflects the inside more accurately than it ever did. I worked hard to get here, and see no reason to backslide for the sake of companionship. Anything I’d attract by putting on a mask; a show wouldn’t be someone who would hang around for the long haul anyway, as the person they’d be attracted to wouldn’t be the real me.

I’m not good at pretending for long. Faking it is all well and fine if it is a means to reaching my success (and yes, I do believe in “fakin’ it ’til you make it”), but when it comes to relationship building, whether in business or my personal life, I’ll always err on the side of realism now. The fake me never attracted anything or anyone worth keeping anyway.

Living in a State of Constant Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I’m grateful for the lessons I learned, and the masks I removed permanently.
  2.  I’m grateful for friends who give me something to think about, even if it’s a concept that’s runs contrary to my beliefs.
  3.  I’m grateful for reminders to be alert, and to observe more.
  4.  I’m grateful for the woman I’ve become, and the work I’m still doing to make her even better.
  5.  I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, friendship, love, joy, transformation, independence, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, balance, health, 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

Families are Messy Business

Choices Made Within My Families

Families are messy. Some are close, some, not so much. Mine is mostly in the latter category, both extended, and even my immediate family. Yes, I’ve formed a family of close friends to fill the gap, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes feel a little lonely and forgotten by the people with whom I share blood.

I bear my share of responsibility in the distance that’s grown between me and my birth family over the last couple of decades. For reasons of my own, both realized and not, I didn’t reach out to my parents’ families during the dark years following their deaths. My cousins and I were busy raising families, growing careers, and coping with the twists and turns life continued to throw us. Their parents were doting on grandchildren, helping their children through divorce, disease, and even a death. Their own parents aged, then passed, until finally, even some of them started reaching life’s end too.

I missed births, birthdays, marriages, and deaths; not only the events, but the celebrations of life each event brought. Since my dad’s passing, they didn’t share in my own family’s graduations, birthdays, births, or marriages either. As time went on, we shared those events with my adopted family—at least some of them.

The Most Painful Choice: Giving Up on a Child and Grandchildren

One of the toughest rifts I’m learning to accept is the one with my youngest daughter. It’s hard have a relationship when communication is limited to occasional text messages. I didn’t even know she’d moved out of state until I learned through her sister after the birth of her twin boys. In fact, the text I received announcing their birth the day before, when I learned their grandfather had been present was the final straw. But I mistakenly assumed he’d driven from Arizona to California to be there. Inasmuch as she’d lived a mile or so away from me for several years, I had no reason to believe anything had changed. Yet it seems things had changed…significantly.

I know she harbors a lot of anger towards me. I wasn’t the perfect parent, but then, she wasn’t the perfect child either. Even so, I’m grateful she and her sister are talking again after years of strained silence. Perhaps stepping away was what I was supposed to do so the sisters could get closer. Heaven knows they’ll both be around long after I’m gone.

It does sadden me I barely know my 10-year-old granddaughter, and will probably never meet my newborn grandsons. I have to believe it’s best for us all that I remain out of the picture. I don’t know what she tells her kids about her mother, and frankly, I’d rather not know. My own relationship with my mother was strained, and more so because she insisted on my presence on holidays, if nothing else, whether I wanted to go or not. I carried a lot of resentment inside me until years (and hundreds of thousands of words) later. Perhaps, Jenni, too will find some compassion for me when I’m gone. I hope it doesn’t take her as long as it did me to see how much I hurt myself by harboring the resentment and negative feelings towards the woman who gave me life.

Building a Family, Flaws and All

dance familiesMy circle of friends isn’t immune to the challenges of maintaining relationships within their own blood families. Some have strained or non-existent relationships with children, siblings, and even parents just as I have.

One of the greatest gifts I gave myself was to stop believing I had to pretend my life was perfect and without challenges, and things which, at times made me crazy. Even so, when asked, I insist I’m all right with distancing myself from my youngest daughter and her family. In truth, I’m not, but at this point, I see it as the only way to protect my own sometimes fragile grip on sanity and equilibrium. Waiting until she’s good and ready to share a piece of her life with me, and having to walk on eggshells so I won’t piss her off is not only one-sided, but toxic.

Choosing a Non-Toxic Life

I’ve chosen to release toxicity from my life, be it my daughter, my sister, my extended family, or Created with Canvaeven myself. In the case of the latter, I’m learning the best options are to write or talk about it, as holding it in and pretending things are fine means letting it fester and grow. I’m still working on cleaning up the toxic dump I created by holding everything in for years.

Sure, it’s what I was taught, probably even born with. The energetic signature for self-sufficiency and stoicism has probably been in my DNA for generations. Parents don’t need to teach their kids so much as reward behavior which follows the genetic cycle. My parents did exactly what they were taught to do. But clearly, there was a part in each of them that wanted to break free of the cycle, but couldn’t.

In their minds, cutting off a friend for a perceived infraction was one thing, but disconnecting from family, no matter how badly they treated you simply wasn’t done. Since I never fit in with most of my family, I learned from a fairly early age to give it up as a lost cause, which likely made me fit in even less. At some point, a small seed took root inside me that said: I won’t go where I feel unwelcome.

Being Alone With Myself

Unfortunately, it meant a lot of isolation until I learned to release my strangle hold on walls and masks, because until I did, I didn’t feel welcome anywhere. It wasn’t until I felt like I was losing the only person in the world who cared whether I lived or died that I realized I had to make some changes; I was meant to make some changes. I had come here to break family patterns, and though I’d already unconsciously broken some, the important ones, and also the most painful were yet to be broken.

Today, I look back on the woman I was, tolerating neglect and even abuse, and see her as the springboard to who I am today. I had to reach the point where I loved myself enough to stop tolerating being treated like I was second-rate, or an afterthought. I had to stop believing I wasn’t good enough. I had to set boundaries, and when those boundaries were disrespected, I had to cut some cords.

Going Where I’m Truly Wanted and Appreciated

It makes me sad that I can’t be there for my sister who is dealing with disabling illnesses, or for my daughter who might benefit from my experience with twins. In the case of my daughter, I know she has people around her who are helping her manage. She’s chosen her own family, just as I’ve chosen mine. I respect her wishes and choices but there are still times I have to have a good wallow over it. I truly wish things could be different, but after waiting almost 15 years, I’m done waiting for Godot. She is who she is. I am who I am. We’re both stubborn, but she’s a “my way or the highway” kind of woman. I have to choose the highway on this one.

I pity my sister, but cannot and will not allow myself to get sucked into the bitterness and misery with which she surrounds herself. Like Jenni, she blames her mother—our mother, for all the bumpy roads in her life. The difference is, our mother died more than 25 years ago. I hope Jenni will let go of her own need to blame me before I’m gone that long. In the meantime, I’m still around if she actually wanted to try to mend our relationship. I’m no longer holding my breath as I doubt she does.

I’ve made a lot of painful choices; many of them in the last 10 years. Despite appearances, none of those choices were easy, and in most cases, I put them off as long as possible, hoping, wishing I wouldn’t have to make them. Each will always leave a hole in my life. Building a family; a community around myself doesn’t fill those holes. It simply turns my attention to more positive, uplifting people.

When I lose one of my fur babies, the others don’t replace them in my heart. They take a piece with them, and leave a piece of theirs with me. So it is with family members I had to let go, either willingly or by choice. They’ll always be in my heart even if they can’t be in my life.

Living a Life of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the memories, both good and bad.
  2. I’m grateful there are people who merely passed through my life, even if they were, once upon a time, family.
  3. I’m grateful for the friends who have become closer than family, and who know me better than any of my blood family (save Heather) ever did, or even wanted to.
  4. I’m grateful for my writing which will always be the best therapist of all, and has taught me I don’t need to hide my flaws.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, new family, dancing, writing, inspiration, motivation, strength, vulnerability, kitty love, peace, balance, harmony, health, 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

Some of Us Are the Belle of the Ball, The Rest, Wallpaper

Still Wallpaper After All These Years

Created with CanvaEven though I have several decades under my belt, some things don’t seem to change. Men buzz around one beautiful flower, and completely miss the fact that there’s an entire garden to choose from. Maybe what attracts them has morphed a little, but they all still seem to want the same thing.

What they want, though seems to continue to baffle. It’s not necessarily the most beautiful, the one with the nicest car, the cutest clothes, or the perkiest chest. There’s something less obvious; less apparent which seems to have them flocking to the same women while the rest of us watch in bewilderment as one man after another is rejected. Only one can win the prize, and only if she’s willing and equally attracted.

Don’t get me wrong. I get that men, like women would rather not settle. They want what they want (or think they want) and the rest are, to them, second-best. The sad part is, (at least from where I sit) while they’re busy chasing that one perfect bud, they might be missing out on the one who would be a better fit if they simply took the time to get to know her.

To Stand Out, You Have to Be Outgoing

The one constant I do see is the outgoing, extroverted women (or the ones Created in Canvawho know how to feign extroversion) seem to be the ones attracting all the bees. The quieter ones who open up only once they’ve developed a level of trust are left alone. I suppose we’re not worth the effort it takes to get to know us. Getting past the hard outer shell many of us have developed after years of disappointing relationships takes a willingness to be patient and keep things casual for awhile.

A friend of mine says you have to “open the door” so to speak. What she means is you have to decide within yourself you’re ready to let someone get close. She believes that’s what attracts men to you. I thought I’d opened that door, but clearly, I’m doing something wrong because I can still stand in a group of women and watch all but me get asked to dance.

Don’t get me wrong. I do get my share of dancing in. I’m not a complete wallflower these days, thank goodness. But I’m never approached by anyone who doesn’t already know me like the highly sought-after women are. Even in our social circle, I’m rarely the partner of choice with the single men who are at least close to my age.

What Makes the Belle’s Stand Out? hear similar laments from other women, so don’t think it’s just me. At this point, there are several factors which could be contributors, not only for me but for some of my friends:

  • Quieter
  • What we wear (comfortable vs. sexy or cute)
  • Excess weight
  • Too old (guys seem to gravitate towards younger women for the most part)
  • Shyer (Less likely to initiate a conversation or eye contact)
  • Less engaged (I, for one tend to drift off into my own head)
  • Less energy

Whether it’s a combination of these factors and others I have yet to recognize, or a single one, I’m not sure. In all fairness, I don’t see anyone I’m immediately attracted to either, though there are a couple I find attractive without knowing much about them. But it’s more of a passing thought if I see them around rather than a deep desire to get to know them better.

Committed vs. Interested

Maybe that blase attitude is really at the crux of the matter. Women who want to have a relationship simply act more interested in the process. Once eye contact is made, they have a way of making each person they talk to, male or female feel special in their own way. Though I’ve been the recipient, I’ve never mastered that particular social skill.

I’m learning a lot about building relationships from a business group I’m in, and I believe it’s helped me make headway in my social circle as well. Still and all, I’m starting from a disadvantageous position so I have a lot of catching up to do. As I draw closer to the middle of my 60’s, the options get lighter. In the end, I try to console myself by saying how accustomed I’ve grown to being alone.

But do we really? No matter how many years we chase a career, raise kids, follow a passion, or for some, live the life of a free spirit, when we close the door at night, there will always be times we wish we didn’t have to close out the entire world. I believe most, if not all of us who are single wish at some point there was someone else on our side of the door who’s looking forward to our time alone together.

Meeting the Right People in All the Wrong Places talk to one of my “Belle” friends a lot. She says I need to be more open to meeting people in off-the-wall places like elevators and jury duty; places others seem to meet. But I don’t feel I’m at my best in a crowd of people, or when I’m sweaty and wearing baggy clothes at the gym. I find it difficult to connect when I go somewhere for a purpose, or have to be somewhere I consider unpleasant. Instead, I’ll put headphones in my ear and hide out behind a book or a laptop. It’s my way of making the uncomfortable bearable.

My introverted self has compartmentalized my activities into “social” and “necessary”. Somehow, I’ve failed to build a bridge between the two. I’m not unaware the old men cranking away on the cardio machines are checking out everyone who walks by. A couple have tried to start conversations, or smiled and said hello, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m there to get my exercise in and go back home to work. And frankly, I have no delusions their friendliness is nothing more than that I’m there often enough to be a familiar face.

Not All Introverts Travel Alone

I know other introverts find someone who fits them. I can’t figure out how they manage it, but clearly they do or there would be a lot more people drifting around alone. My only guess is they grew more tired of being alone than I have, and took a giant step outside their comfort zone, socially. They learned to approach men they didn’t know while being friendly and open. Maybe they used the dating sites or something to help get themselves over the hump. The discovered something I’ve been unable to figure out. Which means there’s still hope for me and the rest of the women who feel like wallpaper.

Eventually, we’ll all stand out to someone!

Can I Help You?

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? To stand out from the crowd? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Grateful for Every Kind of Friendship

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful my social circle has expanded, even if intimacy isn’t a factor right now.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who share their ups and downs. Even the ones who seem to have the best lives have their own stumbles and insecurities.
  3. I’m grateful for the strength I’ve developed while navigating my road alone. So much of that strength is in the relationships I’ve formed in the last couple of years.
  4. I’m grateful for the questions I ask. I don’t always admit I’m missing something until I take a good, hard look at the situation and how I do or don’t fit.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, dancing, joy, connections, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

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

Dream a Little Dream

Messages in Our Dreams am blessed (though sometimes it seems like a curse) with extremely vivid, memorable dreams. Often I’ll wake in the middle of the night to exclaim “WTF!” when a dream is particularly uncomfortable in its details.

There are times my dreams have been precognitive, right down to where people were standing, what they were wearing, and what they said. Others, they’re of someone I haven’t seen in a long time, even years, and make me reconnect, if only to make sure they’re OK. In one case, I dreamed a man’s wife had died only to learn, when I finally had the nerve to reach out, that he’d lost her six months prior.

They’re not limited to my nighttime slumbers either. Often, the most vivid and insightful will occur during my daily meditations. Recently, I dreamed about a friend moving things from a smaller freezer into a room-sized one. In the process, he moved the contents of my own freezer as well. In order to find my various single-serving meals, I was forced to learn his system of organization. As it turns out, he arranged things in chronological order (I always date my containers) from newest on the left, to oldest on the right. As I went through the containers on the right, I found several dated 2002 and 2003. I realized they were long past their expiration date, and pulled the containers to dispose of the contents.

Knowing When to Pay Attention and Act

When I woke, the question foremost in my mind was “what do I need to release that I’ve been carrying around since 2002 and 2003?” As I thought back, those were the years before and when my dad took his life after learning he had Stage IV lung cancer. I was also struggling to keep my own life and that of my 15-, then 16-year-old daughters together. My relationship with my dad was strained because he’d grown crankier. I didn’t realize it at the time, but his health was getting worse. Being immersed in family patterns, he kept it to himself.

Those were also years when I wasn’t dancing because my daughters’ activities conflicted with dance nights. I was working the latest in a long string of jobs I hated, and had long since broken off the last relationship I would have for decades—in fact up to and including now. I was cranky, miserable, angry, and feeling abused by the female contingent of band parents. I tended to keep company with the men, hauling equipment and setting up props rather than subject myself to the cattiness of the women, or my ineptitude with hair braiding and uniform inspecting. Clearly, there’s a reason I’d stuff those things to the back of my freezer and forget them.

Reviewing My Life to See What I Need to Let Go

Like so many times in my life, the dream was telling me I need to pull those old memories out, take the lessons they carried and dispose of the rest for good. But it seems some of those memories are frozen in time, and in order to release them, I need to thaw them first. Many were sorted out while I wrote and re-wrote my memoir, but clearly, there are a couple which still need to be thawed, sorted, and released.

Life throws us a lot of curve balls, and many involve going back over our old shit and letting go of the knee-jerk reactions we developed along with the unpleasant memories. At the moment, a friend is trying to convince me to jump back into the dating pool, and meeting with years worth of resistance in the process.

I’ve been disenchanted with online dating for a variety of reasons. And frankly, I don’t need a man in my life at this point. I have male friends with whom I dance and socialize. Sure, it’s never one-on-one and many are married or in long-term relationships. Some of the single ones are too young, and one is too old. My biggest show stopper is my requirement that he likes to dance, and specifically Country dancing. Unfortunately, the field is limited. The medium attracts not only more single women, but a lot of married ones whose husbands don’t dance. I guess in a lot of ways I’ve reconciled myself to being alone for the rest of my life, and convinced myself I’m OK with that.

To Relationship or Not To Relationship: Is It Worth It This Late In My Game?

To make my sordid mess even murkier, my last two relationships were about as dysfunctional as gets, and left me less than enamored of the whole male-female relationship stuff. Granted, I was a mess myself and had no business being in a relationship until I did the work to fix at least the worst of my broken parts; a task I didn’t even begin to tackle until at least 2000. So I was still sifting through the rubble by 2003 and had yet to start rebuilding on a more solid foundation.

Nevertheless, I have to belief there were things I unearthed, then stuffed right back down again due to a combination of circumstances, events, and lack of desire to deal with the pain. But like all good things, they’ve come back to haunt me, even if I’ve failed to identify exactly what it is I’m supposed to work through this time. I say this only because I know myself, and have a long history of stuffing things away instead of dealing with them, when to do so would be easier and less painful than letting them stew and fester until they came back around whether I liked it or not.

The Resume Tells Its Own Story

As I often do when trying to remember where my life was at a certain point, I look back at my resume. Yet there’s a significant gap between 1999 and 2004. In a way, this is telling, as clearly my career was going nowhere during those years. I believe I spent several months temping at Countrywide, but I also spent the end of 2003 and several months of 2004 running around getting Dad’s estate settled. It was also one of the times I tried and failed to get my consulting business off the ground. Perhaps I’m meant to revisit this time to look at what didn’t work so I can learn from my failures and finally find the success I’ve been seeking for years, but until now, with the wrong end of my talents and expertise.

Still and all, I’ve learned to listen to my dreams and ask questions of myself until the answers start to come. Questions like:

  • What am I meant to revisit?
  • What lessons do I need to take with me?
  • Which pain do I need to release?
  • Why am I being asked to revisit this time/event right now?
  • How will dealing with this now help me in the future?

As I work towards my goal of writing 5 blog posts in the next week as well as other tasks assigned by my coach to get me off my butt, I’ll do what I’ve learned works best. I’ll allow the words which flow from my fingers when I get out of my own way to give me the answers I seek. I’ll allow the dreams to tell me where to step next. Ultimately, I’ll work through my latest set of challenges and find my road a little easier, at least for a day or so.

Answering Your Messages

How do you know when it’s time to revisit past events, travails, and even failures? What do you do about it? How do you release what no longer serves you, especially the things you stashed away in hopes they’d disappear on their own? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Gratitude: The Ultimate Fixer

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my vivid dreams.
  2. I am grateful for friends I can bounce things off of when my own resources fail to yield the desired results.
  3. I am grateful for my coach, Linda Clay who doesn’t give up on me when I fail to accomplish the tasks she’s set, but instead helps me understand why I’m procrastinating instead of diving in feet first.
  4. I am grateful for the completion of my latest edit of “Life Torn Asunder” and look forward (not without a certain amount of trepidation) to the next step in my journey towards publication.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life, love, work, words flowing freely, ideas, inspiration, motivation, dreams, goals, steps, progress, friendship, health, harmony, peace, 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

Connected vs. Disconnected

Feeling Connected is Mind Blowing

Many times I’ve written about feeling detached and disconnected when I go dancing, even though I’m in the midst of my friends and dance community. Today, I’m writing, somewhat bemused about being connected.

The last couple of dance nights, I felt like my level of interaction with everyone jumped a few thousand points on the connection scale. Suddenly, I’m in the middle of groups chatting about whatever, or talking to someone and really listening to what they’re saying. Have I suddenly started learning how to engage with people naturally? Without talking to myself about really focusing on them and not going off into the dark, windy roads of my own mind?

What amazes me most is how good it feels to be engaged with the people I already love and respect, yet still felt a bit like a fraud and an outsider. I allow stupid differences to distract me: things like spiritual/religious preferences, political leanings, and even having (or in my case, not having) aging parents to care for.

Overlooking or Overpowering Insecurities

On a conscious level, I know those things are minor differences as far as the big picture goes. My connection with these people isn’t based on those factors at all, but on our mutual love for dancing, keeping healthy, and getting out into the world on a regular basis for something besides a J.O.B.

We all have our insecurities, though some of us have become better at getting past them than others. There will always be that little voice in our heads trying to convince us to pull back into our shell where it’s “safe”. It’s the voice who is perfectly content to remain inside our comfort zone, or what I not-so-fondly refer to as a rut.

In her 2012 TED talk, sociologist Amy Cuddy suggested that striking a power pose (AKA Wonder Woman Pose) could cause others to perceive us as more confident, and that perception could, indeed increase our own confidence. I’ve found it can also help overlook all the differences the voices in our heads are trying to magnify beyond any reasonable level.

Feeling Confident or Being Confident?

I’ve tried this method myself, though often mentally rather than physically when going into a confidence kicking situation like a meeting with a potential client. I’ve found even mentally seeing myself in a power pose is quite effective in raising my confidence. Yet it never occurs to me to use it in a social situation where I’m often more susceptible to feelings of inferiority and ineptitude.

The truth is, when it comes to my work-related skills, especially those I spent over 30 years practicing and honing, I know what I can and cannot do. I know I can figure out a way to make just about anything work. It’s like the numbers on a ledger sheet, black and white with no room for question.

Playing to Our Strengths

My social skills, on the other hand may not be as rusty and underused as they once were, but too often I’ll compare my skills to others and find myself lacking. Doing so creates an almost palpable feeling of wilting. When that happens, I’ll quietly move to the outskirts of the conversation, physically, energetically, or both. Then I’m back to being the disconnected hermit who hides out all day in her dark, quiet room with only her cats and a computer screen for company.

I’ve made a conscious decision to alter my trajectory, both in business and socially. In so choosing, I find myself turning to the power pose more often, at least until my confidence can hold its own without artificial augmentation. I pay attention to the times when I feel connected so I can analyze the situation later and see what I was doing right.

Polishing Up My Social Acuity

Up to now I didn’t see what Landon Porter calls “social acuity” as a necessary business tool, which could explain why building my business has seemed like such an uphill battle. Until you can read a room, as it were, and understand where people are coming from and what they want and need, you can’t really craft an offer that will resonate with them.

Where I got lost in the weeds was in losing sight of the fact it’s not a business I’m trying to appeal to, but the people who make decisions for a business. Whether I like it or not (and my introverted self still quakes at the idea of socially interacting, but less so than it used to) all successful business people are good at building relationships. They find connections between themselves and others that are much deeper than the obvious, superficial preferences.

The funny thing is, I’ve had the tools to get beneath the surface all along, but old habits still linger. I tend to mask or discredit my empathic response to people instead of listening to it, and more importantly, to them. Listening itself is something I’m only beginning to fully understand. The words you hear spoken are really the smallest part of the listening process.

Using the Tools We’ve Always Had at Our Disposal

When I do feel connected and engaged with someone, I feel their emotions rising and falling. I start to connect with what makes them feel passionate, angry, sad, or exuberant. I know when they’re talking about something which gives their life its real meaning. What I’m learning at this point is to avoid shutting myself down or panicking when I feel those waves of emotion flow over me. Instead, I have to learn to use the information to help gain an understanding of the unspoken wants and needs of the person I’m speaking to.

I was talking to someone recently who I’d always seen as strong, confident, well-connected, and socially active. Yet the strongest emotion I felt radiating from her when I left my guard down was loneliness. She’s simply learned to show that confidence and strength to most people, and I’m sure her many life successes have contributed to that confidence and strength. It doesn’t mean she, like the rest of us doesn’t have moments of loneliness or insecurity. She’s just learned to be selective about who sees that very vulnerable side of her. To say I was humbled and honored by the trust she put in me by sharing that side of herself is like saying rain is wet.

Taking Relationship Marketing to a New Level

It also gave me a whole new understanding about the idea of relationship marketing. It’s necessary for both sides to be willing to drop the shields to some degree, and you don’t get to that point without feeling you can trust someone.

Many of us are jaded by the game playing and power struggles in the corporate world. We’ve learned to hold back the most important parts of ourselves and trust no one. Though it may keep you safe in a jungle where it’s everyone for themselves, it’s a liability when the health of your passion project depends on trust and openness.

What it all boils down to is I’m learning to take what I’m discovering as a neophyte social creature and apply it to the rest of my world without qualification. I trust my instincts in most social situations; who to open to and who to shield with all my might. It’s time to practice those lessons in a world where the stakes (at least those which will allow me to continue following my passion) are a great deal higher.

Leading with a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people I’m learning to connect with on a deeper level.
  2. I am grateful for a rising awareness of the tools I’ve always had, but was afraid to use.
  3. I am grateful for the support and friendship I’m discovering has been there, in some cases, for a long time, but I wasn’t ready to see it.
  4. I am grateful for a new and improved outlook on the future help of my writing business.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, trust, faith, confidence, inspiration, motivation, tools, friendship, support, mentors, teachers, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Peace Makers in a Volatile World

Keeping the Peace Behind the Scenes

My personal peace makerThere are people in our lives who willingly accept the role of peace maker. They’re the ones who seemingly sit quietly in the background, stepping in to extend a gentle hand when our emotional campfire threatens to explode into a full-fledged forest fire. They bury their own needs in favor of those of the people around them just to avoid arguments.

Most of the time we don’t even recognize what they’re doing, much less appreciate it. We don’t see how often their own wants and needs aren’t met just so they can keep everyone else happy. Worst of all, we don’t see what it costs them to consistently occupy this place in our lives.

It isn’t that they wouldn’t like to have things their way once in a while. They just value peace and quiet more. They’re typically extremely sensitive so arguments and unrest upset them terribly.

So they allow a sibling or friend to have it their way all the time. They back down from an argument though they know they’re in the right. They agree when they’d rather stand up to someone and make their point without being shouted down. Yet deep inside, the resentment and frustration build to what we’d consider staggering levels; levels we’d not tolerate in ourselves, yet silently expect them to endure all the time.

Peace Makers in Volatile Families

I don’t think my daughters ever knew a time when there wasn’t some kind of tension in our household. At first, it was between their father and me, but eventually, my daughter Jenni and I filled in the gap when he was no longer a part of our lives. Meanwhile, Heather did her best to stay in the background, letting Jenni have the limelight and make all the choices I asked them to make together. Jenni learned Heather would give way rather than risk the wrath of her red-headed virago of a twin. That left me to manage the explosions. In hindsight, the kindest thing I did was to give them separate bedrooms when they were about 11. It gave Heather the sanctuary she desperately needed, even if it was just a thin door between herself and the near-constant volatility of our household.

As children do, my girls grew up—Jenni still believing creating a category 5 storm would make us bend to her will, and Heather allowing her resentment towards her sister to surface and grow. I regret to say she fed my own annoyance with my youngest child until it no longer hurt to sever the relationship.

The truth is, both of my girls are hard-headed and stubborn. They’re both quick to anger but Heather lets hers go more quickly. Jenni seems to hold her anger close like a security blanket. As if as long as she gets her way, she’ll be happy, and yet, I don’t think she is. I think she’d like to have her real family back, but believes she’s gone too far to come back.

Releasing Pent-up Anger and Resentment

On the bright side, since Jenni chose to remove herself from our lives, Heather and I have grown closer. But better than our closeness, she’s learned to release some of the anger and frustration that built up throughout her childhood. She’s no longer living in the shadow of a sister who’d willingly throw her under the bus if it meant someone would like her. I often wonder if she sacrificed her relationship with her sister for nothing. Nobody ever thought better of her for turning her back on her sister. People remember her for her bright red hair, but they remember Heather for her kindness and helpfulness.

Every group dynamic has at least one peace maker. It might be you or someone else. Whoever takes on the role sacrifices a great deal of themselves in order to fulfill the weighty obligations it entails. Some may hold the role for a lifetime while others will find a way to allow their own wants and needs to be met.

Sadly, the resentment which builds up is often left to fester, unspoken and without release. It might manifest itself as broken families like ours, or as health issues, or even interpersonal ones. A peace makers ability to love and be loved is thwarted and misguided by constantly subverting their own needs for the sake of peace in their environment.

Being a Peace Maker Whether We Like it or Not

I also believe that we are all the peace maker at some point in our lives. We all find ourselves in situations where it’s better to just keep silent and go along because someone else is so desperate to be right that they simply shout the rest of the world down. I can think of several occasions where I worked for someone like that and in my own way, became the peace maker. However, as it was so contrary to my normal state of being, the silence with which I tolerated the situation was anything but peaceful inside myself.

The unrest and resentment I carried around while exposed to what I realize were merely desperately insecure narcissists is really what made me realize what the real peace makers must be carrying around inside. Well, that and what I’ve seen break loose in my daughter, Heather since the split with her sister. That resentment hurts my heart, but I know anything I do or so would, if anything, just make matters worse. Like the place I hold for Jenni should she decide to re-establish our relationship on more mutually satisfying terms, I hold the same place for both girls to reach some kind of understanding and acceptance. They are very different people with divergent values, they share a bond of twin-ship only another twin would understand.

Give your Peace Makers a Break

My purpose behind writing this article is to raise awareness of the people around us who keep life on a more even keel. But it’s also to acknowledge those of you who have taken on the role yourselves. The peace makers need and deserve to be heard. They have opinions and a unique perspective which just might bring solutions we’ve never even considered. They also need to be allowed to step away from the role, whether forced on them or self-imposed. They carry a lot of our tension and stress so we can function as reasonably normal human beings. It isn’t an easy job and is often a thankless one as well.

It’s time we acknowledged our peace makers and helped them drop their burden. It’s time to allow them to shine unencumbered by everyone else’s shit.

Remembering to be Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the peace makers who have made my life easier, and who have shouldered my crap at those times when I neither noticed nor appreciated their sacrifices.
  2. I am grateful for the outpouring of love I’m getting while trying to figure out what’s ailing my sweet boy, Toby.
  3. I am grateful for the gift of writing which has helped me work through the challenges in my life pretty much since the time I was able to write complete sentences.
  4. I am grateful for the understanding I’m getting from my more outspoken friends as I quietly break my silence over our current political climate. There will be no soapboxes. I’m still a behind-the-scenes kind of girl.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health, happiness, beauty, communication, joy. inspiration, new clients, lessons, challenges, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the original video about peace makers here.


Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

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