Life Lessons

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.

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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! 😃

Lois Hewitt, Archeologist???

Coming up as a youth and a young adult, I wanted to be like my favorite movie characters.  My first real and true love was Indiana Jones.  I remember going to a used bookstore and buying a few archeology books.  I lugged those books around for months.  When I tried to read them, I slowly lost interest.

Chuck Norris lead me to Karate class.  I can barely walk and chew gum without hurting myself.  Obviously, I lost interest in that pursuit.  I loved hitmen movies, especially when the bad guy got whacked (that’s how they talk). But I can’t kill a spider without almost throwing up.

Because of movies, I have wanted to be many things, none of which has ever come to pass.

One of my longest running obsessions has been with the CW show, Supernatural.  You probably haven’t seen it.  It’s a cult classic enjoyed by a few overly obsessed fans.  It’s a story of two brothers who hunt and kill the things that go bump in the night.  Fourteen years ago, the show started as a monster movie every week.  Somewhere the show changed from that, I’m guessing when they figured out it wasn’t getting cancelled.  The story continued about the brothers, always has and always will, but the scope of the storyline got bigger.  Apocalyptic bigger.  The boys have saved the world several times.  Watching an older episode, a light bulb went on.

Being an archeologist who wasn’t saving precious antiquities or civilizations did not thrill me.  Being Chuck Norris without saving the underdog did not excite me.  Killing bad people wasn’t really me period.  I adored these characters because they were ordinary people in extraordinary situations.  It finally struck me.  I had the ordinary person thing but I didn’t have the extraordinary extenuating circumstances.

I realized that my entire expectation about my “epic journey” was that it was my extraordinary circumstance.  Then when it didn’t quite live up to those extraordinarily high expectations, I again felt despondent.  I was looking for something to give me meaning.  I wanted to be Indiana Jones or Lara Croft or Dean Winchester.  I was looking for the epic story to happen in my life.

I am not Mensa but I am smart enough to realize that those were all just stories played by actors.  But secretly I desired it to all be true somehow.  That there were ordinary people out there saving the world.  And I wanted to be one of them.  No wonder I have struggled my whole life with my sense of self-worth.  It’s been based on a fantasy.  But today I had a moment of clarity.

Today I was giving a house tour at work and all the positive things in the world collided during that hour of time.  I had my act together for a change.  More importantly, my group was open to my manic energy.  We all ended up enjoying ourselves.  After everyone dispersed and I thought about it, I realized that my “bigger picture” involves smaller groups of people.  I’m not saving their world but I have the ability to transport them, for a short time, to another place and another time.  Together we transcend the daily and mundane.  During the 60 minutes we are together, we start as strangers and end as friends.  There is a little more positivity in the world.

Of course, it is not always that way.  There are times when I could dress up as a rodeo clown and they group would still not notice me.  That has happened many times.  But for the ones who enjoy it and walk away feeling a little different about life for this snapshot in time, you are my epic journey.  It doesn’t have to be life changing to be epic.  It just has to do with leaving a small imprint on someone’s soul.  I don’t have to fight armies to make a change.  Epic can be saving the world from the apocalypse or bringing a little positivity into their lives.  I realize now that epic can mean more than one thing and we all have the ability to do epic things.

Life is such a funny thing.  Lessons can come from the common and ordinary and then lead us to the extraordinary.  Sometimes the extraordinary is hidden from our own sight until we are ready to accept it.  Life, itself, is epic.  I guess I don’t need to be a superhero after all.  Which is actually a good thing, I don’t really have that kind of energy anymore.

My Spirit Animal-The Sloth by Lois Hewitt

Last weekend, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to see a real two-toed sloth up close and personal. This is nothing I could have ever dreamed of. I was introduced to Xena and was even able to enter her space. I could have petted her but I assumed I was allergic, since I have allergies to almost every living thing. But I was close with no fence or distraction between us. I watched as this beautiful creature settled in for a nap but not after having a few blueberries first. Xena is such a gentle and sweet animal.

Over the past year or so, I have become obsessed with videos of orphaned sloths or rescued sloths that were bought as pets but did not work out. Sloths are not pets, no matter how bad I want one! This obsession has lead me to believe that my spirit animal is a sloth. Here’s why I think that:

Sloths are considered one of the slowest animals on the planet. My husband considers me one of the slowest animals on the planet and I cannot argue with that. I don’t think that sloths sweat the small stuff or the large stuff or even the medium stuff. The older I get the less I sweat anything. I still worry and obsess but not like when I was younger. I hope to emulate sloths on that level.

Sloths mostly eat leaves when in the wild. There is not a lot of nourishment in leaves so a sloth’s metabolism is really slow. My diet is fairly lacking in nourishment, not because I eat leaves but because I don’t eat healthy food. I was raised on Coke in a glass bottle, Cap’n Crunch and Kit Kat’s. I don’t usually have a whole lot of extra energy to spend. I have to ration out what energy I have.

Sloths sleep 10 to 16 hours a day! Anything that can do that on a consistent basis is most definitely a hero of mine. I generally cannot sleep that long, but oh how I would love to try!

Sloths seem to like fruit when it’s cut up and fed to them. I really don’t like fruit but if it was cut up and fed to me, I might eat it. Nope, cookies are better than fruit.

They are gentle creatures. They don’t go looking for trouble. They seem to just want to exist. Sure, when threatened they get mad but I get the idea they would rather not. I prefer to be a gentle soul. I can get really mad but I would like to never be mad again. Most times in my life when I have acted in anger, I always regret my behavior.

Sloths only poop once a week. That’s one thing I don’t want to emulate.

I bet if sloths had Netflix they would do some serious binge watching…in between naps of course. I love me some binge watching and binge eating!

I see a lot of similar behaviors between sloths and myself. I love their gentle nature and kind spirit. If you haven’t seen a baby sloth video, I recommend watching a few. They renew your faith in the world today. If nothing else, they will brighten your day.

Nothing to Say by Lois Hewitt

To me, writing a blog was going to be easy. Opinions, I have a lot of them. Interests, I do ok. Knowledge, mostly self-taught…that one worries me a bit. Nothing to say, happens all the time much to my dismay.

When I started this blog all those years ago, I was on a new path for my life. I was changing almost everything I had ever known. Although I have to admit the reflection I see in the mirror these days is not the same one I saw just a few years ago. Along with the grey hairs and the wrinkles are the feelings of having lived a life, one I had previously only dreamed of.

The changes in my life have profoundly changed me inside and out. I think differently now then I did then. I see a wider view then I did before. I feel more and sometimes I curse that, but it is all part of the journey.

Words are always floating around in my head. I just cannot seem to herd them into anything coherent some days. That surprises me. I thought I would always have the words. Words, whether reading them, singing them or writing them, helped a lonely kid not be so afraid. Words helped me in the times of loss and heartbreak. Words never made me feel inadequate. To the contrary, words often brought me to a place where I felt like I wanted to venture out. They gave me courage.

When I started this blog, I wanted to write great things as a way of honoring my old friends, words. I am saddened that I have not been able to do that. Hemingway, that I am not. I guess as I write these words, they are not half bad for a high school dropout. Not terrible for someone who lived mostly in fear of an unknown world.

I guess the words come when one finally stops trying so hard to be profound. Letting the mind clear and refocus seems to be the key. There is so much static and clutter in the world today, even a simple thing like writing a small blog can seem daunting.

Words have never left my side, nor will I leave theirs. I may not always have a revelation to say but, at the very least, I will try to keep peeling the layers back with the intent of always improving myself.

I feel like I am losing the “epic” in my epic journey, but that is actually ok. I am still learning. It is all good.

Defining Yourself by Lois Hewitt

George Washington Vanderbilt was born into one of the most affluent families of the time. He grew up not wanting for anything. He was able to live a life many could only dream of. He would not allow himself, however, to be defined by those terms alone.

Wealth, for George, was the reality but it was not what made him the man he was. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of documented accounts of his generosity and his kind spirit. It is most definitely easier to be generous when you are not worried where your next meal is coming from. But it is still doable no matter your lot in life.

George could have rested on his grandfather’s or his father’s laurels, but he decided not to do that. He was a man with a unique vision of the time. Conservation. Self-sufficient living. Changing the lives of people around you for the better. These concepts are normal thinking today, but not so much in the late 1800s.

How many of us define ourselves by our pasts or by the way we look or perceive how we think others see us? The most beautiful flower in the garden can be hiding a devastating bug infestation. What we show is not always the truth. But our actions, our deeds, show the truth and the reality.

I used to spend way to much time and money trying to show how perfect my life was. I judged myself harshly on my misspent youth, therefore, I let my youth and my new found “perfection” define who I was. Because it was all a lie, I was miserable.

Now I can see the honest truth. Like George, I’m not perfect but I want my motives to pure. I want to define myself by the kindness I share and the positive change I can make.

George had a St. Bernard named Cedric. From the outward appearance Cedric was an overwhelming beast who might have instilled fear. He was massive, some say up to 200 pounds of pure dog. But under the facade he was the most loving dog a family could have.

It could be said that Cedric might be used as a metaphor for George’s home, Biltmore. From the outside, the building looks overwhelming and cold. It’s size almost dictates that feel, but on the inside it was a loving home for friends and family. You can never tell just by first glance. Looking deeper is where the rubber meets the road. Looking deeper, inside ourselves and those around us, ensures the view we see is correct. Defining ourselves on the surface stuff is not the truth. I am going to look deeper into myself and define myself in a true way that reflects positively on my life and the world around me.

Thank you, George, for being an example. I hope I too can one day be remembered as fondly.

Blessings Unseen by Lois Hewitt

I know I just did a post yesterday. It’s not my style to post back to back like this, but I cannot contain myself.

Yesterday, I posted my 200th blog post. That, in and of itself, is amazing to me. I have had almost 10,000 views in my blog’s life. I’m overwhelmed by this fact.

Growing up all I ever wanted to do was write but I had no voice, no life experiences to speak of. There were no outlets to be heard if your voice was small. I love and hate the Internet but it has given me a chance to talk to people all over the world. For that I am eternally grateful!

Yesterday I posted that I have been unwell for a few weeks. The outpouring of prayers, well wishes, and love overwhelmed me.

I’ve walked through this crazy life of mine thinking of myself as always being on the outside. Never quite knowing how to fit in. I’m quirky, I get that. Sometimes that just feels lonely.

Yesterday I realized that I actually do fit into a group of really cool, eclectic people. A tribe, as it is called now. Full of people from every background. I’m so proud of those friends and family. They all struggle with lives hardships but maintain such a high level of love and caring for others. You have inspired me to be better. You all overwhelm me with your compassion.

It has become easier and easier to see the world for only it’s hostility and anger. It’s easy to feel like it’s just safer to be locked away and watch life unfold from a distance. But I have been witness to some of the greatest acts of kindness over the years, not only bestowed on me but those around me. These are blessings that if not looked for can go unseen.

I think oxygen is finally getting to my brain again thanks to the steroids I am on. While I was progressively feeling worse physically, I was also feeling worse spiritually and emotionally. I have a clarity today that is unveiling my unseen blessings. I’m truly overwhelmed!

I guess I’m just rambling, but I am so full of inspiration today because I know you all. You are my muse and I have learned so much from you. Thank for all your prayers and love. Thank you for reading my sweat and tears. Thank you for your outpouring of love and support.

I think I have a few more blog posts inside of me, if you are still interested. I have a feeling there are a lot more things to learn.

Please take care of yourselves, life is hard but it is also beautiful. Love you all!

Ignoring The Obvious by Lois Hewitt

red lighted candle

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

We all do it from time to time.  We ignore those inner stirrings that tell us something is wrong.  You rationalize that there are just too many things to do right now…too many bills to pay, too much housework, too much work at work, and many other issues to attend to.  Your body starts to slow down, those tasks that used to be quick, now take much more time.  Your brain starts to fog.  You wake up in the morning and start counting the hours until it’s time to go to bed.  Then one day, you can’t get up, your body has gotten tired of giving you subtle hints.  And you are sick.  Too sick to pay all those bills, too sick to clean the house, too sick to work.

This is a pattern I have lived for years.  I am writing this now from the couch on a day I should have been at work.  Sick with pneumonia.  I knew I was getting sick weeks ago.  I even missed some time at work then.  But I took some extra vitamins and expected to plow through it.  When you do that, your quality of life exits the room.  You get so exhausted, not just tired, and everything becomes a huge chore.  Nothing is really fun anymore because life becomes overwhelming.

i am always working myself into the ground and I end up sick for a long time.  I guess it’s time to figure it out and break the cycle.  I absolutely hate to admit this because I try not to believe it.  The more I work, work, work, the more self worth I feel.  Deep down I don’t feel I deserve to be so blessed, so I have to practically kill myself proving I deserve it.  Am I the only one who does that?

Then I get sick and feel like a loser all over again.  I have tried on this journey to overcome those feelings of inadequacy but they linger.  Lurking in the dark, musty basement of my soul waiting to pounce.  And pounce they always do.

I’m not sure how to break the cycle.  But I gave up my second job.  I can tighten my financial belt a little more.  I can get rid of those activities in my life that don’t make me happy.  I can focus on the things that have meaning to me.  I spend so much time dealing with things that mean nothing to me and I overlook those important things.  I, somehow, have to exorcise that self-loathing demon inside me.  I truly believe we all have worth, even me.  When will I start to believe that?  Today!  I cannot keep repeating this insane, unproductive behavior.  That negative voice has to go!

We live in a society that grades us on a certain criteria of success.  It’s time we stop living for that unobtainable, and honestly ridiculous, criteria and set up our own success levels.  I think the first one should be: Are you happy? Happy in the good times and able to find joy in the hard times.  If the answer is no, then something has to change.  I’m not implying happiness is the only criteria.  But if you can find joy and gratitude in the every day experiences, and you feel like you did what you needed to do.  You can feel good in your skin, as they say.

The second thing should be, have you taken care of yourself?  If you crash and burn every few months, you are simply getting by…not living.  My motto used to be, just get through the day.  How sad is that?  How many days of my life have I wasted just getting through them?  One thing is for sure, I am not getting a rebate on any of those days I wasted.  They are gone.  But I have today and, hopefully, tomorrow that I can start to appreciate.

I hope the worst of the pneumonia has passed.  I truly want to be happy about where I am today.  I don’t want to wake up wishing it was bedtime so I can sleep the pain away.  I’m going to quit ignoring the obvious signs my body is telling me about overdoing it. And I’m going to cut myself some slack.  I have days where I am a rock star and I have days, more of these, where I’m not, but I’m still an ok person.  I don’t need to beat myself up every day.  I’ll leave that for the days I really goof up.

We tend to be too hard on ourselves. We need to be kind to those around us, but we also need to be kind to ourselves.  I’m going to practice that today.  I hope you all will be kind to yourselves.  We can’t be a light unto the world if our candles are almost extinguished.

What a Ride…by Lois Hewitt

I cannot believe that my next blog post will be my 200th!  Wow!  That’s incredible!  A lot has happened between now and then.  The person I was is barely known  to me now.  When I started this epic journey I was a scared, depressed, totally unaware person.  I thought I knew things but I did not really.  I thought myself brave but had no clue until I was tested.  I wanted a new and different life from what I had and I got that wish a few times.  Wow! What a ride it has been!

It is an odd phenomenon that the place you occupy right now seems like the place you have always been.  At least for me anyway.  When I was in that “dark” place I felt there would never be a change.  That what I was experiencing was going to last forever. For a long time, I just stood on the proverbial diving board.  Then I realized standing on the board does nothing until you actually leap into the water. And leap I did.

Fear used to consume my life.  I was so aggravated with myself for not making the changes I needed to make.  Once it was decided to leave behind everything and start completely new, it was like jumping into a pool of ice water.  All the plans I had made ahead of time, flew out the window.  I was unprepared for the realization of what it all meant.  No more home to run to. No more things to have.  What if I got Ill on the road? What if the car breaks down?  Those issues evoked real fear!  Now it wasn’t some ethereal concept in my head but an extreme possibility.

I did not know where I was going to land or how I would live.  I thought I could waitress my way across America.  That might have worked in the 70s but not today.  I found I was living in a way based on a whole lot of unrealistic ideals.  I thought I was being free when in reality, I still had bills to pay and gas to buy and needed a place to sleep among other things.

Then I met North Carolina.  She made me work to get to know her.  Crossing the mountains to get to her was about the last straw.  I was not sure my car could make the trip or, for that matter, if I was up to the task.  After a dark and rainy night of mountain roads, we met.  It was definitely not love at first sight. But her presence grew on me.  Because of her I have been able to shake many of my existing fears off.

The veil finally lifted and I saw a new life.  The struggle, as they say, was real but I found out I was not alone.   I tried new things and learned about people and places I had never even dreamed about.   I had adventures I could not have even imagined. Working on a real train…how lucky was I!  Traveling to work everyday to a castle…how lucky am I!  Mountains and beauty available from every vantage point!

Things are not perfect, but oh how they have changed, oh how I have changed.  As I look back on the last few years I can hardly believe all that has happened.  But I would be remiss if I did not thank all of you who supported my incredibly insane dream.  I could not have done it without you and I still look to you all for moral support today,  My husband does not get mentioned much in this blog as I try to respect his privacy but I could never have taken the first step out the front door without him.  He is my rock!  Thank you to the Land of the Pines, for letting me make this place my home.

That scared, shy girl may be gone now, but because of her I was prepared to make this journey.  I am really hard on her but all of her experiences, good and bad, gave me the strength I did not know existed inside of me.  I have learned so much.  The greatest lesson I have learned is to never discount who you are.  You have no idea what your life experiences will show you in the future.  Some days are harder than others, hang in there.  Life gets pretty good once you allow yourself to open up to the unimaginable possibilities!

Thank you all for your love and support!  I honestly could not have done this without you!  Here’s to another 200 posts!

Looking Ahead by Lois Hewitt

Have a good trip AVERY

I work at a major tourist attraction.  I have been there for several months now and have noticed a few things about human nature.  This is something I have done myself, many times, so I am in no way passing judgement.  I watch people walk into a room but instead of enjoying the room they are in, they start careening their neck to see what’s up ahead.  What is there to see next?  Then when they get to the next place, it happens all over again.

I used to be, and still am from time to time, the person who would make a plan to visit someplace.  Then stress while we were getting there.  Then once there automatically start thinking about the next stop.  Then get home and wondered why I felt empty inside.  I totally missed the views on the way to the destination because I was more worried about parking, time or some other thing.  I missed the destination because I was worried that I spent too much money and or time to get there.  On the way home, I would be thinking of all the things I had not done that day, for example laundry.  When I finally got home from my “fun-filled” outing, I was exhausted and disappointed.  Two things I felt all the time.  Now I notice I am not the only one.

I remember my first video camera.  I loved taking videos of events and people.  When the tapes were full, I would put another tape in and keep going.  Then one day as I was cleaning up in preparation for my epic journey, I found boxes of tapes I had made.  The realization hit me that I had never looked at most of them after they were made and I completely missed the time with loved ones and friends that I could never get back.  I was so worried about preserving the moment that I forgot to live in it.

I have been Mary from the Bible.  Remember her?  Jesus came to visit her home and she was so preoccupied with food preparation and house keeping, that she nearly missed Jesus.  I may not have had Jesus at one of my parties, but there were people important to me that I missed because I felt I had to have perfect food, perfect decorations and a spotless house.  I missed the real moments because of things that would not be all that important in the long run.  Who cares what you ate or what wreath was on the front door.  I missed being with people who are no longer with me.  I cannot get those moments back.

So why do we as humans prioritize in such weird ways?  I cannot speak for everyone, but I know a few things I have felt in the past.  I was always afraid that I was going to miss something really big.  Like the best thing I could ever see was going to happen up ahead and I would miss it if I wasn’t looking that way.  I felt I had to put on a show of how organized and efficient I was, even though I was falling apart on the inside.  Maybe I thought the people around me would always be there.  Little did I realize that would not be the case.

I believe humans, for the most part, are optimistic beings.  Looking ahead has brought about magnificent changes in our lifetime.  Sometimes you have to look ahead at better times when the times you are currently in are not so good.  I now understand the difference.  If you end up looking ahead all the time or focusing on unimportant things, you miss being in the moment.  It’s like buying a book you have been waiting to read, but reading the last chapter first.  Knowing how the story ends does not explain how the story got to that point.  You miss the journey when you head directly to the destination.  That is an empty feeling, I know.

Now I try to remember where I am right now.  I may think of the next stop, but not to the inclusion of missing this stop.  I still plan ahead, I cannot live without that structure but I am learning to enjoy the here and now.  Once this moment has gone, it will not return.  I could videotape it or take a picture but I run the risk of missing the most important thing, this very moment.  Good or bad this moment is unique in my life and I want to experience it, not spend a sleepless night trying to remember what I should have seen.

Every day the saying “enjoy the journey” takes on more meaning.  Now I am off to enjoy the moment of doing laundry….it’s all a part of living.