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

Posts tagged ‘writing’

Seeing More Butterflies: Likes Attract

A Time to Hide and a Time to Soar With the Butterflies

I see butterflies. Every day when I go on my morning walk, I see them. Sometimes a single white or yellow one, and sometimes two or three at a time. Occasionally, I’ll see swarms. Often, a single monarch or painted lady will cross my path as if to say “you’re going the right way. Keep going.”

For years I hid. Being an introvert is a handy excuse. But as I learn and grow, I realize I’ve used it as an excuse to be ‘less than” for too long. In reality, introversion isn’t a complete lack of desire to be around people. It’s more of a need to take people in smaller doses unless they’re the ones who truly fit me. With those people, I can spend hours or even days. If I do need to revert for a bit, I can do it without fuss or fanfare because they understand. Sometimes, all I need to do is sit back and listen while others carry the conversation.

I’ve learned hiding isn’t really a bad thing. There’s a time to hide; to wait; to rest. There’s also a time to spread my wings, show off their beautiful colors, and soar through life with wild abandon. Life isn’t an either/or proposition. It’s about choosing what and where and when. I think I had to go deep into my waiting place to figure that out.

Spreading My Wings

As my life expands and grows, I’m seeing more butterflies. Or maybe I’m just noticing them more the way you notice all the cars on the road like yours when you buy a new one. Now that I’m a butterfly myself, I notice them, and interestingly enough, they seem to notice me as well.

I suspect some see me as a bit of an oddball. When I walk in the morning, I talk to the ravens, the doves, the lizards, the dogs, the occasional curious cat, and of course, the butterflies. If it flies walks or crawls, I’m likely to strike up a conversation, or at least say hello. I have to believe some of them even reply in their own unique way.

The butterflies swoop and dance in the air around me. The lizards scoot out of their hiding places, letting me know they’re out and about. A kitten walks over and throws himself on the sidewalk, belly up in an age old demand. Even the dogs who used to leap at their fences aggressively now give a soft ruff as if to say: “good morning. Nice to see you out and about this fine day.”  They might even miss me on the rare morning I don’t pass by.

Creativity and Swarms of Butterflies

Created with CanvaSome days, I think the number of butterflies I see is an indication of how my day will unfold. When I see one or two, the day tends to be slower and more introspective. When I see swarms or groups of four or five, I’ll accomplish a lot, and my creativity will be high. Before you ask, I haven’t actually tested this theory, but you’d better believe I’ll be more conscious of it now.

The funny thing about writing (or typing) something is it creates a kind of file folder in my brain. Once written, I can more easily access it for future reference. When similar thoughts arise, I can pull out all my notes and compare them; check my theories and form new ones.

Writing has long been my healer, decision maker, sounding board, and therapist. But in order for it to work optimally, I had to learn to shut off the analytical part of my brain that wants to dive in and solve a problem with little or no evidence. It wants to guide my fingers and form the words. I’ve learned it isn’t my brain’s job to do that.

Answers come from deep within; a place where analysis doesn’t go. It comes from my heart and my subconscious. Most of my writing these days occurs independently from my brain. In fact, when my brain starts to intrude, I’ll take a break until it settles back into whatever bone it was chewing on before it tried to interfere with a process where it doesn’t belong. Its chance comes when I edit but not when I create.

Creating From the Heart vs. the Mind

How many other creatives let their hearts guide them? Allow something intangible and untouchable to form their art? Talking to other writers, some hold rigidly to a plan and woe be to the fingers which try to deviate from the plan. The very idea makes me shrivel and withdraw. Those folks can’t shut off part of their brain like I do. Perhaps they’re more focused and finish things faster than I do. I’ll never really know.

All I know is what works for me and the butterflies. Watching them, I see no pattern or plan. They flit from place to place, riding the air currents and simply loving being exactly where they are. They don’t know from rigid plans or schedules. Like me, they simply let themselves be.

Enjoying the Journey

https://www.flickr.com/photos/35632217@N05/11141220045/in/photolist-hYvEyM-f3q2XF-WN7cAa-WC2tgo-VvU28y-VVCUnp-VZPPpx-X4hSbx-Xgdvnt-Xa18aU-X5F6Ba-WCiedS-VX3ngd-VZNKfH-XdNen3-X4eCyZ-WMPNM6-W32Dnn-W3cPuB-WYbJQU-VSPUyU-WcLFXu-WYe2r5-X65BN1-VVBR3a-WcJ347-Wy5z6h-WN6NEv-WwVjBd-VWVfpw-WXUkAj-WXTMcm-W36zBD-X27vox-VWWtgb-WC1Dp1-Wy6zs7-Wcye5A-WEfsVW-WDZxtd-VyyhgF-VZJ8T9-Xa1kuJ-WA8NKV-WcJi1w-psKV9t-XdCj1a-X66ds1-VywuMB-WigauPPerhaps that shared sense of Being is what draws me to the butterflies. We both know we’ll get wherever we’re meant to go eventually, but the adventure is in the path we take. If we planned rigidly, we’d miss some amazing experiences along the way, even if doing so would get us from point A to point B faster.

Is the point to get there faster? Maybe for some. For me, it’s truly the journey. Sure, there are things I’d like to achieve, or wish I’d achieved already. But by taking the long way around, those achievements will be enhanced by the experiences I have on my slower, less rigid journey.

Still, I listen to some of those with rigid plans because within their rigidity are nuggets of wisdom I can use without following their overly structured ways. Perhaps they’ve even showed me how to notice the butterflies with their single-minded focus?

Taking Time Out of Each Day for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my writing and all the worlds it’s opened to me.
  2. I’m grateful for learning to disengage from my analytical side. There’s a time and a place for it, but it needs to step aside when it’s my creative side’s turn.
  3. I’m grateful for the flow of words from my fingers. It goes more smoothly these days, after pounding out so many in the last few years. I’d even go so far as to say it’s become a habit.
  4. I’m grateful for a flexible schedule. Some days, I need to stay out of the world and be alone with my words. These days, it’s no longer a luxury, but a lifestyle.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, creativity, love, life, friendship, joy, music, health, humor, peace, harmony, balance, 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

Turning Irritation Into Productivity

Taking “Do Not Disturb” to New Lengths

I have an irrational aversion to people I don’t know parking in front of my house. It could be a neighbor, one of their friends, or someone pulling over to send a text or check an address. It doesn’t matter. I see their car in front of my house and have to physically restrain myself from running outside and telling them to park elsewhere.

Perhaps it stems from the first few years I lived in this house. We had a neighbor around the corner who was dealing drugs. His customers would often park in front of my house and run around the corner to make their purchases. But he’s been gone for at least 20 years, and still, park an unfamiliar car in front of my house and my ire escalates.

I realize the street in front of my house is public property. I know I have no legal right to ask people to leave. Still, I wish they’d find somewhere else to park and not avail themselves of the shade my big, beautiful tree provides.

Releasing Irritation For More Productive Pursuits

As I try to follow the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and stay in the moment, it’s easier to let the irritation slip away, but I’ve yet to master it completely. Like a two-year-old with a prized toy, the space in front of my house is mine. In my selfish mind, I’ve lived here long enough; paid enough taxes to maintain the roadway that I feel I’ve earned the right to be a little selfish. Yet I also see myself turning into the cranky old woman everyone secretly mocks because she yells at all the kids going by and watches from her window to see what the neighbors are doing.

My saving grace is my writing. I typically have more than enough projects for myself and others to keep me busy and reasonably oblivious to the goings-on in the neighborhood. I also don’t know most of the neighbors well, if at all. In fact, I find myself taking a page out of my newest neighbors’ book and remain detached from all but my two oldest neighbors. Maybe it’s not the friendliest existence, but I never claimed to be the Welcome Wagon. Nonetheless, I did try, albeit fruitlessly to welcome the neighbors when they moved in maybe a year ago. I’d been friendly with 4 of the previous 6 residents of the house in the 30 or so years I’ve lived here.

Like me, they chose to isolate from the neighbors, and being a hermit myself, who was I to argue? I’m happy to watch out for the elderly woman across the street, and the octogenarian couple next door. They rarely ask for much, and I’m grateful I can be there for them if they do. But having a far more distant relationship with the other neighbors suits my hermit heart fine.

Isolated Doesn’t Mean Lonely

Created with CanvaOne might ask if my existence is lonely; an island in a suburban sea of souls. There was a time it was, especially the first couple of years after I left Corporate America behind. But as regular habits improved and I left the house 3 times a week to go to the gym, had a regular errand day, and saw friends for dancing, movies, lunches, and game nights, being lonely left my schedule entirely.

I may still spend a lot of time alone (and frankly, it’s difficult to write and carry on a conversation at the same time), I do so when and because it’s what I want. It’s only loneliness when you want for company and can’t find it. Heck, there are times I make it clear I want to be alone while out in public. When I’m at the gym, or in a jury room, I put earbuds in my ears, making it clear I’m there to get something done, and not to be the social butterfly my friends are for me.

We all have our functions in life. Some of us carry the conversation or bring people together. In that regard, I’m a follower. That isn’t to say I’m not a leader at times, else I’d have never been able to run away from the real world to be a writer. There’s a lot of leadership in re-creating yourself into something completely different, then actually earning money doing it. Of course, at times there’s also a lot of blind stubbornness too.

Stubborn Enough to Keep Doing What I Love

I thank goodness for the stubbornness that always drove my parents nuts. Without it, I’d have given up https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/6144729060/in/photolist-3sXiiN-79cUTk-6VaBVG-GUsXeK-qnCm5H-d5XpoC-5Tvsgb-7x7Jhw-amZkSu-pXsfKM-5TopvB-5MF2XZ-dnqeiB-9C31Yv-28ku7Rg-9m5Cts-omGCDC-5T4qn7-e2xNUC-mfCeZT-6RVoAh-a3P2f7-urpka-nKtZgr-8LFLux-dsSyjE-9AzNx5-W4TpQJ-xXPgS-brRoHe-9T2kCn-edcZ3H-a4dWNc-2Frv8v-sBJeM-5MGjKv-5cGQ25-gMdeqC-bzzgF5-4zDj55-4Uaf26-91q2wz-GPmaw-6uvJCp-7viqdV-7YKDTv-6T4oiL-7g2xCc-MKA7BD-gg9bcdlong before I’d used up a lot of financial resources. But that stubbornness told me I was going to make a go of being a writer, come hell or high water, and I have to say, the water has gotten pretty high at times.

Instead of allowing myself to drift with the current, I’ve continued to reinvent myself until I found something that began to work. I learned a lot of things along the way.

  • What I love to do
  • What I hate to do
  • What I’ll tolerate doing until I can outsource it
  • What I do well
  • What I don’t do well
  • How to write better and faster
  • How to help others with my writing

Committing to Myself

Created with CanvaI took a few courses and dropped most of them. I talked to coaches, but only hired one after several years of muddling along by myself. I learned to set myself deadlines, and to treat commitments to myself as at least as important as the ones I made for others. I set schedules for myself:

  • For gym visits
  • For self-care
  • For posting to my blog (and later refined that even further)
  • For dancing more often
  • For expanding my social life

That last is more important than it sounds since I learned that outright selling isn’t my thing. I have a hard time promoting myself. What I can do, and which helps my writing immensely is to listen to other peoples’ stories. I’m still working on listening more and talking less so I get more of their story and less of my interpretation. It’s one of the skills I’m learning to hone as it makes me a better writer and ghostwriter.

More than once in even the last 24 hours, I’ve stopped myself from interjecting. I read recently we listen to respond rather than listening to understand. I’m working on shifting the practice in myself. There are so many interesting stories out there waiting to be told, and 99.9% of them aren’t mine.

Part of learning to listen to understand is tied directly into living in the moment and disallowing any petty irritants. It’s still a work in progress, but isn’t that what makes life interesting?

Need Help Getting Organized?

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Is lack of time getting in the way of committing to yourself? 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!

Making Time for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve taught myself to respond to the alarm clock, no matter how early I have to set it.
  2. I’m grateful for earbuds and Pandora so I can create an island of serenity in a crowded place and get some work done,.
  3. I’m grateful for a general understanding that earbuds mean “please don’t try to engage me in conversation”. I might seem antisocial to some, but like everything else, there’s a time and a place.
  4. I’m grateful for inspiration which doesn’t let me down as long as I put fingers on the keys or pen to paper on a regular basis.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; quiet places, solitude, friendship, commitment, collaboration, opportunities, joy, love, peace, harmony, health, comfortable clothes, beautiful days, friendly people in difficult situations, 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

Don’t Go Changin’ to Try and Please Me

Why Fit in When I Was Meant to Stand Out?

A couple of days ago, I was ready to go into a full-on rant. In fact, I had several hundred words typed. If I’ve learned nothing else over the years, it’s to sit on things for a day or so when they spark my ire. Once again, I’m glad I did.

Let me give you a bit of background. Although I’m an introvert and inherently shy, I learned, early on to both mask it and protect my soft inner core (you’ve probably heard this before as I mention it on occasion). In some ways, I may have learned too well as I’ve been accused of being intimidating (and that’s one of the nicer things people say).

Whine All You Want…As Long As You Fight Your Own Battles

It’s brought its own share of problems, especially from people who feel they need to stifle me in some way. I don’t really mind if someone comes to me and raises an issue. But all too often, the complaints are far more insidious because they come from those who prefer to try to shake my confidence by going through what, in their weak minds is the proper channels.

These channels have, over my lifetime ranged from complaints to my manager about a conversation they overheard to a full-on written complaint accusing me (falsely of course) of harassment. In the past, these complaints have had the desired result; they’ve shaken my confidence and made me the object of unnecessary scrutiny.

The latest example occurred in my critique group, and at first, made me very angry. So angry I missed the last meeting where I’d submitted one of my chapters for critique. I have mixed feelings now, but feel that, in the overall scheme of things, skipping the meeting until I got things into perspective in my own mind was in everyone’s best interests.

Once emotion left the equation and logic took over, I understood that this is just another lesson in setting boundaries. In the past, I’ve done one of two things; either I changed myself, albeit unwillingly, or I retreated into my hermit hole, limiting interactions to the absolutely necessary.

I’m not going to do that this time. I am the person I am, warts and all. I don’t set out to offend people, but occasionally I do. If the person I offended brings it to my attention, I am apologetic and appreciate knowing that something which seemed innocuous to me was offensive to them.

Drawing a Line in the Sand

However, this time around, I’ve made the decision to ignore anything which comes through a third party or intermediary. If a person hasn’t got the balls to speak up for themselves, they can be as offended as they want to be. It’s not my problem. I’m done with catering to those who hide behind excuses like I’m too shy to talk to her or I’m an introvert or she scares me. I’m also finished with the ones who play damsel in distress and play upon the male ego to get someone to save them. Sorry, ladies, but that’s the biggest crock I’ve ever seen. Grow up, take responsibility for yourself and stop playing people. That’s just manipulative and passive-aggressive.

Sure, there will be an elephant in the room for awhile, but as far as I’m concerned, people are either going to have to learn to talk to me directly or stew in their own juices, and frankly, I’m not married to either outcome.

I also feel it is inconsiderate in the extreme to involve other people in something which is ludicrous in the first place. It isn’t that my behavior is especially bothersome to them at all. It’s that they resent someone who, at least in appearance, seems stronger, smarter and more capable than they are. Having been married to an alcoholic, I recognize this need to bring people down to your level. I’ve just decided to decline any future invitations to this party, but thanks anyway.

Kiss This!

The long and the short of it is, I don’t ask anyone to change to please me. I will no longer entertain any suggestions, complaints or requests that I change to please someone else, and especially if the requester uses someone else as their mouthpiece. If they don’t like me, nobody is forcing them to spend time in my presence.

And Still, There’s Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for recurring lessons as they remind me to be true to myself.
2. I am grateful for my personal therapist which always allows me to work things through from different angles.
3. I am grateful for the opportunities which are coming my way to write about different things and new places.
4. I am grateful for my daughter who is as anal about organization, deadlines and responsibility as I am, if not more.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, life, motivation, inspiration, opportunities, words, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

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!

The featured image is courtesy of Scott Akerman via Flikr

Fixing What’s Broke: What’s in your Tradition?

Falling Back on the Tried and True

Last night I posted a minor rant about my missing holiday cheer. It was prompted by the small pile of gifts and the bins of packaging material which were littering my living room untouched.

The purpose of my mini rant was two-fold. First, I figured I wasn’t alone in feeling a bit let down and cheerless, holiday-wise at this time of year. Second, I knew that if I wrote about it instead of keeping it inside where it could fester, I’d purge myself of the crabbiness and get on with what I needed to do.

Getting Back in Working Order

I want you to know that it worked. I spent most of today shopping: not for anything major, but for those small things that make the holiday special–or at least they do in my house.

For me, it might be that special tea or cocoa for someone, a toy that makes weird grunting noises for my grandpuppy or just the right calendar for everyone on my guest list. Oh! And that brings to mind traditions.

We Have Traditions We Follow From Year to Year

When my daughters were young, I started doing certain things for them for Christmas/Chanukah, never realizing they’d become solid family traditions. Most of them weren’t that expensive and since money was tight in the early years, it made them that much easier to perpetuate. In fact, my daughter still follows many of them. So what are some of our traditions? Here’s a short list. Something to note is that for most of these items, fun is the operative word. No boring stuff for us!:

  • Pajamas
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • A hard back book with a special message inscribed inside (this one isn’t necessarily silly. In the beginning, it was classics like Huck Finn and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)
  • Kitchen gadgets
  • Calendars

Many people create family traditions intentionally as a means to instill certain values in their children, while others, like us, just sort of have them happen. An idea comes up one year and it goes over so well it happens from year to year until the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without it. However a tradition comes about, I think it’s a lot like an inside joke. It makes those inside feel warm and fuzzy, not only in the midst of traditional activities, but whenever they come to mind.

As for the rest of my holiday preparations, I managed to get a nice pile of gifts wrapped tonight too.

What is in Your Tradition?

I would love to hear how your family makes the holidays special and unique. Remember, it’s those little things which count more than expensive gifts or elaborate trips.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I’m grateful again for my writing which is the most effective, least expensive therapist I’ve ever found.
2. I am grateful for today’s shopping trip which yielded simple yet meaningful gifts for those I love.
3. I am grateful for the traditions my daughters and I created over the years.
4. I am grateful for the love and cheer I encountered while shopping today.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, cheer, kindness, compassion, RAK’s, joy, friendship, happiness, cooperation, successes large and small, sharing, caring, health, hope, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, 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!

Getting Back to Basics

Life After NaNoWriMo

A lot of things went to hell during November; so badly, I’m amazed I was able to complete my first NaNo while working a full-time job. Of course, I didn’t have bi-weekly critique groups, Thanksgiving dinner for almost 20 and events with my photographer friend either. I was also very focused about writing between 10 PM and midnight,something I am2015 Nano Winners Certificate not always on top of these days.

This year’s NaNo taught me a lot of things, but the one which impressed me most was prompted during the final week when procrastination had gotten me in a bad spot in spite of a terrific, 5,000-word first day. In short, I had about 4 days to write 15,000 words, give or take 100.

Impending Deadlines are my Best Friend

I’m going to say this very softly so the Universe won’t hear me, but I work best when I have a deadline looming. In fact, if my deadline is 3 or 4 days away, I am bound and determined to finish with no less than 2 days to go. That’s where I found myself last week.

On Thursday November 26, I had about 37,000 words written. Being Thanksgiving and, as we’d celebrated early, a nice, alone, stay-in-my-pajamas kind of day, I further procrastinated. OK, that left 3 days to finish, on top of which, I had client work which had languished as well.

To make a long story short, I proved to myself I could write 10,000 words in a single day. It is not something I plan to do on a regular basis, but now I know I can do it. Note I did not say I wrote 10,000 good words. But I did write 10,000 words, and with the 3,000 I added the following day, finished with a day to spare. It’s amazing what you can do when someone holds a knife to your throat, even if the hand holding the knife was my own.

I wouldn’t recommend attempting my little marathon (though my first Nano saw 8,000 words in a single night of writing, beginning at 10PM and ending at 3AM.) Needless to say, I seem to need that push at some point in November, maybe to make me feel that I’ve really earned the right to say I’m a NaNo winner.

Taking a Little Break

Though my beloved Inklings have decided to continue our Wednesday Panera Write-ins through December, I used the time today to work on a blog post for one of the events I attended in November. Again, I hold the knife to my throat to finish the posts I owe by the end of this week. Something tells me life is going to continue to move at the rapid pace which was set in November so I have lost the procrastination time I stole.

The Excitement Never Ends!

And if the writing, accounting and VA work wasn’t enough, my 17 year old cat (who I thought was 18 going on 19) has developed an infection in her liver. She has never been the easiest cat tf50f8-familyandfriends321o medicate but now she has to have an antibiotic pill twice a day and two other meds once a day. Poor baby, but she also gets baby food rather than the kidney diet she’s been on until she starts eating again. Just another fun addition to my daily routine. At least my sweet girl knows I’m trying to help her and isn’t fighting the meds as hard as she might.

Nothing Left to do but be Grateful

Which leads me to tonight’s gratitudes:
1. I am grateful I’ve learned to read my cats and know when they need a trip to the vet.
2. I am grateful for a successful completion of NaNo #3.
3. I am grateful for work which fulfills me and is even starting to keep me busy.
4. I am grateful for the positive influences I enjoy every day.
5. I am grateful for abundance: Love, life, kitties, health, happiness, harmony, peace, forgiveness, inspiration, motivation, productivity, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Why I Write: Version 957 (or something like that)

I Feel so Blessed if I Touch But a Single Heart

I try to be as open and honest as possible here when sharing my own hopes, dreams, successes and tragedies. I know that though my experiences may be unique to me in how all of the pieces come together, the basic framework; the components which join together to create my personal mosaic are shared by many. They may put the pieces together in different patterns, add a few I missed, delete a few which don’t fit the picture they’re portraying. But in the end, we share a common bond.

Especially in tragedy or in the things over which we struggle, it is somehow comforting to know we aren’t alone and that there is someone out there who understands. For some, even those day to day struggles can become overwhelming, and a tiny glimmer of hope might be enough to open up a window in their dark room.

Sometimes when I share, I strike a note and people say Oh, yeah! I can relate. I’ve been there too. Other times, like with my last post, one of the people who inspire and support me turns around and challenges me.

Getting in Touch with Ourselves

Essentially, I was challenged to investigate my own particular perceptions. I was asked whether I knew when I saw someone that I would be attracted to them, whether or not getting to know them better furthered the attraction or not, didn’t I at least know if I had a smidgen of interest?

Let me preface my answer by saying that I’ve learned to fight back those niggling little attraction gremlins for a couple of reasons. First, the last time I allowed myself to let them have their way, I was in a mucked up emotional place. I was unhappy, angry, negative and a bit self-destructive. Needless to say, I wasn’t attracted to anyone who might actually be good for me. Or if I was, my interest wasn’t returned because they only saw the broken, messy part of me I was showing the world at the time. Second, I have a terrible history of making an ass of myself over someone to whom I was attracted. As a result, I’ve taught myself to discount the feelings and run the other way before I once again embarrass myself.

Being the friend and the strong honest woman she is, I wasn’t allowed to prevaricate. With each lame answer I gave, another question, another challenge came. So this post is for Lorna who has, on more than one occasion, forced me to take a good, hard look at who I am, what I’m doing and what I truly want. I am so grateful for her tenacity even when she makes me look at a part of myself that isn’t very pretty. She is truly in my life for a reason because, left to my own devices, I’d probably just allow those hard truths to molder inside me, tainting everything good I’ve managed to accomplish.

Her first comment about my post was:

So this made for interesting reading but was safe and “over there”. My question is do either of the last two men interest you personally?

I’m not going to include the entire conversation here, but you’re welcome to follow it on my Author page on Facebook (referenced below) if you’re interested in all the gory details. Suffice it to say, I sidestepped her question a couple of times, but like a bulldog, she wasn’t about to allow me to get off that easily. I admit, I never completely answered her question, nor her later remark: I bet you know what you like.

Knowing When it’s Time to Face Our Fears

I know a lot of my lack of response has to do with fear: fear of making the same mistakes, fear of rejection, fear of making a fool of myself…and the list goes on. But as was pointed out by another friend recently, we cannot let fear control us or keep us from doing the things we want to do like completing projects or developing deep, enduring friendships.

In order to face those fears, I’m going to answer her question here. Without further ado, here are the things I like and which would lead me to feel attracted to someone. This applies to both men and women as they are things I find attractive in my friends. I also believe that to have a strong, healthy relationship of the romantic kind, friendship is essential, and must be there before anything else can develop.

  • Sense of Humor
  • Wit
  • Positive attitude
  • Comfortable in their own skin
  • Humble
  • Intelligent
  • Supportive
  • Strong-willed but not dictatorial. Someone who has an opinion and won’t let go of it just to please someone else.
  • Young at heart
  • Responsible
  • Dances
  • Compassionate

I could add a lot more to this list, but I think this covers most of it. Anything else would just be overly picky or icing on the cake. I’ve heard different points of view about making lists of the character traits of someone you’d like to attract. That’s not my purpose here. I’m simply answering a question and maybe, just a little, giving myself permission to find someone with a few of these traits attractive, if only on a visceral level. Whether or not I’d act on my own feelings of attraction would depend on whether I manage to overcome those fears and manage to keep the attraction at level where there are no expectations other than a new friend/acquaintance and someone I might dance with now and again.

I’ve learned that sometimes, putting my fears down in black and white somehow takes some of the power out of them. Looking at them as the formless, insubstantial beings they are makes me realize they are no more than a figment of my imagination anyway; even those I’ve experienced at some distant point in my life. I just have to keep reminding myself: that was then, this is now. I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. I’ve grown, I’ve developed, I’ve made changes and I’ve done a whole lot of soul searching. With other people, I give credit where credit is due. But with myself, I have a bad habit of minimizing my accomplishments. I think the cold, hard truth is that we have to learn to love ourselves but we also have to learn to treat ourselves like our own best friend.

What Fears Are Holding You Back?

We all have them. A part of our life where we aren’t giving ourselves the chance to be everything we could be. A place where we’re allowing misplaced fears to call the shots. Sometimes, it’s cathartic to share them with others, so feel free to do so in the comments. When all is said and done, we’re in this together; we’re all a part of the same whole.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for friends who expect me to be honest with them and myself.
2. I am grateful for the challenges in my life and the fears I’ve already let go.
3. I am grateful for the gift of writing which has, so many times, allowed me to work through a problem, a fear, a trauma…and come out whole and stronger on the other side.
4. I am grateful for perseverance. Each day, I get more and more accomplished and each day, I feel that much better about myself.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, lessons, challenges, productivity, intelligence, imagination, love, joy, harmony, peace, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

September 18, 2015 Gratitude: When What We Need is to be Needed

The Universe Always Comes Through

I’m a firm believer in the Laws of Attraction. The Universe will always bring exactly what is needed, though quite often it isn’t exactly how you might have envisioned it. Whether we realize it or not, we are putting our wants, desires, hopes and dreams out there every day and though we might not see all of the big ones manifesting, if we pay attention, we will see a multitude of small ones.

I couldn’t tell you which of the many requests I’d put out there was answered yesterday, nor how I’d asked. What I do know was that when yesterday’s writing session was interrupted by a friend in need, it wasn’t long before I realized that at some point, I’d expressed a need to be needed. I feel both honored and grateful that my schedule as a writer and freelancer allows me to be there in those rare but beautiful moments when a friend reaches out, seeking what small comfort I might offer, but I know I’m the one who’s truly blessed because I’m being allowed to be needed. So many of my friends and family members are much like me and rarely ask for help so when one of them does ask, it’s something really important and requires attention at the moment of the asking, otherwise, the asker will just pull back into themselves and try to muddle through alone. As I worked on this post, Pandora chose to play this song and as it was so appropriate to what I’m writing, I am sharing it with you.James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend

Don’t think it gives me joy when someone I care about is suffering. Of course, I’d rather see them not have to go through a painful experience. But if it is necessary for their growth to struggle a bit and they can reach out to me to help them weather the storm, I can only feel grateful that time and circumstance aligned so that I could.

Sure, we all have our own share of struggles and those struggles not only make us stronger but give us new tools with which to face future obstacles. Just as we crawl before we walk, we face bigger and bigger obstacles in our lives so we can receive or even create the tools we’ll need to make the next challenge that much easier. Imagine trying to fight a forest fire with a garden hose because you hadn’t gone through the experiences necessary to acquire a fire hose. Life is like that too. Anything we do gets better and stronger with practice.

I look back on how I wrote when I was a kid, then as a teenager and, more recently, when I started this blog 6 1/2 years ago. So much has changed, not only for me personally, but for the way I put words together. The only way I got here was to put hundreds of thousands of words together in an infinite number of ways until I learned what worked and what didn’t. That’s not to say that I’ve got it all down, but the practice I’ve already had makes what I do going forward maybe just a little less like drek and more like literature. It has certainly encouraged me to keep trying, even when I’m taking my first novel apart and reassembling it, losing some of the old pieces and inserting quite a few new ones.

Maybe I’m not quite achieving the aggressive goals I set for myself, but the four chapters my friend Candy challenged me to complete has now grown to 11 completed and a twelfth in progress. (what that means is, I figured out which of the original fifty-odd chapters I wanted to go next and cut and pasted it under the heading “chapter 12”). Admittedly, the initial challenge to get my butt back in gear came at the end of July, and that, in fact, is when I got the first four chapters done, so seven more in a month and a half isn’t exactly breaking any records, but forward progress is forward progress, and now I’m setting my own goals even if I have to revise them because I was too aggressive for right now. That doesn’t mean that four chapters a week won’t be realistic the further along I get. If I get frustrated, I look at page count instead and see that I’m almost 80 pages into a 342 page book right now. Again, not bad as long as I don’t dwell too long on how long it’s taken me to get this far.

What I’ve gained over the last few weeks may not be earth-shaking, volume-wise. But I’ve gained consistency in sitting down to work on the project. The time I spend in a sitting has grown from about an hour to well over 2 lately (when I’m not interrupted, of course). Better still, I no longer have to argue with myself about sitting down to write, be it a blog post for me or a client or editing Sasha’s Journey. I just allocate time every day to write something, anything, even if it’s pure garbage. (I actually revised Chapter 11 3 times over the last few days until I got it somewhere close to acceptable so I could move on). In fact, I’ve been getting so focused lately that I often forget to turn on the background music. That may or may not be a good thing as I tend to be significantly more self-critical when my internal editor is not otherwise occupied.

Once again, I’ve wandered off the track a bit, but interwoven between all of the words I’ve put on the screen tonight is a single theme: Gratitude. The Universe really does hear our requests. It may not bring them to us in the form we imagined, but it brings us what suits us best and helps move us forward.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the opportunity to give of myself.
2. I am grateful for the friends who teach me by their own beautiful ways to be more giving, kind and compassionate.
3. I am grateful for the progress I’m making and though it will never be easy, I’m no longer having to fight with myself to move forward.
4. I am grateful to one, special friend who flat out told me to stop allowing my fears to get in my way. Even if I can’t identify them, I know they’re there and anxious to get between me and my dreams. Only I can thwart them.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, progress, tenacity, determination, joy, health, happiness, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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