Month: January 2018

Yet Another Ism by Lois Hewitt

Today the talk is all about racism and sexism.  There are marches to show the injustices.  There is looting and destruction in the streets to show the injustices. Speech after speech is being made to help the uninformed understand the injustices.  Violence seems to be the answer for many people.  Believe me, I do understand that things are not fair and I wish life was more equatable.    But there is a silent ism that I haven’t heard anyone talk much about.

The people, including myself, involved in this ism do not generally protest, loot or create havoc.  Basically we are just too tired and too beat down.  The ism I speak of is ageism. In my travels, I have met hundreds of over 50 people working minimum wage or a little higher.  They cannot find jobs in their fields.  We have experience that no one wants to pay for.  Now I’m not saying if I got an office job doing many multiple duties that I should get $18 an hour. But I think the experience and work ethic are worth more than minimum wage.

My resume does not state my age nor are prospective employers allowed to ask. But if I have 25 years of experience, you can guess I’m not 25 years old.  I’m currently looking for work that will allow me to pay my bills and put some aside for more travel. Of the hundred or so resumes I have sent out, I have only gotten interest from minimum wage positions that are part time with no benefits.  At this point, I have given up any chance for health insurance.  Most older people I have talked to are in the same predicament.  Every day hoping that this is not the day you get really sick.

I’m also finding how difficult it is to find affordable housing.  In the city I am currently in, rents start at over $1,000 a month.  How can I make that and pay my other bills?  I cannot. I worked with an older woman who resorted to living in an RV because she and her husband could no longer afford their home after they lost their jobs. All they could do is wait until they were eligible for SSI.  

I know what you are thinking….well, Lois, if you had been more fiscally aware in your younger days, things may be different.  That is an absolute correct response. I do not try to hide the fact that I was a shopaholic for many years.  Those years I made extremely good wages and I blew it. Many people have similar experiences or maybe an unexpected catastrophe made them lose it all.  Lots of things can happen. Most people are not looking for a handout, just a decent paying job.  Is that too much to ask?

My skin isn’t as tight as it used to be.  I don’t have a cute, tiny figure.  I do, however, have job experiences and a strong work ethic.  I tend to tolerate less drama than my younger counterparts, but they get the interviews not me.  Does it come down to youth and looks?  I hope not, but you think it.  Some jobs I apply for I just know they want a younger person to be the face of the company.  I could be off base, I just don’t know for sure. No one ever mentions age.  Most of my rejection emails say they found someone more qualified.  I am pretty sure I was qualified.

My journey has been about finding the authentic me and empowerment.  But, and I hate to admit this, a lot of times I feel discouraged and disenfranchised.  I assumed that once “they” saw my credentials, a job would not be far behind.  I fooled myself with this type of thinking.  I based an entire lifestyle change on a lie.  The lie that no matter what, I could support myself.  I could work for minimum wage but I could not support myself.  There is a difference. It has nothing to do with a job being beneath me either.  If only I had been born rich instead of beautiful (LOL)!

I’m not trying to complain but I think it is time to think of the realities that my age brings. I still think that I am a young person but my body show the truth.  I’m slower than I used to be.  Some jobs I have had of late were very physically hard on my body and my mind.  I am not as resilient as I used to be.  I run the risk of being sicker than the young ones vying for the same jobs.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart.

I want to end this post on a positive note, but today I do not have one.  My bank balance is as low as I am right now.  Job prospects are not in my sight.  This is a tough time in history to be older.  My advise to young people, plan for getting older.  It’s easier stocking shelves at 25 rather than 55.  I do believe there is a greater plan.  Today I’m too tired to look for it.  

There will be no marches for us today.


It’s The Little Things by Lois Hewitt

For the last five years or so I have been cutting my own hair and not wearing any make up.  My wardrobe consists of black t-shirts and black pants.  I do not even own a comb or a brush.  All the time I believed that I was living up to some unspoken code of either frugality or minimalism.  I felt that if I spent money on a real haircut that I was turning my back on my beliefs.  

So today I went on an interview with a company I really want to work for (if I get it, I will tell you all about it).  I walked into the corporate office in my train uniform as that’s the only thing I own that resembles anything even remotely dressed up. I wore a big scarf to hide the train logo on my vest.  My hair was an absolute mess.  I tried this morning to even it out and cover the ever-growing bald spot in the back, but I proceeded to make it even worse. There was no time to fix it.  My shoes were a muddy mess and my purse did not match anything I was wearing.

The interview seemed to go well I hope.  But when I got back to my car I looked at myself in the rear view mirror and came to a startling conclusion.  I had, plain and simply, given up on myself.  I was using the excuse that what I looked like doesn’t matter.  Well, it does…like it or not.  This place I want to work is not overly obsessed with appearances but has a certain reputation to live up to.  You have to look, at the very least, like you care.  I feel that I did not look that way.  Hopefully, my experience will get me in the door.

On the way back home, I stopped at a Fantastic Sam’s for a real haircut.  Because of the missteps I had take with the hair shears, there was not a lot she could do.  We laughed as she continued to cut and even out the mess I had made.  When it was all over, my hair looked really nice.  It was now well-kept looking and neat.  $16 plus a tip was all it took to make a world of a difference.  I had not betrayed any philosophy I was living under. The next stop was for a bottle of foundation to even out the skin tone. Nothing fancy, just a little bit of help.

I wish I would have done this before the interview, but I think it will be okay.  So what did I learn?  It is actually ok to look as good as you can. The littlest change can bring about renewed self-confidence and give you a little lift in your step.  Caring about your appearance does not mean that you can’t be authentic.  I foolishly talked myself into believing that if I cut my hair or wore a touch of makeup that I was being fake somehow. It caused me to basically give up.

Do not get me wrong, I can still comb my hair with my fingers.  The bottle of foundation will probably still be here long after I’m gone. But that’s ok. I can still be authentic and care about myself.

Why are these lessons taking so long for me to learn?  I guess I’m just a slow learner.  I’m, at least, glad to be learning them.  I’m marking in my calendar the date for my next hair appointment.  I sort of feel like an adult. 😜

PS. I forgot to wear deodorant….I will try to remember next time!

Giving Up and Letting Go by Lois Hewitt

As far back as I can remember, I have always eaten sugar and lots of it.  Sugary cereals were the norm, Coke was my only drink of choice and candy and sweets were their own food group. Back in the day, no one knew the ramifications of eating so much sugar. It was just the way I lived. I remember opting for Fruity Pebbles and a Coke for dinner many nights.

Vegetables were not even on my radar unless, of course, they were french fries.  The only thing I ate that was green were the green shamrock marshmallows in Lucky Charms.  As I grew older I did learn to love corn but found out the hard way that one cannot live by corn alone.

I recently read an article that stated (now the numbers may not be exact but you will see my point), at the turn of the century the average person ate approximately two pounds of sugar a year.  The article went on to say that today the average person eats approximately 156 pounds of sugar a year.  Big difference!  I would venture a guess that that number would be low for me.  I consumed sugar in copious amounts everyday.  

Everyday I felt worse than the day before.  Now that I am half way through my 50s I knew I had to change.  I tried gradually stopping which only served to work for a day and then I would reward myself with more sugar.  I knew I was literally and figuratively killing myself but I could not stop. The same article stated that sugar was more addictive than cocaine.  I was truly and completely addicted to all things sugar. I realized that weaning myself off sugar was not going to work.  I was starting to have real health problems.  After doing a lot of research, I found out diets full of sugar contribute to many of the issues I was having.

So one day I gave up foods with added sugar.  I started eating fruit and raw vegetables.  I started making mindful decisions about what I put in my body.  I started reading food labels and researching the best ways to eat.  I would love to say that everything was rainbows and unicorns after that, but I cannot.  My body revolted at the new foods.  It was like a demon inside of me making sick and nasty and hating myself for this new choice.  My anxiety levels jumped through the roof, my body physically hurt, I could not eat anything for days and water tasted like battery acid.  I thought about giving up and going back but I had come this far.

Days went on like this with no end in sight.  I had a few nights where I honestly thought that this was the end.  I thought I was dying.  My mind rationalized that it was just too late to change.  I had many opportunities to change before this and I foolishly denied them. Now I was paying the price.  But I made it through those anxiety-riddled nights. Then one day I woke up and felt better than I had in a long time.  I was thrilled.  I decided to hike and start enjoying life now that I was given a second chance.  The next few days were bad again but a good day snuck in here and there. 

The other day I was grocery shopping and had filled my cart with organic vegetables and nutritious foods.  By some odd twist of fate I ended up in the bakery.  Surrounded by lovely sugary confections. I found myself wondering if one treat would really hurt. Yes, It would because for me it would start the entire cycle over again. I could not bear to have that happen. So I walked away.

I’m still waiting for the other health issues to resolve themselves or I hope they will. But I figure I beat my body up for 55 years, it was going to take longer than four weeks to fully recover. Patience and discipline were my new friends.  

So what have I learned from all this.  Healthy, nutritional foods actually taste better than sugary, empty foods.  I also learned the value of sticking to something even if it is very difficult.  This was a hard time but I rode it out. It showed me the person I always wanted to be.  She is inside me, she just needs a little coaxing to come out.  

I’m happy to have given up something that had such control over me. The battle may be mine but I know the war is still waging.  Like any addiction, I have to be aware of it every day and at every meal. I need to reset certain activities that centered around my binge eating entire boxes of Pop-Tarts.  I was a closet binge eater, I would do it when no one was around so that way I would never have to be accountable to anyone. It was my dirty secret. Now I am accountable to my loved ones, to God and to myself. 

It is a beautiful lesson to learn that going through the fire does lead to purification.  

Reflections on Past Resolutions 

Every year at this time I break out the colored pencils and design a resolution board.  This board is complete with pictures that are meant to inspire me as well as goals I would like to reach in the new year.  Typically when I am done it looks awesome.  Then I put it away and never look at it again.  I realize now why I do that every year….it’s overwhelming.  

I desperately want to change so many areas of my life, I want so badly to be a better person.  My resolution board actually undermines the whole process.  By seeing all the things I want to change in one place, my mind shuts down and, basically, laughs at itself.  All the negativity starts to flow.  What are you thinking, you can’t believe you can change all that.  Self-doubt joins the party.  And I sit there discouraged and deflated.

I may be ok for a day or two, but the change is never long lasting. So this year is different. No more resolution boards or lists.  This is going to be my year of self-control and of doing the right things even if they are not easy.  I would much rather eat a Big Mac and fries then make a salad.  It’s easier to watch television then it is to read a book.  Don’t get me started on all the excuses I can come up with that exercise is bad for me.  No more excuses.

The last few weeks have been a challenge for me.  I was unwell and could barely leave my bed. I started researching health issues. I started a journal for all the information I found.  I have done this all before but this time it seems to have stuck.  I started with small changes, and felt worse (which is normal during the detoxification stage). Every day or so I added something new and took away something bad.  And I still felt worse. But I stayed the course and one morning I woke up and felt better than I had in years.  Then I had another bad day, then a couple of good days.  Suddenly I could actually see some positive changes.  

I’m starting to feel better and now I don’t want to go back.  I could still probably eat a box of Twinkies (who am I kidding, of course I can eat the whole box) but do I want to?  No, I don’t. I realize now that if I ate just one, like a normal person, that I could not stop.  There is the core problem.  I have an obsessive personality that does not allow me just one.  Finally realizing that has helped me to come to terms with those things that I thought used to comfort me, but in reality were killing me.

Once I felt better I started working on my anxiety issues and seem to be making progress.  As each day dawns, and I feel better I can take a half step closer to becoming the person I want to be.  I felt so miserable for so long I gradually became a miserable person.  I was someone I did not like.  Writing all the resolutions in the world wasn’t going to change that. The change comes from within and evolves as my mind and body change.  

I have learned a lot over the past few years, but now my soul seems more open to new and different experiences.  I’m eating foods I would never have looked at before.  Meditation is helping control the anxiety.  Exercise is changing my physical body.  These are the changes I always wanted to make but didn’t know how.  I simply made a few changes out of necessity and then more opportunities to change appeared.  

I’m sure I will have days that I backslide but I hope it’s not an epic fail, like eating an entire cake.  If most days can have some forward progression I will be happy.  Here’s to healing the body and the mind in the new year.