Yet Another Ism by Lois Hewitt


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There will be no marches for us today.

Advertisements

It’s The Little Things by Lois Hewitt


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giving Up and Letting Go by Lois Hewitt


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reflections on Past Resolutions 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Mom…

My mother passed away a few years ago. Tomorrow would be her birthday.  So I decided to write her a letter to tell her all things I never said.

Growing up I was not close to my mother. By the time I arrived, ten years later than my sisters, she worked nights. I would only really see her when I was getting off the school bus and we would pass in the driveway.  Her night off was Sunday and there always seemed to be something going on. My parents divorced and i stayed with my dad. As I grew into a defiant teenager I really did not see my mom much. I guess I was mad or something stupid like that. But once I got married, at the age of 19, we reconnected.  She ended up being my best friend. 

Dear Mom, 

I’m crying already as I write this letter.  I find it hard to talk about you, even after all these years, as losing you has been an epic loss. There are a few things I want to say and I hope you can read my heart from heaven.

Firstly, happy birthday. 

Secondly, I am truly sorry.

 I took you for granted. I assumed that you would always be here. I thought your inner strength would have taken on the disease that you fought. I never considered that maybe you were tired and were ready to be done with all the pain you endured and all the heartbreak you lived through. I never realized that sometimes your body just gives out. 

Toward the end I was so consumed with all the troubles in my life that I was blind to what you were going through. I kept thinking that if I could just get my life under control that we would all be ok. I ran in circles trying to get where I needed to but where I needed to be was next to you.  I have many regrets in my life but not being as present with you as I could have been is my biggest regret. 

I wake up some mornings and my first thought is to call you.  Oh how I miss your voice and your sense of humor. What I would not give to hear one more Barty the cat report. You used to call me at work in the morning just to let me know how the cat was. I was sometimes so busy that I couldn’t really talk and I am so sorry for that. When I got home from work, I was usually so tired I would just stop for a visit and head home to crash.  I should have stayed with you longer. I miss those evenings watching Wheel and Jeopardy.  I took those times for granted.

I got so busy with work and going back to school.  I was stressed all the time.  Never had enough money at the end of the month and it consumed me. Now after a major life change I see how futile my life was and all the things I missed because of my poor choices. You should never have been shortchanged.  You gave me your all 100% of the time, you deserved nothing less in return. But the chaos I called my life did not allow for that. I can never apologize enough. 

Thirdly, I never truly understood your difficulties in life because you always tried to spare me from them. I wish I would have been there more for you. Your shoulders were always so big like Atlas. You had the weight of your world on them and I should have shouldered more of the burden. But I was too selfish. I should have seen your stress but all I saw was my own. 

Fourthly, I made a lot of mistakes and I assumed a lot of things I never should have. I thought you would tell me when you were really sick but I should have seen it without you telling me. I saw your fear in the hospital and I had no idea how to deal with it. You were always so strong and I was so weak.  I did not know how to handle what was happening. I was completely useless when you needed me the most. For that, I am forever sorry.

I have made some major changes in my life. They seem good. I am still working on the stress and am learning to be more present every day. The old me was a bag of messiness and uncertainty.  I had no idea what I was doing or how I should act. I had no clue. I am starting to get a clue and I think you might like the new me. I wish I could have made the right changes while you were here but I guess it was all part of a bigger plan.

I miss you every single day Mom.  I have kept this all in for years but part of me getting healthy has to let it out. I feel guilt and remorse so badly. I walk around like I’m getting better but I have to let go of my mistakes. They are like a toxic wasteland inside of me. I, unfortunately, cannot go back and change anything even though I wish I could.  I have to be honest with myself. I did not do things right, for that I am sorry. But I also have to move forward. That’s not to say I will ever forget you….no way!  But I have to let go of the negativity and the self-loathing I feel.  

This new life of mine is good but it does not allow me to bury things inside me any longer. I have to deal with things or they fester. I buried my shame for too long.  I am so sorry Mom that i wasn’t always there for you. I should have been. I’m sorry for the tears you shed over me. I’m sorry for the worry I caused you. But I hope you knew I loved and adored you always and I still do.

Happy birthday!  You are missed!

Your loving daughter,

Lois

Talent: Inherited or Learned by Lois Hewitt 


It is a beautiful evening in Western North Carolina.  I am sitting in my she-cave with no lights on except for my little fake Christmas tree, listening to my favorite 70s classic rock (slightly louder than I should), and enjoying a cup of herbal tea.  For just a few minutes, it all feels perfect!

Then my mind, as it usually does, starts to wonder.  This is something I used to spend hours thinking about, but haven’t given it a thought in some time. Is talent inherited or can it be learned?  I’m listening to Bob Seger tell a story about his life, everyone’s life, set to music.  Then I think about Ayn Rand and the way she used a story and her words to change my perceptions of life.  As I struggle to learn the guitar, it is clear that I do not have the internal talent many musicians have.  You know the ones who never took a lesson yet shred the guitar most impressively.  Painters, architects, seamstresses, and the many other talented artisans in our world with God-given talent.

I opened my mind to the arts in my 20s.  I took a Humanities class and nothing has been the same since. I learned to love art, even if I did not understand it.  For example, I tried to read Shakespeare’s sonnets to no avail. I had no idea what he was trying to say, but I appreciated his efforts.  After some time, I tried to find my very well-hidden talent. Because I reasoned, doesn’t every person have a specific talent?  I have a friend who is an excellent painter as is everyone in her family.  I know people who can sing, dance or play an instrument.  I know a young lady who can transfer her thoughts into words in the most eloquent of ways.  I know all these talented people, they surround me and yet I feel like I missed the day talents were given out. 

So again I ask myself, are these talents inherited or can they be learned?  I still do not know. How many Bob Segers are there, really.  Not everyone can compose like Mozart or play numerous instruments like Prince.  Or write like Fitzgerald.  Those people, who truly have a gift, and enrich the world by bringing beauty into it. Art is a life force in and of itself.  It takes nourishment to be created but then returns it in the form of beauty for one’s soul.  I suppose that not everyone can have artistic talent.  That makes me sad as I am one of those people not gifted.  But……

I have learned that there are other types of talent outside the artistic realm.  Some people can pull out spectacular outfits out of old clothes.  Then there are the people who can truly listen to others and feel genuine empathy.  The person with an encouraging word at just the right time.  The perfect cookie, a hand-knit scarf, a helping hand and a kind gesture are all talents. I see it now, not every person can be an Adele, but every person has inside of them the talent to affect change in the world.  

I’m never going to be a Hemingway and, I guess, I am ok with that. I would rather be a tortured writer creating written images that will transcend time, but, alas, that probably will not happen.  Can I help someone in need? Most definitely.  Can I listen to a friend who is struggling with life?  You bet.  Can I make my corner of the world a little better?  I certainly hope so.  Those are my internal talents as well as some I have picked up on my journey. 

So is talent inherited or learned?  Yes!  It’s both.  We all have our talents, the ones we are born with.  But we can also learn new ones. Ones we experience on our own or discover on our own journeys.  I realize that there is no need to feel like I missed out on something.  Sometimes the answers are not that obvious. 

So tonight as I listen to some great music while sipping an artisan tea, I am so pleased that I learned to appreciate the talents of others. That is a talent, and one I plan to hone. 

Sunrise by Lois Hewitt


I have never been the kind of person who raves about sunrises.  I always figured if I missed the one today I could catch the next one.  There are quotes and sayings about the light coming after a long dark night.  Or each day is a new beginning.  In theory, I love sunrises as much as anyone, but I never actively sought one out.

My apartment faces the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains and I could have the chance to view every sunrise right from my living room, but I never took the time until today.  I have been under the weather lately and stressing about an upcoming move, so my mind has been in full self-indulgent mode.  Last night was the first night in a while that I slept without horrible coughing.  

I woke up very happy that I was feeling better and started my usual morning routines: sent a few texts, checked balances, etc.  Then I looked out the front door, which is mostly glass and I saw it.  I watched, mesmerized, as this incredibly bright orb made its way from behind the fall-colored Mountains.  Each movement created more outstretched rays of light until the sun was fully in sight and surrounded by beams of light. It brought with it a sudden warmth to ease the cold night away.  

It was stunning.  I cannot believe that in the year and a half I have been here, this is the first one I have consciously noticed.  I am usually running around doing something I feel is extremely important or something of no importance at all.  I never took the few minutes to just look out the front door. I don’t even have to go anywhere, it comes to me.  Every single morning.

So I thought I was finally getting wise in my old age, thought I was starting to understand things.  Then I see a sunrise and I realize that I still have a long way to go.  If I run around being busy (legitimately busy or fake busy) all the time, and I do not pause for a moment or two to just enjoy life’s beauty, then I haven’t actually learned a thing.  This morning I unintentionally looked up from my iPad to witness a miracle that happens every single day.  A miracle that I have taken for granted over 20,000 times.  

I have squandered my time in one of God’s most beautiful places.  Amazing tree-lined Mountains, glorious clear running rivers, fresh crisp air and, yes, daily sunrises and sunsets are the norm here.  I hiked once or twice.  I looked at the beauty from inside a moving train car without fully allowing myself to drink it all in.  If I had to guess what lesson was learned today, I would have to say that I need to stop a little more often and enjoy the surroundings.  I always figured I had to be a outdoor person to enjoy this splendor but that’s not true. To be a human being means we have the ability to be conscious of the beauty around us.  We have the ability to formulate thoughts and emotions about things we see and feel.

I need to become more present, more aware, of those things around me that are beautiful.  Many of the images and things we see today are ugly interpretations of hate, war, violence and greed.  It is easy to want to retreat into one’s shell and never look outside it.  But if you do that, you end up missing the beauty.  I realize that not every place is the place I am at now.  God brought me here so that I could see a place of peace and tranquility.  As I plan to leave this place I realize that I missed it much of the time I was here but I plan on drinking in its beauty while I’m still here. And, hopefully, not miss all the future sunrises. 

It just goes to prove that something that happens every day can still be wonderous. 

On Being A Minimalist by Lois Hewitt

My actual and entire wardrobe. I never have to guess what to wear!


My days of hoarding and compulsive buying seem to be over. I say that knowing full well I could slip back into old ways at anytime.  Every purchase is weighed now against cost, storage space needed, percentage of actual need and what I already own that has to be donated to make room for this new item.  It has taken the fun out of shopping, which is a good thing.  I racked up massive amounts of debt “having fun” shopping only to feel guilt and regret after the high diminished.  I have embraced being a (almost) full-on minimalist.  

In the beginning, it was just about the money.  I was spending way too much on absolutely unnecessary things.  Why would two people need three sets of dishes?  Does anyone using the bathroom really care if all the towels and accessories match?  Oh, how much time and money I spent on having some sort of allusion of outward perfection while the reality was that I was drowning inward. Things stopped being just things to have and started to own me. I worked multiple jobs and was always scheming for ways to pay for all the stuff.  My life was not mine but it was owned by the 20 plus creditors I owed.  I was miserable, so I would shop to feel better then have crushing guilt over the most recent purchases.  I then went through a stage where I could not even buy necessities for fear of incredible remorse.  My life was killing me….

Then I lost all the stuff.  All the security blankets and false self-esteem symbols that I built around myself were gone.  I was lost and miserable. Then the sun came up and I saw a brand new life in a brand new light.  I was now free to live without outward hindrances.  I left Ohio with a suitcase and some items I thought I would require to live. Then as I was on the road those items found new homes with other people or in the gatbage. The more I moved the less I needed.  

Here I am a little over two years later. Getting ready for another move and evaluating my current possessions.  I, honestly, acquired a few more things than I wanted to, but all paid for with cash.  It’s not much, but I am culling everything I have accumulated over the last couple of years. I did good, but have a few things to donate. And a few sentimental gifts from people I’ve met, which I will keep.  When it’s all said and done, I do not ever want to go back to my mega-consumeristic ways.

One major byproduct of this lifestyle is now I have the ability to actually help others with time and money. Before I was always so busy trying to make a buck and always short lots of bucks that I could not ever help anyone. I just couldn’t. The freedom is astonishing!

I know it’s not for everyone, I am not advocating that it is. But for me, it was the best decision ever forced upon me.  I thought I would miss the things, but now I can hardly remember what those things even were.  Peace, for me, is not owning much. It keeps my life in perspective. When I was drowning underneath all the things, I had no perspective.  Now I see how those things hindered my life and my progress to becoming the person I wanted to be. I was holding on so tight to the stuff, important things slipped through my fingers. Today I can reassess where I am in a short time and that has allowed me to finally grow. 

The worst thing in my life, losing it all, has been one of the most important changes in my life. Today, I can truly say that I am blessed.

Lessons Learned…Continued by Lois Hewitt 


The journey that I am on is one of continual lessons to be learned. My time on the train is finished and as I close this chapter of my life, I thought I should reflect on the newest lessons learned.

People are sometimes mean and cruel.  I have strived to treat others as I expect to be treated but not everyone shares that desire. Between my short-lived career at the casino and my time on the train, I have met a lot of unhappy people. The kind of people that no matter what you do, they will never be pleased. I used to take all that negative energy personally. You cannot do that.  Those people are unhappy period. They were unhappy before they crossed my path and will be unhappy long after our time together. I have learned that when they lash out at you, most times it is not personal.  It feels as if it is but something else, something deeper is the root problem. The same is true with me I have learned.  When I’m mad it is usually something much deeper than the situation I am in. So don’t take the lashings personal.  

Get used to entitlement attitudes. The difference between last year and this year on the train is like night and day.  More and more people act entitled.  I have found that a few people will run you ragged at the expense of everyone else and not even be satisfied with it.  In my job on the train, I would be the server for up to 44 people.  Some would never utter a peep, while others demanded more every time I walked past. I would be required to refill drinks that had one sip gone.  Or get extra salad dressings that never got used.  I am guessing there are a group of people who think they somehow have to get everything they can out of the experience even if it means less time with other customers. I have a problem with the entitlement mentality, I just haven’t found a way to conquer it.  It is becoming very prevalent in this country and it is beyond sad.

You cannot live on cafe hot dogs everyday.  Enough said.

Don’t expect outer gratification.  Servers live off tips and there was a time when you could depend on those. Don’t depend on them anymore. More and more people tip badly or not at all. Yesterday I served a family of ten for 4 1/2 hours only to  have them slip me a dollar and expect my undying gratitude. If you cannot live on the hourly rate alone, maybe it’s time for a new career.  It’s very difficult to make a livable wage from the generous few.  That’s where I am at, looking for a new career path. 

Babies don’t seem to like 4 1/2 hour train rides, nor do toddlers. Who knew?

Your coworkers have to have your back and visa versa.  The more demanding the job, the more you need the support of your coworkers.  If you cannot get along with them, it’s going to make it extremely difficult to get along with strangers/customers. 

Celebrate EVERY victory. Some days everything is in perfect alignment and the day goes off without a hitch. Celebrate it somehow. Those days are few and far between so enjoy them.  Some days start incredibly bad but end up great, celebrate!  I have learned to not expect the win, but when it happens I celebrate with an ice cold beer, a delicious dessert or a long nap. Whatever it takes.  Each victory is precious!

You have to take care of yourself. If you don’t, things usually end up being worse.  Take your vitamins, eat right, get enough sleep and don’t work so much that you forget what you love to do.  I have had such busy times in my life that I actually forgot what things I used to love to do.  Your soul needs nourishment as much as your body does. Nourish your inner self. It helps keep you sane during the chaos.

There are a lot more lessons, but this one is my most important one.  Always act in love even to the entitled, bitter people.  My very wise cousin told me, you never know whose life you can change with a kind word or a good deed.  Random acts of kindness and paying it forward are both real things. They can change the world for the better…one act at a time.

It’s been an amazing adventure.  I am grateful for the good as well as the bad. I learned from both.  

Why Am I Surprised? By Lois Hewitt

Before I begin, this is not a post fishing for a compliment or to say how great I am.  That’s not what I want this to be about.  This year on the train has been so different from last year.  I cannot pinpoint what made the change, just that it did happen.  Rudeness from customers is now the new norm.  Complaining is the new point of conversation.  The temperature is never right, the food isn’t up to par, the seats are too hard, the service isn’t fast enough, the trip is too long or too short, the line to the restroom is too long, and the weather isn’t good enough,  just to name a few complaints. 

I try to tell about local history and I can barely get their attention as they continue to talk over me.  Today, I stopped mid-sentence and walked off, I doubt anyone even noticed.  I explain that I go to each table over and over so that I can make sure that no customer is missed or ignored. I try to treat all 44 of my customers the same.  Well apparently, some people are more important than others because they will do anything to get their request filled immediately.  When I say that I’m on my way and will be there as fast as I can, they act like I kicked a puppy. There goes another tip down the drain.  

Seems no one has any tolerance for even the slightest discomfort. There is definitely no tolerance for being inconvenienced even if you are assisting another customer. So the rudeness isn’t just directed at me, it’s aimed at all people everywhere.  This morning it was chilly outside. We always board people who need a little extra time or need assistance first.  Today I asked if anyone needed assistance and everyone in line came up.  I doubt that the entire car was not in need of assistance,  their personal needs came before people who truly needed help.

Today I sit here defeated, wondering where society is headed.  Where are manners and basic respect? It’s so sad that when you meet someone who is considerate, you can’t believe it.  It has become such a rarity in our society.  Today I am very sad for the people of the world for they obviously do not see things from the same perspective that I do.  Tolerance, love and compassion are all traits I am trying to cultivate in myself, but you can only be totally ignored or cast aside so many times until you give up. I’m on the verge of giving up.

If entitlement and disregard for other people become the norm, I don’t want to live here any longer.  I am thinking about becoming a hermit. Except that isn’t a high paying profession!  I feel hurt and discouraged.  I feel sad and disappointed.  I realize that no place is idealistic but it’s not so much about a certain place, it’s about human response to other humans. 

I will keep trying because that’s what I do.  Occasionally you have that perfect day that plays out beautifully. You feel love and give it freely.  Those days are few and far between but they seem to keep us all going, moving forward.  I wish those times where the norm, but that’s probably too much to ask for. As long as entitlements and greed have a stronghold on people it will only get worse. 

Maybe I’ll start looking for a cave to live in since deserted islands are usually too expensive.