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Category: Reinventing Yourself

Becoming Lola – It’s Good Enough

Becoming Lola – It’s Good Enough

Several times in the past few weeks I’ve come across the idea of good enough. Good enough, a cop out,  a means of settling, taking the first and easy way. It’s really not so.

In yoga, there’s a thought process that as beginners, you use props like a block or a strap because you aren’t able to bend or stretch as far as someone who has done it for years. When you’ve practiced for awhile, you stop using the props because you can bed and touch the ground without bending your legs. The final stage is the practiced yogi who’s been doing yoga for decades, who returns to the use of the block and strap because they understand that it’s not about touching the ground, it’s about the pose and the stretch that the pose brings. In other words, it’s about the journey.

With so much stress in my life, I ache from my back, feet, hands, shoulders. What I understand about the practice of yoga is simple, modification. I know what hurts, I also know what the purpose of the stretches are and I make modifications to the poses in order to not injure myself, worse than I already am. It’s not about bending farther than the person next to me, or not using the block because the person three mats down is capable of entering the triangle pose without a prop, or bend without the assistance of the strap.

I modify so that I can also feel my muscles engage, feel the burn as it were, as I hold a pose.

It’s good enough. It’s about the journey into the pose not the difficulty of the pose itself.

The idea of good enough isn’t weak. It’s understanding that everyday is a different day. As in yoga, one side of your body might be more open and easily bends to our will while the other side is tight and yields with difficulty and on the next day, it’s the opposite.

Why can’t we accept ourselves for who and what we are rather than compare ourselves to each other? We don’t know what someone else feels or what difficulties they experience that day. Today accept yourself for the day, and tomorrow accept the changes or the difference. Use the props, they stabilize you even after you grow stronger.

It’s all in perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things

You may or may not remember the television show “Ed.” A quirky little show from the early 2000’s; a NY City lawyer who divorces his wife and moves back to his home town, a small town in Ohio. He spends most of his time when not lawyering (his office is in the bowling alley he purchased in episode 1), pursuing the girl of his dreams, Carol Vessey, high school teacher, who went away and returned home.

The show’s been a great easy watch, enjoyable and fun. That is until today’s episode called the “The Proposal.” As you’d expect, Ed, the bowling alley attorney, proposes to Carol, after four seasons of back and forth. She says yes and that’s not the point. What struck me in this episode is in his quest to create the perfect proposal, he finds a list his bride-to-be wrote when she was 16 years old; a list of her favorite things.

I’ve been trying for the last year to reinvent myself. Let all the difficulties of my life wash away, rediscover myself, who I am, what I like. And as I watched this episode, as Ed gave Carol her twenty-five favorite things, I wondered to myself, “What are my favorite things? What do I like?”

In no particular order:

  1. I love shoveling the snow. Forget the great workout or the drudgery. When it’s snowing those big, fluffy, white flakes and its warm out, without the bitter strong winds, I love going outside and shoveling the snow. But only the first snow fall. After that forget it. I’d rather stay inside and watch a movie on the couch under a warm blanket, or see number two.
  2. After the first snow fall and I’m sick of the snow and the cold, I love taking a vacation somewhere warm. What I love is that first step outside the plane and into the heat. It feels so…there are no words for that hot blast of heat.
  3. Spending time by the ocean, lake or river. Stop laughing. I know I’m afraid of water. What I’m really afraid of is being IN the water, not on the water. Having said that, I love boat rides, walking along the edge of the water collecting shells, watching the dolphins swim, or eating at a restaurant that’s right on the water. I love the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. Sitting along the shoreline of the ocean, where the world feels so big, the possibilities are endless.    holland michigan 2
  4. Musicals, concerts, operas. I love live music, beautiful costumes, the voice of a really great singer, a well written song. I wish I could sing, alas, I sound like a dying cat.
  5. Reading a book that makes me laugh, or cry, one that I can’t put down and wish it never ended. One that inspires.
  6. The first bite into a chocolate covered strawberry, when it drips all over you.
  7. Really great barbecue. Brisket, ribs, pork, it doesn’t matter.
  8. Homemade chicken soup. My soup. Yummmm…..
  9. Coloring  I’ve had adult coloring books long before they became the new thing. It’s mindless, it’s colorful and relaxing.
  10. I’ve always loved fabrics. I love the color, the mix and match of patterns. When I was 9, I bought a pin cushion at a garage sale. It had three different coordinating fabrics. I didn’t sew but that round pin cushion just pleased me.
  11. Yoga and meditation. I love the traditional music, the soft lighting, the quiet inside my head. And for the hour and 10 minutes, it’s all about me.
  12. Fresh flowers. My favorite flower is the Shasta daisies. I love lacy flowers that grow on the side of the road, or wildflower/butterfly gardens. Their free and wild.
  13. Apple picking and all things associated with it including apple cider donuts and apple pie, drinking warm apple cider and eating freshly picked apples on a clear fall day.apples
  14. Eating my way through summertime fairs. Who doesn’t love funnel cakes, corn dogs, and well, just any fried food.
  15. I love listening to the rain fall in the early morning when it’s still dark outside. If that doesn’t work, listening to the shower in the dark is about the same.
  16. Sitting in my aunt’s lanai (screened in patio) and reading, sleeping or watching the alligator in the pond, sun itself. There’s something about the heat, the breeze and the sun. It’s like vacation.
  17. Antiquing. I love strolling the booths and finding that one item that I’ve been looking for, for years. I love the hunt, the history, the remembrance and finding really cool old things. Once when Pluto was still considered a planet, I found an astronomy book from 1898 and guess who wasn’t discovered yet.
  18. Eating fresh baked bread, cookies and brownies right out of the oven. Sweet, gooey and yummy.  Actually, eating raw batter is pretty fabulous too.
  19. Strolling through independent bookstores. My favorite sections, are occult, mythology and philosophy. I’d also stroll new book stores and libraries. It’s like the world is at your finger tips, sometimes the casual stroll is far more preferable to the click of the internet.
  20. Chicago – I love walking along Lake Shore Drive, taking a bus or boat tour, walking through Chinatown, watching the fireworks from the top of the John Hancock building and eating some favorite Chicago foods. You know, deep dish pizza and Chicago style hot dogs.
  21. Sparkly things. My phone case has rhinestones. I was asked once if I was a 12 year old girl. Yes. Yes I am…
  22. A dam hike. Moraine State Park is about a half hour from my house. We walk from the parking lot to the dam, hang out, and eat ice cream before taking the hike back. It’s about four miles and a beautiful little walk. Actually I really like hiking. One time we hiked through Zion National Park, stopped at the river, took off our shoes and waded through the river. You never know what will happen until you just move.
  23. Traveling. Did you read all the stuff about the beach? I like traveling, meeting new people. In a small town in Austria while eating dinner, we were asked if another couple could join us because the restaurant was out of tables. We said yes and had a great conversation with a couple from England. One of my favorite things to do when I’m out of the country is go into a local grocery store. You learn so much about a culture in a grocery store. And you learn that in this country, we have choices. Lots of them.
  24. Watching the television show Outlander. The character in full dress, Jamie Frazier is the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.   jamie frazier
  25. Writing, creating. And when the story comes together, it’s the greatest feeling when it works out.
Battered and Bruised by the Water

Battered and Bruised by the Water

The high cliff overlooks a river that snakes through the countryside. It’s nestled into the valley, covered in trees and the water, it beats roughly against the rocky coast. I stand on the highest hill, a silent observer to the water as it splashes and swirls before dropping several feet into that whirlpool at the bottom of the waterfall.

The water churns, and undulates, alive with pain, anger, love and loss. Each harsh wave erodes the rocks, removing a piece forever. Mom she’s gone. I hear myself say that over and over again in my head, on a loop that I can’t shut off. My voice lacks all feeling, a reflection of my true self, because it was one more piece of news than I can’t absorb, interpret or accept. 

WIP 2016, Sheryl Steines

white_water_rapids_by_ollieeeeee2011-d55whc3

I’ve been afraid of deep water, (I’m 5’3″ so it doesn’t take much), since I was six years old. Before six, I had no issue with the water, stick me in a blow up ring and let me float on by. At six, I took swim lessons, in a lake. I will never forget the day we jumped from the floating dock into the water, water that was definitely deeper than the top of my head.

Not the first one in; I watched others jump in; it seemed that the others before me, were immediately lifted out of the water to sun dry on the wooden dock. When it was my turn, I jumped and stared up and through the greenish, cloudy lake water, I could see the sun in the sky and I remember thinking, “When am I going to be lifted out of the water?” I panicked, the panic seeped inside and from that time, water was the enemy.

I’ve taken swim lessons at an adult, trying to allay those fears, not wanting to pass them to my children, but the fear and anxiety is so deep within me, I’ve given up hope that I will ever enjoy the water.

I’ve been writing poetry and essays of late, writing my memoirs in a way that’s pure emotion as I discuss the life I’ve led so far and why it might be important to another person. My theme for the bad times seems to be the churning water. How it pulses, undulates and suffocates, much like I feel when I’m in a large body of water.

JK Rowling wrote about her depression in Harry Potter through the dementors, the life sucking creatures that ate your souls and left you as merely a shell, much like depression does in real life. She didn’t write a literal interpretation, choosing instead to give you the image, in a beautiful, grotesque way.

Water, for me, is the perfect representation for the emotions that envelope me through several past life experiences. It swirls and comes alive and batters me against the edge of the lake.

Eventually the water will flow down river into a quiet pond, but right now, it undulates, rumbles and terrorizes.

I work on my autobiography because I hope, someday, somewhere, someone will read it and gain perspective and a sense that in the end, it will get better. The river eventually ends.

Becoming Lola – Meditate

Becoming Lola – Meditate

mediation Meditation. There’s no secret to practicing, you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk to participate. It’s not magic, and most likely it’s something you’ve done without realizing you’re doing it.

Have you ever been so stressed that you take a moment to take a slow, deep breath and equally slow release of the breath? A moment to slow down, to be in the present. This is meditation.

Life is stressful. Full time job, over scheduling ourselves and our children, sometimes our lives feel as though they’re imploding in on itself. I feel it too.

I’ve been on a quest the last year, to remake myself. Find my inner happiness as I try to accomplish a goal I set for myself when I was seven years old. To be a writer.  But as we all know, sometimes life gets derailed. Careers, a terminally ill baby, an anxious child, a transgender child.

Stress builds up to the point you feel as if you are ready to explode and as I work toward my goals, and try not to let myself get derailed, I came up with a plan to remake myself. I call it Becoming Lola after I made a joke that I wanted to dye my hair red and change my name.

To deal with the stress, I took a meditation seminar at my yoga studio. The goal to open our chakras, let our natural energy flow freely instead of bottle up. Regardless of what you think about this, doesn’t matter for the moment.  What I discovered through the guided meditation, through listening to the doctor’s voice, by paying attention to my body, and imagining these centers opening up, I walked out of there with a quiet mind and an open heart.

My recent introduced me to Buddhist Monk Bhante Sujatha, practicing for over thirty years. He travels the world guiding others to the practice of meditation and when he’s home at the monastery he founded, he guides practitioners in how to begin and continue with the practice. When he’s not doing that, he raises money for incubators, used in impoverished countries.

I told Bhante my story. How one hour-long session, affected me so much. He told me I had the Buddhist light within me and encouraged me to continue practicing.

It takes only five minutes of time. Five minutes to breathe in, let the air fill your lungs and release it. Five minutes to simply be in the moment with no thoughts, no lists, not responsibilities except to listen to your body and quiet the mind.

I made a pledge to be open to all sorts of healing, to ease the pain in my body and in my mind, to give myself much-needed rest. It cost nothing and takes little time to heal yourself if your open to the possibility.

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming Lola – Me Time because Yes, I’m Worth It

Becoming Lola – Me Time because Yes, I’m Worth It

 

Author Sheryl Steines
Not cooking the book.

I’ve never thought of myself as pretty. I just wasn’t one of THOSE girls when I was a kid.

Okay. It’s never really been an issue until after having kids. The body changes, the extra weight. And recently gained weight due to some heavy stress, I’ve feel  very uncomfortable in my own skin.

I want more for myself and my children, than the constantly being down on myself because the days are long, the years are short and we should spend those short years with the people, things and events that make us happy. Whether that’s time with friends and family, sometimes, just taking are of yourself, reminding yourself that your more than a wife, mother, writer, friend is something you need to do. And taking yourself out of your comfort zone, finding new challenges, reinventing yourself, that might be just the thing you need.

Being part of a photo shoot might not be considered fun for people, or useful or have enough substance, but I like to dress up. I like shoes, purses, and makeup. I don’t apologize for being a girly girl. That’s who I am. So when this opportunity came up, I jumped at the chance to do something a little different. Honestly, I hate taking selfies and I don’t put myself in front of cameras often because I’m overly critical of how I look, but this intrigued me. This was different.

I found Bomber Betty Makeup, the way other people get recommendations. I asked my friends on Facebook for a recommendation for a makeup artist. I needed a headshot for the Wizard World Website and that’s when I met Jessica Sawicki.

After explaining my needs, we set an appointment time and she came to my house. I’ve never had my make up done, not like this. It was custom, all for me, and I looked great, if I do say so myself. I loved the make up so much, I’ve been buying it since 2o10.

One day I received an email about a vintage photo shoots. I was intrigued by the glamorous clothing, fun vignettes, and best of all, hair, make up and me time.

I borrowed a dress, circa 1960 and that led to the hairstyle and makeup looks.

I was hesitant when I first saw the hair. Without make up I felt a little school marmish and even considered taking it down. Rather than freaking out, I gave myself time in the make up chair and let Jessica fuss and dab and powder and perfect my face. As the look came together, I saw the vision and frankly, I couldn’t stop looking at myself. I’m not generally vain like that. But my skin was clear, the circles under my eyes gone. I no longer looked stressed or felt rushed and the colors were where colors should be. I smiled and felt good, I felt beautiful and even after the photo shoot, I couldn’t stop looking at myself. It was weird, it was a strange feeling to look in the mirror and see such a different me. Shall I say confident?

A do realize we shouldn’t need a full face of make up and fancy clothes to feel pretty. But what that day did for me was remind me that I’m kinda special and I deserve some quality time alone with me. I’m good, I’m smart and I’m capable. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

I will say, the below picture. The toughest, most uncomfortable shot for me. Either I never knew how to flirt, or I simply forgot how.

 

Below photos with vintage beauty products. I’m actually sitting on a old hair dryer chair.

 

Thanks to Jessica Sawicki owner of Bomber Betty Custom Cosmetics, hair by Cherry Dollface and photos by Harper Neilsen.

The Water Churns, and Undulates, Alive with Pain, Anger, Love and Loss

The Water Churns, and Undulates, Alive with Pain, Anger, Love and Loss

I’m writing my memoir, sort of. It’s not an exact retelling of my life and the low, very low experiences that have eventually brought me to this point. It’s a lot of poetry, a lot of essays and a lot of imagery.

That’s not so remarkable. JK Rowling wrote about her depression. She made it a character in her books. Remember the dementors? They were an embodiment of the depression she experienced after her divorce. Mine is an image, its water. Water, something that I bathe in everyday, that I drink all day and use to prepare meals. And yet, since I was about six years old, I’ve been terrified of the water.

I learned to swim in a lake. Dark and dirty, I couldn’t see the bottom. I had a loss of control during one class, the day we jumped off the dock and the instructors kept us under water for what seemed like an eternity. I can still see the sun through the greenish water, a dull ball in the sky. I remember the panic waiting for the teacher to lift me out of the water. From that day on, I never liked being in the water.

I tried to learn over the years. I took the classes in high school, but my fear was so gripping that my teacher, while holding me in the deep end, told me, you are too afraid, I can’t teach you here.” She proceeded to swim me to the shallow end, where I spent the rest of the two-week unit, walking. As if that’s not a waste of time.

As I write about my life, about the death of my daughter, I find myself using water as a representation of that horrible time.

“it beats roughly against the rocky coast.”

“The water churns, and undulates, alive with pain, anger, love and loss. Each harsh wave erodes the rocks, removing a piece forever.”

“I can no longer breathe as the water pummels me, suppresses me, I try to scream but my voice can no longer be heard amidst the roar.”

I found myself writing the second entry and the images waters contained my sorrow, my heart-felt apologies, my fear and anger.

The water doesn’t just scare me. It terrifies me. White knuckle terror. When I took swimming lessons after the birth of my second child, I remember swimming in the deep end of pool. I climbed out still wearing my life jacket and stood above the pool. My teacher told me to jump in. My head understood the command, but my legs were grounded to the pool deck. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed.

This is the imagery that describes the ups and downs. The white water rapids that describe my life. the way I can deliver my message and have others understand how I view my life.

Water terrifies.

Becoming Lola – Girls Weekend

Becoming Lola – Girls Weekend

We all need time away, time to process or not to not process, to unplug, unwind and hang with someone who totally gets you.

For my birthday, I loaded up the car, because I always over pack and headed to Holland, Michigan with my friend Marilyn. It was the perfect place to all of the above, and only three hours from home with just enough to keep us busy or not, for four days.

The location was beautiful, along Lake Michigan, with cute little towns, lots of great shopping, outside cafe’s along the lake, a great hiking dune, with a 239 step climb and a two-mile trail. And we did it all in my convertible. What’s not to like?

It was the perfect weekend with a great traveling companion. But for me it was something a little more. I’ve been making the most of my summer off from work, partially because I can’t find another job, partially because there’s so many things for me to catch up on and frankly, I’d rather be writing books for a living than anything else. But a weekend away, with a good friend, no kids, no husband, was what I needed. Time to just be me. Not mom, not wife, not pack mule. Just Sheryl.

I’ve been on a journey of sorts, one in which I’ve been taking myself out of my comfort zone, doing things that stress me out a little and it all started with the re-writing of my first book The Day of First Sun. In the five years since I wrote that book, I’ve evolved. I can tell because my evolution is reflected in Annie Pearce journey. She started out, maybe tough as nails, finding it difficult to let someone in and now she’s a loving, confident woman who sometimes isn’t. She changes and grows and is a far more complete character as she discovers who she is. Much like me, like the journey I’ve been on as I try new things, discover who I am and what I want my life to be.

For the first time since I lost my daughter to an undiagnosed neural muscular disease, I finally feel unstuck and in a place where I’m moving forward, and not standing still in the muck. Becoming Lola, my way of shaking myself up and moving out of a comfort zone has been an eye opener. Where once I thought incapable of doing the simplest things I now realize that when my car overheats three hours from home, I’m more than able to buy and use the antifreeze, let alone simply driving there in the first place.

Fear is paralyzing, and it’s in the relearning to do the simplest things, we realize that writing that book is really not so hard. Only the first step is.

For my first steps, check out Introvert to Sales Goddess on Amazon.com

Becoming Lola – Growing Confidence

Becoming Lola – Growing Confidence

Something happened to me in the last few weeks, I think as a direct result of quitting my job. It’s an unfamiliar feeling but it’s like a drug, I can’t get enough of it.

I quit my job 5 weeks ago. I’m just now finishing up my project, transferring my job duties to a new employee, training other co-works to replace me. I have one week left, and I have for the first time in two years, have a chance to breathe and see myself differently.

The job from the beginning, I believe was a mismatch for my skills. Not a writing position, and not responsibilities that I had a background in, the job was an opportunity to try something new. But the something new was nothing that interested me or anything I liked. It probably from the beginning was the wrong path.

Ending this job freed me. Fortunately, I’m able to quit without having something lined up. I can’t take time off and deal with my kids who have been through difficult times and have challenges ahead of them. I can use the time to pursue my dream. And as I end my projects and train and make decisions about my future, I learned something interesting about myself, something I never would have thought before….I’m freaking awesome!

After training two replacements, tested, worked through issues, wrote standard operating procedures, set up the database, prepared the data, I realized I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m smart, I’m capable and as the confidence grows, I see the light at the end of the tunnel and for the first time, I feel smart, sexy, beautiful and most importantly, confident. I made a decision, followed through, and the world opened up for me in a way that hasn’t been in a very long time.

Not everyone can quit a job, (I’ll be applying for contract work in a few weeks), but we can honor who we are by listening to what we need and what we desire.

I won’t be bored. I have 2 books I’d like to have ready by the end of the year, I have my kids I plan to hang out with and a life that I want to make my own.

Here’s to growth and change and learning to love yourself.

See where this journey of self-discovery started, when I failed at the job, tried something new and realized what it was that I really want to do.

Introvert to Sales Goddess on Amazon.com

Becoming Lola – Changing Jobs

Becoming Lola – Changing Jobs

workingI quit my job. From the beginning the job sat in my gut, the idea that this job and are were a bad for me and my skills and ultimately, it wasn’t what I really wanted to do.  I kept at it making the most of it, even through the job functions that I really didn’t like, the tedious boring creation of certificates, dealing with members and their money questions, all the while trying to do my job well.

In my heart what I wanted most was to be a writer. If I couldn’t make it as an author at least I would be writing for a living. Nothing in my current job was heading me toward either road. I made the decision to quit.

This was a good decision even though there isn’t another job to go to because what I want is a consulting gig, three to six months writing technical manuals about software. I like the idea of starting and finishing a project and having time off. Time to do what I really want, finish my books. But in order to be submitted for the job, I need to be available immediately, hard to do with a full-time job.

Sometimes we need to put ourselves first, our needs and desires. And sometimes we have to trust in our vision and dreams and put some effort into what we really want. You can’t success in your goals if you don’t put any effort into them. Wishing and hoping doesn’t make it happen, hard word and time does.

On my way to becoming who and what I want to be takes determination and trust in my gut. It’s never let me down.

Becoming Lola – Catching Up With the Past

Becoming Lola – Catching Up With the Past

When you’re in a rut, it’s not so easy to pull yourself out and move onwards, upwards or outwards. I started my big plan with a tweak to my diet and exercise plan. My body is working better, though not as better as I was hoping for. I’ve cut a lot of bad stuff out except for chocolate covered raisins. Those seem to be my downfall.

As I keep working on the eating healthier and exercising  less lazily, I’ve also been on a quest to take advantage of opportunities and visit with friends I haven’t seen in a while. There’s something about being with people who have seen you at your best and at your worst, who have a history with you and know you. It’s spending time with Marilyn and watching The Breakfast Club in the theater and laughing at what we once were and the people we’ve become. There’s also that realization that we are now the parents and our kids look at us like we’re complete and total idiots while at the same time, I’m still that know-it-all teen who’s laughing at the principal because he’s still a jerk and I’m not really 46 years old. But it’s also realizing that the last time I saw that movie in the theater, the audience was a whole lot younger.

breakfast club

It’s about sitting in the restaurant and waiting for Jodi for thirty minutes. And when I finally call her, we find out we’re both sitting in the front of the restaurant waiting for each other on the opposite side of a big ass pole. It’s something we would do and it’s something we laugh about. And even though I don’t see her all that often, we always seem to pick up right where we left off. It’s nice to slip back into the old routine without trying hard.

best-friends27I still have one more friend I’d like to catch up with. Someone I’ve known since I came home from the hospital after my birth. She’s always just been there, and its far too long since we’ve seen each other last. Thankfully there’s Facebook to catch up with her. It can be hard to reconnect and find room in busy lives for a new/old friend, but that connection is always worth it.

Life is not always about thinking things through, or making plans. It’s sometimes simply about being asked and saying yes, because who doesn’t want an unexpected call from someone you like who asks you to see an 80’s cover band, and oh yeah, they’ll pick me up in 5 minutes. You never know what these experiences will bring, maybe a new friend or maybe is as simple as reliving the songs from high school.

There’s still plenty more things I want to do. Things that might challenge or are simply different from what I’ve done before. In the end, I hope to have my friends around me and my mind open and productive, and a few goofy, funny, and nostalgic experiences that I hadn’t expected.

It’s all about openness. Next up, the American Ninja Warrior training gym…Maybe, yes, no, anyone?

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