Charlotte A. Stout

If you missed an ealier post, this page has my previous September 2016 Reflection postings.
If you want to read some earlier Reflections, click on the links below for the month you are interested in:

September 30th: Relax – Breathe - Rethink – Strategize

Too often we react to a situation, words or actions before giving our response thoughtful consideration. While I am guilty of this, age has tempered my quick draw responses, somewhat!

Recently I had the opportunity to help a young person relax, breathe, rethink and strategize before making a decision that would ultimately hurt his career, his family’s welfare and impede his ability to realize his ultimate dream.

When in our early twenties we tend to be impatient with everything. We expect more recognition for our efforts and acknowledgement of our potential. When that recognition in the form of praise, money, love, a warm fuzzy or another form of acknowledgement is not forthcoming we may become disenchanted with our job or life in general. If we don’t counteract that frustration with some positive endeavor, we may end up saying or doing something we will regret, possibly for years to come.

When we hit that wall of disenchantment is when we need to step back, relax, take a minute to breathe, rethink the situation to include what you want as an outcome and then strategize about the best way to proceed.

This is not easy and I am not implying it is with the simple words written here. It is hard, especially when we are young. In my maturity I can look back and see where I overreacted to a situation and didn’t handle it in a way that resulted in a positive outcome for me and others. Like they say – hindsight is twenty-twenty!

Don’t let a person, boss, friend, job, or anything else in life control you in a negative way. If you dislike your job formulate a plan to change what you are doing. Have a plan before you make any rash decisions. I know it would feel so good to walk out and leave the employer hanging but trust me, you are hurting yourself by doing this more than you are hurting the employer. The employer lost a worker but you lost your income. So, think before you act.

If you are in a relationship that isn’t satisfying (but not abusive) have a plan for leaving. If you walk out on a relationship with just the clothes on your back what have you proven? Yes, it felt good to make the dramatic exit but, where are you going to live? How will you get your possessions? How will you afford life on your own? So, think before you act.

If you are involved in family dynamics that leave you feeling frustrated and angry take a moment to before reacting to words, actions or wrongs you believe are directed at you. Yes, it feels good to storm out but that only adds to the drama and doesn’t get us anywhere but home alone. Remove yourself from the situation, relax and breathe before reacting.

Believe me I know this is hard. I have done my fair share of storming out and while there is momentary gratification during the act, it is short lived. So, please when faced with these difficult life situations take a moment to Relax, Breathe, Rethink and Strategize before doing anything you may regret.

September 23rd: “Hell is Other People”
Jean-Paul Sartre

Do I have your attention? Exactly what am I inferring with this quote from Sartre?

In life, if we want to accomplish anything, we need to be able to get along with other people. The challenge is when we encounter people along life’s path who are difficult, whose views don’t mirror our own, whom we view as untrustworthy, crude or…insert any number of terms here. What do we do to get along with these people?

I recently read about opening our heart to these people just as we do for people we actually like. What does this mean, opening our heart? I had to think about this a bit and apply it to a relationship I struggle with on a regular basis.

I decided not to focus on all of the negative things that have happened in the relationship between myself and this other person. Instead, I visualized her smile, her quick wit, laughing at her jokes, and admiring all she has accomplished in life. When I shifted my emphasis I felt lighter, warmer and more open to accepting this person, foibles and all. Does this mean we will be taking vacations together and be besties? Highly unlikely. But, I do believe we will be able to be together without wanting to rip each other apart, if only because I choose to open my heart in a positive way and NOT focus on the icky stuff.

There are many such people we encounter in life. If we could take a minute to see them in a different light, I believe our life would be brighter.

Does this mean we accept dirty dealings, crudeness, lies, or deceit by others? Of course not. But, we can control how we react to these things. We don’t need to let the actions of others negatively affect our own outlook.

“Hell is other People,” but only if we let those “other” people control how we feel about and engage in life. Let the “hellish” people go. Open your heart to those who enrich your life – feed your spirit - and make you happy to be alive.

September 16th: Pet Therapy

I now know what people mean when they say, “kids are so brave and strong when it comes to illness and what they can endure and overcome.” I have seen first-hand a baby, just a month old, twitching in his incubator because his mother used drugs throughout her pregnancy. Thank goodness this little baby is with a wonderful foster mother who knows how to help these little guys. I was there with the foster mother when she picked up the little baby boy. She was amazing; her ability to calm the baby was remarkable.

Recently, I agreed to be a pet therapy escort at Sacred Heart Hospital. I escort the dog and the dog’s handler to visit patients who need a lift and can tolerate the visit. Over a period of one hour we visited with six different children in Pediatric Oncology. I welled up with tears during each and every visit. These children are incredible.

Each child is dealing with a life-threatening illness. Parents and grandparents hover close by keeping a watch on the child and waiting for some positive sign from a doctor, nurse, or test result indicating their loved one is improving. While doing this these guardians attempt to distract the child from the seriousness of the situation through games, coloring books, puzzles or any other manner available.

Enter pet therapy. We are there to give the child a break from the intense treatment protocol, divert their attention and put a little upbeat experience in their life that could result in a smile and a more positive attitude. We want them to feel as normal as possible, even in a hospital setting.

Many of these children have pets of their own at home. So, having a dog visit, get up on their bed and snuggle with them, or just sit close enough so the child can touch or pet the dog helps them feel more normal, if that is even possible.

During our recent visit one mom pulled me aside and told me, with tear-filled eyes, that seeing her child smile for the first time in over a week was wonderful. Her son, who had improved enough to be taken off life support just two days prior to our visit, was unable to sit up but he could smile and even emitted a small giggle when our therapy dog laid her head in his lap and looked directly up at the little boy. Then, the little boy looked at his mom and dad and said, “look, he likes me.”

Mom couldn’t hold back the tears and dad wasn’t far behind. I later learned from mom that their son hadn’t spoken a single word since he regained consciousness. Now, there was even more hope for this little guy’s recovery because he uttered a few words. It may not seem like much but who knows how long it would have taken for this little boy to start verbally communicating if we hadn’t prompted his desire to do so with a pet visit.

Every child we saw along with every parent or grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister or brother of the patient thanked us for the visit. Most took pictures of the child with the pet therapy dog sitting or lying next to them so they could share it with relatives and friends who were wondering how things were going.

I heard a lot about Pet Therapy prior to my involvement in this program but had no idea how miraculous a short visit with a dog can be for those facing horrendous medical issues. I know what it does for me and my psyche having dogs in my household and now have a newfound appreciation for the value of pet therapy.

If you would like to be involved in a pet therapy program, check with your local hospital. They are often in need of Certified Pet Therapy dogs or escorts for those dogs and their handlers. You’ll be glad you did.