Author: 360degreechange

Some say life is a journey and that is what I am on. I am tired of sitting in a cube all day, I want to feel the breeze on my face, not air conditioning; I want to move, not sit at a desk; I want my efforts to make a difference, not do redundant tasks all day long. That is my journey...can you live well (expectations to change) and still be true to yourself? Here's to jumping out of the frying pan and directly into the fire!!

Election Day 2020 by Lois Hewitt

Today is election day 2020. I cast my vote and have no idea what the outcome will be. I am worried what is going to happen after this day, but I know that God is in charge and that I have to have faith. As I began making bread today, I thought of a few things that I wanted share on this life-changing day.

Even though I cannot afford a home of my own, I am thankful for a clean and safe place to life.

Even though I am having trouble finding the right work, I am thankful for hope that something will come along.

Even though I have no health insurance, I am thankful for the health I have and am thankful every day.

Even though I could never have children of my own, I am thankful to be able to enjoy other’s children through pictures online.

Even though my parents and sister are no longer with me, I am thankful that I have the memories of them to carry me through.

Even though I have a troubled past, I am thankful for new starts, and the ability to change. The road is rough but one can make it through if you try.

Even though I am fearful for what the future holds, I am thankful that I believe in a God who is stronger than evil and that I am His child.

I am eternally grateful for my husband, sister, brother-in-law and friends near and far. I am much a recluse, but your relationships with me have changed and blessed me. Thank you!

On this election day 2020, I am, on purpose, going to dwell on the MANY blessings in my life. I do not want to sound like gloom and doom, I have lost faith in a lot of my fellow men. But life is still good, nonetheless. There is still love and friendship. There is still laughter and joy. There is still happiness. And most of all there is hope. Hope for a better future, a hope of unity, a hope for justice for all and hope that we can all learn to live together again, disagreements and all.

As the bread dough rises, I have time to reflect on such things. I do not have much, but as I look around I see that I am overflowing in riches. I am looking at a painting of a sloth that was painted just for me. It makes my heart sing! I am looking at the gifts given to me at random times and mostly for no reason other than to be given. They make my heart sing! I am looking at the few photographs I have kept after my exodus. They make my heart sing. I am reliving the fun and love-filled times with friends and family. They make my heart sing!

Life is so not about things. Gold and silver will eventually degrade. Money comes and goes (mostly goes in my case). It is those small touches in life, an unexpected gift, an unexpected hug, a big smile, a kind word, a tissue for a tear and a hand to help you up. Those are the riches of this world. I am rich in those things and I thank God every single day for my bounty.

I do not know what will happen tomorrow, but I do think our lives might be changed permanently, but I have my riches and my blessings close to my heart today and I hope for all days. My dream is that mankind will step up and do the right thing, no matter what happens. I pray for peace which will open doors to make positive changes in our world. I pray we can work together to make the world a better place.

Life might be tough for you right now, or it has been tough in the past. It is sometimes hard to see blessings, but they are there. So for today with sticky dough on my fingers, my heart will sing for blessings many and I will pray, even if you do not want me to, that your hearts are full of love and blessings too. Some days that is all we have.

I hope you find your happiness today.

That Damn Voice by Lois Hewitt

As of today, I’m done. I’m not living with this any longer. That damn voice in my head is being evicted.

I don’t know if you have this problem. If you do, you may want to join me in having an eviction party for that annoying voice that resides in your head.

I have had enough sleepless nights, where I wake up for no particular reason except to feel bad about something I did or said or didn’t do in my past. There is always a knot in my stomach and an overall feeling of dread.

I am so tired of reliving those mistakes. If you have read any of my past posts, you will see that I have made many mistakes in my life. I floundered for years trying to overcome a reckless youth and then just being clueless for most of my 20s and 30s.

I did not know some of the basics of life. My parents did the best they could, but I came along a little bit later in their lives and things were changing for them. Maybe they assumed I just knew how to behave, but I didn’t. And I did very little to overcome that until later in life.

I’m not making excuses, I own up to all the bad decisions and the pitiful paths I walked. I have searched for redemption and received it. I have tried to make some things better and other things I just left alone.

There are days and nights I am just torchured. But I have to call it quits. I have learned from my missteps and am continuing to become a better person, I just do not have the energy any more to fight and struggle with things that I cannot change at this point. Too many sleepless nights, too many tearful days. Too many stomach aches and too many anxiety attacks.

The voice needs to go. I want to keep the voice that puts me on the high road and is always correcting and teaching me. That voice is productive. The other one full of angst and self-loathing has to go. There is no longer anything productive that can come from that behavior. Choices were made then and choices to overcome those choices are my new choice.

Voice, your bags are packed. I do not care where you go, you just can’t stay here. I believe in the redemptive blood and it is time I get over myself and finally move forward in a positive way.

I doubt I am the only one who struggles with this. If you do, please do not torchure yourself any longer. Take the lessons you have learned and move on.

As you age the days pass quicker and things you once thought important lose some of their luster. You realize what is important and that is the path we all must follow. The path to better human beinghood, and world citizenship. Sitting around beating yourself up, is a dead end path.

The door is open, don’t let it hit you on the way out. You stupid voice, be gone and never darken my door again.

Good luck, start giving yourself a break here and there. Don’t forget to find your happiness.

Comes With Age by Lois Hewitt

As the 1980s rolled in, I was in my early 20s. A time when I probably should have had some direction in my life, but I did not. A time for ambition and drive, neither did I have. Women were being recognized as forces to be reckoned with, I was not that woman.

I just came off my turbulent teen years with no real education that could further me anywhere and no plan. I was as aimless as I was as a teenager. I did know, however, that it was the time to get my act together and start being responsible. A lesson learned, by the way, over the next few decades. You do not just wake up one day and are responsible.

I never really had any grand ideas of working as a lawyer or anything like that. I deep down knew it would be retail or food service in my future. I did get my GED, but I was still just a dumb kid with a very small world view.

I met a very nice young man who actually treated me well and we had fun together. We decided to get married. I actually enjoyed the experience of being married and felt a baby was the next step. Many of my friends were having children and I thought if I did I could stay home and nest full time.

There was no pregnancy and I thought it would happen soon so I quit my job at Kmart to stay home and have babies. All was well at first, but still no babies. The longer I stayed home the more pressure I put on myself. I thought if I was staying home without children I needed to do everything Martha Stewart perfect.

This pressure then took the fun out of everything and made me paranoid. I thought everyone was judging me for not working. Most people probably didn’t even care but I had all day to think and obsess about it. Eventually, the marriage just faded into oblivion. Then I had to work as I was late 20s and single.

I continued working but took one year off to get pregnant by my new husband. Again nothing. My dream of a June Cleaver life was dead and buried. I worked, sometimes two jobs, but never really felt it was me. But it was what society and my mountain of bills dictated.

Fast forward to my time before leaving Ohio. I was done with the grind and wanted out. I had been planning my exodus for decades. Finally in my 50s, the time came. We were financially ruined anyway, might as well go all the way. We packed the car with a few items and hit the road with no solid plan.

We built a new and much different life. Things were good. I had a nice job that I loved and it was fine. March 2020, when everything changed. Now I’m suddenly not working full time and really wondering what I was supposed to do. I have talked about the depression and insecurity. Then I found a cooking show that ignited something in me.

Now I’m working a cool part time job but more importantly, I doing what I thought I always wanted to do. I’m cooking, cleaning and taking care of my family (Mike and I). Those old feelings started to creep in, am I just lazy? What is wrong with you, why can’t you just go to work? But I threw those out of my mind.

Could I have been this happy when I was younger? Probably not, I had to live and experience some things. I had to walk through the fire before I could be grateful for this time. The pressure I felt, real or imagined, reflected who I was at that time. With the drama gone now, I can fully enjoy my calling. I’m not saying this is all it will be, but it is more in line with who I believe I am.

My wish for you today is that you are filling your life with your purpose and things you love. They say life is too short to not enjoy it and I think they are right. Find your happiness and enjoy the day. We all need more of that.

A Convert by Lois Hewitt

It seems official, I am a veg convert thanks to the cooking style of Jamie Oliver. He has inspired me to cook as many things as I can from scratch and add veg to every dish. I can feel myself getting stronger. After being so anemic this summer that I walked with a cane for a while, it is wonderful now to feel so much better.

Since I am cooking every day, I have tried to come up with some easy ways to make the veg prep go faster.

I put red onions in almost everything. I love them but hate cutting them. What I do now is put on a mask ( a great use for them) along with my glasses and I cut upwards to six at a time. The mask and glasses protect me from burning eyes and such. I can cut them all up in less than 20 minutes and pop them in the freezer. Ready to be cooked at a moment’s notice.

I also keep bread ends and stale bread in the freezer. When I get enough I make buttery garlic croutons out of the thick pieces. I save the thinner pieces in a separate freezer bag for bread crumbs. When I need bread crumbs I will throw the thin pieces in the food processor and grind them into crumbs.

I also slice multi-colored carrots along with celery and mix them up and freeze them. They work great in soups, casseroles, and other cooked dishes. I don’t know how many times I’ve bought celery for one recipe, then ended up throwing the rest away after it went bad. No more waste, which means my food dollars are going further.

Today I cleaned and cut leeks to put in the freezer. Another great veg to add to so many dishes, cut and ready to go with little to no waste.

Tomorrow I’m planning on making a batch of fresh basil pesto to freeze. After it’s been in the freezer for an hour, I take it out and slice it. Then when I need pesto for a recipe, take a couple of chunks and start cooking.

My freezer used to be cram packed with unusable leftovers I was too embarrassed to throw out, unhealthy processed tv dinners and useless scraps of bread that only ended up in the garbage. Now it is full of useable, healthy food that makes cooking a joy. Now I can concentrate on creating and not spend so much time chopping.

The funny thing is that when I ran away from home, my intent was to not cook again. I hated it, it was a chore. Now I realize that just throwing things in a pan doesn’t constitute cooking. What I made was okay but not necessarily tasty. My meals today, for the most part, taste so much better and are making me healthier. I am so thrilled that I found someone to inspire me.

My hope is to get my energy back, lower my blood pressure naturally, lose some weight and just feel better. The difference is like night and day…and I just started.

I hope that today you are inspired in whatever you want to do. I was so unhappy without inspiration in my life. What a wonderful surprise this has been. Find your joy today!!

Back, But Different by Lois Hewitt

A few months ago, I gave up on this blog. I ran out of things to say and, truthfully, I lost my ability to be positive. We all have our Covid story and here is mine.

In early March 2020, I had just celebrated my second year anniversary at a job I loved and was looking forward to retiring from that job in five years. Since my husband and I had been sharing a car for quite some time, we decided it was the perfect time to buy a new one for me.

I was nervous about a car payment but the future did look bright so we did it. Within two weeks I was furloughed from work due to covid. But honestly, I thought it was only going to last a couple of weeks, then a month, then two and so on.

At first, I thought of all the things I could do that I hadn’t had time for. I took a nap a day and then two or three. As the furlough continued I slept more and did less. I would have anxiety attacks every morning as I worried about the world’s state of affairs and as I tried to value my own self worth.

Due to a few health risks, I barely left the apartment. Mike did all the grocery shopping and I did all the cooking. I had cooked most of my life, but never was really good at it. We had made the decision to not do any carry out at all.

As you can imagine, my ten or so go to recipes got old fast. My self esteem began to plummet. I felt less than useless. Then the reality set in that I would not have a place at my beloved job anymore. The depression was deep. I was afraid, and probably still am, of this new world we live in and I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.

Then I got sick and became so weak that I could not even do small tasks. I had a small surgery thinking it would make me feel well again but the recovery time was longer than expected. Luckily, my health insurance was still in effect for that time. Now I’m back to none but I have learned about alternatives which we can talk about later.

I really wondered why I was here. Just taking up space. Then one day Mike planted a container garden on our porch and asked me to tend to it. I agreed but wondered what the point was. It all seemed so hopeless. Things began to sprout and it started to renew my outlook.

I thought I would quit looking at social media so much, and decided to learn something new. Gradually my outlook changed. I found a chef on line who has absolutely inspired me. I started cooking healthier meals as my strength came back so did my self-esteem.

I started using my planner to figure out cleaning chores so they all get done timely. I started planning meals and shopping lists a week in advance. I realized that I did and do have value. I coined myself the Apartment Homesteader because I started doing everything home made. Turns out there is already an Apartment Homesteader. But that’s ok.

I slowly realized that this is what makes me happy. We are eating healthier and saving loads of money over eating out, which we did a lot. I’m learning new skills all the time. I have a part time job at an organic grocery and have access to locally grown foods.

A few months ago I felt that I had lost all my value as a person. I wondered what I was going to do. Then new doors opened. I felt that where I was before was my only option, but as I should know by now, there are always other options.

So I thought I would write the blog some more. It will be different and if you want to unfollow it, I certainly understand. This blog has had as many changes as my life has had…and that’s a lot. This is a new and fun stage. Homemaking has always been my true calling, sorry to anyone that offends. I thought I would write about the things I’m learning and the wonders I’m seeing.

If you are going through a tough time right now, please please find someone to talk to that can help you. I thought the world looked completely bleak but the sun did come out along with the realization that the world was different now but still negotiable. Don’t give up!! Now is the time to think outside the box.

I’m back and it feels good. Please be safe out there and be sure to find your own happiness! Talk to you soon!

Goodbye and Thank You by Lois Hewitt

I have said many times that I was done with this blog, but today is the day it ends. I realize that there are more than enough people who feel the need to express every opinion on every subject. That person, I do not want to be. So I am signing off, but with one last thought. If you will indulge me.

I have been sick yet again. I just cannot seem to be able to hold onto my health for any period of time. I have tried supplements, eating better, sleeping better and other things. They have, no doubt, helped but it has not been enough. Frustrated I am.

Today I realized what is my main illness. Complacency. My spirit is anemic as well as my body. I realize where my many blessings come from but I am not living properly. I say the right words but then depend on myself.

I became a follower of Jesus at the age of 16. Anyone who has read my words knows that I was lost and continued to be for the next few decades. I chased things and ego and pride. I thought if I worked hard enough I would get the mega blessings from God.

I read the Bible, did Bible studies, and listened to Christian radio when I had the time. Never consistently. I never attended a church for any period of time. I just felt it was not for me. I’m an introvert and church caused me anxiety. I realize now that my anxiety was a small price to pay to be a true believer. I often took the wrong roads in life. This is a great example.

Then came the losses. Family, friends, jobs, and things. I thought if I lost it all my spirit would soar. But I always tried to fix it myself. Prideful as ever.

As I sit here today and look at what the last few years have brought all of us, I see the brokenness in my spirit and of the world as a whole. I expected blessings just because I was trying to be a better person when I felt good enough or if I had the time. That’s not to say that I actively tried to be a bad person, I was just being complacent.

Jesus said we shall worship none other than Him. I have worshipped many others before Him. Movie stars, singers, people I tried to be like, as well as those things that owned me. I was not being true to my faith.

Today I realize that trying to be a better person is not enough. That stand relies on my own abilities. That is surely not good enough. I am fallable and self-serving. I have to look upwards. I am not sure what this looks like but I can no longer be a Christian with no substance. It’s been 42 years since I said that prayer to know Jesus. I should have progressed further than this.

I realize this might not make a lick of sense but it is a new path , the only path, I have to take. I need to heal my spirit and be a follower of Jesus. Many do not believe in such things. To that point, I understand. When He walked the earth as a man, He was neglected and abused. How much more today?

I want to be part of some sort of solution rather than be part of the problem. Maybe if I can heal myself, than there is the possibility for everyone. The pain of the world today is unbearable. Man’s inhumanity is brutal beyond words. The daily losses try to kill the spark on the inside. I don’t know how, but I have to keep that spark, that light, bright for everyone to see.

If you do not agree with me, that is your right. I am not looking for name calling or verbal attacks. There are more than enough of those to go around. This is not that forum.

So as I close, I want to thank everyone who has followed this crazy blog from the start or any place in between. You have made this experiment quite fun.

Today, one less voice will be heard from. One less unsolicited opinion will be given. Hopefully the words will turn to actions. I pray for our world today, even if you loath me for the prayer. I believe in God the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit. Let them guide me today and always.

Thank you for all your love. Your light has comforted me so many times and ways.

Words Never Uttered by Lois Hewitt

My father was a self-made man. Like many children of the Era, he had to leave school at a young age to go to work and then serve in the military. He was amazing even without the benefit of higher education. If it was mechanical, he could fix it. Electrical, no problem. Plumbing, he had that too. After his time in the military, he became a Chrysler mechanic and was one of the best in the area.

I loved elementary school. I could not get enough. Junior high is when I started to take some wrong roads, by high school I was totally off the rails. At 17, I found myself in a severe deficit of points to graduate and also pregnant. So I dropped out of school and was not concerned, at the time, of the future ramifications.

A few years of partying later, my mother set me up to get my GED. I never studied, got high before the test and went in without reading a question and completed the two hour test in about 20 minutes. By the grace of God, I passed. But it had nothing at all to do with me.

I finally settled down and decided to take a few college classes here and there. I actually enjoyed doing that. I began to realize just how much I did not know. I came to the realization of all the years I had wasted. I began to work harder to make up for the lost time.

No matter what anyone says, I thoroughly enjoyed community college. I gained practical knowledge that I was able to use in every aspect of my life. I went to school with adults who wanted to better themselves. There was a sense of community that I enjoyed.

As I tended to do when I was younger, my ego ran the show. The more classes I took, the more good grades I got, the bigger my ego. My thought at the time was how I pulled myself up from the bottom and I was finally moving forward.

My life started to become very small as my knowledge started to enlarge. I wanted to experience life from a perspective, not of a small town, but of a worldly person. Circumstances, at the time, were such that I felt I really could not go anywhere. Honestly, there was no way that I was ready to explore on that level. So I stayed where I was and became more bitter by the day.

One evening, after a very successful night of watching Jeopardy with my parents, ego at full mass, my father took my aside and said something I will never forget. He said that I should never get smarter than him.

I took those words with a perceived hostile intent. I could not believe my ears. How dare he insinuate that I was not worthy or maybe able to educate myself. I went home that night and fumed about those words. That night a chasm formed between us that just continued to grow.

Not long after that night, I had gone to the grocery store with my mother and when we returned we found that my father had passed away in his chair from a heart condition. This man had raised me by himself after the divorce. He was hard on me but also, albeit, a bit too lenient. Our relationship was strained but now it was done.

I eventually graduated from college and decided to pursue my bachelor degree at a local liberal arts school. There I found a different type of class work. We dealt with theories and conceptual ideas. Not as much real life experience and I floundered. I ended up leaving a few credits short of my degree.

My father’s words never were far from my thinking. I still could never rationalize why he said that to me. I have since gone on to be a student of my own college. I learn by reading and on line work. I ask more intelligent people questions. My ego got the point, finally, that I was not the smartest person in the room nor would I ever be.

As I tend to do, I repress those moments in time that present me face-to-face with some of my low points. One day, my father’s words came to my forethought and I had to come to some sort of term with them.

As happens so often, over time things do become clearer. False contexts seemingly disappear. I realized for the first time what may father had actually meant.

He wanted only the best for me. That is why he gave me a hard time about some things. He also wanted me to get the wildness out of my system early so I could move on. Those words he spoke to me that sad night had nothing to do with how much or how little I learned. The picture was much more personal.

My father wanted not to hold me back but what he wanted was for me to throw my arms around him and tell him that no matter what that he would always be my hero. Plain and simple. He did not want me to move on without him, which I basically did. I think I broke his heart that night when I abruptly walked away carrying all the indigent emotion that I could hold.

He has been gone quite a while now, but my life was forever changed by his legacy. Some good, some bad. And now always clouded with those words I never uttered. Dad, you are and always will be my hero.

Change, It Never Stops by Lois Hewitt

time for change sign with led light

Photo by Alexas Fotos on

Before I begin this post, I feel the need to add a little pretext as to the situation at hand.  For anyone reading this in the future (slight possibility, but I guess it could happen), this is 2020 and the world is in lockdown due to a pandemic of Covid-19.  It is a situation that seemingly took the world by surprise.

As I sit here in lockdown, I realize that I have had way too much time to contemplate about life and all the things that go with that.  I have only left the apartment three times in the last 35 or so days.  You can imagine how the mind reels.

This morning I was struck by a thought that I either had not yet considered or was pushing to the back of my brain for fear of even thinking it.  These are strange times, no doubt, but I have been able to keep my head about me.  That, in and of itself, is a miracle given my history of panic attacks.

I woke from a solid and restful sleep with the reality that life as we knew it is ceasing to exist.  Not in a Beyond Thunderdome or Walking Dead kind of way, but “business as usual” is going to be forever changed.

When I ventured out on my new life, as many of you already know, I struggled to find a new equilibrium.  I suffered from insecurity of not knowing where I belonged and what I should be doing.  Then amazing doors opened and I met people who changed my life, experiences that showed me new ways and I gained a confidence I lacked all my life.  The change was drastic and truly amazing.

I felt that I had found a place that I could be, a place to grow old in and a sense of belonging.  I found a job that, although I never dreamed of it, was perfect for me.  It filled me with passion and pride.  I met people who challenged me and who supported my growth.  I had set my sights on retiring from this place in five or so years. Then came the Corona virus.

In a few short months, many people’s ideas of life have dramatically changed, myself included.  Life as we know it will be forever altered.  I am not even speaking of the economic changes that are going to play out in the next year or so.  As I can barely balance my checkbook, I cannot speak about such things.  But it is going to be an adjustment for us all.  I am talking about how we, as humans, gather and how we deal with other humans.

I prefer to see the good that has come from this.  People lending hands where needed.  People caring about their neighborhoods and extended families.  People who are adapting to a new reality, such as working from home and other changes.  Humankind are a resilient lot.  Unfortunately some people have become more angry and less tolerant.  That is the flip side of the coin, and is an unfortunate yet normal reaction to dramatic times.

Some of us are in positions where working from home or in a small staffed office is not an option.  Many people, in my area alone, work in what is considered the service industry.  Our livelihoods are based on tourism and the spending of disposable income.  Granted, as soon as this is over some will be able to carry on as they had but many others are going to have a different life.  Playing catch up financially is going to be a norm for many.   Reopening businesses, hopefully as many as possible, will be the nature of the day.  But are the masses going to be able to eat out, go shopping and visit attractions?  These are questions that have no answers yet, they remain to be seen.

My mind, however, is reeling from the fact that just a few months ago I had decided how my next five or six years would play out.  Of course, anyone with any common sense knows nothing is a given.  Life changes in the blink of an eye, but I, for the first time really, was looking to the future with a plan.  Then along came the big bad wolf and blew my house (of cards) down.  I am hoping that I get to continue doing what I am doing, but with the full knowledge it will not be the same as it was before.  Everyone will emerge from this pandemic different.

I am reminded that life has a way of taking your plans, no matter how thought out or how generous, and placing them in a cosmic blender, breaking them to pieces and creating something entirely new from the shards.  I have lived through the pureeing process before.  Easy it is not, but being better for it all can be done.  I guess we all have to wait to see how this plays out.  What things return, what things disappear and what things transform.  I have not one answer to any of the questions, but I am guessing it is time to get the big girl panties out of storage and put them on again.  I must learn to remember EVERYTHING CHANGES!!

So as it has been said before me “It looks like its going to be a bumpy night” but, at least, we have a new day to look forward to.

Can you afford it? By Lois Hewitt

Many years ago, deep into my retail addiction and self-induced looming financial disaster, I started an eBay store. It was small at first and over a period of about ten years grew into a store with over 600 items. The idea was this online store would be my financial saving grace. Over the ten or so years of having it, there was money made. Did it pay for itself, not really…

In order to make money on eBay, at least in my experience, you need really nice stuff that you are able to sell at a good price, stuff you just cannot find anymore and/or lots of cheap stuff that people still want but will buy cheaply. I had a mixture of each. Honestly though, mostly discontinued foreign stuff.

One day, I got the idea that if I opened a real shop I could (1) reclaim all the space in my house that was warehousing all the stuff and (2) make some money.

I had a friend who happened to have a small retail space available and I rented it for a very reasonable price per month. I got the licenses, insurance and etc. I never realized how much stuff you really needed to actually open a shop and just how many fixture you would need. I learned on the fly.

My husband made me furniture and I began filling the shop. I was able to buy quite a bit of inventory from another shop that was closing down (a red flag perhaps?). I sold jewelry, figurines, scarves, dresses, books, greeting cards and such.

The first day I switched the sign on the door from closed to open was exciting. I could feel all my dreams being fulfilled… Or did I?

Some people liked the shop but didn’t buy anything. Some people hated it and didn’t buy anything. Most people had an opinion on what to sell and how much to charge. Eager to please I listened to every suggestion. Mostly, I learned that I was not selling enough American made products.

I actually agreed with that consensus so I began scouring the Internet for small American businesses that I could buy from. I found a handful that made quality products and that I could afford. Many of the items I liked I could not afford even at wholesale pricing.

My thought was that I would start out small and then I could reinvest in more and varied products later. I made a lot of Made in America signs and did my displays in the front of the shop and waited for all the happy customers.

You could tell immediately that the quality was better. You could tell the items were made with care. You could also tell the pricing was much higher than the foreign mass produced items. I did not take as much of a markup because I felt strongly about selling these products. I figured quality over quantity was my new business model.

I waited for sales to start and I waited some more. The reviews were great but I was told repeatedly that the pricing was too high. I lowered the pricing and continued to wait. Lowered the pricing to just above my cost, made bigger and flashier signs. The sales never really came.

Now let me stop here for a moment, I had a lot of really good friends who supported my shop. They kept me afloat and I can never thank them enough. I also had a handful of customers who supported me. I was truly blessed.

The problem lies in that in order to pay rent, insurance, taxes, inventory and costs associated with selling goods, you need to sell a lot. Many days I made no sales at all. My main daily totals were under $50 a day. Luckily, I was working at a paying job during this time or the doors would have closed much sooner.

Almost one year to the date of opening, I sold my entire inventory at a huge loss, took down my store sign and closed the doors for good.

I know what you may be thinking… Maybe I just was not savvy enough to own my own shop. I agree. Maybe the economy was really bad and opening a retail store was financially a bad idea. I agree. There are a lot more reasons why I should never have done this, but I did. I had some fun, met some amazing people and finally realized that I needed to change my life completely. This was the last thing I did in Ohio. The realization that my life was not working finally came true to me. Soon after this I left and did not turn back.

What is the moral of this long story? Everyone talks about buying American. We all want to do it. It is the right thing to do in order to supply jobs in this country. The more we produce, the less dependency we have on other countries. Just be prepared for the sticker shock.

In order to provide living wages and the other financial aspects people need to live, the products have to cost more. I am, in no way, an economist but common sense dictates that in order to provide sustainable profits, a lot of customers need to buy your products. This is easier said than done.

Disposal income is harder and harder to come by as the prices of necessities continue to climb. People are, rightfully so, downsizing. Demands of certain items are just not enough to make the manufacturing process worthwhile.

I’m not saying don’t buy American. I try whenever possible to buy American full well knowing it is going to cost more because I have seen it first hand.

So many people clamored for American made but then balked at the price. The next time you are in the situation and you have to choose to buy American or foreign, please think it through. Not every item that is expensive to buy is making the seller rich. There are some sellers who have only the intent of that but many, especially small sellers, are just trying to keep their head above water. Knowing your seller is helpful when trying to weigh out all the considerations.

This is not an easy issue. I struggle every time I need something. I just hope my experience helps you make decisions right for you.

As we see our lives change due to the current situations, thoughtfulness has to become part of our every day process. Stay well and safe!

Lessons from Lockdown by Lois Hewitt

I made a promise to myself that I would not profit from the 2020 Covid-19 quarantine, then I realized that I make no money from this blog anyway. So here are the lessons I have learned since I have been quarantined for over three weeks now.

1. I suck at Jeopardy but I’m kicking it on Wheel of Fortune. I always knew this was the case, but now I have proof.

2. I LOVE to eat! I didn’t honestly realize how much I actually like cooking either. I have been enjoying planning meals, organizing shopping lists (with no hoarding) and cooking it all. I have not really baked since I left Ohio. I am totally enjoying all the homemade goodies that I am making.

3. I can survive as a vegetarian. Mike has been a vegetarian for about 40 years and I have always tried to maintain being a vegetarian when at home. Going out…. It’s always meat. Since we are not going out or even take out, I have adhered to being a vegetarian and am happy with the results. I thought I would get so weak without a hamburger or steak. Turns out the less you eat meat, the less you want it. This also goes for sugar which I am cutting back on.

4. Cleaning… Not so much. I thought I would jump at the chance to deep clean every surface. I thought the only thing holding me back was time. Turns out I just don’t care. Don’t get me wrong, I clean. Just not Martha Stewart clean. I am not cleaning every nook and cranny with a toothbrush. Not happening. Decluttering is more my thing. Clutter is the enemy.

5. Not leaving the apartment is okay. In the time since this started I have left the apartment only twice. I’m good with that. Back in my questionable days, I had an almost two year stint of barely leaving the house. This is nothing compared to that.

6. Motivation can be difficult for me. I really hate to admit that but I do not always use my time responsibly if I know I can do it tomorrow or the next day. It seems to me that it is the mandated schedule from work that keeps me on task. I have gotten better at completing attainable to do lists daily, but it is a struggle at times.

7. With that being said, I do not write as much as I thought I would. I dreamed of time (not under these circumstances, of course) when I could freely write. I dreamt of my time being spent like Ernest Hemingway, writing my amazing opus, the one that would change the world. Again, not happening. This makes me very sad. In the back of my mind I worry that I have nothing of interest to say.

8. Depression easily seeps in during down times. It is a bad mixture of unrealized accomplishments with a slash of pointlessness. The news is overwhelming, everyone has an opinion and it is very easy to see only the dark side. I now turn off any posts where people are yelling or violent toward each other. I don’t know when our society went from basically cordial to downright aggressive over even the slightest infraction. This breaks my heart and makes me fearful. I do not react well to bullies, and so many people express their frustrations in negative ways. I need to overcome that fear.

9. Fear of the unknown. This is a situation many have never dealt with before. Fear is running high. I don’t mind staying in but I am also fearful of going out. I have taken this opportunity to explore a few online learning opportunities. I am taking a couple Theology courses and upped my time in Bible study.

My Christianity has been my comfort during good and bad times. I know God’s word but I have not studied it in depth. The words I am reading fill me with comfort and peace even during the uncertainty of these times. I am reminded of the bigger picture and how I am not in control of the chaos.

I want to control all that is happening but that is not my job. My job is to be patient, make a difference if at all possible and make choices every day that bring a positive impact into the tiny place that I call my world. Amazing things happen as do scary things. I cannot change that. But I can learn to choose the way to process the information and move forward differently. I do not need to be fearful or depressed as I know God is in charge.

I have forgotten that fact from time to time in my life. I tend to try to control it all. It is just to exhausting. So today I plan to choose to be more motivated and less fearful. I may even step outside on the porch today. It all starts with one tiny step.

Please be safe out there. This is a scary time. I know not everyone believes as I do, so I truly hope you can find peace during these trying times. If you do believe in God, hang onto Him tight.

For many years I volunteered at a shelter for victims of domestic violence. My heart and prayers go out to anyone that is locked down with an abuser. Please seek help.