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Posts tagged ‘Sue Monk Kidd’

Comfort Found in Daily Routines

Daily Routines Keep Us Grounded Amidst the Chaos

2018 has taken some uncomfortable, and even downright painful turns in the last couple of months of the year. Although we managed to have a wonderful after-Thanksgiving feast in November, and some love-filled dance nights in December, I’ve joined the many who are going to be happy to say good-bye to 2018. Too much was lost, some temporarily, and some devastatingly permanent.

Through it all, I’ve taken comfort in daily routines which, no matter what else is happening, are a manageable and controllable part of my days. Like everything else in life, we can do no more than take it one step, one minute at a time. Falling back on the familiar helps me get through some of the minutes which are harder than others.

Morning Pages: Routine for a Lifetime

My now 2+ year practice of writing morning pages has become more than just a routine. It is a lifeline inScrappy Doo a life which has, more often than not in recent days, been chaotic and outside any control I might want or need to exercise. Whether I rise with the alarm at 8 or let myself sleep in until 9 or 10, my first stop every morning is my desk where I pick up pen and paper and write for about 30 minutes.

Part of the routine is Dylan sitting beside me purring or flicking his tail across the page to let me know he needs attention. Sometimes Scrappy joins me, especially if I put a Ricola in my mouth; he seems to find menthol as addicting as catnip. The challenge is to write with a cat rubbing himself against my face in inebriated bliss. Regardless of the disruptions and interruptions, I finish those three pages daily (with the rare miss) without fail.

Doing What I Must So I Can Do As I Please

The rest of the non-negotiable morning duties include making the bed, feeding the cats, and putting in my contacts. After that, the day is mine to do with as scheduled, or occasionally, as I please.

The “as I please” part has been my practice for the last couple of weeks, leaving many of the scheduled tasks on my Trello boards undone. In years past, I’d be beating myself up over what I’ve left undone, fretting over making deadlines and meeting goals. But these days, I know my time is more flexible, and my ability to put in a few long days to make up for days I devoted to self-care has always been there when I needed to tap into the energy and focus.

Even when I worked for others, no matter what they threw at me, I met or beat my deadlines. For a long time, I failed to meet deadlines which only affected myself and my business. One day I realized I’m my most important client and, as such deserve to have my deadlines met or beaten as well.

Allowing for Flexibility

That isn’t to say life’s challenges don’t cause slippages, but as my mentor, Linda Clay tells me repeatedly, I can re-set the deadlines and forge ahead. Spending time beating myself up over those missed or extended deadlines serves no one, and keeps me from making and executing new plans.

Nearly a year ago, I planned to finish and publish “Life Torn Asunder”. Today, I’m looking at about 15 more chapters to re-write, and know it won’t be my final re-write. I also need to work on a synopsis and the rest of the information I need to pitch it to a publisher or agent. I know they won’t happen until they become a card on my Trello board.

For years, I had a written or Excel-based To-Do list. I’ve found it worked great for things like gym visits I was trying to establish as routines, but not so great for long-term projects like book re-writes and regular blog postings. I also learned having an event pop up on my phone reminding me to check the Trello boards daily helped keep me focused on the tasks I’ve committed to.

One thing I’ve learned about routines, be they daily, weekly, or monthly, is you need to allow for some flexibility. Like friendship, routines fall into three categories; a season, a reason, or a lifetime. There are only a few which fall into my “lifetime” category these days, though many only started within the last five years, and some just this year.

Routines for a Lifetime, a Reason, or a Season

Those include daily writing, making my bed, going to the gym three times a week, and writing regular blog posts. Even the last one keeps evolving. First it was once a week, then twice, now thrice. My goal is to add a similar routine for at least five clients a month so they can put their effort into building their business instead of creating content to attract clients for them to talk to. Again, this is where Linda comes in. We have weekly calls where she helps me find focus, kicks my butt, or helps me add items to my To-Do list. I also get to do some writing for her, and she’s someone I greatly admire both personally and professionally. Writing for her is the cherry on my hot fudge sundae.

My “reason” category includes things like the components for my book pitch, a long-delayed will, preparations for our after-Thanksgiving feast—the list goes on, and changes as my life expands.

“Season” is a little tougher as I enter tasks I expect to be ongoing, or perhaps, short-term, and their nature changes. Yet this is where a lot of my lessons are learned and experience gained. It might be a one-off client who needs documentation for a divorce, or someone who responded to one of my specials, and didn’t ask for anything beyond the initial tasks. Or maybe they did and became a long-term client. Either way, I’ve learned I don’t usually know whether a season task will become more, or will die on the vine until the task is completed. Sometimes they disappear for months, only to reappear when I least expect it.

Sowing Seeds to Grow New Routines

Through it all, I, like everyone else, sow seeds. Some I’ll nurture and help them grow into something to feed my soul, and hopefully a few others. Some will thrive in spite of any attention or neglect I pay them. Others will surprise me either with the fruit they bear, their tenacity, or their ability to entwine themselves into my life, creating new and exciting challenges and routines. A few will either die out or fail to sprout at all.

All of the scenarios are perfect in my mind. Not all the seeds we plant are meant to feed or inspire us. Some will even lie dormant for a long time, leading us to believe they’ve died out when in truth, they were simply waiting for their time in the sun. Those seeds are smarter than we are in that they know when it’s their time, and when it’s not.

I’m guilty of shiny object syndrome a great deal of the time (if you haven’t already figured that out while reading a post that meanders from topic to topic with no recognizable point) so I’m prone to tossing a lot of seeds into the ground just to see what they’ll do. For many, I’m less concerned about the outcome and more about the experiment I’m running. I’ll sit and watch people for the same reason. There’s a lot to be gained by watching and waiting, so long as you don’t spend your life solely in that mode.

Honoring Our Need for Times of Rest Monk Kidd wrote about the value of watching and waiting in her book “When the Heart Waits”. She compared herself to a caterpillar who has spun a cocoon. There’s no rushing the process of evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Sometimes, we have to sit back and wait for things to line up properly, or rest after a long, concentrated push. Those waiting periods are as important, or more so than the periods of frenetic activity which often precedes them.

I realized this week I’d neglected my reading for quite some time. Not just books to expand my skills or knowledge, but those by writers whose story-telling skills I admire. After spending a day reading one of the Mercedes Lackey books I found at the $5 book store while seeking my daughter’s and son-in-law’s annual Christmas books, I realized I need to add reading time to my daily schedule. For me, reading for an hour is on the same level of importance as daily meditation. That too has fallen by the wayside a bit in recent weeks.

Routines Should Never Become Straight Jackets

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about regular routines we create and set is we must allow Created with Canvafor flexibility. We can’t beat ourselves up when our schedule goes sideways for a little while. Sometimes we have to step back and deal with what life is throwing at us, even if it means missing a few meditations, gym days, or even writing time. When we do, it gives us a chance to take a hard look at what we’ve deemed important to make sure it still is. It also gives us a chance to look at what we’ve forgotten about, and what needs to be added back into our life.

Most of all, it’s important to remember we are evolving beings. When we step back and look at our routines, we’ll find some are still valuable while others have outlived their usefulness. We’ve gained the lesson and need to let go to make space for something else. Those are the seeds which lay dormant for awhile until we were ready to let go of something, harvest the crop, and turn the soil again.

The short days and long nights of winter when the leaves have left the trees and the ground is resting is a good time to review our routines, turn our soil, and rest. It’s also a good time to go within and just listen without judgement, plan, or goal. You might be surprised by what comes up when you quiet your mind.

Gratitude: A Routine for a Lifetime

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I’m learning about myself from my friends.
  2. I am grateful for the time to quiet my mind, listen to my heart and gut, and find new directions.
  3. I am grateful for the variety in my days; some are quiet and introspective, some are productive, some, even chaotic. But overall, it’s balanced.
  4. I am grateful for balance, and the ability to recognize when I need more of one thing and less of another.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, connection, joy, vulnerability, authenticity, deep conversations, new connections, lessons, challenges, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

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

Confessions of a Book Addict

A Book Once Bought is Never Wasted

I am a hopeless book buyer. I come alive between the shelves of a bookstore, searching for hidden gems, and books which leap off the shelf as if summoned by some inner quest. The result is shelves overflowing with books, many of which I’ve yet to read.

In the last couple of years, I’ve had some of these books suddenly tumble from a shelf, as if magnetized by either a need or a readiness to embrace what lies between its pages.

It happened again yesterday when Sue Monk Kidd’s When the Heart Waits fell into my grasp, answering a quest I was unaware I’d begun. At first, I was put off by the overtly Christian direction she discussed in the introduction, but knowing it’s arrival in my hands was no accident, I turned to Chapter 1 and began reading.

Soon, I was engrossed in her words and saying “oh yeah!” to myself with every other sentence. I discovered, like many authors, she writes from what she knows, not from the traditional doctrine I’ve come to associate with Christianity in particular and organized religion as a whole. Her journey has taken her down many roads and the fullness of her experiences comes through in how openly she discusses her own challenges and lessons.

Learning the True Meaning of Waiting

I have to admit, I don’t even remember buying the book. I can’t even tell from the tag where I might have purchased it. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is it made it into my library and waited patiently until fate, circumstance or some other force deemed the time right for me to find answers in its pages.

In the first couple of chapters, Ms. Kidd talks about the value of waiting, comparing the process of a caterpillar waiting in its cocoon until the time is right to emerge as a butterfly. I realized as I read (part of the time, in the middle of a crowded restaurant where I easily tuned out the noise of other diners and wait staff) that the time between quitting my job in December of 2013 and now has, in it’s own way been my period of waiting. In that time, I’ve tried many things as a means only to earn money. I’m not ashamed to admit most of them have failed. What has worked, surprisingly enough is when I allow work to flow to me; allow myself to be open to whatever the Universe has in store for me. Only then am I brought together with people who are important to my own spiritual development, and thus, my growth and success.

Life by the Numbers

Talking to friends last night, we got on the subject of year numbers. When I quit my job, I was coming to the end of a “4” year and embarking on a “5” year. Creative Numerology provides the following regarding a “4” year:

Whatever you want to happen, you have to make it happen. A strong Will is needed. However, it is in the 4 year that we realize that our Will is not free at all because we have repressed it with a limited vision of our potential. 4 can make you feel restricted and boxed-in by circumstances that really are ‘beyond your control’, and knowing how you feel is the only way to know what to do next. It is from your feelings that creativity is born and, thankfully, your experiences along the down-to-Earth 4 year road will make emotional denial almost impossible.

I can attest to the fact that I did a lot of soul-searching and talking to people in my healing class before taking what was then, and remains even in hindsight a huge leap of faith. I left a comfortable if stagnant life as a corporate controller to enter the blinding uncertainty which accompanied following my passion as a writer. Three years later, a look at my finances would render this experiment/experience a dismal failure, but is it really? I’m happier, healthier, have 3 novels in progress, have resurrected my memoir and a children’s book I wrote years ago. I’ve expanded my knowledge on a variety of subjects and joined communities of people whose thinking complements mine. My stress level is lower and I’ve released over 20 pounds. How is this a failure?

Creative Numerology’s explanation of the “5” year includes the following paragraph which certainly defined my choices in 2014:

Regardless of what is happening globally, the world is opening up for you now, and is inviting you to experience it to the fullest. Yes, experience itself is what is on offer this year. In order to receive it, and in order to retain your freedom, some mistakes may have to be made. Remember that a mistake becomes experience when its lesson is learned and not repeated. Allow your mistakes to evolve into expertise. Alexander Graham Bell, for instance, invented the telephone by mistake. He was actually trying to invent a hearing aid. One of the biggest mistakes you could make this year is giving up on something before you have given yourself the opportunity to experience it in a state of freedom. You do not always have to lose what you have in order to get what you want. Guilt, disguising itself as fear, makes you feel this way.

Reflection and Appreciation

I certainly had my share of false starts in 2014. That was the year I tried AWAI’s copywriting course and after several months of slogging through it, I discovered it just wasn’t for me. It was also the year I completed the NaNoWriMo novel I’d begun in 2014; the novel which has now been revised a couple of times and will soon be picked apart and spreadsheeted to make sure the flow, the characters, and the energy really work. It was the year I began my second NaNoWriMo, A Dubious Gift which I’ve yet to either revise or spreadsheet. And it was the last year I did any real work for my former employer.

It was a year of learning what didn’t work; a year of trying hard to accept that doing something just for the money was doomed to failure, yet continuing to try until my ego was bloody from the effort. But it was also a year when I was able to discard many unworkable options.

From 2014 until now, I have certainly spent a lot of time waiting. Waiting for inspiration. Waiting for something to hit me which would actually be revenue generating. Waiting to understand my true passion. Waiting to figure out which book I should endeavor to publish first.

Emerging from the Cocoon

But mixed in with all of the waiting, I found my own essence. I continued to learn about accepting the actions of others without judgment or personalization. I learned that my parents followed their own path, inexplicable to me, but necessary to them. I learned that sharing my struggles to understand, to forgive, to accept, and to heal would actually help me achieve all of that and more. And it would allow me to do what had, up to that point, escaped me. I was able to help others struggling with the same kind of trauma and let them know they weren’t alone in all of the emotions they were feeling. Nor were they ever to blame.

All of this waiting may have drained my financial resources, but it has been filling my spiritual reservoir at a steady pace. I have not always expressed my passion and now I see there are times to simply allow it to flow. So many times I had an idea for a blog post but neglected to jot it down somewhere, and it never came to fruition. I see now those things were simply meant for my personal growth and not for sharing.

So I say to you now, in the immortal words of Simon and Garfunkel: Slow down, you move too fast. Got to make the morning last. Just kickin’ down the cobblestones. Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.

There is a time and a season for movement, and there’s a time and a season for waiting and resting and listening. All too often, we honor one and not the other. The result is not just imbalance but a failure to be the whole and complete person we were meant to be. If you need a little help finding the power to control less and be more, I highly recommend Ms. Kidd’s book, Where the Heart Waits.

With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for serendipitous book falls.
2. I am grateful for the time I’ve spent waiting.
3. I am grateful for friends who have the right words at the right time to guide me on my journey.
4. I am grateful for missed opportunities.
5. I am grateful for abundance; epiphanies, knowledge, resources, friendship, dancing, fat release, joy, love, passion, purpose, peace, humor, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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