Month: September 2017

What The Heck Was I Thinking…….by Lois Hewitt

So the day before yesterday, I had to learn to drive a stick shift.  At 55, I’m just now learning to do that.  Am I crazy?  I live in the mountains this is not where you want to learn this particular skill.  I’m also working a job really catered for younger or, at least, more fit people than myself.  I just bought a guitar and am trying to learn to play it.  

What the heck am I thinking?  When I was younger, I assumed that when I was 55 years old I would be planning to retire, sitting on the porch knitting, and generally starting to slow down. Well, that is not the case in the least.  Almost everything in my life is new: new state, new job, new surroundings, and an entirely new way of living.  There is no time, or money, to retire.  No time to knit and definitely no time to slow down.  What wrong turn did I make in life to get here?

I was thinking about it hard the last few days. I was feeling like I really messed my life up. I have spoken about this before. Starting a completely new life with almost no belongings in a completely new place was starting to seem less courageous and more plain stupid.  Am I too old to keep learning new things?  Some days I barely have enough energy to walk from the couch to the shower. 

Then I realized that I’m the kind of person, if not pushed or slightly prodded, that I would sit down and not get up.  For many years I dreamed of these changes but was paralyzed with fear of change.  It took something drastic to make me move. Now here I am, moving onward and upward. So instead of feeling like I took a wrong turn, I’m going to start thinking of it as finally making the right turn.  Although I have days I want desperately to just sit down, I’m not really ready to just sit down. I need to continue to push myself and learn things. It’s good for the body, the mind and the soul.

So even when I’m tired and don’t think I can go on, I will know in my heart there is joy in the pushing of oneself.  It means you are alive. And it means there is purpose in life. Who knows what other life skills I am about to learn, but for now I’m open to the possibilities and age has no bearing….well, ok, I’m not going to sign up for gymnastics or anything like that. Stuff within reason and somewhat age appropriate.  

I am learning there is a special kind of joy when you learn something you never thought you could do.  Today I got the all the way into fourth gear. I was ecstatic.  And I got home in one piece, even better!  I look forward to learning new lessons. 

Now if I could only figure out chords on the guitar…..


Can’t We All Just Get Along? by Lois Hewitt

I’m the very first person to admit this…I’m not always easy to get along with.  I am a stickler for structure and order.  What I perceive to be chaos, which can be normal for someone else, overwhelms me.  I like to do things a certain way. That’s not to say that I can’t change, it’s just a slower process for me.  I do not try to be difficult….it just happens.

I try to be, and want to be, all chill and easygoing.  I have had a reputation in the past for being a little intense at times.  I have been known to get really mad here and there. If I get pushed, I tend to push back.  I feel strongly about some things and won’t budge on them.  None of these qualities are any that I’m necessarily proud of.  

I look around my little piece of the planet and I think of the strife I create.  I really don’t mean to do it.   It is no wonder on a global scale that we can’t all get along.  No one wants to be wrong.  Opinions are as different and varied as the stars in the night sky.  It is so easy to think that yours is the right one.  Admitting yours may be flawed is a very hard thing to do.

I have started burying my head in the sand when it comes to some of the global issues we are all facing in this day and age.  The fact that there is so much hate in the world because of differences in opinions causes me much anxiety. The fact that we as human beings can hate entire groups of people, and have them hate us back, because of skin color, religious beliefs or any other myriad of differences cuts me to the core.  I hate the diversions, yet I’m not always flexible either.

So how do we start to get along?  I’ve always believed that it really starts at home, then it can radiate outward more globally.  But it’s not always easy to understand another human even those closest to us.  Each of us have our own unique experiences that set us up to think a certain way.  We all carry scars, visible and invisible, on our bodies and in our souls from hurts and injustices aimed at us.  These things veil our thought to a certain mindset, one that is often difficult to overcome.

I am in constant study of how to become a better person. I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. Yet I cannot always see the other side because I’m so busy looking at my side. The climate of hate today seems to create an atmosphere where we all, myself included, feel the absolute need to defend ourselves.  I find myself trying to explain my actions and the reasons for them.  We all get defensive rather quickly because it is easy to feel like you are getting attacked.

I figured out, for myself, that when I feel I am being attacked and I get so defensive that I cannot see anything else except my side.  My ability to, at least, consider the other side completely flies out the window.  I cannot possibly see your side when I have to guard myself from your attack.  Any hope for resolution is lost.  

How do I become less defensive?  I honestly do not know the answer to that question.  I’m like a wild animal at times, I will “bite”first, then think about the situation.  I think many of us are like that.  We just want to protect our little corner of the world.  But sometimes that closes our eyes to the other side of the story.  

Maybe if I stop perceiving an attack where there isn’t one, I may be able to bypass the defensive mode and actually have a real dialogue rather than a heated discussion of my intentions versus yours.  Maybe if I don’t automatically feel backed into a corner, I may have room to see the other side. Jesus spoke to many different kinds of people during His time on the Earth.  He listened, didn’t necessarily change His opinion, but heard the other person out.  He talked to them with compassion and understanding. He knew His moral compass.  Even when He was being attacked, He pleaded for mercy on those people.  

I cannot seem to be like that but I certainly can strive for it.  I will never be that understanding but I can try harder.  No more defensive behavior for me. I want my eyes open to see the other side. I may or may not change my opinion but I’m going to trust my moral compass more than my emotional compass and see if that doesn’t change things, even a little bit, for the better.  

Train, Train 

Some people love trains because of their amazing mechanics or the fact that these behemoths gracefully move down two thin rails.  Trains can move people as well as freight.  You can ride in  ultimate luxury or with basic surroundings.  You can feel the warm breeze on your face in an open air car drinking an iced tea or the sipping a mimosa in the cool air of a climate-controlled coach.  You can go somewhere new or no where at all.  

I love trains for all those things and more.  The ride, at least, on my train is slow.  You have a chance to actually catch your breath and enjoy the scenery. There is no wifi so the only connections you make are with other human beings.  The ride is like a huge rocking chair gently swaying back and forth to the rhythm of the wheels.  

You can drive to the same places we go but on a train you do not have to contend with traffic.  You actually get to enjoy the sights at 19 miles an hour instead of 50.  Many folks do not care for the slower pace.  Let’s face it, there are always a million things to be done at any given point in time.  Riding a slow train through the woods seems like a huge waste of time.

 But it’s not.  I don’t believe it’s healthy to be constantly on the run.  Down time is something no one has time for anymore. Your soul suffers without a respite. Your body becomes stressed and learns to stay that way.  I know from experience what it feels like to be in fight or flight mode all the time. Rest becomes a memory. Always feeling your heart beating out of your chest is the norm.  Joy is gone.  

There is no way a train ride will answer all of life’s problems, but what if you had a chance to become reacquainted with yourself again.  What if you had the chance to actually relax without anything you had to do.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I’m not trying to do a commercial for my train or any other.  I have come to learn the value of finding that thing you love to do and gaining the benefits from that.

I work on a train. It is, by far, the most physically demanding job I have ever had and ever loved. I can have just a horrible day at work and wake up the next day excited to go to my office, a train car.  It’s an unexplainable feeling.  For someone like me who wants to keep moving, it is perfect.  

The best part are train people.  I have met the most wonderful and giving people on this train from my co-workers to the passengers. The train is what brings us all together and it’s the train that makes us feel alive. It’s more than an engine and metal. It’s a daily journey that is ever changing.  It can make you happy, make you laugh and, at times, make you cry. Riding the rails has healed me deep into my soul. And the people I have met have touched my heart. 

I am forever changed.

A Tale of Like by Lois Hewitt

Our story is not an epic one.  We were young and ill-prepared for marriage. We toughed it our six years before throwing in the towel.  I was a mess as a teenager, crazed like a feral cat.  I wanted to calm down but did not know how.  Then one day at the bar I met him.  A few years older, not much though but stable.  We started talking and drinking, he eventually asked fir my number with no other intents for that evening.  

We actually went on a few dates.  It was fun and he was always the gentleman.  We laughed at each other and the feeling was very comfortable. Not long after that, we talked about getting married.  Neither of us knew what it would entail but we were heavy into like and probably a little bit of love too.  So we picked a day and got married at the local courthouse.

Marriage to us, at the time, meant that we could make out anytime, eat Oreos for dinner and buy stuff.  It was all light and breezy until the talk turned to children.  We both thought children would be a cool idea, besides our friends were starting families. So we tried, tried some more and tried again to no avail.  People we knew were pregnant almost the moment they thought about it but we had no such luck.  

The weeks turned to months and the months turned to years and still no child.  The lightness had left the marriage. Behind it was depression and what I thought was my own madness.  Due to my inability to control this situation I started to exhibit OCD tendencies.  I already had them, but the stress of infertility made them surface wholesale.  I started losing my grip on reality and he started to drink even more. He never drank at home only at the bar. 

He loved it when people found out he was married.  They never would have guessed it, they would say.  This was his way of having his cake and eating it too.  More years past as we languished in the infertility wasteland.  The love seemed to fall away.  We still liked each other but it became clear to me that might not be enough to keep the marriage alive.

We tried a weekend getaway to see if it could be salvaged and we both knew the end was approaching.  We talked about divorce and he moved out.  I proceeded to get the paperwork drawn up.  I wanted nothing from him and he nothing from me.  I cried for the loss as well as the failure. I liked him and he liked me but that was not enough to fill the cup of marriage.

We both went our separate ways. Certain songs made me think back in time. I would see him around town and we would speak.  Genuinely concerned how the other one was. I remarried, he did not. Apparently he wasn’t alone too much, and that was good.  I don’t think he was cut out to be married and that’s ok too.

So I start a new life in a new place and I get a message in Facebook that he has passed away.  I rush to the phone to call the person who sent me the note.  We talk at length about what happened and how he passed away.  I sat there alone crying uncontrollably.   My marriage is great and strong, we conquered the “dark years” and came through the other side. No. I do not cry for any regrets, or any misgivings.  I cry because he was a good and decent person who suffered. My heart breaks not for missed love but because he passed away so young. 

I remember the laughs, the late nights, forgotten are the childless years for they do not matter now.  I remember his smile and always the kind word. I am imagine I drive him crazy with my bad temper and mood swings. He never let on to me though. He seemed content those few years so much time ago.  I hope for a brief time he found some happiness with me and longer spans of happiness after me.

I’m sorry our love story was not an epic one. I’m sorry our love was not the kind to last through time.  You deserved better than that. I’m sorry you left your family and friends so young.  But thank you for taking the time to give it a try.  Thank you for honesty caring and for trying to understand those things about me I did not even understand. You were a good and kind man. The world is better for your time in it. Rest well now with no more pain. 

Good night, dear Pete, good night.

Time to Give Thanks by Lois Hewitt

This is me enjoying the Carolina sunlight and all of my many blessings!

My story usually revolves around what is wrong with me or what is wrong with the world around me.  As I sit here today, my heart is still broken from the never ending conflicts, the natural and man made disasters and all the turmoil.  Well, for me, for today, I’m going to be thankful.

I’m thankful today for:

— A clean, safe and lovely place to live and a truly amazing landlady.🏡

—  Food enough to eat to stay nourished and for a few treats.  Fresh water to drink.  Always thanks for a good hamburger!🍔

—  Clothes to keep me warm and comfortable.  And having learned to live with the minimal amount needed has relieved much daily stress.👖

—  A wonderful vehicle that has transported me to mountains, to oceans, to deserts and to the road of real freedom. Love you Devi!🚗

—  Good books.  Much of what I have learned in life is from reading. Not everyone one can or has the freedom to read.  I’m extremely grateful.📖

— Good music.  Music has always been a constant companion assisted me through the lonely nights and days and celebrated the most awesome of times! 🎼

— For learning the importance of giving up possessions and their hold on me. For giving up the need to always have the newest stuff.  Stuff was drowning me, not any longer….best lesson ever learned! Losing everything gave me everything I ever wanted!🗑

— For work and or purpose.  I used to hate work, thinking I was missing out on something else.  Now I know without the right work and purpose life is meaningless. I need the structure and the accomplishment that work brings.  If I did not have that, I would have no reason to get out of bed. 🛏

— For Christmas lights.  They give me a sense of wonder no matter what time of year.🎄

— Fot one good purse.  Got to have one!👛

— For finding the train.  The train I work on has changed my life. It is hard to believe that I used to be afraid to speak in public.  Now I do it daily as I ride a slow train through the amazing Nantahala Gorge!  It has changed my whole perspective.🚂

— For my belief in God.  I sometimes question my faith, sometimes I turn my back on it outwardly but I always have it inside of me.  Without it I would have perished many years ago from bad decisions.  One of my most prized possessions is my worn Bible. It has carried me through the darkness so many times.  I am eternally grateful for Mr. Fredrickson for showing me that light when I was 16 years old.  It forever changed me✝️

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. No matter what, there really is always something to be thankful for.  My biggest Thanksgiving goes out to my family and friends.  I have so many people who care for me, I honestly do not know how I got so blessed.  I’m thankful I learned how important it is to have other people in your life.  Every one in my life has touched my heart and my soul.  My life has been transformed by the people in my life. I am truly and utterly blessed beyond all comprehension.

So for today I give thanks and bask in the glow of all my many blessings!