Charlotte A. Stout

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

September 2016

October 28th: Social Media and Relationships

On my drive home from the gym this morning I was listening to NPR. The segment was about social media’s impact on relationships.

A thirty-something young man, still single, said the dating web sites have made it so easy for people to continually seek new partners if one becomes disillusioned with their current partner. There are so many dating web sites in existence resulting in a plethora of options for meeting a potential “soul mate” or, “hooking up.”

If you become dissatisfied with your current “soul mate” you can start looking for someone new. The fact that it has become so easy to switch out partners makes it exceedingly difficult to develop the deep bond created by working through issues, compromise, and understanding why you chose to be with your “soul mate” in the first place.

I am not suggesting that a person stay with someone who induces feelings of dread at the thought of going home, is abusive – physically or emotionally - or, whose values and morals are in total conflict with yours. I am suggesting that before one makes a commitment to moving in with or marrying a partner, consideration be given to why you want to make that level of commitment.

In his book, “The Course of Love,” Alain De Botton suggests, “Love means admiration for qualities in the lover that promise to correct our weaknesses and imbalances; love is a search or completeness.”

I believe the above quote supports the theory that opposites attract. I don’t mean opposite in morals and values but rather in complementary characteristics. For example, where I am animated and tend toward emoting my feelings my husband is calm and more controlled. I admire that in him and it balances me. Where I am frenzied and need to be busy all the time, my husband has helped me learn to be less frenetic and that it is okay to relax and take time to do nothing. Again, his behavior characteristics seem uniquely designed to balance me and my characteristics.

So, my words of wisdom to those using social media to expand your prospects for a relationship are: be aware of who you are first and your behavior characteristics. Think about friends who balance you, have your back, and embody qualities you admire. Then, look for someone with those same characteristics with the additional physical characteristics that appeal to you. There needs to be a physical attraction for sure but it is the behavior characteristics that will get you through the difficult times together when the blush of a fresh and new relationship dim.

October 21st: “The Crazies”

I don’t know about you but I feel like I am watching a mob afflicted with “The Crazies” when I catch a glimpse of a republican political rally.

Politics has always had a polarizing effect on people; within families, amongst friends and within the workplace. I feel all sense of civility has been forfeited in this election, primarily by the Republican candidate.

Mr. Trump – UGH! – chooses to use rhetoric that inflames his base and angers or offends almost everyone else within and outside this country. Why is he doing this and what is his end game?

Clearly Mr. Trump is not interested in winning the presidential election. I can only presume he wants to rile people into a frenzy before the election so those same people are so outraged by the “rigged” outcome that they riot in the streets. This is disturbing on so many levels.

The United States prides itself on our democratic process and our welcoming posture around the world. People seeking freedom and better opportunities have immigrated to the United States and have been welcome upon their arrival.

In a Trump world, we would no longer welcome newcomers. In addition, current legal residents of the U.S. who did not fit a specific ethnicity, color, gender or conform to specific norms of behavior would be persecuted and in his view, deserve to be bullied (sound like any other dictator you know).

How anyone can condone this type of behavior from a presidential candidate is beyond me. While he is inciting hate and anger everywhere he speaks his supporters are reacting exactly as he wants them to. They have a mob mentality and believe everything Trump says, which is so sad.

If Trump’s supporters would take a few minutes to look at his plans (none exist), challenge him to speak to the issues, and be responsible citizens who educate themselves on the issues, I believe his supporters would dwindle.

It’s our duty as citizens who are eligible to vote to educate ourselves on the candidates, the issues and demand that our candidate demonstrate conduct worthy of the Presidency.

All I can do at this point is throw my hands up in the air and hope people come to their senses. If they don’t and Trump wins then we all get what we deserve allowing him to get this far. If he loses and his supporters don’t conduct themselves with decorum, then we get what we deserve letting him get this far. No good outcomes here, are there!

October 14th: “Stalin’s Daughter” by Rosemary Sullivan

I recently finished reading “Stalin’s Daughter.” It is a long and sometimes arduous trek through the life of Svetlana Alliluyeva (Stalin); a life filled with anger, paranoia, and a naiveté that is hard to understand can exist in an adult.

Svetlana may have been Stalin’s daughter but she did not live the life of a princess by Western standards. Communism was/is a life of constant monitoring of one’s movements by government officials; use of the Gulag, torture or exile for anyone thought to be in conflict with (or too prosperous for) the “Party”; oppression of speech; an atmosphere rife with fear; conforming to the “Party” beliefs; and reliance on the “Party” to meet a person’s basic needs. If not one of the “Party” elite, a regular soviet citizen could die waiting for medical care; starve because food is not readily available to those outside the elite class;” or, freeze to death because fuel is only available in abundance to the elite.

Svetlana was one of the elite so, she had no knowledge of what it meant to have to buy things with money, manage bills, go hungry, or find a place to live. Everything had been provided for her so, she never had to learn how to survive on her own.

Svetlana had many tragedies during her life, many of her own making. However, her severe paranoia and naiveté contributed to creating these misfortunes. Reading about her formative years provides a deeper insight into why she struggled with paranoia and naiveté all her life.

Svetlana was a very smart compassionate, warm and kind woman. People were drawn to her for her intelligence and warmth. The number of highly accomplished and influential people she met and hung with is impressive. How these people come into her life is fun to watch unfold in some of the most unusual ways.

There was another side to Svetlana, one that was also prone to bouts of rage toward those she perceived as having used her for the “Stalin” name. If she felt offended by a friend or associate she was disposed to write and send a letter attacking the person’s character resulting in a severing of the relationship forever.

The reason I found the book to be a bit arduous is due to the myriad of Russian names found throughout the text. I found it hard to keep people straight. If you can muscle through the Russian names I highly recommend reading this book. I learned so much about not only Svetlana’s early years in Russia but what it felt like for Svetlana to leave her home country and defect to a foreign land with no real life skills. She was an impressive lady. I applaud her courage.

October 7th: In This Moment

I am one of those people who feels things intensely. When I worry – I can go into full panic mode. When I am fearful, I can create an illusionary scenario that scares me and throws me into panic mode. At one point in my life I took anti-anxiety medication to help with the panic attacks. I stopped the medication when I found out it can cause medical issues. I needed to learn to deal with these issues in my own way.

Today, I still have moments when I can feel panic creeping into my awareness and pushing me toward fear, hyperventilation, and despair. It is overwhelming in that moment. When this happens I consciously acknowledge the feeling, take a deep breath and say to myself “you are okay, you are okay, you are okay. In this moment you are okay.”

I force myself to refocus on the moment and what is happening right now (other than me being on the path to a panic attack). I consciously look around me and notice where I am, that I am safe and I am okay. If I am in bed and this happens, I breathe through it telling myself I am okay and thinking about how good my bed feels beneath me, how soft the covers are over me, and how blessed I am to have both. I know this may sound hokey to some but it works for me.

It takes me back to my Mind-Based-Stress Reduction studies (MBSR) where we focus on the moment and nothing else. If we live in the past, we may live with regret and resentment. Who wants to have those feelings clogging our brain and negatively affecting our sensors! If we look far into the future, we spend our time worrying and planning and not living in the moment. We are always waiting for the future to happen because, “everything will be better when I do…or earn…or…(fill in the blank).

What’s done is done and what will come is what will come. To plan every moment of our life and fret about the future or regret things we have done leaves us missing out on the most important part of life – RIGHT NOW.

So, stop, take a moment and realize you are okay in this moment. Celebrate it and experience each moment that comes next. Enjoy!