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!!

Breakthrough by Lois Hewitt

Finally, I’m starting to see clearer and feel better. The meditation is working. I have only been at it a short time but the results are in my view.

I am experiencing the beginning of being more present. Instead of worrying about my entire day at once, I am only focusing on where I am at in the present. I plan things like dinner but I do not obsess any longer. It is not completely ingrained yet, but it is a start. My mind still wanders but that is OK.

I have had thoughts about a lot of different things, especially those issues that are causing my anxiety. I have started to notice how I react to things that I do or that happen. I have noticed a distinct issue with technology lately.

For example, I hate my phone. I cannot make or receive calls in certain places. My stick fingers cannot seem to text without several corrections. My mind goes back to my childhood rotary phone. Only time that beige beast did not work was when the phone line was down.

Along that vein, texting is a necessary evil in my mind. I am going to start writing letters or cards again. I miss that tactile feeling of holding a letter in my hand or the simple joy of finding one in the mailbox.

Same goes for books. I thought, at one time, that being able to carry a hundred books around with me would be the most awesome thing. All of my books are now gone, moved to someone else’s home. I have a lot on my iPad, but the pure joy of reading them electronically is gone. I miss the feel of the pages on my hands and the smell of the paper.

How about solitaire? I miss shuffling a deck of cards, listening to the sound and again feeling them in my hands. Playing online simply becomes about beating the clock and starting another game. It all seems so rushed.

In my quest for better health, I have slowed down my consumption of soda. But even before I made the decision, I slowed down because I dislike the taste in plastic bottles. I grew up drinking an ice cold Coke in a glass bottle. I then graduated to only drinking beer from a draft or a glass bottle. It just tastes better. Many an outing was funded by returning bottles and collecting the refund.

No more fast food. I know want good food eaten slower. I have spent the last few decades eating either in the car or just chugging it down in a hurry. This has truly contributed to my health issues as well as the weight I can never lose. I have to learn what real food tastes like.

I remember on a slow summer day, jumping in the car for a drive to nowhere in particular. Windows down, music loud. No one in front of you and no one behind. Driving today is so stressful, I do not want to go anywhere. I am not an aggressive driver, so driving today is pure anxiety because the thrill is gone.

I miss the sound of a needle on a vinyl disk. Music, in my humble opinion, sounds spectacular on vinyl and flat electronically. I miss the nuisances of background sounds that are engineered out today for a cleaner sound. Yes, electronic music is more convenient but you have to give something up for that.

I miss homemade chocolate chip cookies. I miss eating cherry jello with real whipped cream. I miss eating apples right off the tree. I miss the excitement of going to a movie theater.

I am not trying to be unreasonable here. But I think some of my anxiety of late has manifested because I feel that I no longer fit into this modern world. Technology is passing me by at an alarming rate. I have lived for a long time under the umbrella of speed and convenience.

Have you ever seen a movie where a character is standing still while everyone else around them is moving in fast motion? That is how I feel every day and I just never realized it. I have joked about the sloth being my spirit animal, it turns out it is not a joke.

I want to taste life but I have conditioned myself to always be running (not literally… That is not happening). If I am not busy, then I am lazy. If my to-do list is not full, then I am doing something wrong.

I have no answers yet, but I feel that I am on a path to figuring it all out. It is going to be a long process but one that will be enlightening.

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A New Epic Journey by Lois Hewitt

Today is the day I have decided to embark on a new epic journey. As of late, I have been dealing with a lot of anxiety. I don’t feel comfortable in my skin. I feel very out of balance. All First World problems, I know, but my struggles nonetheless.

The original epic journey was about me changing my life about seeing the country and beginning again. I did those things without the outcome that I had anticipated.

Wonderful times were had along the way. I have had the extreme privilege of meeting some of the most awesome people… Many I am still in contact with. I have changed but many of my old thought patterns remain.

I feel on edge a lot of the time. Peace is still at arms length away. I have come to realize that there are choices I need to make. There are behaviors that I need to throw away once and for all. I need to start controlling my life, instead of it controlling me.

My faith has seen me through and that is not going to change but I am going to start adding a new component to my life. Mindfulness. I, truthfully, do not fully understand the concept. But I am always living either in the past or worrying about the future. The present is the one place I need to be.

My doctor suggested that I study some mindfulness techniques to assist with my high blood pressure and other health issues. I want to do it to calm my mind. I realize it does not cure my problems, but it can help learning to live with those issues.

So today, I trudged to Target. I hate shopping but I chose to try to enjoy it. I purchased a large, soft pillow and a comfy, soft blanket to cover a loveseat. This is going to be my meditation place. Just a place dedicated to breathing and clearing the mind. It is not much, but it is a start.

I have a few things to read to help me on this journey along with an audio to listen to. By all accounts, I have heard the process of learning these techniques can take some time. I am dedicated to start living in the present. I cannot change the past and my constant worrying about the future has done me no good.

I am going to try to document the process. Over the years, I have forgotten what used to make me happy, hobbies and what have you. Everyday I worry about my health issues and it can be consuming.

So tomorrow I wash my new blanket and set up my space. Step one is always the hardest. If I can change the way I think (and fear) about life, maybe I can start to have some fun again. Mindfulness, here I come.

Yes, Patience is Still a Virtue by Lois Hewitt

Have you ever had someone ask you a question and before you can finish the answer, they have either asked another question or rudely just walked away. You asked me the question and now you don’t have the half a minute it takes to listen to the answer, that blows my mind.

The other day, Mike went to the grocery store for me while I was sick (again). He came home with two boxes of crackers, the kinds we don’t eat and a bag of cookies that look, frankly, inedible. I inquired to why he made such purchases. He replied that he did not pick them out.

Then he remembered that the person behind him at the check out was in such a hurry they started putting their items on the conveyor belt before there was room. Their items must have fallen over the divider onto our items. The person also proceeded to ram into Mike twice with their cart.

They must have thought that would somehow save them some precious moments in their day. But it didn’t and they almost got a karate chop to the throat for being so annoying.

What are the tailgaters thinking? Man, am I making time by being right on this person’s bumper with no room for an unexpected situation. I’m saving time while I put myself and others at risk. Many have forgotten just how dangerous automobiles are. They are made of steel and glass not cotton balls and marshmallows. When they crash, it is a very serious situation.

Just now on the way home from work, a car in front of me was turning left and the oncoming traffic was stopped. A car motioned for the car in front of me to go through. Apparently, the car in front of me did not go fast enough because the other driver starts swearing out the window. So much for doing a good deed.

We all have stories about these obviously super important people who do not have enough time in their day to obey laws or be civil. Many people do not even have the time to stop and tell a fellow human being thank you in a situation that calls for it. Ever hold the door for a person and they don’t even acknowledge the act. Sure, it’s not a big act but it deserves some courtesy. Imagine walking out the same door and not holding it. Can you imagine the indignant attitude that person would have for your rudeness. Happens every day.

I realize that Mayberry RFD is a thing of the past. I realize “the good old days” had their share of darkness but today our society pains me so badly. Luckily, I cannot find a way to support myself from home. Because if I could, I would never leave the fear and anxiety would grip me.

I feel the disrespect and lack of civility in general, literally, scares me. The idea that a person cannot spend an extra minute or two to let the person in front of them move, pains me. The fact that basic manners are becoming lost today only means to me that our society is degrading at an extremely high rate.

Without respect for life itself and the laws that bind a society together, it will just turn into lawlessness, thugs and chaos.

We live in a microwave world, where waiting for a minute to heat dinner is too long. We need instant gratification faster than instantly. Our storehouse of patience is dwindling faster and faster every day. Anger and distress are replacing the good things in life.

Taking a Sunday drive to nowhere is no longer fun. Going to a public event now comes with the threat that something bad could happen at any given time. No more friendly exchanges at the grocery store or post office.

Normally I try to stay positive but if people don’t start to change, our future looks grim. That truly scares me. Today I’m scared, hopefully tomorrow will be a more patient day for all of us. Patience is still a virtue and is part of what makes humans human and not animals.

To You, My Dearest by Lois Hewitt

In a few days, my husband and I will be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary. I can’t believe we have been together so long. I don’t speak much of my husband in this blog, only because I respect his privacy and he is not the kind of man one speaks for. My mind reels from all we have been through. Here’s to you my Dearest.

We have been through the gambit. Some rich, mostly poor. Some health, but a lot of sickness. We have shared utter joy and almost complete sadness. We have watched loved ones pass away from us. We have shared mountain top highs.

We tried for children, cried when it never happened and embraced the outcome. The toughest roads in life were somewhat smoother because we experienced them as a team.

You have made me the maddest I have ever been as well as the happiest I have ever been. You rocked me during panic attacks and asthma attacks. You have put up with various degrees of my OCD. You never talked down to me…. Except that one time you said I was as dumb as a box of rocks. But I always knew you didn’t mean it.

You have been my biggest cheerleader allowing me to take crazy chances on schemes that mostly did not pan out. You supported my education. You supported my faith even though it is not your faith.

Any question I ask, no matter how dumb, you answered with the most thought out answer you know.

You have always done your best to provide for me, even in the last few years when our life was somewhat fluid. You made sure I had a roof over my head and food in front of me.

I go to you for advice because I trust you with my life. Sometimes you deliver advice unsolicited, but I still always listen.

We have lived through some very dark days and nights. But we held onto each other for dear life because that’s what you do when you are committed to each other.

It’s been quite a ride. I’m looking forward to what comes next. You are truly my best friend, my confidant and the person who absolutely makes me laugh even when I don’t want to.

Here’s to you, my Love. Thank you for always being there for me. You are such a gift to me. May our love continue another 29 years and beyond.

By the way, there is no money in the budget for a gift…. So consider this your gift. Lol

A Return to Elegance by Lois Hewitt

I did not think life would ever be better than it was in the 1990s. My favorite fashions were now in style, flannel shirts, ripped jeans, work boots. I was finally in style. My fashion credo has always revolved around comfort. Nothing is more comfortable to me than an old flannel shirt.

As I am getting older, things are changing for me. I’m enjoying old black and white movies. Listening to Sinatra instead of Nirvana. A suit and tie looks better to me than grunge. I don’t even swear as much (except when I’m driving). I think I’m craving a return to a more elegant time.

There is a civility component from the days past that is missing today. I’m not saying that everything was perfect in the “old days.” They had their problems, but manners and respect were symbols of the time.

I never called my parents friends by their first name. I doubt I would today if I saw one of them. Holding doors, being polite, saying thank you and you are welcome were the norm. I love that level of decorum.

Growing up I was a loud, foul mouthed youth. I was not always respectful. I taught myself over the years how to act by watching others. I still have a ways to go but I’m on the right path to civility.

I think those basic behaviors are what make the difference between order and chaos. We, as a society, have forgotten or never learned the importance of showing respect to others, of minding our manners and generally being civil to each other.

You hear so many people say how they hate dealing with people. I, too, have mentioned on occasion that life would be easier without so many humans. We have, over the years, locked ourselves away from human interaction because it’s just so much easier to live. It’s easier to avoid the utter rudeness and disrespect you encounter in the real world. So many of us have created our own virtual world behind closed doors and drawn shades.

My own experience shows that the more I’m alone, the less manners I need. The less interactions I have, the less I act with elegance. But that’s not how I want to live my life anymore. I want to be elegant. I want to be graceful in action and deed.

As I have always talked about in this blog, change can come in small ways. I don’t know that not wearing flannel will make much difference, but being more cognizant in action is a way of reconnecting with my fellow human beings, which in turn can create positive change.

Today, my call is of elegance. To being more in the moment and lighting the way whenever possible.

Lessons From a Sick Day by Lois Hewitt

I’m having yet another sick day. My poor immune system is struggling to keep up with the onslaught of germs it meets on any given day. I can normally keep going on pure stubbornness then the wall is hit and I’m out for the count. That’s what happened this weekend.

I had a glorious week. I met some fantastic new friends. Work was amazing. Slowly I started to get more tired, my throat started to ache, my head felt like the inside of a ringing church bell and then I just had to stop. I slept a lot over the last two days with many NyQuil induced dreams.

I woke up this morning thinking about life in general. The thoughts are swarming me, circling my head like annoying mosquitoes.

When I’m sick, my thoughts usually go back to my childhood. Not a great time for me but the time my consciousness began. My childhood was not as bad as it could have been but it was hard on me. It created for me the fragile, small world I lived in for decades to come.

I was always full of fear and anger. I had no idea as to a sense of self. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, except to just go away and hide. Then at the age of 16, my best friend’s father introduced me to Jesus.

My thoughts were how could any being love me. I was already damaged and there was not a lot of hope on the horizon.

As I got older, I dabbled with Christianity. But my guilt over really bad past decisions haunted me. But His love was in the back of my mind. As time progressed, I started to learn more about this religious stuff. Many a dark night was spent rocking in a corner, saying a prayer.

Fast forward many years and I have come a long way. My faith is getting stronger. But today, being a Christian is a bad thing. We are told that all Christians are closed minded, bigoted ignorant people who cannot think for themselves.

Some Christians are like that. But so are some people from every sector of life. Most Christians I know are similar to me. Once broken, on the way to wholeness. Most Christians I know hate what’s happening in the world today.

I just read a Facebook post about Christians and it was extremely negative. And I started thinking was I like that… Full of hate and bigotry.

Here’s my self-analysis.

I do hate. I hate when the weak are exploited. I hate arrogance and pride. I hate ignorance. I hate closed mind thinking. I hate rudeness and inconsiderate behavior. I hate greed most of all. I guess I do hate a lot but I don’t feel bad about this type of hate. It teaches me how not to act.

I also love a lot. I love beauty and tranquility. I love kind and compassionate people! I love rainstorms and tulips and butterflies. I love words of encouragement and words of wisdom. I love the gentleness of sloths. I love so many more things.

Just like so many things today, it is easy to lump all into the same bag of crap. It’s easy to say that all Christians are self-righteous and pompous. It’s far too easy to simply write off Christians as all freaks and fringy. I say go ahead and do that while you promote the one thing you claim us to be… Closed minded.

I have skirted the issue in this blog for fear of alienating readers. But I am a Christian, not a perfect one, and I’m proud of it. If that offends you, then I am sorry and feel free to unfollow me.

I do not think that myself and any of the Christians I know are what is being portrayed in the media. Yes, some are but most just want peace and civility. We want the wrongs righted.

I am really not in a position to speak for anyone other than myself. I am still searching the wilderness for my voice and my truth. So many of us are. But, don’t you think, if we stopped yelling at each other and started listening to each other or, at the very least, try to understand each other a little more that life might stop spiraling downward the way it is now. I think, and this might just be too juvenile, that if we could all put away the labels on people, take away the unnecessary offenses, and look at the soul of people, the world would start to heal. Civilization has a weak immune system and all the negativity is keeping it sick. Let’s all take a theoretical sick day and start the healing process. If the person to person hate isn’t cured, we are all doomed. Hate creates sickness in all of us. Let’s start to heal.

That’s just my opinion.

Build Others Up by Lois Hewitt

Growing up was hard on me. I was extremely shy (I made shy kids look like extraverts), was a little sickly, had no self-confident at all and was so afraid of literally everything. I was born full of anxiety. When I saw someone else doing something better than me, I did not react properly. Instead of being happy for that person, I became jealous.

I believe that jealousy is one of those emotions that has no redeeming qualities. One may better themselves because of a jealousy, but it’s done in a positive light.

In my early years, I chose paths that did not offer much encouragement from others. I was a real brat. I didn’t like me, how could others give enough of a care to encourage me. My family was always supportive but I was bent on self-destruction.

As I got older, wisdom finally started to seep into my self-inflicted ignorant brain. When I finally turned my life around, I started getting some more encouragement from others and it spurred me on to do better.

The problem with giving encouragement to someone ill-prepared for it, is that it is like crack. You get addicted to it and when you don’t get it all the time, you fall back into feeling like a failure.

I didn’t learn the lesson until I was much older. You do the best you can, don’t worry about what others think and you learn some self-worth because now you are actually earning it and that is a great feeling.

Then the reality hit me that there was a second side to that coin. Encouragement given to others, not just nice words of encouragement but heartfelt words meant to build others up.

I wanted to be that person, but I didn’t know how. In retrospect, it isn’t that difficult but it was not a tool in my toolbox of life lessons.

I started studying people I looked up to, mostly entertainment people at that time. I slowly learned, not only, what to do but what not to do. I learned to discern genuine from fake. I also started watching for that other elusive character trait, humility.

I’m still learning but now I realize the importance of a pat on the back to a co-worker for a job well done, or genuine enthusiasm for an accomplishment for a friend or loved one. Now, my crack is trying to build others up.

Today’s world is fueled by the demise of others. The best one wins. Then you must knock the best one off the top. Like only one person can be achieving at one time. What a horrible concept!

Now, instead of feeling jealous of others, I’m happy for them. I want people to achieve goals, I want people to want to be better with the hopes of passing it on to others.

Imagine a world, not full of empty praise, but praise for a job well done. No awards for just showing up but for giving it your best…win or lose. Yes, you can lose and still earn a genuine compliment. I’m not an advocate of empty words. The words we speak need to be real. A false sense of ones self is a house of cards, easily destroyed. A true sense of ones self is strong enough to withstand the harshest of situations.

I want to encourage the people in my life because it strengthens connections, it strengthens communities, and makes for a better human race. We need that in today’s world.

Dancing in the Rain by Lois Hewitt

Today at work, I was posted outside for a half an hour. It was a warm day and I was very hot. As soon as I stepped outside it started to rain this lovely warmish rain.

I could have stood my post on the inside of the door, I could have worn a raincoat or I could have used an umbrella. In fact, many guests offered me theirs. Even a young girl came up to me and said that I could have her dinosaur umbrella. If that doesn’t give you hope in humanity….nothing will.

Everyone was offering me encouragement like something terrible was happening. The only thing happening to me was that I was getting wet. No big deal really. I didn’t look that great but that was about the amount of the damage done.

Then a phrase popped into my head. I honestly do not know if it was an original thought or something that I read. In order to bring peace to our souls we need to dance more in the rain.

Then I realized that those people who were feeling sorry for me were, in fact, the ones missing out. The rain felt good and it was fun. The vantage point outside helped me see what was coming. I was not expected to stand in the rain, I opted to stand there.

My hair loves the rain, it’s never looked better. My skin loves the rain. But most of all my soul loves the gentle rain.

Most of my adult life has been calculated. I carried a Franklin Planner with me for years. I would take it with me on fun outings, or other non-work related outings. I worked a lot, had a small business, earned a degree and took care of a house. I was organized and I had to be but I also wrote the fun out of my soul because there was no time for it.

Today, I wrote the fun back into my soul by standing, I don’t dance, in the rain. It was so silly but it was also beautiful and healing.

I understand that the rain is a metaphor for having more fun. I get that….but it’s not always easy to regain the simple pleasures of life when we have not left room for them in the planner or on the calendar.

I’m definitely going to dance in the rain more, I’m going to be fun again. I love to laugh and have gone through periods where I have forgotten how. Man, life is too short to not be a kid sometimes.

Listen to the music loud, eat that doughnut, be barefoot or just stand in the rain. I feels delicious!!

Results of Day Drinking by Lois Hewitt

Yes, I have been day drinking…alone. And I like it. It was a lovely day, talked with a friend I had not heard from in a while. Cooked and cleaned a bit. It was very nice.

Last night was a different story. I was mad and upset as I had a trying week. I was tired, low of energy, achy, and a little depressed. Now I REALLY hate to say that because, as I’ve said a hundred times, I’m truly blessed.

But guess what? Even the truly blessed have bad days or weeks, and sometimes longer. I’ve been through the fire and I was lucky enough to come out the other side. When that happens, you are ALWAYS grateful for the better times.

When a bad day comes, you try to stay upbeat because you know just how bad it can get. People pass away, illness strikes, life changes in a second. So a bad day doesn’t seem so bad, so you get over it.

But sometimes the hurt is a little deeper than you expected. Some times it adds up over time. Sometimes you feel bad and it just doesn’t go away. Fake smiles don’t chase the gloom away. Faking it until you are making it doesn’t always work.

You know what…sometimes you just have to admit that all the small slights do add up and they sting.

I realized today that it’s ok to not be fine. It’s ok to feel like you are pouring it all out and some of it gets stepped on. Not every day is perfect.

I can say that and not necessarily be complaining. It is a fact of life that you do get kicked every so often. Feeling hurt does not deminish the blessings. It is just a reality.

So I’m going to feel sad for a little longer, until this beer is consumed. My eyes are welling up but it’s ok. I’m going to pull myself up tomorrow but for tonight I’m going to be honest with myself and enjoy my Michelob Ultra induced pity party.

I’m still blessed and so very grateful for my life. Today I hurt but tomorrow should be better.

The Art of Laughter by Lois Hewitt

Life is just not as fun without laughter. In fact, it gets downright serious if we forget to laugh.

I go through stages in life where I’m silly and lighthearted. During those times I am able to take to the ups and downs in life fairly easy. Then something changes…I do not even know what triggers it, and I get real serious.

During those serious times, sleep is difficult. My body experiences more pains. It is usually when I get sick. Life, no matter how good it is, feels bleak and hopeless. It strains my marriage as well as my body. Everything is affected.

Then one day out of nowhere, it comes back. For example, I have been overly concerned about work lately. I began to feel out of control in that I lost my ability to connect with people. My tours were not as fun and I felt like I had to start worrying about what was happening. The more I worried, the less fun I was. The less fun I was, the less my guests enjoyed themselves.

When I’m stressed, I seriously only want to sleep…and binge eat when I’m awake. Nothing can get me to laugh when I’m in that mood.

The other day, I was exhausted and could not bear to even cook dinner. I simply sat down with tears in my eyes. I was beating myself up because I should be happy and all I’m doing is worrying. Then Mike came home, he said something crazy, like he always does, and I started laughing. We proceeded to laugh and giggle most of the night.

I felt physically better as well as mentally. Then last night we visited a local brewery and just talked about fun things, not about the crazy drivers or the rude people in the grocery store. We talked about some of our crazy times and we laughed.

I don’t know why or how I forget to laugh but it is during those times I am the saddest. I know there are times that are so trying and difficult that laughter seems a world away.

I think sometimes we think of laughter as a frivolous activity. That is just not true. During one of the absolutely hardest times in my life, I still found humor in things. In retrospect, that is what brought me in off the ledge, figuratively speaking.

What is one of the best sounds in the world? A child’s laugh. It’s real and it’s hearty. You can’t help but smile.

Laughter should be considered as important as air and food. Without laughter, life can lack meaning as well as perspective.

I’m going to laugh more. Luckily, I do not work in an environment that is life or death. I have that leeway to enjoy what I am doing. Plus when you smile, smiles become contagious.

This is all said with the knowledge that sometimes we absolutely need to get serious, but maybe not all the time. An honest belly laugh is nourishment to ones soul. Our souls need looking after just like our bodies do.

Here’s to a good old fashioned good natured laugh. May it change your outlook! 😃