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

Posts tagged ‘setbacks’

A Quiet Christmas, A Renewed Sense of Purpose

A Year in Review: Reiterating My Purpose

For the first time in years, I spent Christmas Eve and Day alone. I won’t go into all the reasons why except to say it was by choice as well as circumstance. The time alone gave me a chance to go inside, do some soul searching and gain some perspective.

Although I don’t always give myself credit, I did meet some of my goals this year. Others were extended into 2019 while I worked on my infrastructure. Not the physical so much as the mental, emotional, and spiritual.

I started working with coach Linda Clay on a regular basis after being one of the beta testers for her new program. The month-long beta test yielded such positive results I opted to continue, and came to a mutually beneficial arrangement to make it happen.

Successes Always Outweigh Setbacks

The end of the year brought a number of setbacks which at times left me unable or unwilling to accomplish much. Even my thrice weekly gym visits suffered a bit, at times becoming only twice. I actually see that as a win, if only because if I missed, it was only once a week, where in the past, it would probably have been the entire week. Clearly, it’s one habit I’ve cemented into my life and lifestyle, which is a huge leap forward in my opinion.

I’ve also managed to stay at least a week ahead with my blog posts, and am slowly working my way back to 2 or 3. My goal right now is to finish the last 8 posts for January no later than the 12th. And, despite setbacks and delays, I still plan to honor my latest goal of finishing the current edit of Life Torn Asunder by the end of January.

What Others See Pales Beside What Lies Beneath the Surface

My goals may not sound lofty to an outsider, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg of my plans Created with Canvafor January and getting them done sooner rather than later leaves more time to take care of all the things I’m working on with my coach, and to propel myself forward according to some pretty lofty plans and goals.

I’d like to spend at least 25% of my time ghostwriting and another 25% getting my books finished, investigating publishing options, taking the necessary steps to make those options a reality, and promoting before, during, and after publication. The promotion side, especially will find me stepping even further away from the comfort zone I’m losing sight of, even as we speak.

That comfort zone was a huge part of my Christmas revelations. Each step I take nowadays is scary, more because they’re all steps into uncharted territory for me. I know I’ll trip and fall many times along the way, but I also know I have tons of support now. My support comes from places I’ve come to expect and appreciate immensely, but it’s also been coming from new, unexpected, and no less appreciated directions as well.

I think the single biggest factor in my continued forward progress is knowing support will be there for me every step of the way. I may not see it at the moment, but it hasn’t failed me in longer than I can remember.

Allowing Our Cycles to Run Their Course

Sure, there are places where the odds were against me, and I lost someone or something I loved. I have to accept it, even if I have to go off to my hermit hole and sob a few sobs, shed a lot of tears, and continue a grieving process which will run as long as it needs to. Even those days are productive, if not as much as I’d like. I’ve written my share of articles or researched options for one of the many aspects of my life during those seemingly down times. Shutting myself away doesn’t mean I sit around doing nothing.

I got hooked on the Hallmark Christmas movies before Halloween, and watched more TV than is my wont for the next couple of months. But there comes a time when I reach TV burnout. Then I pick up a book, a notebook and pen, or put my fingers on the keyboard and create. One night even saw me in front of the TV with my laptop on a TV tray creating one of my January posts.

Creating New Healthy Habits

I promised myself I’d reinstate “cafe writing Fridays” after my Friday workouts. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere for lunch, others, a snack and some green tea (I’ve given up coffee, hopefully temporarily while I get my blood pressure under control). My plan is to drag my sweaty-from-the-gym body, my pink bag full of writing materials, and Judy Reeves’ “A Writer’s Book of Days” to every coffee shop, diner, and sandwich shop in town over the next few months. Weather permitting, I’ll also start making use of the numerous parks in town for a change in scenery.

For now, my cafe writing involves a writing prompt, but even there, I’m coming up with some interesting, gut level material, some of which will find it’s way into my memoir, and some into blogs. I’m learning it’s nearly as effective as my morning pages for bringing buried treasure from the depths of my subconscious.

Helping Others to Help Myself

I’ve also started a dialogue with another writer friend, and will start having regular meetups to https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7write or read each others’ work. My experience with organized writers’ groups has been both helpful and frustrating, so maybe starting one-on-one will get me headed back in the right direction, and writing more, procrastinating less. (Some would say I’m too hard on myself given I’m keeping 2-3 weeks ahead on blog posts, but I have higher aspirations for myself. Doesn’t everyone?)

Even now, as much as I share large chunks of myself here, on my website, and in my books, I know when I write, I’m still writing for myself rather than an audience. Perhaps I’m short-sighted if my goal is to grow my writing business, but I’ve learned oftentimes when I write for myself, other people relate better to what I’m saying.

Although I’m still tearing down some of the walls I spent 6 decades building, I believe I’ve sufficiently eradicated the masks and costuming I wore for nearly as long. I no longer feel the need to hide anything of myself. Others are free to accept or reject; agree or disagree; love or hate what I’m saying. I’m learning not to take it personally. Their reactions are as much their own as my writing is mine. Often, I learn from those responses anyway, and am driven to dig deeper to try to understand myself and some of the deep-seated feelings better.

Start With New Goals and Solidify Them With Gratitude

My Christmas musings were a start. They yielded, not a full conversation or set of goals, but launched the conversation I expect to continue throughout 2019, until I take another few days to look within, and to recognize what I’ve accomplished, the lessons I’ve learned, and the challenges I’ve overcome. Each day, each week, each month, each year, is a new opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve something great. Let’s make each and every moment count, because the future is not promised to any of us.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people in my life who keep me moving forward, keep me humble, and keep me from diving back into my comfort zone.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who have been there to comfort and keep me company through the tough times, the crazy times, and the celebratory times as well.
  3. I am grateful for my butt kickers, Heather, Linda, and Candy especially, who may not always see what’s going on, but force me to look and create things I’m proud of.
  4. I am grateful for the excitement in my heart and bones for the upcoming year, the projects I’ve begun, and the ones I’ve yet to start.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, health, prosperity, harmony, peace, challenges, lessons, and philanthropy.

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

March 2, 2015 Weird things I’m grateful for.

It’s a proven fact that my mind takes many uncharted detours.

As my fellow ADD and ADHD types know, the mind, when not securely leashed, takes many side trips. As mine is typically off leash these days, the possibilities are pretty endless…and very random. Tonight as I hurried to get the trash cans to the curb before the sky decide to deliver another deluge, I found myself actually feeling grateful for the chores I need to do every week. Whether it’s scooping the sand boxes, cleaning up the kitchen, carting the trash to the curb, or any number of other things which keep my house from being completely disgusting, it all boils down to one thing. When I’m doing chores, I’m moving, and when I’m moving those achy, cranky parts of my are getting a little action to keep them from stiffening up.

I’ve discovered, of late, that regardless of when I go to bed at night (and there are times when it’s 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning more often than not), I’m still waking up by about 8 or 8:30. Why? Because parts of my body take issue with prolonged inactivity, even if it’s something kind of necessary like, say, sleeping. Last night, after hitting the pillows well after 2 and much closer to 3, I was awake by 6:30, locking cats out by 7:30, and finally giving in to the stitch in my back and the ache in my knees by 8:30. When I check the sleep pattern on my Fitbit lately, I’m seeing something less than 6 hours a night. Of course, that includes the multiple times I get up to drink and get rid of all of the water I consume during the day, but still, I’m amazed at how little sleep allows me to function somewhat normally.

I remember when I was younger hearing that older people sleep less hours per night. But am I really “older people” now? Say it isn’t so! Though if you were to ask my daughter, according to the calendar, I really am old, even if I refuse to act like it! Frankly, I feel very blessed that I can still do my own chores and dance the night away at my advanced age. A lot of the twenty-somethings have trouble keeping up with my older friends and I. Which brings me to another gratitude. I have had friends, over the last few decades, who were old by the time they were in their forties. They had limited mobility and a laundry list of ailments to hinder them even further. I do find myself wondering, though, if they had, like me, refused to allow themselves to be limited, would they have continued to suffer as much?

Do we magnify our aches and pains by paying attention to them?

What it boils down to is that I believe we have choices. If I wake up with my knees aching or my back twinging, I start out by doing some stretches, then grab the glucosamine, fish oil and turmeric to help keep everything moving more freely. And do you know what? Once I get moving, the aches typically subside. If not, I grab a heating pad, a rice bag or an ice pack along with the glucosamine cream and give things an extra boost. Rarely does it require more.

So, without meaning to sound insensitive, would my former friends who essentially immobilized themselves have fared better had they worked through the pain? OK, granted, my pain threshold is off the charts so things which would bring an average person to their knees are simply a petty annoyance to me, and maybe that has worked in my favor. Or maybe sitting around watching TV, unable to do the simplest of chores annoys the crap out of me so I tell my body to suck it up. Whatever the reason for my better quality of life, I can only be grateful that it is so.

Learning to love and appreciate our limitations too.

We all have our challenges, no matter who we are. For me, it’s getting rid of all of the excess weight. I know I’m in charge and shoot myself in the foot much of the time, but something I finally learned is that whatever our limitations are, they do not define us. They may slow us down or keep us from doing every single thing we’d like to do but they are not us. I am not that 60 or 70 pounds overweight body. I am the person inside of that less-than-perfect packaging who makes choices about whether or not I’ll allow it to slow me down every single day. Because of that, I’ve learned to be a lot less judgmental about what others choose to wear or do or eat because, frankly, if what they are wearing or doing or eating makes them feel good, who am I to tell them differently? If I determine that it is unattractive or unhealthy, what I’m really doing is applying my own personal set of standards to someone else’s behavior. I wouldn’t wear something like that on my overweight body or eat that cafe mocha with a cinnabon, so they shouldn’t either.

Bullfeathers!

I’ve finally learned that rather than judging someone, I feel a huge wave of respect when I see someone who is not concerned about what others think at all, but simply does what makes them happy. I can’t always do that and I admire those who can. Just as I admire women who can walk up to a man and just chat casually, engaging him without any emotional angst going on. I strive to have that feeling of comfort in my own skin which allows me to just feel good about me no matter what.

Each of us is a wonderful, beautiful, amazing work in progress

I think that’s why I find it easy to be grateful for things both large and small. Each thing which makes me feel that gratitude means I’m making progress in growing and redefining myself according to kinder standards. Over the years, each of us has a mental blueprint of what we should look like, work for, accomplish, and be, but as time passes, that blueprint should evolve. I suspect it does for many of us, but what if it doesn’t? Would we be stuck trying to be the person we envisioned when we were twenty? If so, we’d find ourselves very frustrated and wrought with repeated failures by the time we hit our forties. A twenty year old can’t possibly understand the life lessons we gain as we continue along our personal life path. My twenty year old self, in particular, was a very insecure, uncertain, poorly motivated individual who strove to follow the proper path which society expected: go to college, get a job, support yourself, get married, have kids, buy a house, pay your bills…yadda yadda yadda.

I much prefer the self I am now, lazing around more than I should, keeping weird hours, following my heart instead of the side of me which is boring, stuck up and filled with responsibility. Are there aspects of my current life I’d like to change? Of course! If there weren’t, what would be the point of trying new things, taking classes, meeting with other like-minded people and stretching my boundaries. Am I making those changes right now? Not necessarily, but I’m doing a lot of work internally and know that needs to happen before I can successfully navigate the next set of changes I decide to implement. But I’m grateful for the chance to take my time and figure it all out. I’m grateful for the days when I just work a lot of puzzles while my mind churns away in the background. I’m grateful for the nights I write until 3 in the morning only to get up and start my day again at 8 or 8:30. Because it is all part of the process. Whether I see progress or not, what I’m doing is moving me forward even if the progress is, to the naked eye, imperceptible.

Self abuse is never attractive

Be honest now. What would you rather listen to? Someone ranting and raving about how miserable their life is, or someone who gets excited over something small and seemingly silly? I know which one I’d choose! Even if the only thing I can think of is that my clothes stayed where they belonged instead of chafing and binding, at least I can take it and not only make it amusing, but allow you to relate to a common problem. Look at what someone did with the annual bathing suit shopping trip. I laughed so hard at the way she described it, and yet, someone else might have looked at that and been either critical or sad about trying to squeeze a less than perfect body into a piece of spandex. It’s all in how you allow yourself to see the world.

A friend recently shared a post about being too positive (though the woman attributed excess positivity to Mary Poppins rather than Pollyanna). I said then, and repeat it now that I don’t believe that you can be too positive. If your life is in the toilet but you still manage to put a positive spin on things, is that really so bad? If you refuse to wallow in the setbacks, but instead find something funny about them, set them aside and move on, I find that a lot healthier and, in the long run, I believe the setbacks will be fewer and less gut wrenching. We all have a choice, every single day. We can choose to be happy and to avoid allowing some of the curveballs life throws us to kick our butts, or we can take each imperfection we experience and blow it up to the size of Mount Saint Helen’s complete with billowing smoke and scorching molten rock. Burning in a self-imposed hell has never really been my style, even at my lowest point.

I’ve wandered from hither to yon and back again for long enough this evening, but I hope I’ve given you reason to find the small things in life which make you happy and to focus on those. To find gratitude in odd places and to allow it to bring a smile to your face, even in the midst of adversity. I’ll leave you with one last thought: Will whatever you might be going through right now matter in five years? In ten?

My gratitudes tonight are;
1. I am grateful for the small stuff.
2. I am grateful that I am responsible for my own chores as it keeps my body moving even when it would prefer to be a lazy lump.
3. I am grateful for evolution: I would not want to remain my twenty year old self for eternity.
4. I am grateful for a mind that runs amok most of the time as I get to tilt my head several times a day and think: “Now where did that come from?”
5. I am grateful for abundance: opportunities, friendship, chores, movement, joy, love, responsibility and detours, hope, health, peace, harmony and prosperity.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my website at http://www.shericonaway.com which contains a link to this blog and my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created both page and website as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

January 2, 2015 What is it about The Tower Tarot card that freaks people out?

I seem to be in the minority, but I always feel excited when I see The Tower in a spread.

So many people see The Tower in a spread and immediately turn into Poe’s Raven, calling “Doom! D49a1d-tower-card16oom!” and trying to find a way to soften impending disaster. I may be considered hopelessly positive, but I actually feel energized and challenged when this card shows up. I see it as a card which indicates a cleansing, either voluntary or involuntary, but from which the querent will arise with a strong foundation on which to build anew. A foundation which has been cleared of a whole bunch of baggage which was keeping them from realizing their true potential. In short, I see it as a card of tremendous opportunity. 

Sometimes, we get so comfortable where we’re at that we fail to realize we’re stagnating. Sure, we get clues all the time, but we can rationalize them away when we’re comfortable. That’s when I see the Tower coming into our lives, telling us that either we stir things up ourselves or something will happen to get us off of our butts and moving forward again. I’ve seen it time and time again in my life. Sometimes, I’d see it coming and take pre-emptive action, but others, I’d get blind sided.

Fortunately, I’ve never been much of a victim, and even when I was, it didn’t take long for me to see what I was doing and shake my own world until I saw the stupidity inherent to the path I trod. Even at my lowest point, I readily admitted that what, on the surface looked like a disaster really was the kick in the butt I needed to get out of a place that wasn’t in my best interests.

Honestly, which is easier: To shake your virtual fist at all of the bad luck, karma or juju you’ve suffered or learn from the life’s setbacks so the next one doesn’t knock you on your keester quite as hard?

I have a particularly hard spot for the “woe is me-ers” and the “doom and gloomers”. Listening to someone whine and complain about the same thing over and over, yet never taking it upon themselves to change it will set off my BS meter faster than anything. Unfortunately for the whiner, this also tries my already poorly contained patience and often means I unintentionally hurt their feelings. Frankly, if I were keeping score, I’d say that made us even: 1 for them for trying my patience, 1 for me for insensitivity to their tender feelings.

But my goal in life is not to misuse people, so I’ve learned to simply walk away when those red flags, bells and whistles warn me that I’m in the presence of a Negative Nellie; someone who wraps their negativity around them like a security blanket and for whom complaining is a way of life. There are people who can function well around these people. I admit it. I’m not one of them. More than once, I’ve failed to stop myself from saying rather rudely “Either do something about it or quitcherbitchin’!”

OK, so Social Worker is definitely not my calling. I just believe that we make our own way and even when the chips are down, we need to see it through because those tough times teach us a lot more than the easy ones. Universe, please note, I am not asking for more adversity. I’m simply acknowledging the fact that I learn something when I have to work for it!

At any rate, we all have “Tower moments” in our lives when it seems like the walls are tumbling down around our ears, whether it’s a marriage going to hell, a job loss, a death in the family or a million other things which make us batten down the hatches, ride out the storm and clean up the mess afterwards. Invariably, they happen because we need to move and are holding onto things which no longer serve us (yes, even family deaths). When my mother committed suicide, it really was a huge release for me. I had a ton on my plate at the time, and her overtly judgmental ways and, in hindsight, extra needy behavior were getting close to pushing me over the edge. Her death was just enough pressure release to allow me to keep moving forward. In the two years after her death, I was laid off from my job of seven years and finally saw the end of my lengthy divorce. In both cases, they were Tower moments and things changed and I had to adapt.

Where would the human race be if we had not been faced with adversity and forced to adapt or die? What kind of wimpy, useless race would we be? We certainly would not have outlived the dinosaurs, defeated Hitler or developed creatively the master vs. beginnerway we have. Sure, we’ve ignored things like preservation of our environment, but not forever. Who’s to say whether we’d have come this far had we worried about our world as much as we should have? Who’s to say that causing the damage then coming back and having to figure out how to repair it wasn’t part of the plan in the first place? The greatest people in the world made a ton of mistakes before they succeeded. I don’t have the audacity to believe that I get to avoid all of the pieces of the process they endured before I find my own success, whatever that might be. 

A couple of people shared this today, and I have to agree. The secret to success is no secret at all. You need to get up every morning, push those doubts to the side while you down that cup of coffee and put some effort in! If you just sit under a tree and wait, you’re just as likely to be hit by a bolt of lightening.  Failure is really a learning curve in disguise.

It is, however, time for me to step down from my soapbox and express my gratitudes.

1. I am grateful for my soapbox, and grateful that I know when it’s time to give it a rest.
2. I am grateful for the adversities which have made me stronger.
3. I am grateful for my lack of patience as it pushes me away from people who drain my battery.
4. I am grateful that the unplanned days of rest are making my back happier. I look forward to resuming my normal activities.
5. I am grateful for abundance: points of view, intelligence, inspiration, motivation, love, beauty, challenges, spirit, friendship, harmony, peace, joy, health and prosperity.

Blessed be.

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