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

Posts tagged ‘Waiting’

Breaking Blocks Impeding Our Success

Our Mental Blocks Can Be Broken

While writing my morning pages today, I thought about an exercise I did yesterday afternoon to try to release my money blocks. Immediately, I got a vision of a huge cinder block, one of many, really, which had been chained to me for as long as I could remember. In the vision, I saw the chains being removed and the blocks falling away.

It occurred to me that our blocks, money or otherwise, are equivalent to those cinder blocks because, in their own way, they weigh us down and prevent us from moving, not just forward, but in any direction. We are, in essence, held in place by the weight of the blocks we carry.

Getting in Touch With What Stands in Our Way

It was suggested I sit outside yesterday and just make a list of the blocks and beliefs which keep me from asking for compensation equivalent to the value I provide, to not just see the “bad” or “negative” aspects of those thoughts, but also how they’re doing me good as well. Three or four pages later, I had a list, but I had also started writing about why I can ask for fees which are on the same level as men I’ve come into contact with over the years who had similar skill levels and experience, but in some cases, a lot less talent than me. I realized when I thought about it that what they were charging 5 years ago for their services was as much as 5 times more than what I charge today! And do you know what? I couldn’t think of a single reasonable excuse for harboring such low expectations.

In fact, I didn’t even feel the usual “but you don’t have your CPA license” dogma come into the equation. Why? Because I’m not looking for clients who need audit or tax advice. I am providing business services either acquired through my years of experience working for various companies, or knowledge acquired through reading or talking to other people who have some knowledge I needed. Either way, I have as much or more justification for charging at least equivalent rates to the men who were contracted by previous employers to perform a task which, at the time, was outside my scope, or simply above and beyond my part in a project and not achievable even with the number of hours I had available.

The only differentiation here is that they were men, and were hired by men who had no qualms paying other men so much more than they would pay a woman. But it’s my fault as well, because I didn’t insist on being paid what I was truly worth. Over time, it was reflected in my work because I was less and less willing to go above and beyond with my efforts when my employers were unwilling to go above and beyond with my compensation the way they did with the men in the company’s employ, both as salaried employees and contractors. Yet the end result was displeasure with myself for lowering both my expectations and my deliverables.

Leaving Our Doormat Mentality Behind

Yes, in some ways, we woman are part of our own solution, but there are a lot of paradigms we have to shift in order to make that happen. In many ways, I believe that starts with ourselves. Once we convince ourselves and our female employers of our true value, and start achieving it, the flow can be broadened to encompass the more resistant males. They’ve grown accustomed to getting away with paying women less. Women have accepted less just so they could get a job. We’ve allowed men to “jew” us down, believing their lies that they can get the job done by anyone with our skills at half the price, or that this job is the best one we can get. Our shortsightedness makes us focus on the immediacy of making enough to feed, house, and clothe our families, instead of on the long-term implications of a job that allows us only to get by.

Years ago, I left a job because I was given the option of a demotion and cut in pay, or a lay off. I knew there had been a lot of collusion between management and my less-than-competent male co-worker for such a ridiculous offer to be made, so I chose the obvious response and took the layoff. Surprised at my decision, the manager said to me “But you need this job.”. I looked him square in the eye and said “I need a job. I don’t need this job.”

Taking Responsibility for Our Own Undervaluation

I laugh when I think about it because I took some skills they needed with me when I left, and for a couple of weeks, various members of their staff called me at home asking where things were. I finally had to threaten legal action if they didn’t stop calling and harassing me, as the calls had degenerated into accusations of misconduct and even theft. It was the first time I took the long view instead of the short one, and in fact, it was my former employer who failed to see they were being played by a man with the ethics of a junkyard dog. (In fact, he cooked the books for a law firm with somewhat shady business practices until the authorities clipped their wings, leaving him jobless.)

What I’ve always known, but clearly shoved to the back of my brain was that, as a woman, I have historically allowed men and frankly, other people as a whole to determine my value. I laid down and accepted their meager pittance of an assessment because the work I do doesn’t provide an obvious return on their investment. Of course, part of the problem is my lack of a certain body part too. For some reason, value to a company has a connection to something which typically has no true impact on the work being done!

I’ve been very good at making excuses for undervaluing my work. Whether it’s lack of a particular license or education, or failure to be visible to a market which would see the value in what I can offer, I have, for decades, stood in my own way. The worst part of it is, I know I’m not alone. Over the years, I’ve worked with many women who worked 10 times harder than men in equal or even higher level positions, yet were paid on average about 75% of what the men made to do the same job. We’ve accepted smaller raises and excuses which, had we known it, were not passed off to the men in the company. The truth is, we got the minuscule examples of recognition so the men, and all-too-often, the company owners could justify walking away with more.

Sure, it used to be that a woman’s income supplemented that brought in by the man of the house. But those days are long past. Women make up a huge percentage of primary wage-earners these days, and as such, struggle to give their families the same level of comfort as their male counterparts.

Destroying the Blocks Built On Our Lies

Before this turns into a full-on rant about wage equality, I’m going to try to return to my original train of thought, and that is the blocks we set for ourselves. Whether it’s money, visibility, or anything else we want to achieve, we get in our own ways too often by telling ourselves fat, ugly lies.

Lies like “I don’t deserve it”, or “other people are better at it than me”, or “I don’t have enough experience”, or the granddaddy of them all “I’m not worthy”. As you read those words, try to imagine them as giant cinder blocks. Now that you have the image, what’s stopping you from putting the damn things down? Where is it written that we’re supposed to carry cinder blocks around? They were meant for building, not dragging. They were also meant for knocking down when the structure they support no longer serves its original purpose, or has become weakened by age and environmental factors.

Now, picture a stack of those blocks with a giant wrecking ball crashing through them. As the ball connects with the blocks and bits of gray stone go flying in all directions, imagine the feeling of freedom you get when those blocks are neither standing in your way or needing to be dragged. They’re simply gone just as the energetic, emotional, mental ones can be if you give them a physical presence, but just long enough to feel the satisfaction of smashing them down, or better still, blowing them up like they do outdated hotels in Las Vegas. Plant the dynamite, and BOOM! A decades-old structure is reduced to a pile of rubble in a matter of moments.

The stories and lies you’ve been telling yourself deserve the same fate. Sure, it’s a simplistic approach, but maybe one or two can be leveled so you can get to the ones which are more pernicious.

When the Waiting is Over, Get Moving

Over and over, I’m reminded of a book I read last year by Sue Monk Kidd called “When the Heart Waits”. She refers, throughout the book to the idea of a caterpillar going into a cocoon where it waits for its body to reform, then emerges as a butterfly. The body of a caterpillar is limiting, but it’s a good place to grow and learn. Eventually, we all have to shed the confines of our learning self to come into our magnificence. There is no particular time limit on it. We all emerge from our cocoon in our own time.

In my case, it took me over 6 decades. I know it is exactly the right amount of time for me. I cannot measure my life by anyone else’s, nor do I any more. (Aside from the afore-mentioned monetary value for services. But even there, it’s not so much a measurement as a realization that I’d been measuring myself in inches rather than yards.)

There comes a time when each and every one of us have to take stock and make changes. Sadly, far too many wait until they’re on their death bed to do so. Fear will hold many back from emerging from the cocoon. Fear will drive others to leave because they don’t want to be stuck there for the rest of their lives. I am the latter. How abut you?

Reflections and Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who are coming into my life to help me remove old, tired, out-dated blocks to emergence from my own cocoon.
  2. I am grateful for the ability to craft a blog post even when I start without a single viable idea.
  3. I am grateful for friends who are honest with me rather than trying to tell me what I want to hear. What I need to hear is far more valuable.
  4. I am grateful for the busyness which is characterizing 2018, even in the first month of the year. It bodes well for my many plans and adventures.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; words to write, ideas to flow, people to meet, opportunities becoming successes, acquaintances becoming friendships, hardships becoming lessons, encouragement, love, joy, challenges, health, harmony, peace, prosperity, generosity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

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 is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. 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

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Alone in a Crowd

Loneliness is an Experience We’ve All Been Through

We’ve all been there at one time or another. Standing on the sidelines in a crowded club, watching the couples dancing under the colored lights. The volume increases as music competes with voices, clinking glasses, and the occasional emergency vehicle on the streets nearby. Your walls close in around you, enclosing you in a familiar cocoon. And you realize just how lonely you are.

The feeling isn’t new. You’ve been here before. In fact, you’ve floated in and out of it so many times, you only notice it when you disconnect from the sights, sounds, and smells of your surroundings and withdraw, even for a moment, into yourself.

Allowing Yourself to Feel the Pain

You’ve learned not to fight it because most of the time it passes. A line dance set starts and you join your friends on the floor. The connection to the rest of the world is re-established, if only for the 15 minutes or so the dances played don’t require a partner. Or a friend’s antics with Bullwinkle ears turns into an inadvertent R-rated dance move. You express your shock, laugh, and the walls subside. For that moment, you’re included and no longer alone.

But ultimately, the evening ends. You get into your car and drive back to those four walls you inhabit alone save for a pet or three ( in my case, a few more. I am on the fast-track to crazy cat lady-ness, after all). You tell yourself the choices you made were the right ones even if some didn’t turn out the way you’d planned. The people who are in your life now are the ones who are supposed to be, even if they’re not there when you turn out the lights.

Looking for the Rainbow in the Storm Cloud

Life isn’t as grim as it is for some. Your days don’t run together in sepia-toned sameness. You interact with different people, learn new things, try a few others. Your body still responds with minimal pain to whatever you ask it to do. You have something to look forward to every week, friends to hug, pets to cuddle and lives to share…to a point.

But then you watch from the sidelines as the couples stand together talking and know you can’t cross that invisible line because you don’t fit. Some might call you broken, others will offer suggestions for finding the lid for your crooked pot. Though their intentions are well meant, they only make you feel more alone. More disconnected. More of a failure.

You spend another Friday night alone because you don’t feel like facing the crowds in a club, and everyone you know is busy with family and friends. If anyone were to ask, you’d say it was exactly how you wanted to spend your evening. The idea of cuddling on the couch doesn’t even cross your mind. Really. It doesn’t.

Facing Reality

On a conscious level, you know none of it is true. Lack of a mate is not an affliction. It’s simply a state of being. A small circle of friends doesn’t mean you’re hard to love. It simply means you interact better in smaller groups. It means you don’t trust as easily because hard lessons taught you to withhold that trust until it’s been earned. You try to convince yourself that the walls you’ve built are there to protect you from harm. You’ll argue yourself breathless if someone says those walls are the reason you’re alone.

Finally, you stop lying to yourself. You allow yourself to just feel the loneliness. You allow yourself, just for a moment, to have a few regrets even though you can’t think of a single person who might have been “the one who got away”. The hard truth is you crawled into your cocoon years ago and forgot you were supposed to emerge as a butterfly somewhere along the way.

Where Do You Go From Here?

The ensuing years have atrophied your once-beautiful wings. You still have your body and it gives you mobility. As you look at the places where your wings used to be, you wrap your arms around yourself and cry over all the opportunities you missed because you stayed in your cocoon too long. It would be so easy to just wallow. To believe you gave up what might have been and there’s nothing left.

While your animals snore softly around you, a door begins to open. A light shines through. You see what you didn’t allow yourself to see while you drew your mantle so closely around yourself you were gasping for air. In that light you see something unexpected; possibilities.

The ending that never was is gone. Instead, you have the power to write whatever ending you want to write. The one you see right now might be one possible ending. But it’s only one. If you don’t like it, you have many options. One of my favorite is to shout “Plot twist!” and watch my fingers scamper madly across the keyboard, creating scenarios as wild and varied as my ADD brain and boundless imagination can conjure.

Writing Our Own Dreams

That’s where I can be the princess in the castle or the dragon rider, or the world-famous author and philanthropist, the next Mother Teresa or Madame Curie…or simply the crazy cat lady with friends as varied, unique, and memorable as she is. Dreams become reality, no matter how preposterous. I can try dreams on like clothes, finding the ones which fit just right, or better still, the ones I need to grow into. Discard the ones which fit too snugly as they’ll inhibit the growth of the new set of wings that even now is beginning to unfurl.

I might be tied to the ground right now, but in the next instant, I’ll be airborne. I can’t get the old, atrophied wings back, but I can grow a newer, stronger pair which will take me farther, faster than the old set ever could.

The truth is, there’s no set time frame for staying in your cocoon. You stay as long as you need to. That may be weeks for some, decades for others. We’re there for a reason, unique to us. Take us out too soon, we’re not ready for the challenges we have to face. And there is no “too late”. Only, “just in time”.

I Will Always Be Grateful

My gratititudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who accept me as I am, crooked, twisty, and unique.
  2. I am grateful for my dark moments. They make me open my eyes to possibilities.
  3. I am grateful for my writing. More than once, it’s saved my sanity…such as it is.
  4. I am grateful for girl friends. It’s still a new experience for me, but one I’ve sorely missed.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, motivation, inspiration, love, cat purrs, peace, harmony, health, joy, philanthropy, opportunities, stories, 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!

Emerge Through Experiments and Experiences

An Accident Became an Epiphany

All day yesterday, I had a strange feeling things were about to change drastically. It wasn’t a feeling of fear, but rather, anticipation. Late in the afternoon, I washed my hair so I could get it dry in time for dancing, pushing the uncomfortable feeling in my gut aside. Before you start to yawn, bear with me. The story gets more interesting than “girl washes hair”.

This time, I changed things up a bit. I used a different leave-in conditioner, thinking it would help straighten my normal mane of frantic curls. Then I threw my hair over my head and started blow drying it from the underside. When I stood upright, I realized my mistake, or maybe not. The curls had taken on a life of their own and cascaded in wild, but strangely appealing disarray.

It would be shameful to contain something this lively. I thought to myself. So I threw caution to the winds, and refrained from corralling the mayhem as I typically do. (This is where it gets interesting, I promise).

Hiding to Emerge

I found I felt much free-er, less buttoned up than normal. (OK, so those who know me in the dance community would probably cast some doubt on the “buttoned up” description, but I’m typically more reserved than anyone realizes). For some unfathomable reason, the loose and crazy hair made me less inhibited and more able to just get into the moment with joy and complete abandonment. Could this be the butterfly effect Sue Monk Kidd spoke of? Have I been hiding; waiting; growing?

Sure, it meant pushing the hair out of my eyes a lot and standing under the fan with it scrunched in my hand to dry the resulting sweat, but overall, it was so…can I really say it? Empowering. Wearing my hair loose gave me both a place to hide and a place to come out of hiding. Does that even make sense?

Maybe it’s a lot like the language of fans women used to learn. There’s a certain freedom. A certain devil-may-careishness in a wild mop of hair flying helter-skelter as I spun and pranced. (Yes, I really was prancing around last night, having the time of my life).

Do We Unknowingly Put Constraints Upon Ourselves?

Is this really all there is to it? Is loose hair the key to loosening up and giving in to the moment? Did it make me more approachable than my typical pulled back styles? Only time will tell. But last night, I talked to people more easily, and they to me. That has to count for something.

Tonight, the experiment will alter a bit as it’s impossible to get the crazy, corkscrew curls without wetting my hair again. Tonight, I’ll try it straight and see if the effect is the same. Could the angst in my last post simply be my own, to this point, inability to completely let loose? Guess I’m going to find out. Stay tuned for more letting-my-hair-d0wn moments.

So Much to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for successful experiments and unexpected epiphanies.
  2. I’m grateful for excellent dance nights full of energy and joy.
  3. I’m grateful for friends in the dance community who both feed and feed on my energy.
  4. I’m grateful for my ability to continue changing and growing, even in small, seemingly insignificant ways.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: dancing, love, life, joy, friends, release, passion, peace, harmony, philanthropy and abundance.

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!

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