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

Posts tagged ‘technology’

Catching up with Technology a Tune at a Time

Technology, a Tune, and the Gym

When I first joined a gym, music was delivered via a portable CD player and corded headphones. It wasn’t optimal as you had to be careful not to jostle the player or the CD would skip.

Over he years, I’ve evolved from the CD player to a variety of MP3 players, and finally to Pandora on my iPhone. Typically a little behind the times, I finally ditched the cord stuffed down my shirt and into the pocket with my phone and graduated to cordless Bluetooth headphones.

The first time I used them I asked myself “what took you so long?”. Not only is it easier to work out without having to worry about where the cord is hanging, but the sound quality and noise cancellation, even from an inexpensive set is light years beyond the standard set that comes with the phone.

Sure, I have to remember to charge the things, but my kleptomania cat, Pyewacket has made that easier. He can’t steal them if they’re plugged in. Granted, I’ve spoiled his fun a little, but he’s yet to run out of things to steal off my desk, dresser, and nightstand. He might have to be a bit more creative these days though.

Music for Focus

Music is and always has been a huge part of my life, though not so much making it as listening or moving to it. I typically have it playing in the background while I work. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing, editing, or doing accounting work. I need the music to keep me focused.

At the gym, it helps keep me focused, but also acts as a deterrent to other people there. With the plugs in my ears, they’re less likely to try and engage me in conversation. I know that sounds bitchy, but I consider my gym time to be much like my daily meditations and walks. It’s me time I don’t care to share with anyone.

What I mean is, I use my gym time to connect with myself. Maybe not in the same way as when I walk or meditate. While working out I have to pay attention to what machine or set of free weights I’m using, how many reps and sets I’ve done, and ensuring I’m using the right muscles. Sure, there are spaces of time between sets and when I switch stations, but often I use them to work on a piece of my writing.

Sometimes it’s a new blog post, others, it’s a tricky part in one of my books that didn’t want to flow properly. The combination of music in my ears and pushing my body to its limits is often a boost to my creative side, though don’t ask me why.

 A Late Bloomer to the Value of Music

Unlike my daughters, I didn’t discover how much music could help me focus until I was an adult. Then again, I didn’t have all the options available today, or even in the last 20 years for taking my music with me. Even the days of the Walkman or portable CD player involved dragging a couple of CD’s or tapes with me unless I wanted to listen to the same thing over and over.

Once I was able to connect to a music site like Pandora or Spotify, it not only simplified how I obtained my music, but gave me variety that wasn’t available with a tape or CD, without having to download music onto my own device.

Ultimately I realized I worked better with music whether in my home office or someone else’s. I was fortunate to have a private office in my last job where I could play music through my computer as long as I kept the volume at a reasonable level.

Music for Productivity

It’s funny though. Now that I am in a home office where there’s no one around to Created with Canvadisturb, I still find keeping the music at a low volume is most conducive to productivity. I’ve learned it isn’t really about the volume, or drowning anything out. It’s about having background noise so I can focus on what I need to do for longer stretches of time before getting twitchy and needing outside stimulus.

By the time my daughters came along with some of the same mental monkeys playing havoc with their concentration, I’d learned background music was the solution, and made sure they had access to it while they studied or worked.

As much as I hate housework, it’s a lot easier to get it done with Blood, Sweat, and Tears or Chicago playing in my ears and drowning out the vacuum! If it makes something I dislike doing tolerable, imagine what it’s doing for the ones I love to do. I know my writing sessions are longer with music playing in the background. I can stay put long enough to set up a month’s worth of Medium posts, bopping along to the Beatles, or another band from the 60’s and 70’s.

The Right Background Music for the Task at Hand might think it’s nostalgia that caused me to set up both a “Blood, Sweat and Tears” station and a “Simon and Garfunkel” station on my Pandora account. The truth is, their music continues to inspire and uplift me today. Perhaps it’s the poetry in the lyrics, or the way you can hear each instrument and voice adding it’s piece to the song.

Perhaps it’s words I can relate to. But I don’t try to analyze or explain it beyond saying I like what I like.

What I know for sure is having the tunes playing in my ears is responsible for keeping me going to the gym 3 times a week, for helping me schedule a month’s worth of posts on Medium in advance, and for days when I write 2 blog posts, or several thousand words on one of my books. It clearly works for me, so I’m not about to mess with a good thing.

A Word for the Ones Who Prefer Silence

I’m aware some people work best in complete silence, and I respect that. We are, after all, unique unto ourselves. I can say working in complete silence, except on rare occasions drives me bonkers. In fact, when it is completely silent in my office, I’m usually talking a blue streak to myself or the cats, just to break the silence.

There is one place I’ve found I work best without music, but if I’m honest, there’s music, just not from a mechanical or electronic source. Every morning, I take about a 20-minute walk. I leave my headphones home, and though I carry my phone in case of emergency, it remains in my pocket, a silent weight reminding me I can get help if I need it (though thankfully, it’s unlikely).

Sounds of the Neighborhood are Their Own Music, I have either the cacophony of my own thoughts keeping me company, or better still, birdsong. There’s also the whoosh and whirr of people in their cars heading for work, school, or errands when I’m walking along one of the main streets, and the barking of the neighbors’ dogs as they announce the presence of someone disturbing their morning nap, or alerting their owner to a possible intruder.

Occasionally, I’ll encounter other people enjoying the quiet time in the morning when most people have already gone off to work or school. The heat of the day hasn’t yet driven them inside but it’s early for kids to be running around in the park, their laughter a cheerful counterpoint to the chirping and barking.

I love listening to the sounds of the day in the few minutes I’m out walking. I’ve even made a game of trying to get out early enough so I’ll be through the park before a train blasts through, wheels clacking on the rails and whistle piercing the air to warn people to keep the intersection clear while it passes. Even this is me time when I’m free to think my thoughts or not, move my body and get it primed for the day ahead, and practice “Being” instead of “Doing”.

Your Turn to Weigh In

What works for you when you’re diving into the day’s tasks? Do you get the chores out of the way first so you can do the things you later? Do you mix them up? Do you work in silence or does music play a major part in your productivity? If so, do you like it loud and raucous? Soft and dreamy? Jazzy? A mix? How do you get your engine primed and operating at peak performance? You are unique, so what works for you should be as well. Please share in the comments.

Gratitude Infiltrates Everything I Do

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for music (guess that one would be obvious from the post), and how delivery has become simpler over the years.
  2. I’m grateful for me time when I can do or not, but mostly be.
  3. I’m grateful for the technology that gives me choices, variety, and simplification.
  4. I’m grateful for the productivity I enjoy when I have music to motivate me.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, productivity, joy, friendship, dancing, kitty love, a stress-free life, music, incentives, opportunities, health, harmony, peace, 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

Could We Survive an Apocolypse?

Could You Survive Without Technology?

Every day, people in “developed” countries become more dependent on technology. Computers replace pen and paper, even in classrooms. Microwaves and fast food replace good old-fashioned cooking. We get the food we eat from packages instead of the ground. Cell phones are replacing landlines.

But what will happen if we get a major sunspot event or geomagnetic storm that knocks out all our electronics? How many will be prepared to manage without the modern conveniences on which we’ve become so dependent?

Making Use of My Resources

I’m fortunate in that I can cook for myself, and still use my manual writing skills frequently. Unlike some of my friends, I don’t have a garden in my backyard where I could be growing a lot of my own fruits and vegetables. Heaven knows I have the space, but the few times I’ve tried growing things, the poor plants ended up dying of neglect. I can’t seem to remember to do things like watering and weeding regularly.

Still, if push came to shove, I’d find a way to use my ample ground space to grow food for me and other people too. And let’s face it, much of what comes out of the ground could be eaten raw if need be.

So many people in our society are ill-prepared for life without technology. They’ve never kept a set of books by hand or cooked a meal from scratch. They don’t know how to sew a button on a shirt, much less mend it. Worse, they’re used to getting instant responses. How would they fare if what we now refer to as “snail mail” was their only means of communication at a distance? The days it would take to send a letter back and forth would have them climbing the walls in frustration.

Learning to be More Self-Sufficient wish I had some of the skills my friends have like remodeling a house with their own hands, or growing a lush garden to share with friends and neighbors. Because I still retain some of the manual skills I learned as a child and young adult, I suspect I’d adapt, but I’d sure as hell want to align myself with those who already have the skills I lack, and who could teach them to me!

I pride myself in keeping fit and active physically, even to the point of doing my own housework, though I hate it. I’m grateful I am still able to do it at all!

I look at people today, glued to their phones, posting selfies and statuses on Facebook wherever they go, constantly in touch with friends via text or Messenger. What would happen if their phones went dark?

Figuring Out How to Stay Connected

For that matter, what would happen to my own group of friends? We’ve become dependent on Social Media and our phones to organize gatherings, reach out to each other when someone has been unusually silent, or missing from events, and to share pieces of our lives. How would we keep everything going; everyone together without technology?

Considering sending fliers through the mail like we used to is an option, but a costly one. The price of a stamp keeps rising, though I haven’t seen an improvement in service. Email, Evites and Ecards has reduced the amount of things we send through the mail. Even a lot of our monthly bills arrive electronically now. Why invest in stamps, paper, and envelopes when you can send the document virtually free through a website or email?

Would we even have electricity, gas, or water without a computer somewhere making sure the distribution system is functioning properly?

Being Prepared in as Many Ways as Possible in California, we’re cautioned to have an earthquake kit. I wonder if it would be enough to withstand an extended halt to what we’ve come to consider “necessary services”. In 1994, I was without power, gas, and water for a couple of days. Other areas fared far worse. I managed OK by keeping the refrigerator and freezer closed and using my barbecue to heat food. The local Von’s was gouging people for drinking water though, charging $20 for a single gallon.

These days, I usually have at least 10 gallons of fresh water in the house, and more than 1 tank of propane. I even have some firewood for my portable fire pit, and a good supply of food, assuming the outage doesn’t last long and defrost the contents of my freezer. I have an ample supply of food for my furry roommates, and the ones who keep the rat population in check as well. (Their job might get busier depending on the kind of disaster). I’ve also learned to fill my gas tank before it drops below 1/4 of a tank.

I’m willing to bet I don’t have many of the recommended items for a crisis, and I definitely don’t have everything in one convenient place. Still, I feel like I’m better prepared than most. As long as I have books, writing supplies, flashlights, and batteries, I’ll manage OK even if I have to eat the contents of my freezer defrosted but unheated. Everything in there is fully cooked, so it wouldn’t be a health issue.

Ensuring My Community Will Remain Intact

How can we help each other prepare? How can we ourselves reconfigure our to be ready to shift gears should much of what we’ve come to depend on become unavailable for an indeterminate amount of time?

My words might sound alarmist to some, but many a science fiction writer has addressed some form of major crisis on Earth. Most of what was written in the early to mid-1900’s has come to pass in one form or another. Everything from rockets to Mars, to Big Brother observing us in our homes. So why not at least acknowledge our need to be prepared to lose the communication methods we’ve come to depend on?

As for me, I may be dusting off the bicycle that’s been collecting dust and spiderwebs in my shed, make sure the tires are still intact, and that I can still ride the darn thing. It’ll come in handy should I need to find alternate transportation at some point in the not-so-distant future.

Can I Help You Help Yourself?

Life is complicated even without contemplating disaster. Do you need help getting more in alignment with your goals? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? 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!

Recognizing All I Have to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I can still walk a good distance and take care of my own needs.
  2. I’m grateful I’m both able to cook and enjoy the process.
  3. I’m grateful I’ll never be too old to learn new skills.
  4. I’m grateful for my morning walks which not only get my blood moving, but work out any kinks I acquired while lying prone in my bed.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, friendship, energy, inspiration, support, motivation, dedication, peace, health, harmony, 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

Products That Fuel Our Fear and Distrust

When Fear and Distrust Become Our Version of Normal

I recently saw a commercial for a tiny, cube-shaped camera you could hide anywhere in your home, and my initial feeling was how easily some of the creepier people could make use of such a device. I’m sure my reaction was triggered by a recent exposé about a man who rented out his place through Air B n B and had cameras hidden in smoke detectors in the bedrooms. To have a device promoted on national television, especially late at night made me think their target audience was lonely creeps looking for a way to be even creepier.

In my lifetime alone, there have been huge technological advances. Sadly, with those advances come people who will use them to do harm rather than good. We hear stories every day about how the devices we depend on; cell phones, computers, web cams, even home security systems can be hacked and used against us. Even our social media accounts are being hacked on a regular basis. How many can say their Facebook account has never been hacked or cloned? I can’t count myself into that perhaps elite group, as mine has been infiltrated at least once that I know of.

1984 Is Here And Now

Many years ago, before we developed our dependence on technology, I heard the phrase “the right tool in the wrong hands can be dangerous”. I had no idea how true those words would become a few decades later. George Orwell wasn’t as naive as me, penning his famous work, 1984 40 years earlier, in 1944.

Certainly, the world was in turmoil when he wrote his story about misuse of power, as nearly everyone was involved in one way or another with WWII. But he took it many steps further, predicting technology which was in its infancy in 1944. Though the first television came out in 1927, video was strictly a one-way device and remained so for several more decades.

It’s been many years since I read the book, but some things have stuck with me, including the very real, and no longer fantastic idea that the government manipulates the media and controls our actions and behavior through the very real fear of being caught doing something unsanctioned, and by the reality that they could very well be watching us through our own devices. Even a summary of the book brings chills to my heart as I recognize how real it’s become in recent years.

Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell. The novel is set in the year 1984 when most of the world population have become victims of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and propaganda.

Another Example of Literature Predicting a Frightening Future Mr. Orwell couldn’t predict was how the widespread use of technology would make it so easy for people to spy on each other and invade someone’s privacy completely undetected. It occurs to me if Hitler had had today’s technology, he might have succeeded in his nefarious schemes. And certain people who revere him and his actions today may be on a trajectory which could allow them to succeed where he did not.

I’ve reached a point where I believe being disconnected, even for an hour or so is a good thing, both for our health and sanity, but also for those who seek to influence and maybe even control our thoughts and actions. The media is being used to stir up anger and hate instead of simply reporting the news from an unbiased position. In fact, there is no longer a place where the unbiased truth can be found.

Conversations are recorded or videos taken. They are edited or re-engineered to tell an entirely different story, making use of people’s triggers to generate support, aggression, fear, or any number of knee-jerk reactions which ultimately damage our society and everyone in it. We have the technology to tell a story any way we want to, with “proof” from something we’ve recorded. Unless you’re well-versed in the signs which tell when something has been altered, you have no way of knowing if what you’re seeing or hearing is in context or not.

Using Our Tools to Twist the Truth Beyond Recognition

I heard the technique used during the latest round of political campaigns. One candidate obtained a recording of his opponent having what was touted as a private conversation. His techs took a few sound bites, put them in a different order, and basically instructed us to hear what they wanted us to hear. As a natural skeptic, especially when it comes to politicians, I heard it for what it was; a cheap attack on the opponent using technology and spin to twist and sully what was probably a perfectly innocent and innocuous conversation.

What’s especially discouraging is how often we allow ourselves to be manipulated and exposed by amoral people who only want their own way. The sick, twisted, lonely, and maladjusted have access to things which make it easy to join the movement to steal our privacy and, frankly, drive us mad with misinformation and excessive stimuli.

Preying on Our Oblivion

Is it any wonder people were oblivious to one person’s voyeurism until one tech-savvy individual noticed small, almost imperceptible blinking light inside a smoke detector where it had no business being? How many warning signs do the rest of us miss because we remain trusting? How often do we take advantage of alternatives which simplify our lives or cost less, leaving us exposed to people whose moral compasses are broken?

Are any of our moral compasses pointing to true north any more? Have we all been so inured to broken trust and a right to know that we see nothing wrong with hidden cameras, cell phone videos, and truth-twisting for our own agendas? Or have we been victimized into trusting no one, isolating ourselves in a place where walls built of paranoia soar high above our heads blocking out all that once made us human; once allowed us to connect without fear?

Depending on Electronics Instead of Our Perfectly Good Brains

I look at how I reacted on a day when a website I use to track my food and exercise went down for a few hours. I fell completely off track (though thankfully, not as badly as I thought I had) because I didn’t have the electronic means of controlling what I should be able to do on my own. My dependency on an app left me alone and drifting until I could once again connect and make sure I adhered to the nutritional goals I’d set.

What I see is self-brainwashing. We convince ourselves we can’t follow healthy habits without some kind of electronic affirmation we’re doing the right thing. We need validation and recognition from a faceless, voiceless, emotionless app instead of finding all of those things within ourselves.

Perhaps that’s why I need 30 minutes at the beginning of my day to go “old school” and write a few pages using nothing more than a pen and spiral notebook. Or why I try to set aside an hour or so a week to get away from my computer, again with pen and notebook to write somewhere different, be it a cafe, a park, the beach, or even my front porch.

Those few minutes every day, that hour or so a week are in some ways my personal protest about the direction we’re going. Though I’m not immune to the shiny objects which make my life easier, nor are my emotions detached from the barrage of inflammatory information inundating me from all directions, I can at least disengage for a little while every day and perhaps release some of the toxicity I absorb simply by being too connected; too available; too exposed.

Making Time Every Day to Be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my moments of disconnection.
  2. I am grateful I still have choices, though I fear those choices are being restricted more and more.
  3. I am grateful for a life of my own making. I fumble and fall often, but I pick myself up and learn from why I fell or what I tripped over.
  4. I am grateful my parents taught me to think and read, and learn instead of accepting everything I see and hear as gospel. I don’t always get it right, but at least I’m still willing to listen, most of the time right now, but I’m working towards a place of understanding, compassion, and non-judgement. Whether I find it in this lifetime is anyone’s guess.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, compassion, understanding, open-mindedness, inspiration, unity, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity for all.

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.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: