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

Posts tagged ‘suicide’

Helping the Traumatized or Depressed

Proactively Helping Our Community

You see it all over social media these days: “If you need help coping with {insert traumatic event here} I’m here for you. Just reach out and I’ll be there.”

While I commend people for wanting to be there for their friends, family, and community, I’ve seen all too often that those who need help the most are the least likely to take the hand reaching out to them. The reasons are endless, but here are just a few of the ones I’ve seen, heard, or even spoken myself:

  • I’m fine. I don’t need help
  • Others have worse troubles than me.
  • Everyone is busy with their own lives and problems. They don’t need to be burdened with mine.
  • They don’t understand what I’m going through, and I don’t feel like explaining it.
  • I just want to be left alone. I’ll figure it out.

Showing Up for Those Who Can’t

The reality is, life is a lot like writing. We have to do more showing and less telling. Instead of posting our offer of an ear, a shoulder, or a sanctuary on social media for everyone to see and scroll right past, we need to be proactive. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.

Is there someone who hasn’t shown up lately? Give them a call. Invite them out for coffee, or a meal, or a walk in the park. Whatever you think might interest them. If they decline, call again in a few days and offer again. Or show up at their place and insist they come out with you or at least let you in for a visit. Even if they’re less than gracious about it, deep down, they’re grateful, believe me.

There is nothing worse for someone who is dealing with deep, emotional pain or trauma than to be left alone for too long. Left to their own devices, they’ll talk themselves out of being valuable to anyone. They’ll wallow in their misery and watch it grow bigger and scarier every day they’re alone.

Better by Degrees

We may not be coping much better than they are, but the fact that we can leave the house and reach out to someone puts us in a much better place from which to heal and move forward. If nothing else, the best way to help ourselves is to reach out and help someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against those who make a public announcement they’re available and ready to help their friends in need. I simply think we need to take it one step further and do something. I’ve seen for myself how much healing happens when a few people get together and share their feelings, or do something they all enjoy to take their mind off reality for a little while. Sitting alone and stewing never did anyone any good.

Knowing they’re hurting, we have to be ready to switch gears if they try to change plans at the last minute. They’re not up to going out for coffee or a meal? Bring the coffee or a meal to them. They just want to sit on the sofa and veg? Bring over a couple of movies or channel surf and find something you can watch together. Or talk to them. Carry the conversation until they’re ready to contribute something of their own.

Being the Friend in Deed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhIt’s funny. This isn’t a new concept. There’s an old proverb that says “A friend in need is a friend in deed”. By taking action instead of just offering to be there, we’re taking the act of friendship to the next level. We can even let them know that their company is just what we need right now to get past all the tragedy and pain we, too are experiencing. Take the pressure off of them to be helped by turning it around. They are helping us by allowing us to try to take their mind off the voices in their heads.

I spent a lot of years alone, broken, wallowing, and unwilling to ask for help. Granted, I’d done a bang-up job of pushing people away or keeping them out entirely, so there weren’t many to choose from, even if I knew how to ask. It was a dark, lonely place, and I would have been happy if someone took enough of an interest; cared enough to brush off all my excuses and help me get out of the funk I’d sunk into. But no one did. No one offered. No one visited. And I wallowed for years in my own private pity party.

Look for Those Who Need Help Climbing Out of Their Funk

I’m one of the lucky ones. I found a way out of my funk. I took a couple of suggestions when Created with Canvathey were offered. I decided I was tired of being miserable, and set out to address my ghosts and invite them to leave. The recent suicides of one of the Parkland survivors and the father of one of the Sandy Hook victims makes it clear there are many who can’t do it alone. And it’s more than likely they’re also the ones who won’t reach out or even accept an offered hand.

It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to wish things hadn’t happened; that lives hadn’t been lost or homes destroyed. But we can’t change the past or make it better than it was. We can, however, change the future by taking action now.

It’s the Little Things

Gather with friends. Visit memorials. Bring soup to a friend like someone did for me not so long ago. Even let someone help you even if you don’t feel you need it.

I recently called a friend to change some light bulbs for me. I could have climbed on a ladder or chair and done it myself, but he’s tall enough to reach without either. He helped me by preventing a potential fall (I’m a well-known klutz), but I got him out of the house for a little while too. Win-win.

My point is, we could all use help once in awhile, but tend to blunder along on our own rather than ask. If someone shows up on our doorstep it’s harder to make excuses, turn them away, or even do without. Sometimes, we might even enjoy the company or a break from our usual routine. We truly are better together than alone.

Gratitude Attracts More to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful there were caring people around to help me emerge from a decades-long funk.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the people who’ve reached out, and those who’ve allowed me to reach out to them. We all heal in the process.
  3. I’m grateful for choices. Sometimes we really do need to be alone, but too much of anything is not a good thing.
  4. I’m grateful for lessons I’ve learned and people who’ve been there when I needed an example or a teacher. I might still have made progress, but it would have taken much longer.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; new clients, new projects, new opportunities, progress, inspiration, motivation, productivity, joy, love, dancing, positive indifference, peace, health, 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

What Do You Do When Your Happy Is Gone?

Author’s Note: I wrote this in that often dark time between Christmas and New Year’s when so many people suffer from depression, and feel lost and alone. I wrote it for myself to help me start climbing out of my funk, but also for anyone who also experiences sadness and loneliness, not only at this time of year, but any other time too. We all have someone who cares, even if we don’t think we do, and we need to reach out to them when we’re feeling down. They want to help, but don’t always know we need it, or will even accept it. I urge you to let your friends and family see when you’re hurting instead of feeling like you have to hide it. You’ll be glad you did.

Nothing to Be Happy About

I’ve lost my happy. As I mope around the house, sometimes for days on end, I’m disinclined to even change out of my pajamas unless I’m going to the gym or to a relocated dance night. Even then, I often have to argue with myself before I get dressed and moving. I haven’t used the word “fantastic” or even “great” when someone asked me how I am in what seems like ages. The best people get out of me these days is “OK”, and it’s because I’m anything but. I see no reason to drag anyone down by telling them the truth. For those who know me, “OK” says it all anyway, as they keep checking in on me.

I know it started the night we lost 12 beautiful souls at the hands of a troubled young man; the night we lost more than just 12 innocents who were known for making this world better for many. We lost the place where we gather, where we unwind, where we de-stress, and where we knew we’d give and receive many warm, heartfelt hugs twice a week without fail. We lost our home.

The owner of the club is still talking about re-opening, some way, some how. But when, or even where is still a huge question; our own elephant in the room.

Insidious, Unseen Happiness Thieves

If this single event was the thief of my happiness, I might have found it by now; in the strengthening bonds, the shared hope, the resilience of our family, and the extraordinary heart and spirit of the families who lost children, brothers, husbands, sons, daughters. But it goes so much deeper for me right now.

My world is turned upside down by many things. I lost my sweet girl, Munchkin in December. I increased my debt significantly, but my income is still falling far behind. The 25th anniversary of the day my mom’s unhappiness got the best of her; the day she got tired enough of being unhappy and left us forever, came and went without a single thought until days later. A quarter of a century without my mom. Most of the dissension we shared is long forgotten, or at least the reasons we were so at odds. I don’t exactly miss her. I miss having a mom though. The mom I didn’t really have.

Empathic Cats Offer Comfort Wherever They Can

Even seemingly stupid stuff is getting to me now. I curled up on the guest room bed because I felt lousy and didn’t feel like doing any of my usual things. I didn’t have the energy to clean or the focus to read or even watch TV.

Pyewacket and Tiana

As I pulled the soft blanket Heather got me for Christmas up over my shoulders, I felt tears prickling the back of my eyes. The last time I did that, Munchkin came bounding in, her little bell jingling, knowing there was snuggling ahead. A little over a year ago, she’d have been joined by Toby stomping all over me until he found a good position laying across my body, and Dylan who’d walk across my pillow and lick my cheek. Now, only Dylan is left of the older cats, and he’s doing his best to comfort me when I’m not really ready to let go and be comforted.

Mulan and Dylan

Fortunately, the cats understand better than I realize. Pyewacket joined us, crawling under the blanket and snuggling for a little while. Mulan came in too and even refrained from stomping all over me, demanding attention. She simply curled up beside me, offering comfort. Even shy, skittish Tiana who I often mistook for Munchkin until I got a closer look has found a jingle ball and plays with it in the middle of the night, as if to remind me Munchkin’s love lives on in my heart and home. I love and appreciate those who are still here, but I miss the two who brought so much love into my life, and died way too soon. I can’t help missing them, any more than I can stop the tears from flowing whenever something reminds me of all they gave, and all I’ve lost.

I know Dylan feels the losses as much as I do. He hardly leaves my side any more, and seems distressed when I leave the house, even for an hour or two. We spend a lot of time sitting together, comforting each other, and grieving.

Healthy Routines Aren’t Always Enough

If that wasn’t enough to make me struggle to regain my former happy, cheerful self, I learned my blood pressure is now in the unhealthy range. I informed my doctor’s PA I would, under no circumstances take medication to reduce it, so I’ve had to make some significant changes to my eating habits instead. The hardest has been giving up my morning coffee. I’m hoping it’s only temporary. Green tea is OK, but it doesn’t have the strength of a good cup of coffee.

Scrappy Doo

Scrappy Doo

More exercise would help too, but getting myself out of the house for anything but my pre-set routines is nearly impossible. Lately, my laundry consists of workout clothes, pajamas, and the shorts I wore on the few nights I did dance. And cat purrs. Lots and lots of cat purrs.

Dimming My Light

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQMy bright colored blouses hang on the rack collecting dust. When I do go out, I’m either wearing a black t-shirt commemorating the fateful night, or something else that lets me blend into the crowd. Wearing bright colors doesn’t feel good right now.

When I do go dancing and talk turns to next year’s line dance cruise, I feel even more alone and left out. My current finances won’t allow an expenditure like that, or another much-needed writer’s conference, for that matter.

That’s not to say things aren’t improving a bit, but it seems like for every windfall, I’ve had extra expenses as well. And when I have a large expenditure like Munchkin’s vet bills, there’s no offsetting gain.

I know a lot of it is my mindset. Although I’m starting to attract more notice and more interest from my target audience (read, people who could use my particular type of writing skills and can afford to pay for them), the process is slow since I am still learning the marketing ropes. Again, I know I’m improving with a lot of help from my coach. But the holidays and Munchkin created a hiatus of nearly a month so I’m going to have to recapture some of the momentum. Still, the negative voices, imposter syndrome, and sheer ennui keep getting in the way. I stumble over my own feet too often.

Temporary Down Turns and Lights in the Darkness

I’m grateful I recognize this unhappiness as not only temporary, but uncharacteristic. I know I can fix it, and that I don’t have to fix it alone. Right now, I feel adrift, alone in a storm mostly of my own making, But I also know I won’t remain here, if for no other reason than I won’t allow it.

I see the lack of appetite as an asset as it’s helping me lose some of the weight I’ve put on because I’m not dancing as much. The high blood pressure keeps me from eating the salty snacks I was eating while mindlessly glued to the television. Without them, I rarely eat after dinner even if my stomach starts to growl. I’ve had to find a recipe for the amazing lentil soup I was buying from Trader Joe’s, but which has too much sodium for my new lifestyle. I’m looking forward to adding to my freezer stock soon. In spite of myself, I’m developing healthier habits again, and I know I can re-balance my system without artificial and potentially harmful means.

Being Sad Without Guilt

Right now, I’m allowing myself to be sad. I’m establishing new relationships with the younger cats as they do their best to fill the enormous holes Munchkin and Toby left. I also realize the best way to help myself is to help others, and am looking for ways to do that.

I know the pain, the hurt, and the loneliness I’m feeling right now will ultimately fade and I’ll find my happy again. I’ve learned it might take time, and it can’t be rushed. Times of pain and sadness are part of our process; part of our evolution. We have to walk through the storm in order to find and appreciate the sunshine. I guess I’ve yet to tire of the storm enough to move towards the sunshine. But I will. I always do.

Gratitude: One of the Best Healers

  1. I am grateful for friends who understand that “OK” isn’t a good place for me.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who demand little and give so much.
  3. I am grateful for my writing as it gives me an outlet for my deepest, darkest places so they don’t fester and become toxic.
  4. I am grateful for all of the people who are finding ways to keep us together and dancing.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, laughter, friendship, vulnerability, caring, sharing, giving, receiving, introspection, opportunities, challenges, inspiration, 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

Empaths as Outcasts: Why Misery Loves Company

New Inspiration from an Old Source

You can find the Facebook Live Video which goes with this post here

Today’s blog topic didn’t come, as has been common, from my morning pages, but from my meditation. As I snuggled on the couch with my two furry girls who love the meditative energy, my mind was processing a discussion about the latest suicide of a famous figure.

As my overly active brain processed, connected, and analyzed, it landed on my relationships, or lack thereof with my family over the last couple of decades. From comments and questions I’ve fielded recently, it occurred to me my sister hasn’t been the outcast I’ve been allowed (or perhaps allowed myself) to become. Of course, this raised questions in my mind, despite the fact I’d come to the realization quite some time ago that the distance was for the best on all our parts.

Not only did it allow me to heal without interference and accept my parents’ final acts without condemnation, blame, or lifelong guilt, it let me find peace. Knowing my sister still blames my mom for more than I even know, or want to, and knowing she’s ill and angry, I’m starting to understand why the family dynamics are what they are.

Finding Yet Another Commonality With My Mom

Mom was the family outcast and was often criticized and I suspect, ridiculed behind her back. I’ve certainly had my share of missteps and actions which failed to meet with everyone’s approval. The difference between us is that I don’t really care. Mom needed the family’s approval and love. If I had it, I would be grateful, but I have never really needed it. And I am not going to be part of the blame and rehashing of mom’s failings. She was no more or less human than anyone else and as such, was prone to mistakes, both from her own viewpoint and that of others. That she likely beat herself up over them was part of her personality and more, her desperation.

Taking after my dad has been a double-edged sword. Yes, I tend to isolate myself too much, but as an Empath, sometimes isolation is the lesser of two evils. Yes, I find it hard to ask for help, much to my daughter’s annoyance. But as time goes on, I’m learning to be better about letting others do something for me instead of letting assistance be a one-way street. The best lesson I learned from dad, though, was to accept responsibility for my own actions. From that, I’ve learned to also be more understanding of the actions of others.

Don’t Blame Those Who Need to Blame

I may not agree with, nor buy into the idea of blaming mom for decades old perceived misdeeds. I may not agree with continuing to blame her when she’s not here to defend herself. But I accept the fact that my sister and whoever else she talks to has the right to make their own choices. They’re no longer hurting mom with words or deeds anyway. As I’ve learned in my own healing journey, forgiveness truly only helps the forgiver. The forgiven couldn’t care less whether we forgive them or not.

It does explain a lot about why nobody reached out to me after mom took her life, or why the last of the contacts I shared with my parents disappeared from my life after dad took his. I brought nothing to the conversation they wanted to have.

At least now, things have evolved so there are a few tentative attempts to connect. Yet, the commonalities we had 20 years ago, the roads we had traveled together have been covered over by the dust of time. We’ve raised our families, lost loved ones on all sides, seen children marry and start families of their own, and all the things that happen during a lifetime.

Lifetimes Within Lifetimes

I’ve learned that when it comes to families and connections, 20 years is a lifetime. The elderly aunts I remember have all passed on along with a few from their daughters’ generation. We’ve even lost one from my generation during the years of disconnection, and are likely to lose a couple more in the next few years. Frankly, I’m not expecting to be a part of their grieving process any more than they have been part of mine. It is what it is.

I have been an outcast from my own family for most of my adult life and the truth is, more often than not, I’m relieved. A Jewish family who escaped the persecution in Russia and Poland to emigrate to the United States and Canada carries a lot of angst. In many members of my family, that angst is embedded in their very souls and passed on from generation to generation. The fact that I’ve learned to release much of my share essentially severed my connection. Without intending to, I’ve torn myself loose from the fabric which weaves the family into a single piece of cloth. By necessity, they rewove that fabric to hide the hole I’d left, perhaps using my sister as the thread which would most efficiently cover the gap.

Empaths Create Their Own Rules

I believe the story has unfolded for a reason. I was given the sometimes dubious gift of Empathy for a reason. Despite being born into a family with a long history of trauma and upheaval, I had to learn how to manage my gift or go quietly insane. I chose the former and am learning how to use it to help others. My personal traumas have been the best teachers.

I savor the connections which have been tentatively re-established, but know I will always be one of the family outcasts. That is the role I came here to assume. Sometimes, breaking free is the first step in healing a wound that stretches back many generations. I may not have chosen the easiest path. I may have even chosen the loneliest one. But I believe the path I chose is the most rewarding one of all.

With Love and Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to my family for giving me the space I needed to find my own way.
  2. I am grateful that I’ve learned to let go of blame, anger, bitterness, and resentment to love and accept the people who gave me life, no matter what direction their lives or actions might have taken them.
  3. I am grateful for the challenges I’ve faced which allow me to be an advocate not only for those who’ve lost someone to suicide, but for those who chose suicide as their exit plan.
  4. I am grateful for the love and support I receive from the family I’ve attracted around me. Though most are not blood, they love and accept me as my blood family aren’t able to because I’m just too different.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, love, motivation, support, guidance, allowing, creativity, energy, peace, harmony, health, happiness, 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, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Universe-driven Inspiration: Introducing Life Coach Carolyn Maul

As the New Year Slips By

For the last couple of months I’ve been floundering. No, floundering would infer that I’ve actually been trying to accomplish something. The truth is, I’ve been treading water…barely.

I’ve made a few feeble attempts to drum up business, but the Universe in its infinite wisdom seems to direct my attempts into that black hole wherein lives my despair. I followed up on an interesting lead and even shared the email I wrote with someone I trust implicitly (and despite her own challenges, is one kick-ass salesperson!) who told me it was a good pitch. That was over a week ago and the silence is deafening.

When my daughter opined today that it was already March, my frustration wanted to reach through the phone and choke the words back down her throat. “It’s not March yet!” I insisted.

But it may as well be. Forgotten Victims is no further along than it was in January, aside from finally having transcribed my handwritten outline of the first 13 chapters (now that’s ominous, isn’t it? I’ve only written 13 chapters. I can hear the clanging of the dungeon door as I write those words).

Despite all of the doom and gloom there are always those guiding lights; those sparks of inspiration; those words of encouragement which keep me going on this path I set for myself over 3 years ago. I still visualize myself as a successful writer with my memoir and several novels gracing the shelves of Barnes and Noble; the web pages of Amazon.com.

The Spark I Didn’t See Coming

Every once in awhile, you encounter someone who commands the attention of men and women alike, not by their actions, but by their presence.

Such was the case for me this weekend when I started a conversation with a woman I’d noticed at the club where I dance. She typically hangs out across the dance floor from my usual spot, but I could not help noticing her; the way she holds herself, the sheer confidence in her manner. I admit it. She has qualities I aspire to but am still learning how to achieve. To say she is striking is to understate it by a thousand degrees or more, but words escape me. Yes, I know that’s unbelievable for one who regularly says what she has to say in 10,000 words or more. The lack of words alone should be enough to demonstrate the quiet, serene power of a woman whose presence is palpable, even across a crowded dance floor.

Recognizing Inspiration, Whatever Form it Takes

We talked about what we do and I gave her my card. She reached out to me today, and offered me a chance to take a closer look at what is behind her amazing presence.  Carolyn Maul is a Life Coach, but like none I’ve ever seen. She completely embodies the words she speaks and the advice she gives.

After reading just a couple of her blog posts, I felt a renewal of that spark which started me writing Forgotten Victims what now seems like eons ago. As difficult as it has been to resume work on it and to embark on the long road to pitching a non-fiction project to publishers, I feel better about getting out of my own way and allowing the words to flow again. I can finally admit that the words are dammed up because I’ve built the dam. The only way to take that dam down is brick by brick. The bricks are my words and thoughts on a painful and difficult part of my life, but one which I know needs to be shared to a wider audience.

I can’t do that unless I truly commit to finishing it, some of which is going to involve reaching out to fellow writers to learn some of the things they do to finish their own projects and set achievable deadlines. I am truly my own worst enemy, and relegate my own work to the bottom of the pile. I’d never treat a client the way I treat myself. It’s time I listened to the advice I’ve been so freely given and treat myself like the best client on my roster.

A Life Coach for Type A’s

So thank you, Universe, for putting Carolyn in front of me, and forcing me to pay attention. And if you are a Type A personality (which I, admittedly am not) who could use a little help achieving your goals, do yourself a favor. Take a few minutes to watch her introductory video and browse her blog. Maybe even take her quiz. You might, like me, find the inspiration or the motivation to push past the blocks which stand between you and your dreams.

Always so Much to be Grateful For

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the down times as they give me time to build up the energy for the long stretches of intense effort.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to meet new people and get out of my comfort zone which frankly, has become pretty boring lately.
  3. I am grateful for the pain in my life which can and will be faced. Which by so doing could just help someone else who’s lived a similar trauma.
  4. I am grateful for loss as it makes me appreciate the good times and the little things all the more.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, inspiration, Universal head slaps, friendship, dancing, learning, challenges, peace, harmony, letting go and holding on, joy, 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, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Arseni Mourzenko via Flikr

May 28, 2015 Birthday Musings

Beginnings or Endings?

Several posts ago, I talked about the fact that the day we celebrate as our birthday is really the end of the year being celebrated rather than the beginning. On this eve of my 60th birthday as I prepare to celebrate the end of my first 60 years in this human form, I have been looking back over the last year, and more specifically, the last few months, with a little help from Elizabeth Peru’s Global Tip-off

Her discussions about planetary influences have been particularly helpful in the last couple of days, especially when I look at how the Pluto retrograde deals with peeling back the layers and releasing old hurts and issues. Elizabeth also mentions May 4th in relation to the Mercury retrograde as a date to look back upon for information about what we should be working on. In my case, I looked at the blog posts for May 3rd and 4th to find that I had been sitting outside watching the full moon, while asking for help in identifying and releasing those things which no longer serve my best interests.

But what does that have to do with birthdays, beginnings and endings? I’ve been having interesting dreams lately which bring up events from my past but with entirely different outcomes. Some of them are so ridiculous and unlikely that I wake up thinking Where in the heck did that come from? But that heightened awareness also allows me to see the situation in a much clearer light and to find and acknowledge the lesson which came out of the experience. Once I recognize the lesson, any lingering pain or emotional attachment to the event automatically releases and is no longer a part of my energy. And as my 60th year winds to a close, I am finally out from under the veil which I realize was merely a manifestation of my own imagination, but still, all too real to me. That self-imposed veil is the one which reminds me that my mother never completed her 60th year. And now, I have.

I know that I am my own woman but the specter of suicide tends to twist the thoughts into convoluted patterns and only the milestones which are largely imaginary can untwist those thoughts for good. This is one of those milestones, perhaps the last one I convinced myself I’d have to face before truly accepting that I am not my mother’s child in the ways which are most important to me now. My dreams are telling me that I am finally ready to release a whole slew of sadness, anger and angst which attached themselves to a single event by virtue of their proximity in time and space.

By reaching this milestone I feel I’m finally ready to let go of all of those poor choices I made during my mother’s last couple of years of life: choices which led to my divorce, to the men I dated in the years that followed, to the job hopping and the poor parenting. My reactions to other peoples’ actions. It’s all in there and now that I’ve somehow proven to myself that I am not inclined to make the same choices as my mother, I can forgive myself for those choices I made which didn’t turn out so well but were, in fact, lessons I needed to learn.

As I turn the page on the calendar, I also turn the page on the self-recriminations over the mistakes I’ve made because I can finally believe the words I’ve told myself over and over. What I thought were mistakes or poor choices were simply lessons the Universe sent me so I could learn the things I needed to know in order to become the woman I am now. I’m still a work in progress, but I no longer see that as a liability. I have value and I have purpose…and all is right with my world.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to have reached the milestone ending my 60th year in this human form.
2. I am grateful to be spending this very special day with the most important person in my life: my daughter, Heather. It’s been an eventful couple of weeks, but we’re both still here, and ready to handle whatever life throws us. We’ve got this!
3. I am grateful for all of the lessons I’ve been given up to know, and look forward to the new ones I know will come my way as I master the ones I’ve had.
4. I am grateful for a body which, though a bit achy in places, carried me from hither to yon and over the dance floor tonight with amazing flexibility and fortitude.
5. I am grateful for abundance: lessons learned, challenges unfolding, epiphanies, friends, family, love, joy, purpose, intensity, health, harmony, peace, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting. If you get a minute, please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

January 17, 2015 Steppin’ out in the right direction

New people, new places, new things. Keeping it moving, one step at a time.

I had been searching for a local, friendly, helpful writer’s group for awhile. I’d tried a couple but felt no real connection. For awhile, I put the idea aside and focused on the important things like writing, organizing and decluttering. But this week, another group came to my attention and today I attended their first meeting. I do believe The Inklings, as our organizer dubbed us, is going to be just what I needed. Equal parts giving and getting the moral support we insecure, overly self-critical writers need. Although one fellow left after only a few minutes, it was clear that his intent was to promote his book. The rest of us were more inclined to be encouraging to everyone. This is a dynamic I can live with and more, I can thrive with. Had I found a group like this when I was as young as some of our members, might I have followed a different path?

How often do we speculate about the road not taken? Though the discussion is moot, we can’t keep ourselves from wondering. The human psyche seems to get a strange sort of satisfaction out of running “what if” scenarios on our own lives. I am happy to say that I no longer feel the need to dedicate much time to such pursuits. I know that the experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned were necessary before I could be brave enough to follow a dream which began not long after I’d virtually inhaled hundreds of books. Reading and writing are as important to me as breathing, but writing and sharing what I write has taken many years of trial and error, another few years of learning that other people aren’t trying to tear me down personally. They’re simply using their own experiences and lessons to try to help me, in the end, produce something which won’t bore readers senseless.

The last year has been more of a gift than I ever imagined.

As I listened to the stories other people shared of the paths which led them to this group and to their writing, I realized that though I am only slightly closer to publishing my first book, this last year has allowed me to explore writing from many different angles. It has added books to my library, both paper and e-book, and taught me the importance of exposure through blogging and personal websites. It has forced me to think in terms of a website which will interest people outside of my personal circle of friends, and to lose some of the shyness I have when meeting strangers.

Sure, the website is still in the concept stage, but at least I finally have a topic. My blog has gotten a face lift and a new venue. Slowly but surely, people are learning about my little space on the web. And it is good. From this, I’ve learned that I need to encourage others to put a piece of themselves out there for the world to see. They may not always be kind, but really, isn’t it just words on a screen? Those words can be taken at face value, internalized or simply erased. Any of these choices are valid, and none of them are wrong. They are simply choices.

And speaking of choices (yes, my friends, ADHD must have its moment) while chatting with my fellow writers today, it came to me that instead of writing a memoir/self-help book about my parents’ suicides, I could fictionalize it. The opening act has been running through my mind all day, and goes something like this:

The blood drained from her face and her fingers were a matching shade of ghost white from holding the cordless phone in a death grip while listening to a voice on the other end imparting news no one ever wants to hear. The voice of a man who had been steady as a rock her whole life cracked and faded, tears taking the place of words from someone she’d only seen cry once before. The words “your mother is dead” echoed in her head seeking a place to rest but finding none as they simply made no sense. How could that woman, that constant, nagging voice which pressed every one of her buttons simply be silenced?
Vaguely, she registered the words “There’s more” as her father’s voice shattered into a million irretrievable pieces. Still clutching the phone, she slid down the wall against which she’d been leaning, barely registering the point where her butt hit the floor with a loud “Thump!” She’d surely feel the pain later, but for now she was numb. “Sh-she” her father struggled for words. What could possibly be worse than finding the lifeless body of his wife of forty years when he returned home from work? As he found his voice again, she wished she hadn’t asked.
“She took her own life.”
The phone clattered to the floor between her knees and she curled herself into the fetal position in some vague way hoping it would mean the whole conversation was nothing more than a bad dream. But that dream was being invaded by a low keening wail. She looked at the phone lying prone near her feet, but the sound was coming from somewhere above the floor. It was only when she heard her daughter ask “Mommy, why are you crying?” that she understood she was the source of the mournful sound.

Yes, you saw it here first. The opening paragraphs of book number three, before number two has even reached its major crisis. I guess I’m doomed to write as I read; four books at a time! (number four is the one my daughter would love to see published, a children’s story I wrote for her and her sister when they were about 5).

I write, therefore, I am.

This, then, is the fate towards which I’ve been heading ever since my mother put that first book in my hands; ever since I read “Charlotte’s Web” aloud to her when I was four. My office walls groan under the research material which has brought me to this day. Everything from Heinlein and Vonnegut to Roberts and Lackey. Not to mention, the inimitable Dr. Seuss. My literary tastes are eclectic, to say the least and so, it seems, is my writing. The trick will be to harness my imagination and force it to complete at least one of my many projects. But which will it be? One I’ve already started, one yet to begin or my website? Stay tuned as the answer could very well be a twisted one.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the serendipity that led me to The Inklings.
2. I am grateful to Seth and Gina for taking time out of their busy lives to bring us all together.
3. I am grateful for the opportunity to share some of what I’ve learned over the last year or so.
4. I am grateful for new inspiration for an old idea.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, imagination, support, flexibility, consistency, health, harmony and prosperity.

Blessed Be.

August 12, 2014 A Phoenix rises from the ashes.

Inspiration from unexpected–and tragic places.

About six years ago, I sat down to document my journey towards acceptance. Not the usual sort of acceptance like the life I had or the diversity of my friends; no, I had been, for some years, on a journey to understand and accept the choice both of my parents made to take their own lives, not at the same time, but nearly ten years apart. Eventually, I felt that it was starting to come out as more of a document full of whining and ill-concealed blame, so I put it aside and started my blog, hoping that I’d return to my original purpose which was to help others who had lost a parent or parents to suicide.

Ironically, the last time I accessed the file was on the tenth anniversary of my father’s death, September 11, 2013. But in the last couple of days, something inside of me has changed.

Both the pain and the triumphs of others may now be my muse

As I read some of the many tributes for Robin Williams and even more, the stories people are telling about their own battles with depression, as well as those close to them, I think I’ve found the direction my book needs to take.

What’s behind the mask?

We all wear a mask from time to time, keeping our cards close to the vest, if you will. But some of us, many of us, I believe, only put one mask down to pick up another. Robin Williams, as well as many other comedic greats (or so I’ve been reading) hid behind a mask of comedy. Yet I always felt that there was an element of truth, of his own suffering in performances such as Mrs. Doubtfire. It was so incredibly believable that I could well have attributed it to his acting abilities (and a lot of it may well have been), but something inside told me that he’d really suffered the loss of his kids at one point. My mother hid a lifetime of being pushed to the back of the bus, so to speak. Her mother cast her out when her sister was born and the rest of the family received the message loud and clear: she was of no value to anyone. She was always looking for love in all the wrong places, and she had the biggest collection of masks I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t until many years after her death that I came to the realization that I never really knew the woman I called “Mom”. I have to wonder if anyone did.

At the moment, I’m putting the finishing touches on my first fantasy novel (slowly but surely), which I started last year when I just couldn’t go back to my book about family suicides. Suddenly, I feel compelled to get the novel finished so I can give my attention to the book that really got me writing again. I may end up trashing everything I have and starting clean, or I may take the part before I felt I was sinking into a quagmire of negativity, anger and blame. Either way, what I’m learning from others in the last couple of days is inspiring me to finish it and get it out there for the sake, not only of others who have felt the unimaginable pain of a parent taking their own life, but for those who have people in their lives who are crying out for help and love, and still have a chance to climb out of their own, personal abyss, if only the people who care will push aside the facades and see the sad, lonely person inside.

Out of tragedy, a greater good.

Yes, Mr. Williams death was tragic, and has impacted a lot of people who have loved his work for many, many years. But something beautiful is coming out of it. Those of us who have lost a family member to suicide were, in the past, made to feel shame and even responsibility for failing to prevent the suicide. Suddenly, people are opening up about the mental health issues which cause a person, no matter how successful on the outside, to remain a sad, lonely, unworthy person on the inside. Suddenly, what I’ve been saying for years, that suicide is a choice made when they’ve gone as far as they can go, is not being tossed aside as New Age drivel. There is a new awareness. Yes, many are saying that it will be gone in a few days, but I say, only if people like me, people who have lost a parent, a child, a cherished uncle, a good friend; speak out and credit the victims with facing their dark, twisty side for as long as they were able. Also, too, if those who fight depression or mental anguish of any kind on a regular basis continue to speak out honestly about their condition and give people a chance to move closer and help chase away the dark clouds.

It all boils down to this: As long as mental health issues and suicide are treated like anathema in which both victim and remaining family members are made to feel soiled and unworthy, the trend will continue and even, as one writer suggested, escalate. But if we truly open our hearts and our minds and see that there’s no blame, but instead, a need for more compassion, perhaps we can bring the numbers down until, ultimately, the only real reason people choose suicide is because they are terminally ill and their quality of life is gone forever.  Above all, I beg you to remember that we are all part of the same whole, part of Source.  How can we, in good conscience allow part of ourselves to atrophy and die, simply for lack of the nourishment of love and attention we have it in ourselves to give?

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the compassion I’m reading about.
2. I am grateful for the opening up of the mental health/depression, Pandora’s box of an issue.
3. I am grateful for reminders that my mom took her life at my age as it reminds me to look at all I have in my life which is beautiful, loving and compassionate.
4. I am grateful for the return of my inspiration and motivation to write the book I need to write.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, health, happiness, harmony, joy, compassion and prosperity.

Namaste

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