Month: November 2017

Talent: Inherited or Learned by Lois Hewitt 

It is a beautiful evening in Western North Carolina.  I am sitting in my she-cave with no lights on except for my little fake Christmas tree, listening to my favorite 70s classic rock (slightly louder than I should), and enjoying a cup of herbal tea.  For just a few minutes, it all feels perfect!

Then my mind, as it usually does, starts to wonder.  This is something I used to spend hours thinking about, but haven’t given it a thought in some time. Is talent inherited or can it be learned?  I’m listening to Bob Seger tell a story about his life, everyone’s life, set to music.  Then I think about Ayn Rand and the way she used a story and her words to change my perceptions of life.  As I struggle to learn the guitar, it is clear that I do not have the internal talent many musicians have.  You know the ones who never took a lesson yet shred the guitar most impressively.  Painters, architects, seamstresses, and the many other talented artisans in our world with God-given talent.

I opened my mind to the arts in my 20s.  I took a Humanities class and nothing has been the same since. I learned to love art, even if I did not understand it.  For example, I tried to read Shakespeare’s sonnets to no avail. I had no idea what he was trying to say, but I appreciated his efforts.  After some time, I tried to find my very well-hidden talent. Because I reasoned, doesn’t every person have a specific talent?  I have a friend who is an excellent painter as is everyone in her family.  I know people who can sing, dance or play an instrument.  I know a young lady who can transfer her thoughts into words in the most eloquent of ways.  I know all these talented people, they surround me and yet I feel like I missed the day talents were given out. 

So again I ask myself, are these talents inherited or can they be learned?  I still do not know. How many Bob Segers are there, really.  Not everyone can compose like Mozart or play numerous instruments like Prince.  Or write like Fitzgerald.  Those people, who truly have a gift, and enrich the world by bringing beauty into it. Art is a life force in and of itself.  It takes nourishment to be created but then returns it in the form of beauty for one’s soul.  I suppose that not everyone can have artistic talent.  That makes me sad as I am one of those people not gifted.  But……

I have learned that there are other types of talent outside the artistic realm.  Some people can pull out spectacular outfits out of old clothes.  Then there are the people who can truly listen to others and feel genuine empathy.  The person with an encouraging word at just the right time.  The perfect cookie, a hand-knit scarf, a helping hand and a kind gesture are all talents. I see it now, not every person can be an Adele, but every person has inside of them the talent to affect change in the world.  

I’m never going to be a Hemingway and, I guess, I am ok with that. I would rather be a tortured writer creating written images that will transcend time, but, alas, that probably will not happen.  Can I help someone in need? Most definitely.  Can I listen to a friend who is struggling with life?  You bet.  Can I make my corner of the world a little better?  I certainly hope so.  Those are my internal talents as well as some I have picked up on my journey. 

So is talent inherited or learned?  Yes!  It’s both.  We all have our talents, the ones we are born with.  But we can also learn new ones. Ones we experience on our own or discover on our own journeys.  I realize that there is no need to feel like I missed out on something.  Sometimes the answers are not that obvious. 

So tonight as I listen to some great music while sipping an artisan tea, I am so pleased that I learned to appreciate the talents of others. That is a talent, and one I plan to hone. 


Sunrise by Lois Hewitt

I have never been the kind of person who raves about sunrises.  I always figured if I missed the one today I could catch the next one.  There are quotes and sayings about the light coming after a long dark night.  Or each day is a new beginning.  In theory, I love sunrises as much as anyone, but I never actively sought one out.

My apartment faces the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains and I could have the chance to view every sunrise right from my living room, but I never took the time until today.  I have been under the weather lately and stressing about an upcoming move, so my mind has been in full self-indulgent mode.  Last night was the first night in a while that I slept without horrible coughing.  

I woke up very happy that I was feeling better and started my usual morning routines: sent a few texts, checked balances, etc.  Then I looked out the front door, which is mostly glass and I saw it.  I watched, mesmerized, as this incredibly bright orb made its way from behind the fall-colored Mountains.  Each movement created more outstretched rays of light until the sun was fully in sight and surrounded by beams of light. It brought with it a sudden warmth to ease the cold night away.  

It was stunning.  I cannot believe that in the year and a half I have been here, this is the first one I have consciously noticed.  I am usually running around doing something I feel is extremely important or something of no importance at all.  I never took the few minutes to just look out the front door. I don’t even have to go anywhere, it comes to me.  Every single morning.

So I thought I was finally getting wise in my old age, thought I was starting to understand things.  Then I see a sunrise and I realize that I still have a long way to go.  If I run around being busy (legitimately busy or fake busy) all the time, and I do not pause for a moment or two to just enjoy life’s beauty, then I haven’t actually learned a thing.  This morning I unintentionally looked up from my iPad to witness a miracle that happens every single day.  A miracle that I have taken for granted over 20,000 times.  

I have squandered my time in one of God’s most beautiful places.  Amazing tree-lined Mountains, glorious clear running rivers, fresh crisp air and, yes, daily sunrises and sunsets are the norm here.  I hiked once or twice.  I looked at the beauty from inside a moving train car without fully allowing myself to drink it all in.  If I had to guess what lesson was learned today, I would have to say that I need to stop a little more often and enjoy the surroundings.  I always figured I had to be a outdoor person to enjoy this splendor but that’s not true. To be a human being means we have the ability to be conscious of the beauty around us.  We have the ability to formulate thoughts and emotions about things we see and feel.

I need to become more present, more aware, of those things around me that are beautiful.  Many of the images and things we see today are ugly interpretations of hate, war, violence and greed.  It is easy to want to retreat into one’s shell and never look outside it.  But if you do that, you end up missing the beauty.  I realize that not every place is the place I am at now.  God brought me here so that I could see a place of peace and tranquility.  As I plan to leave this place I realize that I missed it much of the time I was here but I plan on drinking in its beauty while I’m still here. And, hopefully, not miss all the future sunrises. 

It just goes to prove that something that happens every day can still be wonderous. 

On Being A Minimalist by Lois Hewitt

My actual and entire wardrobe. I never have to guess what to wear!

My days of hoarding and compulsive buying seem to be over. I say that knowing full well I could slip back into old ways at anytime.  Every purchase is weighed now against cost, storage space needed, percentage of actual need and what I already own that has to be donated to make room for this new item.  It has taken the fun out of shopping, which is a good thing.  I racked up massive amounts of debt “having fun” shopping only to feel guilt and regret after the high diminished.  I have embraced being a (almost) full-on minimalist.  

In the beginning, it was just about the money.  I was spending way too much on absolutely unnecessary things.  Why would two people need three sets of dishes?  Does anyone using the bathroom really care if all the towels and accessories match?  Oh, how much time and money I spent on having some sort of allusion of outward perfection while the reality was that I was drowning inward. Things stopped being just things to have and started to own me. I worked multiple jobs and was always scheming for ways to pay for all the stuff.  My life was not mine but it was owned by the 20 plus creditors I owed.  I was miserable, so I would shop to feel better then have crushing guilt over the most recent purchases.  I then went through a stage where I could not even buy necessities for fear of incredible remorse.  My life was killing me….

Then I lost all the stuff.  All the security blankets and false self-esteem symbols that I built around myself were gone.  I was lost and miserable. Then the sun came up and I saw a brand new life in a brand new light.  I was now free to live without outward hindrances.  I left Ohio with a suitcase and some items I thought I would require to live. Then as I was on the road those items found new homes with other people or in the gatbage. The more I moved the less I needed.  

Here I am a little over two years later. Getting ready for another move and evaluating my current possessions.  I, honestly, acquired a few more things than I wanted to, but all paid for with cash.  It’s not much, but I am culling everything I have accumulated over the last couple of years. I did good, but have a few things to donate. And a few sentimental gifts from people I’ve met, which I will keep.  When it’s all said and done, I do not ever want to go back to my mega-consumeristic ways.

One major byproduct of this lifestyle is now I have the ability to actually help others with time and money. Before I was always so busy trying to make a buck and always short lots of bucks that I could not ever help anyone. I just couldn’t. The freedom is astonishing!

I know it’s not for everyone, I am not advocating that it is. But for me, it was the best decision ever forced upon me.  I thought I would miss the things, but now I can hardly remember what those things even were.  Peace, for me, is not owning much. It keeps my life in perspective. When I was drowning underneath all the things, I had no perspective.  Now I see how those things hindered my life and my progress to becoming the person I wanted to be. I was holding on so tight to the stuff, important things slipped through my fingers. Today I can reassess where I am in a short time and that has allowed me to finally grow. 

The worst thing in my life, losing it all, has been one of the most important changes in my life. Today, I can truly say that I am blessed.