A Return to Elegance by Lois Hewitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons From a Sick Day by Lois Hewitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my self-analysis.

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s just my opinion.

Build Others Up by Lois Hewitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing in the Rain by Lois Hewitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Results of Day Drinking by Lois Hewitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Art of Laughter by Lois Hewitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.