A Critical Attack by Lois Hewitt

Have you ever had an asthma attack? I’ve had asthma literally as long as I can remember. I was born premature so my lungs did not get a chance to develop enough.

As a child, the doctors all thought the difficulty breathing were my attempts to gain attention. One doctor even told my mother to let me pass out, it wouldn’t do any harm. I never heard the word asthma applied to my case until I was in my 20s. When I had an attack, I would just have to prop myself up on the couch and wait for my breath to return… Sometimes four days later. A trip from the couch to the bathroom could delay the process of breathing normally.

I say breathing normally but I do not mean it. My normal is not normal for non-asthmatic people. I’m doing better, but I am still always out of breath. Breathing is on my mind every single day of my life. I can never turn my back on it. Just like anyone with a chronic disease. It is ever present.

I have had so many attacks in my life. Most I recovered from just by sheer stubbornness, which I do not promote as a way of handling this. I have landed in the hospital several times with extreme attacks. One in particular never leaves me.

I was in my 40s and doing home parties as a side gig. Many of my asthma attacks, especially the most severe, were brought on by cat dander. So I’m doing a party in the dead of winter. The temperature is hovering around zero. The extreme cold is another trigger. The house I’m at has six cats. The moment I walk in, my lungs immediately start to close.

I made a commitment and I was going to honor it so I continued on because I am that stubborn. As the night, the Neverending night, my breath grew more and more shallow, to the point not much air is getting in or out.

As your body reacts to the decreasing amount of oxygen, your body temperature rises to where it feels like it’s hovering around 150. Standing outside in the zero temperature and I was still profusely sweating. Your muscles get so tense that it takes days for them to not hurt any more. But before the attack is over, they start violently shaking from the now lack of oxygen. Your nails start to turn blue and all color drains from your face. You look like a corpse.

All the while, you are fighting the second worse part of the attack after lack of oxygen. The panic starts to intensify. Soon you lose the ability to comprehend what is going on around you as you mind singly focuses on staying alive. It’s like in the movies when a character is standing still and all the activity around them slowly disappears. As this happens you cannot speak because it takes breath to talk and you can’t concentrate on anything long enough to make a full sentence anyway.

Luckily I was not driving that night because there was no way I could. I got home and kept thinking if I could just sleep I would be better. Now by this time, I have used so much asthma medicine my heart is beating out of my chest, along with the adrenaline coursing through me. I was still in survival mode. Things were getting grimmer by the hour.

Somehow I made it to 5 am and I went downstairs to try some more medicine. I stood up, ran into the living room and yelled to Mike to call 911. My knees folded underneath me and everything went completely black. I was unconscious for the next four hours.

This is what Mike told me later. He ran downstairs and I was not breathing at all. He performed CPR. He said my eye were rolled up in my head and that I was turning blue. He got me breathing again and called my mother who lived right next door.

The ambulance came and they stabilized and took me to the hospital. They worked on me for a long time and I finally started to come around with no knowledge of what happened.

I was honestly spared from death. If Mike had not been home I would have perished right there on the living room floor and that is not an exaggeration. The memory of that night is clear as crystal some ten years later. The fear of reliving that experience is always somewhere in my mind.

Now what is the reason for telling that story now? It’s really simple. What happened that night pales in comparison to what the Corono Virus does to your lungs.

To those who think this is not serious, please think again. Lives depend on it. Do the right thing. Thank you

My First Rodeo by Lois Hewitt

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Here we are quarantined because of the Corona Virus.  There is a lot of time to think in these very quiet times. Fear is all around from many as is indifference from some.  Some are welcoming the slower pace and others are going stir crazy.  It is uncertain times, for sure.

As I was thinking about this virus yesterday, and trying to stay calm, my mind traveled back to another time.  My first rodeo time back in the early 1980s.  I was a teenager in the 70s and acting rather reckless.  I did some things that I would NEVER even, for a moment, think about doing today.  But I was young, dumb and very angry at life.

In early 1981, I decided to clean up my act and start putting my life together.  Then came, seemingly out of the blue, a virus no one had ever heard of…AIDS.  Remember, at the very beginning, even scientists seemed blindsided.  Please note that I am NOT comparing AIDS to Corona, but I am comparing the FEAR of the unknown of each.

The general understanding at the time was cloudy as to how it was transmitted.  Airborne? Contact? Toilet seats? Risky behavior? It was unclear.  Since I was still very close to my reckless days, I totally freaked out with absolute blind fear.  This manifested itself in some extreme OCD tendencies on my part.

I started washing my hands a lot, sometimes 4 or 5 times an hour.  I was spraying Lysol on every surface over and over.  I took up to three showers a day.  I was afraid to leave the house.  Every time I left there was a two hour ritual, similar to hazmat cleansing, that took place: clothes were washed immediately and disinfected, the car was cleaned with Lysol, I showered again, everything that came into the house from the outside was inspected and cleaned several times.  Even stepping outside meant these procedure had to be done and it had to be done in the correct order or I would have to start all over again.  It was literally and figuratively exhausting.

There is no Internet at the time (thank goodness), so watching talk shows and news shows was the source of information.  Everyone had theories but no definitive explanations.  The panic continued for years.  I could not sleep I was so scared.  I kept tally of the number of cases and where they were, it was a crazy time.

I finally learned to function in my fear.  I looked only slightly crazy on the outside, but on the inside I was a complete mess.  I let the fear of the unknown grab hold of me and my constant worrying feed the fear and made it grow.  Washing my hands with bleach probably contributed to my future weakness to infections. The things I did then are still impacting me today.  I still have OCD tendencies, but I have learned to use them in productive ways.  Some times during stressful situations I find myself falling back into the chaos of checking and rechecking, but I can usually talk myself off the ledge now.

So what is the point here?  I spent a good part of my 20s in fear of an unknown.  While healthy fear is a good thing, that’s what keeps a person safe, unhealthy fear is as damaging as the disease itself.  Stress and worry can be detrimental to ones health and emotional wellbeing.  So as I ride out the Corona Virus, I plan to take the threat to myself and others seriously, but I also plan to not panic.

I have learned that educating oneself tends to ward off the panic.  Being fearful, no matter the extent of that fear, does not help the situation.  Understanding that the answers may be slow in coming, doing those things that seem necessary and staying calm are the choices we make that will see us all through this challenging situation.

This is an unprecedented time.  Everyone has the right to voice their opinions on platforms that can be read by many (heck, even I have a blog Lol:), but remember not everyone is skilled or knowledgeable enough to speak on every subject.  I guess what I am trying to say is, just because something shows up in print, it does not mean it is true.  Please take the time to research the facts, choose who you listen to and use common sense in your actions.

I want you all to be and stay healthy both physically and emotionally.  That is why I tell you these dumb things I have done, so that you do not have to live through them or if you did that you are not alone like I always thought I was.

Today, I choose to be calm.  Be safe as well as kind!!!  Love you all!!!

Going Home by Lois Hewitt

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Thomas Wolfe once said “you can’t go home again.”  I recently found that out.  The other day a random article was on my news feed.  It was a story from my old hometown and even involved an incident on the road I used to live on.  I was discussing it with my husband and he asked if I ever thought about our old house.

No, I told him.  Hardly ever.  He had recently went to Google Earth and looked it up out of curiosity.  So he took me there.  The house itself is almost completely torn down.  He asked me if it bothered me and I said no.  It was not a big deal to me.

Later that night. alone in my thoughts, I started to wonder if it should bother me.  I lived in that house for about 50 years.  We had birthdays, holidays, parties and other great times there.  I was a child there, a young bride there, a divorced woman there and a not-so-young bride there.  Then I remembered the not so great times.  As I have spoken in previous posts, the house itself overwhelmed me.  I constantly worried about the leaking roof, the outdated septic tank, pipes freezing due to not being able to afford fuel oil, bugs eating the wood and many other calamities.

Is it really possible to simply walk away from something that enveloped an almost entire life without any remorse?  My conclusion was yes.  I felt nothing, never had any intention of ever going back there.  Do I sound ungrateful?  Maybe to some, but I realized that my situation was not one that required me ever going to that home ever again.

I have learned over the years that going home, to me and me only, means going to where Mike and I are, where my friends are at and where my present day life is.  When we were on the road, Devi (the name of our car) was our home as we lived in her or the tent we sent up in Jackson Hole, WY or Lemon Cove, CA.  Home was the place we did some Help Exchange work.  And now home is in our small but wonderful basement apartment.

I guess I that maybe my soul needed to a little bit more freedom.  The old house represents to me a place where I hid from the world.  I did not venture out too far because it was way to scary out there.  It was my own self-imposed prison.  Many a day and night were spent wishing for something different.  I  had to  go through all those things to get here today.   That has been the main lesson of my journey so far.

I do hope that the people who live on the property are happy there.  It was beautiful property.  I hope they enjoy it and make it theirs.  I never was able to do that, so many good wishes I send them.  I am enjoying my less complicated life.

Every day after work, I look forward to going home.  Today that means one thing, tomorrow it may mean another.  Who knows?  That is part of the adventure we call life.  But for today, as long as our landlords allow it, we will stay here and call it home.

Whatever it Takes by Lois Hewitt

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Money and I are not friends.  For some reason, money seems to be afraid of me because it never stays around long enough for us to develop a deep, lasting relationship.  It takes a while to get here, then it leaves very quickly.  Do not get me wrong, I am not complaining.  I have had much and I have had little.  Because of having both, I have learned money’s true meaning.  Do not make it your god.  It is fleeting and even in times of plenty, it can leave you empty.

During those “in want” times, you sometimes have to do a little extra.  I used to read article after article about how to get rich.  It came down to spend less and save more.  Great advice when you are not $70,000 in debt (plus a mortgage).  So I have spend much of my time working odd jobs.  Looking back on them, it is no wonder I am a little weird today.

I worked for a gracious company for almost 20 years but while I was there I had several second jobs.  I restocked books at a local grocery store.  I, at different times, also stocked Hallmark cards and health and beauty items at another local grocery store.  I measured ladies for bras for a while.  There was a time when I worked for a chocolate company and it was a tasty job!  Bartending was a very short lived gig because I did not know the difference between Guinness and Bailey’s.

I have had several writing jobs, those of which I loved.  I started writing articles for Associated Content until Yahoo! bought them.  Writing for Yahoo! was fun.  I also wrote for a small, local newspaper.  Today, I still write for a internet content company.  When you are reading one of those odd subject, filler articles it may have been written by me.

I have stuffed Sunday inserts into newspapers.  The time I delivered phone books was a story in and of itself.  I used to make and decorate cakes.  Mike and I had a full-fledged eBay store for about ten years.  I still have an etsy shop online.  For about a year, while working full-time, I tried to run my own gift shop.  The Eclectic Princess never really took off but it was an experience I will never forget.  I was. also, a temp at a law office.

Here are my at home party jobs:  Southern Living ( I was living in the north at the time), Dove Discovery Chocolates and Sweet Sinsations by Lois.  Yes, I sold adult toys for just about three years.  That was an adventure.  I had many repeat parties, and a very loyal following.  It just ended up being a little too much for me.

When I lived near Cherokee, I thought I could make a nice little living off of slot machines.  I had a plan and it was all figured out mathmatically.  I was going to not be greedy, but double my money a couple times a month.  No big deal.  The first time, I lost everything.  The second time, I lost everything.  The third time, I lost everything.  Then I figured out that was not a viable second job.

I am not sure what the moral of the story is.  Looking back on these mostly crazy jobs, I realize they have helped, not only pay bills, but have made me who I am today.  When I was younger, I was not too excited to work.  I would have rather stayed home and lived that kind of domestic life.  But bills and want called me out and I did whatever was necessary.  Those experiences made me a more rounded person.

I may not have ever traveled overseas or I may not have a long list of education advances, but I have seen some things and I have done some things.  Looking back, I think not bad for a high school dropout.  Hopefully, now I can just do my etsy and writing from home as my second jobs.  No more adult toys or phone books.  I am glad, however, that I had these experiences.

Gratitude Attitude by Lois Hewitt

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Happy New Year!!!!  Well, it is now 2020…a brand new decade.  As I do every New Year, I write down my resolutions for the coming year.  By about this time in January, I have already set them aside and forgot about them.  This year I hope is a little different.  When you are 20 or 30 and thinking about the changes you want to make, you think you have time.  No need to rush.  But as you get closer to 60, as I am, I realize if I want to make some changes, this is the time.  I need to take the ideals more seriously.

The most important ideal I want to do this year is have a heart of gratitude.  I have SO many things to be thankful for.  In my misspent youth, I felt guilty for anything good that happened because I felt I did not deserve it.  I would purposely trip myself up in an attempt to alleviate the guilt.  Now that I am older, I want to be grateful for everything.  Even the not-so-great things as they help make a person who they are.  So this year, once a week, I am going to write a letter to someone in my life who has influenced me and just say thank you.  We do not say thank you enough in our world today.  I have many things to say thank you for and many people who helped me throughout my life.

I also want to learn sign language, how to knit, and how to play the guitar.  I want to read more and take some courses online.  I want to read the entire New Testament this year.  I want to eat better and exercise more.  I want this to be a healthy year.  I am so tired of being sick and tired.  Cut down on sugar, fat and (the hardest thing of all) hamburgers.  More fruits and vegetables.  I am no longer young enough to overcome bad eating habits. I also need to start saving more money and being more frugal.  Those are tall orders, I know, but I need to step up my game.  I cannot live by the seat of my pants any longer.

I want to strive for more peace and less drama.  More quiet time and less useless noise.  More calm and less anger.  More joy and less depression.  I know things happen, life is like that.  Everything is going along nicely and out of nowhere life hits you.  I am not expecting that I can dodge those bullets, but I hope I can be better prepared for the unexpected.

Basically, I want to become the person I have been working to be all these years.  I always had an idea of who I wanted to be, but never had the discipline or the motive to become her.  Now is the time.  I am sure I will fall short.  I try not to let other people down, but I am the first one to let myself down.  I hope this decade, I have a little more respect for myself.

I am grateful for this blog.  It is my therapy.  I can work things out as I write.  It is cathartic.  Writing is good for me, maybe I will do it a little more.  It is one constant in my life I have always loved.  Who knows, maybe this is the year of my book????!!!!

As the new year starts, I want to thank everyone who reads my crazy musings and lives my ups and downs with me.  I could write just for myself, but I sure enjoy hearing from you.  I am blessed in so many ways.  Without the Internet, no one would ever have read any of my writings.  I sure have enjoyed writing about this crazy ride.  I hope this year brings a few more good stories and ideas.  Thank you everyone again!!

May your year be full of health, love, joy, peace and true happiness!!  Here’s to 2020!! ROCK ON!!

A Long, Hard Look by Lois Hewitt

WARNING:  if you are easily offended, you may not want to read any further.  Depending on how badly this goes, it may be my last post.

Lately, I have been taking a long, hard look at life.  In fact, the last few years, that is all I have done.  I have tried to maintain a sunny outlook on it all, but lately I cannot muster up the strength to do that anymore.  The untold story starts way back….

I was raised by my father after my parents divorced in my youth.   My dad was a gentle giant to most, at 6 ft. 6 in and around 300 lbs.  He did have a heart of gold.  But he was unequipped to raise an insecure, needy daughter.  He did his best and he did teach me some valuable lessons.  Lessons I still use today.

Dad drank hard and he played hard.  Never missed a day’s work due to drinking, heck I do not remember him ever calling sick.  When he was diagnosed with cancer, he did not even miss a day. I am rather a wimp myself and do use sick days.

He taught me to drive before the legal age, so that I could drive him home from the bar.  I was never afraid being a young girl sitting alone at the bar doing my homework for he was never far and no one dared mess with me.  He was my protector.  And that job he excelled at.

He taught me about guns.  He was an excellent Skeet and Trap shooter.  From an early age, I knew the ABSOLUTE truth about guns.  You don’t mess with them.  They are NOT toys and you NEVER EVER point on at someone unless you mean to shoot them.  I knew from a young age, that is not something you never touched.  I would carry his shotguns for him when he was at tournaments, but gun safety was always key.  He also taught me the foolish things Hollywood did with guns was not reality.  I never once picked up his .38 just to pretend.  The cavalier attitude today about guns absolutely surprises me.  There were guns all over the house, some loaded.  I knew if someone tried to do us harm, who would be the victor.  All this talk about guns today, I think if more people had my healthy fear of them, you would see a lot of this unnecessary carnage disappear.

He taught me about cars.  Cars are as dangerous as guns.  Cars kill and maim people.  He would have kicked my butt today if he ever saw me trying to talk on a phone, watch a movie (I’ve seen it) or any other activity other than driving.  I still drive with both hands on the wheel.  I use my turn signal, even coming out of my driveway.  I strongly remember those things he taught me.  When I was young, living in a small town with no transportation, I wanted a bicycle so I could go to friend’s houses.  He told me that he would get me one when he wanted me to get killed.  He said where we lived was full of dangerous hills and curves, that riding a bike on those roads was suicide.  I was mad at him for a long time, but now I understand that he was teaching me about vehicular respect.  Car or bike, no difference.  Both are dangerous and you cannot be distracted using either one.  The things I see today that people do while driving is so out of control.

He taught me about money.  This is a lesson I never fully learned.  After the divorce, money was really tight.  My father only had an eighth grade education, because he had to work to support his family after his father passed away (as did his other siblings).  He was a stellar mechanic, one of the best.  He could fix anything.  We never called a repair man, Dad knew how things worked.  Things got really tight when foreign cars started pouring into America during the 1970s.  He went from full time to part time work.  He was devastated, but optimistic that is was only temporary.  I remember the day we went to the local grocery store and bought a few items.  The woman in front of us was buying steaks, wine, cookies, chips, and other food I would have died for.  She paid with food stamps.  The balance of the bill was paid with a $100 bill.  Dad had $20 to his name at the time and never flinched even when I asked him why we could not have steaks.  We followed the woman out to her new Japanese car and I realize now that Dad’s heart broke a little.  Granted I did not know the lady or her situation, but I knew ours at the time and it was one I did not understand.

He taught me about politics.  In middle school, I remember we were learning about JFK.  I came home and asked Dad about him.  I was unprepared for the answer.  He had a deep dislike for the entire Kennedy family.  He hated their politics.  We discussed it for a while and I felt I understood his stand.  The next day at school, I quickly learned that my family might have been in the minority.  Dad still respected the man, after all he was the President of the United States but he did not necessary adhere to his politics.  This is a subject I have skirted because, frankly, I am afraid of the backlash.  Here goes…I was born a Republican and that is where I stayed even after my youth.  I have always respected the Office of the President, even if I did not agree with them.  This absolute intolerance for our current President is one of the most outrageous things I have ever seen in my life.  Total disrespect and it is something I truly cannot understand.  Don’t comment back all the things wrong.  I understand the situation.  I also know he was elected by the people and he deserves, at a minimum, the respect the office presents.  The other thing Dad taught me is that everyone has their right to their opinions.  Politics is not a subject to be discussed.

He taught me about sex…sort of.  He always said there are three things you do not talk about:  sex, politics and religion.  He explained what it was that teenage boys wanted and left it at that.  But later on he also taught me that what two consensual adults do is their business.  I did not always listen to this advice, especially if I thought I could get a laugh out of someone, but today I understand what he was saying.  Today, we are spoonfed constantly sex on all levels.  Maybe it is too much information today.

He taught me respect.  I never called his friends anything but Mr. or Mrs.  I never sassed back to an adult (I did rebel about in my later teenage years and for that I am terribly full of remorse).  I learned to respect people, their things and their time.  Today, respect is a bad word almost.  We are losing that for the likes of “all people for themselves”.  You are not as important as I am, so you need to get out of my way.  There are some people that you do not even try to engage with, even if you are trying to assist them.  Dad respected all people.  He was literally and figuratively colorblind.  Respect was a big deal when I was growing up.  It was not an automatic thing you received, you had to earn it.  It could also be lost and then you would have to re-earn it.  In my youth, there was no respect participation award.

You get the picture.  He taught me some hard and fast rules.  Rules I live by today.  Today I see those rules being pushed aside.  I see people who are so easily offended by the smallest things.  I used to be thin-skinned (as he called it) and every infraction cut me to the bone.  I felt that it was always personal.  So I understand, but I also ended up having to “grow a pair” because the constant pain and insecurity took its toll on me.  I literally got tired and am still recovering.  It was once I learned that not every infraction aimed at me was about me. That is a very self-centered view by the way.  Some people are just plain nasty, some are having a rough time and some have problems I cannot see.  So I learned to turn the channel, put down the book, or unfollow someone who seems offensive.  I do not write nasty comments to people from the safety of my house.  I hate that we are all so quick to call others idiots or racist or other derogatory terms.  It is really easy to play God sitting alone in front of a computer screen, but that surely does not make it right.

He taught me that religion was ok.  My Dad was not an overly religious man, but when I became a Christian in my mid teens, he was supportive.  He saw that it was making me a better person.  During those times, it was still okay to be a Christian.  Today, it is a totally different story.  This country was founded on religious differences, yet today Christianity is the least tolerated.  Yes, there have been some really bad examples of “Christian” people in our past.  People who abused their power and did terrible things.  I cannot deny that, but I have a profound and deep love for Jesus.  I know for a fact I would not be here today if it were not for Him.  Does that make me weak?  Does that make me like a mindless sheep?  I, personally, do not think so.  I think that my faith makes me stronger than if I did not have it.  It makes me more empathetic and it also makes me hurt more when I see man’s inhumanity to man.

He taught me to think before I act.  I remember when I had family come back from fighting in the Vietnam War.  Bodies badly broken and spirits broken as well.  They went off to fight a war because they felt it was their duty.  They did it wonderfully and paid a very high price for it.  They came back to the land they were protecting and were spit upon.  They were called names and hated.  War is never good, especially when the objectives are not clear.  But many men and women gave the ultimate cost for the rights we hold dear today and yet we showed them so little respect.  Today, you hear “thank you for your service” all the time, but do we as civilians understand what that sacrifice meant?  No, I do not think so.  How many people think Memorial Day and Veterans Days are just long weekends?  We need to think before we act.  Get the whole story.  Today, it is so easy to just hear a sniglet of a partial conversation and think that is the entire story. That is just not the case, most things run much deeper than we think.

If we are going to base our lives on what the Kardashians (sp?) think, or other informers or whatever they are called, we are guaranteed to get only half a story.  The Internet is full of half stories, rewritten stories and speculation.  We need to stop following and start looking at things for ourselves.  This is a very unsettled world we live in and every single infraction causes it to tilt a little more until one day it completely tips.

So friends, now you know the truth.  I am a Republican, a devoted Christian, and am pro-gun.  I do not care who you sleep with.  I do not care about your politics because you have the RIGHT to your opinion.  If these facts make it so we cannot be friends any longer, I apologize.

I had a job once where when of my coworkers was constantly bashing another coworker.  It make me extremely uncomfortable but I never said anything figuring it was okay because I was not agreeing with them.  Turns out my silence was taken as an affirmation of the terrible things being said.  I learned a lesson then.  You can skirt an issue for a while, but you truly have to pick a side eventually.  So goodbye to those who will loath me because of my stand.  I will not beat you over the head with my views any longer than this blog is.  I am sorry that you cannot do that one thing you claim to want to do…coexist.  To those who are still okay with me, thank you.

Please do not comment back with an argument. I only wanted to clear some air that has been weighing heavy on me.  I am not looking for a fight.  My Dad never looked for a fight, some went looking for him but he never went looking himself.

 

Thanksgiving Eve by Lois Hewitt

Tis the day before Thanksgiving and I’m at work…. That’s all I got. I’m not good at flowery prose.

I am, however, sitting at work waiting for my shift to start. I’m working Thanksgiving so the day will probably pass by before I even realize. So I decided to take the time now to list what I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for a roof over my head. I know that is not always a given. Our landlords are the best and I’m very content there.

There is food on the table, clothes on my back, a vehicle to get me to work and all the things I need in life. I cannot think of a thing I want… Except Jennifer Aniston’s genes😉.

I’m sitting in this marvelous place, with wonderful coworkers and a strong history.

Those things are pretty standard, along with my friends and loved ones. I’m truly blessed.

But there are a few more things I am thankful for. I do not ever remember a time when this country has been so divided, a time when hate has been so prevalent. Violence is rampant and fear is on the rise. Never have I heard so much talk about coexisting with so little action to back it up.

People are hurting and resources thin. The people who are supposed to help us are busy with things that are not helping. Vicious talk is becoming the norm. Where is the love?

With all that set aside, we still have much to be thankful for. We still have freedom in this country. We can pray to whom we want or to nothing. We can say what’s on our mind, although maybe a little more quiet would make things better. We have the right to fight for change but we don’t have the right to spew hatred.

This country is still great even though we are losing the ability to understand other opinions. Manners seem to be slipping through our fingers. Entitlement is the word of the day…. Every day. These things are ruining our society, but we still have have much to be thankful for.

I am honest in that I know the good old days weren’t always so good. I am praying for better days.

We are in turmoil but I’m still grateful for so many things. Being grateful changes your attitude it makes you more grateful. So today, I’m grateful and will try to be that way every day.

I hope everyone has a blessed day.

The Written Word by Lois Hewitt

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When I left Ohio, I left behind all the material things I thought were important.  If it did not fit in the car, it was not going with me.  I left behind things from my childhood, things from my adulthood, almost everything was thrown out, recycled or donated.  I did keep a handful of things that really mattered and fit into the car.  During all the travels and the several recent moves, I lost track of those things too.  Until today….

Today, I was doing a little cleaning and I came across a small box.  The box had all my magical things inside.  There were just a handful of my most precious photographs, people no longer with me and a few of those that still are.  There were a few silly charms and cute little gifts I received over the years.  But the things that I had forgotten about, the things that really touched me, were letters and greeting cards I kept through the years.  I sat down and reread them.  Tears filling my eyes.  My heart so full of love.

Letters from friends and family, cards for special occasions and other correspondences that I could not bear to discard.  Then I remembered something.  When I was younger, much younger, my mother and I would plan a trip to the Hallmark store.  It was a big deal because we would, literally, spend a couple of hours picking out just the right greeting cards for friends and family.  I would peruse the stationary aisle so that I could write handwritten letters when a card just was not enough.

Every correspondence I sent also had a seal on the back of the envelope as well as occasion appropriate stickers on the front.  Sometimes I would right a Bible verse or happy thought along the edge of the envelope fold.  I even bought the prettiest stamps to be used for mailing. I learned this from my mother and sister.  Each correspondence was unique and directed to that person.  Extreme care went into each card or letter.

Then came email and e cards and I forgot about doing those things.  Once in a while I will pick up a greeting card at the grocery store, but they seldom ever see the inside of a mailbox because they sit in a box or a bag.  I never have stamps anymore, so it is a futile endeavor.

This is how crazy I was about it…every Christmas card had to have a personal note in it.  The thought of just signing my name was extremely unacceptable.  If you were not going to write a note, don’t even bother was my philosophy.

As I looked over the items I kept all these years, I am reminded of that special feeling one gets when there is a letter or card in the mail.  I think we have lost that little slice of humanity in our lives.  Sure there are still cards and stationary, but they feel less sincere today.  The cards of old where printed on high quality textured paper, the sentiments were sincere, not just non-offensive, and envelopes were more than just plain white.  Hallmark used to be the pinnacle for me, now they just look like every other card.

I wrote a post awhile back about starting to write letters again.  That was as far as the idea ever got.  I seem to have lost my ability to sit down with pen in hand and actually write down words.  I do it once in a while, but not like I used to.

Isn’t funny how something so very small and seemingly insignificant can actually make the most change.  I have a few cards from loved ones when I was going through an extremely difficult time and as I reread them, my heart swelled with love.  I get some amazing emails, but the feeling, the connection, is just not the same.

Mike and I met an amazing young couple a few months back.  Very dynamic, very worldly and just incredible.  They have traveled the world, unlike myself.  When one of them was headed back to his homeland in Denmark for a visit, Mike asked him to send us a postcard.  I know how daunting that can be to send even a postcard internationally.  But he did it, in fact, he sent us three. I felt so honored that he had taken the time during his visit to honor that request.

A former boss of mine, found hundreds of postcards that his mother had collected during her youth.  He gave them to me so that I could sell them on Etsy.  I plan to start doing that again, but I did it for a while.  As I posted each card, some dating back to the turn of the century, I realized that each post card was a slice of history.  A moment in time that has forever stood still.  On the front a hand painted design and the back a handwritten note detailing a visit or other thought.

I now understand the importance of these things, just not on a superficial level, but on a much deeper, human level.  These little pieces of paper full of ink markings connect us all as humans, they touch our hearts and our souls.  They remind us that there really is someone out there who cares about us.  In our world today, it is so easy to feel alone.  But that is not necessarily the case.  An email does not stir me the way a note does.  Maybe it is time to bring back some of those antiquated ideas.

Maybe sending a note instead of an email once in a while will change the world.  Probably not, but I think it is worth a try.

The List Grows Shorter by Lois Hewitt

photo of planner and writing materials

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

For most people, this time of the year is full of baking cookies and treats, shopping and wrapping presents and attending holiday parties.  For me, this time of year is my favorite because I get to have a new calendar and contact book.  Yes, I still use a paper calendar and contact list.  I love the anticipation of transferring all my information and contacts into to new calendar.  It is an amazing time for me.

I do not despise electronics, but, for me, there is nothing like the feel of a good writing pen in my hand as I write information down onto paper.  I love the feel of paper and the smell of it too.  Half the fun is shopping for just the right calendar that will fit all my needs throughout the coming year.  When I finally find the right one, I wait for just the right moment to start transferring the information over.  There is a whole process involved.  OCD?  Yes, but it has worked for me for over 30 years.

I was the person in the 1980’s with the three inch Franklin Planner full of dates, information, contacts and anything that would fit in it.  I carried that planner with me for years and years.  My purses had to accommodate the planner.  I never went anywhere without it.  I could literally run my entire life from any location on the planet because that planner contained all my information.  Today, I do not have the need for such a complicated system.  I have one date book that has contact pages included.  I can still track bills, errands and due dates from a much smaller, compact unit.

Today was the day I was finally going to open my new planner and start moving information over.  I have been waiting for just the right time and today just felt right.  So I opened my new calendar and start writing down contacts in the back of it.  The first two were people I had not seen or heard from for many years.  The next three were people that had passed away.  And as I continued down the list, more and more of my contacts were no longer relevant. My chest grew slightly tight.

It made me think back to the Franklin Planner days when my contact section was one of the fullest sections.  I had business contacts for the work I was doing at the time, customer contacts for the business I was running and there were many family members who have long since passed.  I had lists of “friends” that required days and days of signing Christmas cards to, but sadly heard back from only a few.

Back in the day (my 20s), I thought the more contacts I had, the more friends I had.  Today I realized that every year since then my list has grown smaller and smaller.  Today, I barely fill up two pages.  I used to think everyone I met was my friend, somehow it fed some sort of ego need inside of me: some fake self-esteem.  I would send birthday cards, holiday cards, thinking of you cards to so many of these people with the intent of staying in contact and then I just never heard back from them.  The idea of someone not liking me was not even a thought I had when I was much younger.  Now I realize there were many years that I was unlikeable and very needy.  That scares people away.

Over the years, as my friend and contact list grew less and less, I never really thought about it consciously.  But today as I crossed out people from my old calendar, I realized that the people from before who never really gave me the time of day, were not my friends.  That stings a bit.  I do have a few handful of good friends who have stood the test of time, but I am speaking of the people who were nice to my face, but not so nice when I turned my back.  I cringe at how unaware I was.  In retrospect, I can see who was simply putting up with me and who really cared.

After mulling it over for most of the morning, I returned to that contact list in my new calendar and I smiled at the names that were in it.  Those names were the ones that mattered, not the others.  The people I have in my life now are the ones who are making my life full and rich.  I no longer need my ego stroked in order to have some sort of self-worth.  Man, that is liberating.

No more walking around on eggshells, no more making sure everyone liked me.  Today if you like me, great: if not, that is ok too.  Not everyone is going to like me and visa versa.  I guess when I went around liking everyone, I was not being my most authentic self either.

Now my new calendar is ready to experience the upcoming year with me.  All the ups and all the downs.  I will write milestones and small achievements as well in it.  I will use it to keep in contact with the people who want to be in my life.  I do miss those I have lost, but that is simply a part of living too.

My paper calendar is so much more than just a date book.  I keeps me on target for goals, helps me to remember important information and creates a personal space for which I can be me.  I love my paper calendar, it has more feelings than an electronic version.  It is one of those true friends that has stood the test of time.  As of today, I am a little sad over the losses, but I still have gained so much in this life.  Realizing that the most important moments are necessarily the big ones puts life into a reasonable perspective.

Thank you to all my old and all my new friends alike.  You may not be in my contact book, but you are definitely in my heart.

The Look on Her Face by Lois Hewitt

beautiful clouds country dark

I had an epiphany the other day at work.  I knew the meaning of what I do for a living but my vision became so much clearer.  I was doing my job, escorting a guest to see a slideshow presentation of rooms that are only accessible by stairs.  This guest chose not to attempt the stairs and wanted to sit for a while.  I proceeded to do what we are all supposed to do, ask how her day was going, move the ropes and direct them to the sitting area.  When we arrived at the destination, I wished her a wonderful day and thanked her for visiting.  The look on her face stopped me in my tracks.  Her words were nothing compared to her facial expression.  She looked at me like I had just done the most compassionate thing on the planet.  Her eyes were wet, her smile huge and our eyes locked for just a second then I moved on.

I was busy and did not think much of the event until some quiet time.  Then I looked back on the encounter and realized something so very profound.  That guest seemed, to me, as almost shocked at my kindness.  I did nothing overly special, just what I am supposed to do.  But I realized that in our world today, basic kindness is hard to find let alone anything even remotely over that.

It is so easy to forget in the middle of busy mode, that people are looking for, actually craving, some sort of kindness.  We spend our days being cut off in traffic, yelled at by guests because things are not as smooth as expected, service is rushed, and kind words have fallen by the wayside.  Any number of slights can be experienced in a single day.

I believe that is why so many people have their heads down, ears full of ear buds, eyes deflected from contact and buried in phone screens.  We are scared of being rejected or treated badly.  It seems that is the norm.  Today, at breakfast, our waitress came to the table with the first words out of her mouth as an apology for the delay in getting to us.  We had not even noticed any delay.  We joked around and explained that we were in no hurry.  She looked amazed that we did not give her a hard time.  Then we learned she had been yelled at for slow service by another group. It was a Sunday morning for goodness sake.  Can no one chill out anymore?

The world is a rough place in these modern times.  My gosh don’t trip or you will be eaten alive by the vultures we call our fellow humans.  That makes my heart break.  But it makes me realize that I work in a place that requires that we show “gracious hospitality.”  At work, it should be a respite from the emptiness of the “outside” world.  I need to be better than anyone on the outside of the estate.  It was required in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, and is still required today.

Then I kept thinking, I am a Christian.  Jesus calls us to be of service to others just as He was on His time on Earth.  We do not particularly like that concept in today’s world.  Are we not all too important for that?  Are we all not too busy for that?  When we lose the call (which I have many times in my life) to serve others, don’t we hurt society.  A simple act of kindness should not be the rarity in life, should it not be the norm?

I have written on this subject many times, but with each passing day I learn more about the far-reaching effects kindness can have on others.  I realize that I am responsible for my actions and I have always been called to service for others.  I can no longer allow my ego or my hurt feelings from previous encounters skew my view of service.  Man, sometimes you get yelled at and it is hard to come back from that.  I am called to take a higher road, one that says shake it off and do not sink to that level.  Swearing and kicking things seems so easy for me (especially the swearing part).  The hard part is looking the next person in the eye, giving a genuine smile and asking what they need.

It is difficult for this introvert to be so open, but if I can make one person’s day better, isn’t it worth it?  Of course it is.  I wish the high road was smoother but there is no satisfaction in that.  The look on a guest’s face, a big full-on smile or a thank you are the payment that makes it all clear.  Sometimes, there is no recognition for the effort and that also requires taking the higher road.

This idea of super-hyper self awareness is so very hard. This journey started out just about me, but quickly changed to not being about me at all.  Although I am learning how to act as a human, it is truly about others.  People I see for a minute and never again.  But I have the ability to create a memory that can last for a long time.  I still hear from people who I served on the train and that was over two years ago.

That gives me pause.   Do I return the rudeness or rise above it?  Gosh, it is hard but it is my calling and one cannot deny their calling.  Here goes to making the climb to the higher road.