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

Posts tagged ‘relationship’

Dream a Little Dream

Messages in Our Dreams

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpI 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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/34167287@N05/23787059822/in/photolist-CeYUa5-f3skzG-26xyyFN-8Uqt6v-7RUJnT-5631Bv-9KzjET-otM3UU-9KC7p3-6EcqkE-rtobLr-5xx9XP-7Bj5nM-4JDZ1E-21oAHiQ-7Csyge-7YZVSv-7Z4a4L-7Z4a5b-4Btbxi-5m1iya-i54aYC-4BxARm-i54aXq-YA2ERd-4kmex7-WgVGRw-8GceK9-i548Lu-6m1sit-ospDf4-58cZtS-i54b7d-ggwmL-cKWfHj-bg5Uu-bsSgAg-8GcvXA-q68RzV-4fFkFc-e3cS7q-aQ7Ph-bg8hZ-q6pHnG-4VXWUt-dYksek-277AbZE-4VWArR-4VXUXR-2b2aNGJit 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.

January 3, 2014 Getting sidetracked

Best of intentions are seldom enough to get the story writ.

I left the dance hall tonight I had it all planned out. I was going to go home, make a cup of one of the lovely teas I unearthed while organizing today, sit down at the computer and write. It’s now 1:03AM and I have yet to write a thing! Even now, I’m dividing my time between writing this post and talking to a new friend. We met over a Tarot spread tonight, and spent a couple of hours helping each other interpret our cards. I won’t say it was wasted time because I learned a lot in the process, but yet, it didn’t get any writing done, here or on my latest novel.

I know I need to exercise more discipline, and my intentions really are good! I even spent some time on the copywriting course tonight before I went dancing. I also know that I need to minimize distractions, and have been good in the past about turning off everything except what I need to write.

This is the year when I will turn off email and social media for blocks of time every day.

A key part of sticking with my resolution to be kinder to myself is to allow myself to be successful. In order to do that, I have to make time to write and study, not just when I feel like it, but every single day. It’s a lot like my commitment to my gym routine. There are no excuses! Or should I say, there’s no such thing as a good excuse. Which is why, at just after 1 in the morning, I’m still up and making sure I do some kind of writing before I sleep. If you can’t keep a promise to yourself, you’re not going to be much good at keeping them with others.

***Topic Change Alert*** Speaking of having to be good to yourself before being good to others, I am reminded of how important it is to love, nay, to be madly in love with yourself. It took me a long time, but I’ve finally learned that until you can honestly say that you’re madly in love with yourself, you’re not likely to attract someone who will love and appreciate you as you deserve. Now, I’ve become pretty darned deserving over these last few years, yet I seem to be lacking an ingredient which will complete the circle.

Which leads me back to the new friend I made tonight. We were discussing the cards we’d each pulled for a Relationship Spread a gentleman posted tonight. My quandary was having gotten a card which meant “wish fulfillment” in a position which was supposed to answer the question: What am I doing that is an obstacle to finding an appropriate love partner? What I now realize is that my mindset is that I have everything I need emotionally, which keeps me from presenting an openness which might allow someone to breach my walls. In other words, loving yourself isn’t enough if you don’t acknowledge the fact that you also want to share that loving, caring person with somebody besides your pets and children.

This is just another example of how I allow myself to get sidetracked, however. So I will wind this up with tonight’s gratitudes so I’ll get up at a reasonable hour tomorrow to start following my plan and writing/studying!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new perspectives.
2. I am grateful that I can crank out a few words, even when distracted.
3. I am grateful that I recognize when I need to make some changes.
4. I am grateful for another night of dancing with some lovely company.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, inspiration, commitment, love, joy, happiness, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Blessed be.

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