Another New Start

Here I go again looking to make yet another new start. I thought I just made a new start but it turned out to be a less-than-new start with ramifications similar to my last new start. In other words, I was doing the same destructive things but in a new place.

I think when you finally get to a place where you realize something has to change and it doesn’t, situations proceed downhill very quickly. That is what just happened to me. I changed jobs thinking the new one was a better fit and it went south, so to speak, at a very accelerated rate. Quicker than most.

I felt drained off all energy. I did not want to do anything, even if I enjoyed it. My health went bad quickly too. I kept saying to myself I will make a change when I have more money saved or have a bill or two paid off. But my mind and body had different ideas and a much different timeframe. I had to jump and jump without a safety net.

So with $42.73 in the savings I quit my job. As soon as I did the pains in my chest went away, my breathing was easier, my appetite came back and the ideas started to flow. I felt a spark again.

Am I scared that I will not be able to come up with something? Yes, of course but I put down on paper all my past failures. The reason for that is those epic fails in my life, and oh there are a lot of them, were actually my training ground, my graduate work if you will. I know what not to do but now I know what I want. It’s a start.

It’s time to use the skills I do have and make a way for myself that is not only a means of support but nourishing to my soul and gives me health. The only thing is that I cannot do this alone as was previously my thought. I could use prayers for guidance and for wisdom.

This time around I’m not going to chase the money. That hasn’t worked yet. Now I want to chase balance, peace, joy and with that I hope to help others and support a lighter lifestyle for me. I want to be a better citizen of the world.

I am blessed that over the years I have left behind many of the trappings I thought were necessary to have. Gone are my longings to own everything I see and viewing my life through other people’s glasses. I no longer feel the need to keep up with anyone. There is freedom in that alone. Once you let go of that which you were gripping so tightly, true peace is achievable.

I’m praying for the strength I need to change my life once again. I’m praying for the wisdom to utilize my resources in the best possible way. I’m praying for the ability to make an impact, no matter the size, on another person.

I have been around the block more than once, so I know nothing is perfect. The intent is not perfection but peace, integrity and stewardship of all things laid before me. My time with the greedy and entitled is going to be less time spent with. My time running here and racing there is to be lessened. I have nothing to give anyone if my tank is always empty.

So starts yet another chapter, another set of defining moments meant to teach and another step closer to being the person I know I am deep down inside. No safety net, no solid plan just faith in my God and faith in the lessons I have learned.

I’m at the edge of the cliff, ready to jump….I will let you know how it feels….Here goes!

Big Picture by Lois Hewitt

“You should look at the big picture.” “Seeing the big picture explains it all.” “Don’t miss the big picture.” We have all heard these or similar sayings. They are meant to help give clarity to a situation that just might not be making sense.

I have tried to always look for the larger meanings in life. I have to admit there have been times in my life when I was not able to understand what was happening and/or why, that looking beyond myself provided some sort of larger meaning. That the obstacle or the pain was actually going to provide some sort of answer in my life.

It was easier at times and much harder at others to get past the things that just did not make sense. The older I get, the more I utilize and appreciate the lessons learned in those darker days. I see a bigger picture in play.

As I continue on my current life path, I find myself struggling daily with an overwhelming sense of constant anxiety. I wake up in the middle of the night to a face soaked in sweat and a racing heart. My stomach is always in some stage of anxiety. I am having difficulty feeling joy even though I clearly see my blessings.

As I laid in bed this morning before the official start of the day, I pondered the bigger picture…the world view if you will. I can say with complete honesty that did not work for me. I just wanted to cry and continue to hide under my blanket. I prayed to God for relief from this constant onslaught of uncertainty and fear.

Then my mind moved to a much smaller place. My efficiency kitchen. I started to think about what I would cook today. My mind traveled to my pantry to see what ingredients I had. I thought about the schedule of preparation. Would I freeze this for later and serve this tonight.

My mind blocked out the noise we hear daily about war, famine, soaring prices, hatred and on and on. I know those problems are all around us. We have to make decisions based on the big picture. But maybe, just maybe, we need a vacation from the big picture.

I saw my day and it was about something I absolutely love to do. Cooking has become my passion. Planning what to make, prepping the food, mixing it up, thinking about better nutrition, storing it and cleaning up. I have developed a complete process for myself that allows me to have healthy home cooked meals every night.

I realize that the above scenario may sound more like a chore than a passion. But for me it is pure love to create food. I enjoy reading and writing. My small picture might include a good book, a cup of oolong tea and a fuzzy blanket or a new journal and a colorful set of pens. Insert anything you love and just focus on it.

I figured I could finish the laundry later, sweep and dust tomorrow, and just leave the other chores somewhere outside my mind for now. I still need to consider the bigger picture but today I want to focus on the small picture. I want to feel relaxed for a change. I don’t want to feel sick to my stomach. I want to feel joy today.

I guess that is what people mean by mindfulness. I’ve read the books about it, tried it but never really got the concept until my prayer this morning. And then it all made sense.

No one ever mentioned that if all you do is look at the big picture, all you will feel is overwhelmed…at least in my case. So from today forward I am going to try to focus on what is in front of me. Not what could appear in front of me, not what is going on over there, not what may happen in a month or a year…just what is in front of me.

Finally I understand mindfulness for me means the smaller picture. I respite from all the many things I have no control over. A vacation from the never-ending to do list. I can actually breathe right now. What a blessing and answer to prayer. What a joy!

Temptation by Lois Hewitt

I am so tempted today! I can hardly control myself. This is something I’m working on daily and I can’t lose the battle now. I am so tempted to be negative today.

As has happened in the past some of my fellow humans have let me down. No one I know personally, just general online humans.

I want to make a rebuttal to not be so ugly, but that makes me ugly. Exchanging words does not a solution make. Taking the low road brings me to a lower level. I advocate kindness whenever possible, continuing a fight does not reflect kindness.

Being kind, empathetic and understanding of others is exhausting as well as infuriating. I want to kick someone in the shin and tell them to grow up. The old me would have jumped on that train and rode it until one of us was in tears. That’s not the new me. That was the old me that required validation from everyone. The old me that took all things said to me personally. The old me that was seeking to be liked by all. And the old me that was so small minded to think I was always right.

I do not want that person to exist anymore. I want to have evolved. I want to always take the high road. I enjoy a much higher spiritual and emotional level than I did before. It is hard though. It is much easier to be offended. It’s much easier to open ones mouth and spew negativity. It’s much easier, at least for me, to throw a tantrum.

But easy is not my goal anymore. I want to live higher. I’ve lived on the low road for too many years and it literally goes no where good. The drama and surrounding circus may be fun for a while but it steals your soul and makes you hollow inside. I know because I was there and all the time addicted to it. My value was based on how miserable I was.

I’m learning in many different coping mechanisms for dealing with hurtful comments or a disrespectful action. I know now that the only component of the situation I can change is the way I handle the situation. I cannot will another person to be kind. I cannot wish for civility in that person. But I can hold myself to a higher standard without becoming pompous.

I learned so many years ago that I am the only one looking in the mirror at my reflection. I am the only one who can see under the exterior facade into the depths of my personal reality. I have learned to hold my personal truths high and even when my reflection is exhausted and full of tears I can look back at myself without regret.

I still stumble just like today. I’m not proud that I still get upset over careless words especially from someone I have no knowledge of and visa versa. I guess I am still evolving into that better person. Even though I am tempted to get ugly, I will refrain. Negativity is a disease in our world today. I have no business helping create an environment which it spreads. So today my temptation has been squashed and discarded. My inner peace and my expectations of myself are in tact. May that circus leave town. It’s no longer welcome.

Jobs, I’ve Had A Few by Lois Hewitt

Hard-core unemployable…that is how I describe myself. The number of jobs I have held could fill volumes. Waitress, clerk, teller, cashier, stocker, salesperson, candy maker, data entry, secretary, travel coordinator, office assistant, writer, greeter, historic intrepretor and estate ambassador. Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Because of my previous impulsive need to spend every penny I made and then some, many of my younger years had me working two or three jobs at a time. Some were really bad, some were ok and a few transcended all other experiences. When I look back, I realize how amazing my work life has been.

As a high school drop out, I never expected to make anything of myself. I had no doubt that I would be a failure at everything. I literally knew nothing. I had no real understanding of the world and how it worked. But I did have guilt! That guilt, to this day, makes me work hard to overcome the fact that I believe I have no skills. It is taking a negative and turning it into a positive…I guess.

Although I may not have had a lot to offer, I fell into a few jobs/careers that changed my life. In my younger years, I avoided working because of my crippling fear of failure. Then came my first real job, one I was at for almost 20 years. The people there taught me skills and how to be a decent human. My days were full of anxiety and a lot of fear but I was surrounded by some of the best people on the planet, including my soulmate. Those times and people are forever etched in my heart.

I struggled after that but had some absolutely awesome experiences. I continued to learn and my character built as I saw ways to act as well as how not to act. People helped me at every turn. I was blessed with caring co-workers who put up with my drama. When I look back on all the jobs, I am humbled beyond belief.

A few jobs came along with were just a bad fit. That happens. Those, too, are opportunities to learn…they just hurt a bit more.

Over the years I have worked for myself a couple of times. I enjoyed that but realized I am not a great boss. I tend to try to not let others down but have no qualms about disappointing myself. Got to work on that.

Today is much different from those days previous. Yes bills are still a major tipping point. But now I want a strong sense of purpose. I want to feel as if I can make a difference no matter how small.

During Covid I worked at a large grocery store. I had read what a great company it was and was excited to work there. Suffice it to say that after four weeks I put in my two week notice. I realized without the sense of purpose, not just showing up and doing the minimum, the work is hollow and meaningless.

Today I have the opportunity to help make memories for other people. Not exactly saving the planet or curing disease but important on another level. I hold in my hands the chance to make someone feel welcome, to feel important and to touch their soul just a little. Some people deserve a punch in the nose but most are gracious and funny and curious.

Working with the public is so hard. I dread it every day until I get that first smile or thank you. Or a visit later in the day to tell me my advice made their day. It’s not rocket science, it’s not brain surgery but it is a purpose and I am blessed to have it.

Same Road, Different Journey by Lois Hewitt

I just read a wonderful interview with my favorite musician, Jerry Cantrell. As co-founder of Alice in Chains he was discussing their history and their state currently.

He talked about how in the beginning before Nirvana broke open the Seattle scene in the 90s, the bands there were doing the things they loved, selling out taverns not arenas and having the support of friends and community. He said it just felt right.

Then the change came. Years came and went, loved ones were lost, there was pain and sadness. The thought was that Alice could not go on.

Fast forward a few years and a global tragedy brought the surviving members together for a charity concert and they decided to move on together again. Up from the ashes they came. Still Alice but different. According to Jerry it just feels right again.

That story resonated with me. I was doing something I loved and it felt right. Then it abruptly ended. I was lost and didn’t know what to do. I tried quite a few jobs in a short time as my feelings of failure started to grow.

I looked back and thought I could never recapture what I had before. But with a little more wisdom then I had previously I thought I could try again. So I went down the same road but the journey was different.

That ended up being ok. I’m in a different position, responsibilities are different but it feels right. I just realized that life will not go backwards. Those feelings you had years ago turned into experiences that created change in your life. Then the time comes when you are no longer looking for what was but trying to figure out what may be.

Without being overly dramatic, I feel as it my Phoenix as risen. God has showed me something that feels right but is different from what was right before.

It almost feels like time travel. The things before set in motion the things present. The experiences of past created an environment of new thought processes which create new journeys. It is hard to wrap one’s head around how intertwined the two are.

Today, and I have no idea of for how long, I’m travelling on a familiar road, once travelled before . The journey is, however, different. That is ok. I enjoyed this road once maybe I can enjoy it again. Now I realize the the road will twist again and I just have to be open to the directions I’m given.

What a wild journey this thing called life is! I hope and pray your road feels right!

Food, Again by Lois Hewitt

I know that I talk a lot about food. My entire life has been one great big obsession with food. Fatty, salty junk food and anything sweet. When I bought junk food the wait to drive home to eat it was unbearable. My car was a moving restaurant and garbage dump.

I remember reading an article that said if you ate fast food more than three times a week it was extremely unhealthy. I laughed. Three times a week, really? If I had the money I would eat fast food three times a day along with a box of donuts and candy bar after candy bar! A six pack of bottled (yes in glass bottles) of coke would last two days at the most.

Most of this eating was done alone. I was so embarrassed of my weakness. If I wasn’t eating, I was planning my next meal. When I say obsession, it truly was.

My health reflected my eating sins. I was always sick and pale. My heart was always racing. My mood was generally foul. My teeth slowly rotting. My bank account was as depleted as my health.

Then came Covid. No more going out…I didn’t know what to do. I knew how to throw a few things together. Nothing healthy or even very tasty. Then I found Jamie Oliver and I started changing one meal a week to a veg based meal. Then it was two days, three days and it finally became a lifestyle change.

My health blossomed, my bank account was not always empty, I was not throwing food away and I started to crave healthy food. Now I am obsessed with cooking, stretching my food dollar to get the most I can from what I buy and making up my own recipes. I have embraced prep work and doing dishes. It’s all part of the creative process.

I am learning more about farming practices. About organic food. I know actual people involved with growing food and they are some of the greatest people I have ever met.

I would never eat anything if it wasn’t plastic wrapped and on a Styrofoam plate. Now I eat things I never dreamed of and the less packaging the better. I used to scrub and scrub everything. Vegetables seemed dirty and full of germs. Now I’m not as crazy about it and prep work is actually fun.

I know I have talked about this before. I am not sure why I feel so compelled. This change has changed everything for me. I eat slower and enjoy food more. I don’t waste precious food like I used to. I control what my husband and I eat to a much larger extent.

Meals are planned and prepped. Dinner is ready when we get home from work which alleviates the temptation to eat out. It has centered me in ways I had not imagined. I feel creative and connected to something.

I know quite a few people who would not feel like this would be a positive change. I get it. Having a positive experience from a nonstop pile of dishes would not have been in my thought process previously.

I guess I’m just trying to say that finding that thing that makes you happy and savoring the time you can participate is one of life’s gifts. It could be reading, writing, knitting, playing guitar, painting or any of a multitude of things that center you. Even if you aren’t particularly good at it now, you will get better and will enjoy life a bit more. Find that joy in your life. Keep looking if you can’t find it. Experiment and learn, these simple pleasures in life have huge impacts. Go enjoy!

I Wish I Knew…by Lois Hewitt

The older I get, the more clarity I get. For example, things I wish I knew sooner:

It is ok to not be the pretty one. I used to cry and hate myself because of the way I looked. I was made fun of for my looks. It took decades to get over it. I still look in the mirror from time to time and wish the face I saw was different, but it’s ok. This is me. (Not fishing for compliments, I no longer need external validation and that feels great!)

It is okay to be quiet. I used to think I had to fill all the quiet moments with witty (mostly not) banter. Silences are fine, they are no longer awkward. I don’t have to brain dump everything in my head. I wish I had learned that a looong time ago!

It’s ok to not be rich. I used to think money and things would make me feel better. All I did was set myself up for years of debt and disappointment. Having the latest whatever does not bring joy. Here I am close to 60 with very little personal wealth and I am better than I was when I was buried in stuff. Rich is found in gratitude not a bank statement.

It’s ok to be kind and strong. Kindness, by some people, is perceived as weakness. I have found that kind people are also the strongest and most resilient people. They have walked through life and know the pitfalls. They have empathy and know justice. Kindness is, in my mind, a super power! Never discount the effect it can have!

It’s not ok to abuse your body. I used to eat a consistent diet of sugar and fat. I smoked and drank. I never exercised or did anything positive for myself. The older one gets the more you realize health is the pinnacle of what you need in life. Without health, life gets really hard. It’s never too late to start taking care of yourself!

Stress is not ok. I used to live on stress and if I didn’t have any I would create some. It’s a drug. It’s an addiction. Walk away from it, no good comes from it. Learning new ways to handle stress are life changing. You will still have stressful times, that doesn’t go away, but dealing with it differently is healthier physically and mentally.

It’s ok to ask for help. I used to think it was a sign of weakness. I carried burdens that were not mine to carry. I felt resentment and bitterness that was hugely misplaced. I was always angry. That is never good! Ask for help, if someone won’t help, keep looking. Not everyone will be sympathetic. That’s ok, someone will be.

It’s wonderfully ok to not live by other people’s opinions. Our society today allows everyone to have an opinion about you. Unseen voices will be happy to point out your flaws. Don’t listen. Your truth comes from inside of you. You walked your walk, they have no clue what you have been through. Forget the guilt, learn the lesson and move on.

It’s ok to apologize. It’s ok to say thank you. It’s ok to be polite. It’s okay to stand up for yourself. It’s ok to live with your past as long as it doesn’t cloud your present. It’s ok to cry and it’s ok to laugh. It’s ok to swear and it’s ok to pray.

Life is a difficult journey. But it can be amazing too! Stay strong, be kind and appreciate you. See your worth, and you have worth. See your beauty, it may be different from others but you have beauty. See your talents, yes you have many. Don’t be afraid to be you!

The Cost by Lois Hewitt

What does it cost to say a kind word or to refrain from saying an unkind one?

What does it cost to allow another person their opinion?

What does it cost to hold the door, put your grocery cart away, or to do any number of small things done in civilized society?

What does it cost to offer a prayer for someone in need?

What does it cost to fully listen to someone without thinking about what you will say next?

What does it cost to say an encouraging word or show support to a fellow human being?

What does it cost to be kind? The cost of empathy? The cost of understanding?

Nothing. Most kindnesses do not cost anything. Yet they can bring about positive change.

Kindness does cost time. Some say time is money. In my opinion, if you are looking for a huge return on your investment of time, being kind is the best investment you can make. Dividends are not guaranteed nor are they immediately seen, but a life lived with kindness is a joy.

I have written a lot about simple acts of kindness. The further away we get from that in our society, the more self-centered we become, the more we need to step back and reevaluate ourselves.

Believe me, I know how easy it is to wall yourself up and cast all others away. I am an introverted introvert at best. Other people scare me and make me want to ignore them. I have to force myself to be kind and when I am my heart soars.

So worth it is to help someone else. The gesture need not be large or costly, it just needs to be genuine. My sense of self-preservation makes being kind something I have to think about. It is in my nature but I have suppressed it in lieu of fear long enough.

I’m broke but I can still be kind. I’m afraid but I can still be kind. I’m in a hurry but I can still be kind. I want to be the person who cheerleads for someone else. Who say congratulations. Who says thank you! Who says I’ll pray for you!

Kindness is the great equalizer. It crosses all boundaries and it costs nothing. But it can change lifes.

Safety Net by Lois Hewitt

The last couple of weeks have been truly eye opening for me. Before I start I want to reiterate that my blessings overflow. From where I came from, the bad decisions I made now to know I know I am blessed. My eyes have seen life without a safety net. It has been concerning.

I have been ill for a few weeks now. Doing much better though. But I put off a trip to Urgent Care because the car payment was due. I tried over the counter things but to no avail. I ended up getting checked out but should have done it sooner.

Not having health insurance for the last eight years or so weighs heavy on every decision that comes to health. Asking around I found that this situation is much more prevalent then I knew. Going to the doctor with a prescription or two can cost a couple of hundred dollars.

How many people have an emergency fund for such things and how many people are one car breakdown or appliance failure away from disaster? My savings has a long time balance of $5.00. I want and plan to save more but find it much more difficult than I imagined.

Please know I am not complaining. Having lost everything a few years ago has made me appreciate all that I have. But the reality is a truth. Many of us live without any sort of safety net. Being sick facilitated a few extra bills and a loss of a weeks paycheck…which can be recovered from. What if I had to go to the hospital. What if I had missed weeks from work. What then.

Now I absolutely do not expect the government or employer to take this to task. No handouts wanted. Most of the people I know in a similar position agree. The reality is harsh at best. I tend to think about all the possibilities when things are going smoothly. I have been around long enough to know those times don’t last.

You may think this is absolutely insane but I do think this way. If I had said safety net…how would I act differently? I would then rely on myself and my resources to take care of my needs. I may even take the simple things for granted because I have it covered.

With no safety net, I generally take nothing for granted. I’m thankful every week that I can buy healthy food. I’m thankful for my very small but efficient wardrobe. I’m thankful for a roof over my head and heat in the winter and comfy blankets and warm socks and hot cocoa (you can tell it’s winter) and all the things I have. I thank God every day for providing these things. He also gives me a place to put my fear and anxiety.

I would be lying if in the dark of night I didn’t pray for a little lottery winning or some sort of windfall. Those are few and far between. I do then pray for those of our society who struggle more than me. I am one of the lucky ones. Then I pray that I can get by. I have learned to not need much or even want much.

The hidden blessing for me is my gratitude levels have skyrocketed. I’m grateful for every paycheck. I’m grateful that there is a place that I can go when I’m sick and they care for me. I’m thankful for my landlords who care for me too. The list could go on for days.

I went from having a house and stuff and never being satisfied to losing said house and stuff and starting over from scratch in my 50s and being totally grateful. I say this only for myself, happy without is so much better than unhappy with.

I’m still going to try to save a little bit more but for now I’m doing my best. I can’t do more than that. Be grateful today…it changes your perspective. I pray for all of us living on the edge without a safety net. My you all have comfort today.

Giving by Lois Hewitt

My goal with this blog is to be as honest and forthcoming as possible. In life I have found those struggles I have had were not just mine. I would have loved to read about someone who struggled with OCD (and still does) or who lived with the consequences of poor decision making. I always thought it was just me. My hope is to make just one person feel they are not alone. Plus being open about those struggles is healing.

With that being said, I am going to be very honest. I want to be more of a caring person but I have built such a high wall around myself I can’t seem to break free. I want to be more open but, honestly, I’m unsure of most people in general. I hate to admit this but it is part of my struggle.

Lockdown was too easy for me. In fact I thrived not being able to go anywhere. I gained a new appreciation for Amazon. Mike and Amazon were my lifeline to the outside world. I was happy and content.

That didn’t last and that is a good thing. But I am having real trouble assimilating back into the land of other people. In that short period of time, I began to not trust anymore. I began to feel different than everyone else. I leave the apartment counting the hours until I’m back. I make no eye contact. I drifted out to an isolated island and I’m still there but with more people around.

I have always been a loner. Much of my youth was spent alone. I learned to love it. It’s easier being alone. No small talk. No chance to get hurt. I’m not lonely just alone. I have books and Prime for outside influences. Again to be painfully honest, people scare me.

I have always dealt with the fact that if I never left home I would probably be ok. But that’s not normal and I know it. I am not sure I know how to change it. I can for periods of time assimilate but it is exhausting. From what I have been reading that is normal for introverts.

I do want to change a little. I believe we are all lights onto the world. We are placed here to light up our little corners of the world. How can I do that when my battery is always dead and when the wall is too high to climb over?

Another very strong personal belief I have is that things done for others are meant to be done in silence. Doing good for the attention of it is not doing good. Those things done when no one is watching are the game changers. Just my opinion and only for myself.

With that being said, yesterday I was doing my weekly grocery shopping when I saw a man in a motorized cart. He seemed to be struggling with items on high shelves. I said a prayer for him and kept doing. I ran into him again and without thinking and without fear I asked if he needed help. He did and I helped him. Then continued shopping. In the last isle, I saw him again and asked if he needed anything before I left. He said he was good. And I checked out.

Later that night I was thinking about this less than a minute experience. It reminded me of what it means to be human. It’s not the big things, I leave those things to better people than I. It is about the small human kindnesses that seem like distant memories from a different time.

I used to be that person a lot. But then something made me afraid. Oh how I hate being afraid. But I am. Fear has released some of my humanity. Fear has made me less generous and much more jaded. My life is colored not with rose colored glasses but tainted with colors of hatred and discourse. I hate to admit that I am afraid. That fear makes me angry. That anger makes me afraid. And so the cycle is uninterrupted.

I’m not trying to be a downer but this is my current struggle. I would love to change the world with my written words but the probability of that is slim. I have to learn to live with others again. I’m not sure how that will happen. But helping that gentleman in the grocery store seemed to start a smoldering inside of me.

My hope for this blog is to show that a very flawed person can make the necessary changes in life to become that light unto the world that we are all called to be. I’m not there yet. I’m almost 60 and you would think by now I would have gotten it. But it’s still in progress.

To you reading this..congraulations on getting this far as I’m sure it wasn’t easy. But thank you. If that one person is out there and doesnt feel completely alone now I thank you. We really are all in this together and no one gets out alive. We might as well stick together and make it better where we can. That’s what I’m going to try.