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

Posts tagged ‘support’

Why Women Blog

I Blog to Heal—Myself and Those Who Share My Travails

It’s hard to believe I created this blog more than 9 years ago at my daughter’s urging. To be honest, I don’t even remember the original reason I created it, except as an exercise to broaden the scope of a healing journey that began 16 years later than it should have, yet at exactly the right time.

Over the last 9 plus years, I’ve used this forum for a number of things including conversations about family suicide, it’s original premise (the name I gave it then, “Surviving and Beyond”, lives on only in the URL these days). It’s evolved into so much more, for me, and hopefully for at least a few others as well.

Use Your Comments Wisely

Recently, a young woman who is going through her own challenges mentioned that a woman “over 50” gave her crap for sharing her journey via her blog. My first reaction was to want to smack that woman and tell her to shut her pie hole. As I don’t know who she is, nor does it really matter, I’m going to address the message and not the poster, as we used to say.

In the first place, a blog is someone’s own personal space. You can choose to read it or not, but be advised, if you disagree with what they post and attack them, your comment can and will be deleted. If you attack someone who is particularly outspoken and honest (like me for example), you’re liable to see your cruelty discussed at length. Believe me, you’ll recognize yourself though no names or distinguishing features will be mentioned. Unlike you, most of us write about our hardest times so others who are in similar circumstances will feel they’re not alone, or going bat shit crazy.

That’s not to say a dissenting opinion is unwelcome. There’s simply an enormous difference between voicing an opinion and attacking someone. I suspect I’m not alone in blocking a few URL’s for vitriolic comments.

Building a Bridge Instead of a Wall

https://www.flickr.com/photos/17367470@N05/34548761725/in/photolist-UCXrcB-ecCNUL-4zfgf6-dAnmf-ngJT8C-azZxsp-nqHgd-b6nZQ8-eM19w4-2cSiqbp-ax5dgA-27J7Psa-6LxpFR-2bRXjnz-pEj693-j4VCQQ-fmd2HZ-svmgQ3-2es7nPR-7AUKsG-GnaSGd-9KvniY-pzqY5Q-VkF76-25utPi9-aLKEgF-qa3JFd-7pVuMa-cMP8xf-K8vLgj-nEqYEz-JW6mY-fB5met-nqHga-aRccva-JWkte-aFcmuG-JW6n9-7Z3cY8-aLKvYc-AM33ua-5Jgt83-9hYUkR-cu1wuJ-9mTEYo-aR8L6v-28j4DAt-PBhbUU-emC61v-9yg7h6Writing for me has always been a way to hash out things I didn’t feel comfortable talking about. Until 9 years ago, most of what I wrote never saw the light of day. When I started allowing small things to slip and learned others could relate, I gained courage, opening up more and more as time went on. When people who’d clearly been holding onto a lot of crap for years began sharing pieces with me, I knew I was opening up a side of myself that needed to be cracked open for more than my own sake.

I learned what many bloggers before me had; by opening up about our own struggles, we allow others to do so as well. For some of us, our blogs become a safe place, much like a trauma support group where people who share a common trauma can talk about what they’ve experienced without fear of rebuke, attack, or shame.

These days, you can find people blogging about any number of painful subjects for which they might have been shamed or abused in the past. Some write about suicide and mental health like I do. Others write about child abuse, or rape (or both). More and more are opening up about miscarriages too. Like the young woman in my story, I’ve seen several talking about a sudden, unexpected, and decidedly unpleasant change in their marital status.

To all of them, I say “Good for you!! Keep up the good work!”

Holding Onto Our Pain Affects Everyone Near and Far

We need this openness. We need to allow people to talk about the things which Created with Canvamay have caused them to retreat into themselves, bearing a shame that’s not deserved. I know from my own experience, every time someone comments or sends me a message saying they get what I’m talking about, and that they’re glad I brought the subject up, I’m reminded of the value of my words, but more, I heal a little more myself.

I applaud everyone who has been courageous enough to admit their life isn’t perfect in a forum that’s accessible to a world of both strangers and friends. I’m incredibly grateful for those who use their experiences to help make the world a better, place. I’m humbled to be a member of their vulnerable, courageous ranks.

Not everything I share is intense or life-changing. Often I talk about minor struggles; patience, relationships, and such. Sometimes I go off on a rant, or tickle the edges of a political issue. But mostly, I write whatever comes into my head as I traipse through this world with less grace than most, yet more than some. Often, what I write is prompted by something I read or hear from someone else who’s also doing their best to navigate this unpredictable path we call Life.

Honored to Share the Blogosphere With Courageous Women

Created with CanvaThe young woman who prompted this post is going through a divorce she didn’t see coming. She’s not sharing gory details, nor is she bashing her soon-to-be ex. Instead, she’s showing an inordinate amount of class while still sharing the pain, the disillusionment, and the topsy-turvy mess she feels like her life is right now. Unlike me and many from my generation, she’s opening up from the start, asking for help from her friends, sharing her journey, and doing her best to ease her kids into what will be their new version of normal.

I know she’ll be better for her honesty and for refusal to hide her face in shame over something she didn’t cause. As I said, it took me 16 years to start dealing with my mom’s suicide, by then, my dad had been gone 6 years, also by his own hand. My path would have been smoother had I allowed people to see my cracks. Unfortunately, I had to overcome a lifetime of training.

I don’t want to see anyone else suck it up and fumble along alone as I did. If it means talking about the unmentionable stuff, I’ll do it (and have). If it means supporting someone else while they share their own struggles, I’m there, and woe be to anyone who tries to tell them to suffer in silence.

If You Don’t Like What We Write, Don’t Read it!

What it all comes down to is this, what someone writes on their own blog is their https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbbusiness. If you don’t like it, don’t visit. What they write on Social Media is a little more controlled, but if they’re speaking their truth in a respectful manner, again, shut up and walk away if you can’t comment politely. You have no idea what they’re going through, so your judgement is neither wanted nor needed. In it’s worst form, it will do a lot more harm than good.

You and me, we’re in this together. We were put on this Earth to help each other; to uplift and support each other in times of trouble, and to celebrate our victories; our achievements. Life ain’t a competition. There’s enough love, light, and joy to go around. You just have to stop looking for the ugliness. You will always find what you’re looking for, so choose wisely.

Sharing Includes Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful the young women today are less inclined to hold their feelings in, at least for the most part.
  2. I’m grateful people are becoming more sensitive to each other, and more willing to stand and support, instead of bash and tear down.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities to support others and help them along their path. So many have done it for me, once I finally learned to let them.
  4. I’m grateful for the people who love and support me in my journey. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them, and going it alone is a hollow victory anyway.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; community, love, friendship, caring, sharing, blessings, friendship, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Are You Letting Your Hot Buttons Mask What Matters?

Reacting With Your Hot Button

https://www.flickr.com/photos/photofarmer/6257525038/in/photolist-awXsbJ-duQquY-dDiY1D-y5suB-ps5ehG-abz714-o2taeS-ps2G5B-q2jANC-8f15SS-qFjEaK-2TNJE-4JDoLu-dSd8Jk-33E8ba-Ld6UzH-3r5Xf1-9Fy3LS-6V5Qwk-7mK27x-Dqqgc-8iVeJ-5qbL6X-4A42Dv-km1PMr-5c69aT-6wpwbs-6obFPX-4ohi6S-MhvW-3jdEjA-VBYVHD-cHm9EG-5eUJSD-8jzSfk-8Bs1dE-fAT6Ze-8CdsnD-b1Fxi4-8h1ahY-58C1fa-67UbYu-8Ebapf-fJbG1X-AeCBj-MZTR4-62zkMw-fF4Nre-4Dfjiv-4c3tayOnce again, the world, and especially the US is in a turmoil over a hot button. This time, the button is (for the bazillionth time) abortion. Equally predictable is the fact it masks a much more insidious agenda: women’s rights and the current administration’s continued attack on Roe vs. Wade. Make no mistake. The decision in Alabama and elsewhere is nothing less than an effort to take women’s rights back to a time when women were nothing more than chattel, and of less value than a man’s livestock.

Forget the fact that the Human Race would die out in short order without women to continue bearing children. Ignore the fact that all the culling efforts in China to select for male children has led to a serious shortage of those women to give said males a way to keep their name alive. The simple and sordid fact is, men know women have the ability and the brains to be their equal or maybe more, and they’re resorting to underhanded tactics to bring them back to their knees, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.

Women in Power Are Being Manipulated Too

Yet, as the decision in Alabama indicates, there are women in high places who https://www.flickr.com/photos/125303894@N06/14365669046/in/photolist-nTrNV5-2f5PCUZ-28knBCQ-bSRpwg-hSnPyx-otGuDp-azqvRQ-D2QXQh-YVh4U5-8ZJcE3-26bTzFo-eeaBEi-occovQ-9i7bQ5-23CJvTx-rhV1XQ-26LZPM6-nrsG7K-bmnvub-8rRn4C-MZDGbT-HuqYEh-27342hV-HrkwAE-ehfTPF-2734sEP-LgusiG-272GRGH-25DqddG-25Dqn1m-Y2VH7U-LXKfra-LguvaJ-25Dqnoq-25DJuL5-2f1ci9J-25DqbXL-28povan-Lm2wcx-HkMrNJ-2dYUsVs-oaeobo-ZR9qTn-rtFBMa-24ZPYXp-R78K1f-Dymseq-24W5BDs-23CJCE8-21DkYfLare buying into this load of hogwash because the men behind the plan know how to push the hot button called “abortion” and blow it so far out of proportion as to spread rampant lies about late-term abortions which, for the record aren’t abortions at all. They’re Births! Never mind the fact that in the words of Planned Parenthood:

Generally, in the US, abortion is an option from very early pregnancy (somewhere between 4-6 weeks, depending on where you go) until about 24 weeks. Abortions are available later than 24 weeks only in rare cases for medical reasons. (bold and italics added)

I know I’ll take some heat over this reference, but as Planned Parenthood’s primary concern is women’s health, I’m more inclined to believe them than some of the more questionable sources out there.

Fake News Again!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwiUnfortunately, all too many are taking sides on the fake-news-fueled issue, failing to do their own due diligence (no real surprise there) and thinking legislation regulating what women can do with their bodies is a good thing!

Seriously! Let’s listen to science. At least the results are provable and replicable, which is more than I can say for what’s coming out of the mouths of the fanatics lately.

Still and all, people are taking to the streets, social media, and anywhere else they think they have a platform, and shouting their opinions to the hills without digging deeper into the hows and whys of the latest hornswoggling.

Manipulation Runs Rampant

Let’s look at a few possible reasons behind pressing one of our most emotion-grabbing hot buttons:

  • Who is the real power behind the throne, so to speak. In other words, who’s behind everyone jumping into an old, tired, yet still emotionally charged fray?
  • Where are the horrific pictures and videos they’re posting coming from?
  • Why do people react to words and pictures with fabricated captions instead of going back to the source to find out what those words, pictures, and videos really represent?
  • What do all of the emotionally triggered issues have in common when you trace them back to their roots?
  • What are the people behind them truly hoping to achieve?
  • How are they using fear and horror to manipulate others to act and speak instead of think?

When I was younger, I heard a suggestion to count to 10 before voicing anger. The point was, when your ire (or for that matter, any other highly charged emotion) is triggered, it’s unwise to let loose with your first reaction. As I grew older, and life got faster as a result of technology, the sentiment changed a bit, but essentially remained the same. If you want to respond to an email or call which set you off, it’s best to sleep on it before dashing off an emotionally charged tirade.

Acting Without Thinking

In this world of instant gratification, and yes, a proliferation of lemming mentality, people act out their outrage as quickly as it occurs. They don’t take a step back or look closely at what set them off to determine its validity. Their emotions are triggered and they react accordingly.

So we hate entire cultural groups for no good reason. We boycott companies because we’ve been told they mistreated someone from a group we support. Our police officers’ lives are in more danger than ever, and in some cases, they overreact as a result. After all, they’re as human as we are, even if they’re highly trained. You bombard a human with enough stimulation, most will still crack, regardless of training and extraordinary levels of control.

Missing the Point

We jump up and down about the attacks on Roe vs. Wade, the rights of women https://www.flickr.com/photos/ionics/6338284584/in/photolist-aE6nbG-49a2Xa-TLgW2Q-5wAD6N-HGKPP-8UV6CB-6Sg7YA-9QycpZ-6u4T3X-4sC9aH-5nXKzn-5grmh3-ane6BH-W9uq65-62rxQ-Kud31E-XtaBzZ-LdJuy-LdJvu-ePGUFv-aE6qsQ-LdYkF-8Kvnyj-RdeDP4-6Btbw-ekUyG-eSNDQT-ESpkfb-5U4HwZ-66XHwe-a9LTFX-bWTW3k-4YhDF-2qGQSu-5LpPj-4jpvK-vjdRaC-8L6p5A-6HFRB-5r1qA-4jpvJ-4joXu-5QDfE-7qEysG-4jpS4-24RfjoL-bEFCy1-4joXx-43zSs-2e9RpMMto make decisions about their own bodies, and more, missing the entire point, exactly as the button pushers planned. While the shepherd sleeps, the thieves run away with the flock. Except, in this case, we are the sheep.

What rights are we giving away willingly because this game of sleight of hand has us looking in the wrong direction? What are we accepting willingly because we’re reacting with our emotions instead of thinking with our brains. We’re forgetting to ask for the whole story instead of what a bunch of scared old doddering idiots want us to know? How much of our proverbial farm are we going to give away before we wake up and start asking questions? If we ever do.

How long are we going to argue with people who don’t listen before we realize how much effort we’ve wasted, and how much ground we’ve already lost?

Taking a Pause for the Real Cause

If you ask me, it’s in our collective best interests to:

  • Count to 10, or even 100 before reacting/responding to inflammatory stories or comments.
  • Sleep on it before mounting a campaign for, against, or anything else.
  • Dig deep. See what’s behind the comments, decisions, legislation, or campaigns of anyone who raises hot issues once, or repeatedly. Lift the curtain and see what lurks behind it.

All too often, things aren’t what they seem, and few in power have anyone’s best interests at heart but their own. I hate to say it, but in many areas these days, the admonition “Trust No One” is apt and good advice to follow. There are many who, if they told me the sky was blue, I’d go outside and check. Even then, I’d probably do some research about the sky and how we perceive the color. I might even look into colors themselves and what truly constitutes “blue”.

Being a skeptic in today’s climate, even with our own reactions is probably safer, wiser, and in the long run, more efficient. It will save hours of time spent following a rut-ridden path to nowhere fast. I’m taking the position, when all else fails to say “Show me the money”. Not in the usual sense, of asking for payment, but instead, to illuminate the sources behind the stories they want us to buy into. I’ll then be able to do my own due diligence and determine whether I think that source and the information it flings can be trusted.

Questioning Everything Beats Questioning Nothing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/plaisanter/5360979843/in/photolist-8RoeNN-9aJqwX-AHesP-5UZrfW-68j7nm-dKRkGV-dJJaMa-As42TB-78XnSC-6pdkW7-8ZY9dX-8a6tP5-5Ta4hu-noSffW-npbZV7-912e5s-SVpSMZ-jpmvv7-A8zQK-ED531-aiZvpP-6Pe3sh-5Gyyhx-o1WgXU-dJPB8S-rgDZSQ-ehkNmj-ehf44H-9fEBcv-iqqZBP-2bHrrf4-np9yEc-8Jjkj6-RSPQ6r-ehfaxV-912ehG-ehkN5w-TiroUZ-ehf3hD-8ZY9fi-dKWRNj-ehf96H-HPwJ8-cfnus7-9XWTbs-jUjHgu-5UV3xk-5UV3n2-5n8qDB-sskeNRAll too often, when emotions are triggered, I’m already taking the position the source is suspect and fueling it’s own agenda at the expense of the greater good. Then again, I fear the greater good hasn’t been a consideration for a very long time, and it’s supporters are being forced to put their efforts into keeping their own heads above water. The masses are being left without support or representation. History has shown us that turning large groups of people loose to fend for themselves after having their basic needs (food, shelter) provided for lifetimes leads to its own set of problems, both personal and social.

Still, lack of a transitional period gives the powerful reason to point at the failures and convince themselves they’d been right to try to maintain the status quo, ignorant of less obvious basic needs like human dignity. What’s needed instead is simply transition and support rather than casting people out to sink or swim in their hideously under-prepared state. Worse still when support is withdrawn without warning or preparation.

Teaching the Masses to be Self-Supporting

It’s like kicking a baby out of the womb and telling her she must now fend for https://www.flickr.com/photos/linasmith/3920553695/in/photolist-6YrS2n-XDiyeq-5Fkjbt-6a4ZHZ-8KT3ar-7CYE7f-aTVe2g-bRcANF-QNJvjp-8FMx6s-XG4XSg-XQczyE-5S3xnJ-6Jg13D-v9jE8-XQcirE-XQcg1N-XDiBym-aKYTHB-qmw6v-wFFwj-qa7de-tUTQP-qa7gd-XQcv4h-XUg1Wc-rhdSu-tUTW6-aKZ8Zp-5P9Gv2-aKYSdZ-aKYYeK-9tiEZz-aKYVie-5dFPhe-s5SJG-tUTNk-6RmSyD-6iFpQL-fcWq3p-brMQDz-qa7eE-s5SPp-x3Zh3-854v2D-aKYW7T-aKZ1Lx-5dLbJ1-7CUQZV-aWWxggherself. There has been no warning or preparation; no skills learned or even a basic understanding of what needs to be done. Those who ensured the masses could survive and even thrive are now mired in garbage-filled bogs, fighting for their own lives, unable to offer even a minimal amount of guidance or support.

Still, the masses think with their hot buttons, react to wildly exaggerated claims, and fight amongst themselves, just as they’re supposed to. They’re rats in a maze, changing directions with every new electrical shock. Mindlessly racing around, getting nowhere, until they collapse from exhaustion, little realizing they’re locked in an endless, unsolvable maze, dancing to someone else’s tune.

Created with CanvaIf you ask me, the world needs a pause button to give people time to catch up, breathe, stop reacting, and learn some of those critical skills so they can advocate for themselves and their peers. More, they deserve an opportunity to see the truth, and to properly dispose of all the garbage being flung. There’s still beauty and purpose underneath all the crap, but the chest-pounding, reacting, and internal fighting has to stop before we’ll see the flower pushing it’s way through the sidewalk crack.

Are you ready to give that flower space to bloom? I’ll bring the broom if you’ll grab a rake and help me clear the way.

Let’s Do This Together!

Are you struggling to wade through all the garbage that keeps you from reaching your goals? Would you like to help clearing the way? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Start Clearing the Way With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my community. We have people who know how to navigate the sewer of falseness, and see where we’re being manipulated rather than led. We share research, and more, support each other.
  2. I’m grateful for setbacks which teach me I’m not alone in finding those who’d hold me back for their own gain.
  3. I’m grateful for strength to weather a setback, and with the help of my friends and community, get back up and forge forward again.
  4. I’m grateful for my butt-kickers who empathize, but don’t allow me to wallow.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, friendship, support, community, lessons, challenges, opportunities, healthy, 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

We Are Stronger As A Community

Our Community is Our Family

Jesse Watrous PhotographyIn tragedy, families pull together. Not only families by blood, but families formed of a mutual love for something or someplace. My family is formed of people who dance, and specifically, people who dance at Borderline Bar and Grill.

By the time you’re reading this, a few weeks will have passed since the terrible tragedy which shook our home to it’s very foundation. And perhaps it’s for the best that I schedule my posts 2-3 weeks ahead these days. When this publishes, services will have been held, good-byes will have been said, and displaced dancers, with the help of an amazingly supportive community will have found temporary places to gather, dance, and do what we do best; hug each other, not only with our arms but with our hearts.

Too Many Internalize Their Pain Until They Explode

I’ve been through  my share of tragedies over the years; some personal, others affecting my community. 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-di6ynQI’ve learned healing is more profound, more deep-set when the process is shared with others. I learned the hard way that internalizing pain makes it fester and grow until it eventually comes out in an explosion, and for some, with disastrous consequences.

Our world is home to far too many lonely, broken people and their pain turns to anger and hate when the media continually spews angry and false messages from every orifice. I can see how someone who is already despondent and alone can be stirred to acts of violence. They know it won’t assuage their pain or their feelings of disonnectedness, but they lash out in the only way they know how. Such was likely the case for the young man who killed 12 people he probably didn’t even know on November 7, 2018 in the quiet little town of Thousand Oaks, California.

I’m torn between anger at the way he invaded our home and took lives he had no right to take, and compassion for someone who was so desperately unhappy, so alone that the hate-filled messages spewing from media, both traditional and social fueled a fire inside him that deadened his already dysfunctional moral compass. He is just one more symptom of a society that is severely broken; that neglects those who need our care and compassion the most.

Sometimes, We Simply Have To Be There For Our Family

I don’t have any answers right now. The pain so many of my friends and family are feeling is often overwhelming to me, as it is to the rest of the Empaths and HSP’s around here. We have, not only the murders in our own home to process, but loss of life and property from two wildfires which began before the dust could clear, or the murder investigation finish. Many of my extended family were displaced, albeit temporarily. Some may have lost their homes. We’ve all been affected, either by being evacuated, or taking someone in.

The common thread, though, is keeping everyone together. Several Facebook groups have sprung up, a number of group messages are alive and well, text messages are burning up the phone lines. In short, we’re all reaching out to each other in this time of pain and confusion because it’s what families and communities do.

Connection Is a Learned Skill

I understand to some extent how many feel disconnected because I was one of them not long ago. https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/40513877112/in/photolist-24J5dbC-xLBnC-qDMybP-8uuvzF-er1tf-8S5Btn-5NYfwV-LihYBt-g4kBQ-S442nL-ceYb9U-g5JpWL-jTQZz6-cfHP9u-fauq5P-ahCCN2-isiMDz-6ViLeY-2EJXG4-HC2MUT-BU26S-5jegSL-VYGMA1-5j9Xzn-eB4adY-nBPSrp-5j9ZhH-dkoQLa-nbdfPZ-4FD4L1-dZ3Vjx-mbSGYM-dsW4Bs-6w75Kx-7sZRqK-8KRTG2-Mysc7N-LM2cLA-eXrUyD-faz3Az-dAR84B-8S8Fa7-7hKbWd-pYwhq-z2MhH-6jxdb7-261SwZS-ee4Pp7-vv8vw-8TKhq3Connecting with other people is a scary proposition when you’re used to living behind mile-high walls and wearing masks to cover up your true feelings. Admitting you’re not strong enough to handle all of life’s challenges alone is terrifying because you have no idea how people will react. You expect ridicule, abuse, and humiliation rather than love, compassion, understanding, and support, so you don’t reach out.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Something, or in truth, a lot of someone’s managed to detach me from the death grip I had on my walls and showed me my worst fears would not come to pass. I found love, compassion, and common ground from people who, themselves, had faced their own challenges. I learned none of us have storybook lives. We all have to face things which test our strength, and learn those challenges are more easy to face when we have a support system to hold us up when our strength falters.

Without a support system; a community it’s easier to entrench ourselves in a sea of misery than to reach out and get smacked down for our efforts. Unfortunately, in that place of despair, we often attract those who aren’t kind or caring. Our worst fears are realized because we attract others who are angry and displaced, and who are looking for someone or something to take their pain out on.

Communities Supporting Other Communities

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyThough I wasn’t directly affected by the fires or the shooting, the outpouring of support I received from many directions was both unexpected and heartwarming. Even now, as services, fund raisers, and vigils are held for the victims and the survivors, and I’m overwhelmed by heavy emotions on all sides, that support system I’m still somewhat amazed to find is there when I flounder.

Above all, the despair, discouragement, and depression I suffered in my 40’s and part of my 50’s has become a land I remember with no fondness, and where I have no desire to return. Not only have I opened my own heart to many, I’ve been privileged to have many hearts open to me as well.

I find myself wishing at times I’d figured all this out sooner. Yet I know I figured it out at exactly the right time. I had to have those experiences; some of them rather horrific, in order to be absolutely certain I’d do whatever it took to avoid returning to the sad, disconnected, angry woman I once was. If nothing else, I prefer the people I attract these days, and the ability to recognize the occasional narcissist who wanders into range, and detach before he/she gains a foothold to suck my soul energy as I allowed too many times before. I’ve learned I owe it, not only to myself, but to my extended family to be strong and whole; able to be part of a synergy which receives when they need it and gives back when they don’t.

Receiving vs. Taking

That’s pretty much the key. Learning to receive rather than take. It’s a concept I struggled with for a long

time because I didn’t understand there was a difference. But there definitely is. We receive when we are an integral part of a cycle; a kind of chain. Sometimes we’re the giver and others, by receiving, they allow us to give. But we must also reverse our position at times without feeling we’re taking advantage of the givers. We’re simply part of a balanced relationship where everyone feels appreciated, respected, and most of all, cherished.

I cannot properly express how grateful I am to be part of this loving, synergistic family and community. It’s one of the rare occasions when words fail me, and only heartfelt hugs can communicate what I feel.

#BorderlineStrong #CountryStrong #LineDancing #TwoStepping #DanceCommunity

Grateful For Everyone In My Ever-Expanding Family

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful beyond words for my dance family.
  2. I am grateful for the outpouring of support and the opportunities to be supportive myself.
  3. I am grateful for love that is infinite and endless.
  4. I am grateful for hearts which have become one; strong, powerful, resilient, and unyielding when faced with life’s challenges.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, family, community, support, dancing, footprints in the sand, 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.

Communities Come in Many Flavors

Everyone Needs a Community

I’ve talked a lot about Community in the last few months, mostly because, until recently, I believed to the depths of my soul I didn’t need one. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but I was raised to believe the only way to be truly independent was to depend on myself and no one else. Above all, I should never ask for help.

In the realm of self-limiting beliefs, that one is, if not at the top of the list, it’s pretty darn near. Without other people, we severely limit our progress to our own knowledge and abilities.

It doesn’t matter if your community is purely social like the dance community is for me. Within any community are people and resources, or connections to people and resources who can help you over a mountain you don’t have the skills or ability to climb alone. They become your climbing team as you scale personal mountains which rival the height and challenges of a trek up Everest. Without the leg up your community provides, you’d be either stuck at the bottom trying to get a foothold, or down some crevasse with no one to toss a rope and pull you out.

Lack of Community Equals Lack of Growth

We limit ourselves when we choose not to reach out. Yes, I said “choose”, because asking for help truly is a choice, and one I eschewed for years in my mistaken belief it was a sign of weakness. I’ve learned the strongest people I know didn’t reach their levels of fulfillment and success alone. Those who have, or claim they have stand on shaky ground and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to shore up their position. The trouble is, without a community, a team, their building materials are faulty and will ultimately fail them; typically at the most inopportune time possible.

Admittedly, going from isolated, half blind hermit to contributing member of a community hasn’t happened over night, nor have I fully embraced the concept of asking for help. I often dismiss suggestions about selling my services, for instance, without considering them from all sides. I still think, though I have no physical evidence to support my claim, that I’m doing things the best way possible for my beliefs and temperament.

There are those in my community who may actually have some ideas to increase my odds of success. But I have to stop asking “why?” and start asking “why not?”. What do I have to lose in considering their suggestions? Instead of dismissing them out of hand, how can I modify them so they work for me?

Communities Offer a Choice of Seeds

I talked recently about planting seeds instead of beating people over the head with ideas which run counter to their own. There are times I need to wake up and pay attention to my own words. Being a part of a community means (at least if you’ve found one which aligns with your own values) you’re offered a wide array of seeds to choose from. Your best option isn’t always the one that looks the prettiest and yields your favorite fruit. It might be the one that makes you cringe a little, forcing you to look behind the veil you’ve thrown over things that scare you.

I don’t mean leaping off cliffs or walking through fire scare you. It’s more about taking a few steps in a direction you feel you’re not prepared to walk; a direction which requires skills you haven’t yet learned to trust, but which will, given the chance, stand up to the test, even if part of the journey is spent tempering them so they’ll withstand the weight you put on them as you move further into the new path.

Support May Take the Form of a Kick in the Butt

The right community will provide both support and a kick out of your comfy nest, sometimes in equal parts. In others, you’ll feel like the football in a 40 yard field goal, flying through the air, praying you’ll fly gracefully between the arches and land safely on the other side. In those moments, it’s easy to forget your community will be on the other side, if not to catch you, at least to lead your bruised and battered self off the field for some much-needed R & R until you’re ready to launch again.

Can you get all the support you need, as well as the opportunity to support others within a single community? Perhaps. But I’m also learning in order to attract all of the people, skills, and opportunities you need to fulfill your hopes and dreams (assuming you’re willing to subject yourself to a few baptisms by fire, of course), you need different communities. Each serves a different purpose and brings unique skill-sets to your table, while offering both the support and the blunt, butt-kicking honesty you need to kick that rut some call a comfort zone to the curb.

If One is Good, Two or Three is Exponentially Better

At the moment, I see 3 very distinct communities in my life which are all doing their best to propel mehttps://www.flickr.com/photos/ekilby/16654251449/in/photolist-rnFoJn-apL7G5-8dGq5W-3w8Ke-8hXDgU-jghTD-88g1hy-5TtJq-4HTyY3-bKMwoD-gmMGf-8SggFs-aR1use-9QsYh-6Lego9-dHJajk-6Uqg5T-HBz66U-6wBgGs-6EMd2b-3i2FAx-RdqC6h-aBYCYg-8cSZJL-eSGonX-3i1qEx-ov2XaG-eSTPh3-6KYT7T-dg1bo-3i2hPa-YC8cK9-3i1vc4-f9zQVL-79EZcb-6KYSRe-josrJ-imGePS-josiC-joscd-3i6Gk9-6LbHPt-jore9-9ZD8oy-5cot6h-2un1k7-jorVf-jorbz-4H1Zbr-7GDbMJ into the life I envision. The first is the one which allows me to be my plain, unadorned self, and actually have physical and energetic contact with other humans; my dance family. The other 2 are online, and to date, I’ve yet to meet anyone in person. It doesn’t make them any less effective. They serve a different purpose. One is the #Heartfelt community, and especially, Linda Clay. The other is Landon Porter’s #GorillaArmy (Getting Clients without being Sales-y). He’s created a boot camp he calls the Treasure Hunt which is full of actionable ideas to, quite bluntly, get off your butt and grow your business. I’ve been through it once, and am getting ready to go through it again.

Communities of One Count Too

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a number of individuals who don’t fit into any of my communities, but are, maybe a community of their own. One is, of course, my daughter Heather. She has been encouraging me for years, but inspires me with her actions more than anything. She has become somewhat of a hero to me for so many reasons.

The second is my oldest (as in years known) friend. We met in elementary school, and when my family moved, so did hers, putting is into the same High School. We weren’t especially close most of those years, but she is a HUGE reality check for me more often than not, and does one heck of a job kicking my butt when I need it.

Lighting the Way

In truth, when we open ourselves up to the benefits of belonging to a community, it opens our eyes to how many people have been lurking in shadows of our own making, possibly for decades. They’ve waited patiently for us to realize they’re encouraging us silently until we allow them to be more open about it, allow ourselves to receive instead of always giving.

As usual, this post has taken on a life of it’s own and gone in a direction I hadn’t intended when I started. As always, I trust it’s the direction it was meant to take, and know the side roads are not a detour, but a course adjustment.

We all need a reminder now and then to not only recognize our communities, but to appreciate and be grateful for all they offer. The give as well as the take. The support as well as the chance to support others. A network of people, skills, and knowledge we could never achieve on our own. Not least of all is the limitless opportunity to climb as many increasingly treacherous mountains as we want, provided we’re willing to be kicked out of our nest time and time again by our loving, supportive family.

And Always Being Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have supported me for years, waiting patiently for me to both acknowledge and appreciate their support, but also to do something with it. Heather, Candy, Joleen, Lorna, Anne, just to name a few. There are truly so many I’m overwhelmed and can’t always comprehend the magnitude of my support system.
  2. I am grateful for inspiration which is continuing to keep me, albeit barely, two weeks ahead on my blog posts. I look forward to expanding my “lead” in the next few weeks.
  3. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned which make me less fearful of stepping into uncharted territory.
  4. I am grateful for the people who continue coming into my life as I rip away layers of protection I’m finally learning weren’t protecting me at all, but were holding me back.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, community, guidance, lessons, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch my Facebook Live about Community here.

 

About the Author

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

When the Light Bulb Comes On, You Find Your Purpose

Finding My Purpose Was the Ultimate Aha Moment

I’ve been searching for my purpose for a very long time. Many times, I thought I had it figured out, only to lose momentum and realize I hadn’t found it at all. This week, a lot of things changed for me. I rode an emotional roller coaster that makes The Demon seem tame. I’ve been up and down the continuum, from happy to miserable, joyous to furious.

The ride was wild and uninhibited, opening up doors I’d sworn I’d nailed shut. But in the end, I realized one vitally important thing: I have to put my efforts into educating people about mental health and depression, de-stigmatizing them so people who need help but can’t ask will find that help in all of us. Even more, I need to keep working to de-stigmatize suicide, not only for those who saw it as their only option and are no longer around to defend their actions, but for the family, friends, and loved ones they leave behind. It’s time those who had no control over another’s actions stopped bearing the overwhelming guilt, blame, anger, and pain of something over which they had absolutely no control, and in fact, probably never saw coming.

Inserting My Purpose Into My Life, or Maybe My Life Into My Purpose

I’m not sure at this point how I’ll work my purpose into my business, or even into my life, but I finally feel

like I have one, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a giant leap in the right direction. At times like this, the words of my healing teacher, Michelle, come back to me. She said, “Paint in broad strokes.” What she meant by that (or perhaps how I interpret it) is to look at the big picture of what you want and don’t get hung up in the details. Or, to put it more simply, figure out what you want and let the Universe figure out the hows.

It’s easy to say, but it doesn’t stop me from fretting over how I’m going to connect with people who can and will benefit from my skills and experiences in a way that helps open up dialogue on such incredibly sensitive subjects. In the last week or so, I’ve seen some brilliant observations, and I’ve seen some which are irresponsibly ignorant; the most notable from a self-professed mental health professional who had the audacity to proudly proclaim he’d never lost a client to suicide. It led me to wonder exactly what kind of clients his practice attracts, and whether he picks and chooses who he’ll serve based on his assessment of their stability and suitability for his own needs.

Levels of Awareness

The truth is, I am still not sure where I’ll fit into the continuum between the masses who are ignorant of the challenges faced by people who suffer depression or other mental health issues and the large portion of our population who are often ignored and forgotten along with family and friends who are also at a loss for how to help. I suspect that now I’ve put my purpose into words; into a short description, those who serve the people I want to help will start appearing in my life. But patience isn’t my strong suit.

If I had my way, I’d already know of 10 people I could talk to about helping raise awareness, not only for those who judge without adequate facts, but for those who huddle in their own darkness, perhaps unaware that help could be found without having to actually step forward and ask. Instead, I remind myself to trust that not only those 10 people, but plenty more will come into my life at exactly the right time.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to hone my message, be clearer about what I want to do to help, and do my research so I better understand the mission I’m undertaking. Part of that I know is understanding even the professionals don’t understand all the ins and outs of the human mind. Often, what they treat are symptoms, because they’re unable to determine the root cause.

Understanding Current Practices and Treatments

Maybe treating the symptoms is necessary to clear some of the defense mechanisms away. The mind is a pretty powerful mechanism. It is hard coded to protect us, even when some of those protections are no longer needed. Sometimes, wires get crossed, but as it’s a brain instead of a computer, the wires aren’t actually visible.

To me it’s a bit like gaining the trust of a cat who was born in the wild. You have to move slowly and allow them to see you mean them no harm. If you don’t, ingrained behaviors take over causing them to flee if they can, fight if they can’t. All of us have that fight or flight mechanism. Many of us have learned to minimize its influence so we can try new things, and explore outside our comfort zone. But what about those who can’t?

Imagine being stuck in your comfort zone forever, unable to step outside. After awhile, it gets cluttered and dusty, but you have no place to move things out to make more room. The lights go out but you can’t get to the light to change the bulb, even if you could find one in the midst of the clutter. So you sit in the dark with nothing to occupy you but your own thoughts. Those thoughts get darker and twistier each time you pull them out to examine them. Your mind creates more and more reasons to stay put and not venture out, more potentially unpleasant or dangerous outcomes to contemplate. You no longer know what’s outside your four walls, and are terrified to find out.

To me, and many others, shaking free of those fears so we can get out and experience life is a no-brainer. Yet even there, we’re on different levels. Some see the idea of jumping out of a plane or bungee jumping as an exhilarating challenge. You’ll never find me doing either due to a combination of fear and lack of desire to feel that kind of adrenaline rush.

Every Comfort Zone Has its Place

I’ve known people who love to dance, but would never be the first one out on the floor for fear people would be watching them. Until someone voiced that fear, it never even crossed my mind. When I realize there are people who succumb to their fears instead of being able to challenge and overcome them, it makes me very sad but also inspires me to look for ways to help.

Sure, I’ve had my own bouts of depression; some lasted years and I didn’t even know I was there. Once I recognized it for what it was, though, I was able to make some changes. It doesn’t mean I don’t spend more than the “normal” amount of time alone, but I’m fortunate in that I rather enjoy my own company, and can keep myself occupied while alone in a multitude of ways, some of them even productive.

For now, I’ll leave myself open for clues and opportunities without worrying the whole thing to death. I know at the right time and in the right place, the people I’m meant to serve will appear in my life.

Experiencing Gratitude is the Ultimate Mood Booster

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to have finally figured out my purpose.
  2. I am grateful for the people who have come through my life and taught me lessons which brought me to where I am right now, and will take me to the next steps sooner rather than later.
  3. I am grateful for aches and pains as they remind me to take better care of my body through exercise and nutrition.
  4. I am grateful for friends and family who share their struggles with me, and let me share mine with them. I realize I am so much more fortunate than many who lack the ability or the opportunity.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, opportunities, introspection, friendship, support, joy, peace, harmony, kindness, compassion, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

Anti-Procrastination Plan

 

Itchy, twitchy, and utterly scattered

This week has been especially challenging for me, despite the relative calm in my life as the New Year begins. While running errands on Tuesday, I felt especially cranky, yet there was no good reason for it. My stomach was full, I had water with me, people in the stores were friendly…I was just out of sorts for no particular reason.

I did miss three dancing nights this week and my only excuses were exhaustion and a badly swollen and painfull knee. Yet I really didn’t do that much. Monday I actually got a few hours of work in, Tuesday I did my 3 hour errand marathon, and Wednesday I made another vat of turkey stewp. But none of that should have worn me out to the point of missing dance nights! And yet I did.

By Thursday, I was edgy, twitchy, and unsettled. I even took a few moments to go stand in the rain, barefooted on the newly green front lawn (ok, it’s weeds, but they’re green!) until my feet were too frozen to maintain my position. Yet the twitchy-ness continued.

Lunar Lunacy

My only explanation for this malady of sorts is the full moon mostly hidden by the cloud cover which has become an integral part of the sunny Southern California landscape of late. (seems the El Nino our inimitable weather services predicted for the last two years finally arrived after they stopped predicting its imminent arrival!)

Yet, as the week wore on and I got a few things done I’d been avoiding, I found myself feeling more settled. Was procrastination the ultimate culprit?

Procrastination: Same story, different day

Procrastination occurs for a plethora of reasons. I won’t profess to understand everyone else’s but here are a few of mine:

  1. Boredom
  2. Fear
  3. Anxiety
  4. Unpleasant tasks (or those I’ve convinced myself are unpleasant)
  5. Laziness

Sometimes, the hard part is catching yourself avoiding what you know needs to be done, and getting out of your own way. I should know by now that if I’d rather be cleaning, I’ve really talked myself around a task.

To wit: I’ve needed to transfer the preliminary outline I finished this week to a Word document. Yet Thursday came and I’d yet to begin. In fact, I hadn’t even taken the notebook out of my laptop case until Wednesday night! Yet I still found reasons to put it off. I really need to read some of the blog posts I’ve been saving. Or how about: I need to do laundry right now. As if I hadn’t perfected the art of late night chores decades ago!

Using crankiness to devise my anti-procrastination plan

Now that I’ve actually put a couple of chapters worth of outline into that Word document, I feel less tense and irritable. The feeling has been replaced by anticipation and expectation, but it beats being cranky for no reason! At some point, I am going to learn to sit myself down and do that which challenges me instead of finding all sorts of ways to avoid it until I don’t even want to be in the same room with myself. It seems I’m much better at keeping commitments I make to other people than I am about keeping them with myself.

As I let this idea germinate for a couple of days, I finally came to the conclusion that I am a starter but not a finisher. I get bored or frustrated with a project, and put it aside, sometimes forever. I need to give myself small milestones so I’ll feel like I’m accomplishing something. Getting the outline on paper was one of those milestones. Putting it into Word so I can play with it, move things around, and,  more importantly, expand on it is another. Using it to improve my story is yet another step in the long road to publication. One I’ve made much longer through my procrastination.

Being my most treasured client

Someone gave me a piece of advice when I was struggling with marketing myself. They said to think of myself as one of my very best clients and put that same effort into the marketing. I think that same piece of advice applies to commitments I make to myself. Whether it’s getting that outline done, working on one of my books, writing in general, drafting regular blog posts, or doing work for a client, there should be no difference in quality or commitment. Am I truly alone in failing to see the disconnect? The shoddy workmanship on tasks for myself?

I read a story last night about a carpenter who decided to retire. His boss asked him to build one last house. Part way through the project, he started getting lazy and sloppy. He did sub-standard work and used cheaper materials. At the end of the project, his boss handed him the keys. He said he’d have done a better job if he’d known he was doing it for himself.

I seem to do the opposite. My clients get my best work, and I get what’s left over. The spoils. Instead, everyone should be getting my best work. Don’t we all deserve the very best I can give? Myself included?

Manageable pieces for a successful anti-procrastination plan

One thing I have learned lately is that I don’t need to write an entire blog post in one sitting. Sometimes, I start an idea and as the day goes on, other things occur to me. I need to allow this to happen. I can write a few thoughts which occur to me, then go on to other things and let the thoughts germinate. If I’m lucky, the germination makes for a better post.

I took my time finishing this post, though a good part of that time was spent farting around instead of really accomplishing anything. Sometimes I need to do that to see where I’m shooting myself in the foot. For now, knowing I need an anti-procrastination plan is the first step. Like an alcoholic, I need to admit I have a problem before I can format a plan and create manageable steps to fix it.

What we need is a 12-step program for procrastinators

I invite all who suffer from procrastination and self-sabotage to join me in taking the first step: admitting we have a problem. Maybe even start a support group; some might call it accountability partners, to help each other form anti-procrastination plans with those small milestones we need to keep us interested. Even give each other honest advice about those plans. I know I tend to form some that are just not manageable, and drop by the wayside. If someone were to look at my plan and tell me when I need to break the pieces into smaller chunks, I know it would help. And if they checked in to see if I was truly accomplishing those smaller chunks, the guilt alone would kill me if I hadn’t. Here’s my first step. Will you share yours?

My name is Sheri and I’m a procrastinator. I start projects but never take them to completion.

It all starts with gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the honesty with which I view myself.
  2. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned, and those yet to come.
  3. I am grateful for support groups.
  4. I am grateful for honesty, however painful it might be at first. In the end, it’s what makes us great.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, hope, dreams, plans, successes, failures, challenges, lessons, support, giving, receiving, love, philanthropy, peace, harmony, 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!

Are you interested in helping me form an anti-procrastination support group? Fill in the form below and share your thoughts!

Photo courtesy of Gavin Firkser via Flickr

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.

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