Month: November 2019

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

blur close up composition craft

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

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.