Charlotte A. Stout

If you missed an ealier post, this page has my previous May 2017 Reflection postings.
If you want to read some earlier Reflections, click on the links below for the month you are interested in:

April 2017March 2017February 2017January 2017

May 26th: Painful Experiences

Encountering painful experiences is a natural part of life. It can be as simple as skinning a knee, or as complex as navigating a debilitating illness, the death of a loved one or loss of a job, home or station in life. It’s how we choose to deal with these situations that determine how they affect us. Do we dwell on and nurture the negative feelings associated with an illness or loss? Or, do we acknowledge and feel the pain deeply, determine what we can do to make it better for ourselves and take control of our life? The longer we hold on to pain the more it impacts our health, relationships, and our life in general.

I recently broke my fifth metatarsal bone in my right foot walking into the gym. The physical pain exists but the mental pain I experienced realizing how this broken foot would limit my activities was more difficult to address. I would no longer be able to play Pickleball several times a week or work my volunteer gigs for eight to twelve weeks because they require full use of my feet. What about working out? My travel plans? And, the list goes on.

Rather than focusing on what I could not do I took control and sought out what I can do. I accepted that I could not play Pickleball . I worked with my trainer and we found I can still work my upper body and legs without further harming my foot, with a little forethought given to the workout routine. I got in touch with the volunteer coordinators and found a couple of activities I can perform sitting down. I addressed the potential social isolation by inviting people over to visit, arranging to meet people out for lunch and a movie, dinner and a play or, hosting a party here at the house.

Painful experiences are necessary in life to help us grow. They teach us how to take control of the things we can, to appreciate more of what we have in terms of health, relationships, and living and can be a catalyst for positive change in our life.

May 19th: Northwest Harvest Kid’s Glow Run

My husband and I recently spent a windy, cold, rainy evening volunteering at the annual Northwest Harvest Kid’s Glow Run. We were at the Event Check-In and Packet Pick-up table. What an incredible experience!

The inclement weather did not deter people from coming out and enjoying this affair. This was our first time volunteering for this specific event and what we saw made us smile all night long, even with the wind whipping rain in our faces and scattering our papers. What impressed us so much was the enthusiasm of not only the kids participating in the race but of the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who were there as surrogate parents or just to cheer the kids on. It was amazing!

Each participant in the run received a glow necklace, bracelet and shoe cuffs that flashed or held a steady glow with the touch of a button. In addition, each child received a very colorful t-shirt and an official race number to be pinned on the t-shirt. You would have thought the kids were given exclusive access to Disneyland and all it had to offer with their exuberant reaction. Even the parents were excited, which added to the Kids’ excitement. Most children showed up already sporting glow sticks around their neck, wrists or making quite the fashion statement with glow stick glasses, headgear, glow stick adorned tutus, shirts, and socks.

Yes, this was for a good cause, to raise money to help feed people in our community. But, what I saw were parents teaching their children about commitment, follow-through regardless of the weather, and the importance of helping others. What I learned is how special this community is, that there are wonderful people out there preparing kids to be the generation of the future with empathy for others and commitment by modeling this behavior through their talk and actions.

Yes, this was a fun run for the kids but it was also a wonderful family and community centered event for all. I am honored to be part of this community and of Northwest Harvest as a Volunteer.

May 12th:What Now?

I have always been a very driven person. I complete a goal and set the next one. I never gave this process any real consideration until I heard Kevin Hart speak about why his latest special is entitled “What Now?” Mr. Hart picked this title because it reflects what he does each time he meets a milestone in life. He asks the question, What Now?

While not consciously, I believe I have done the same thing throughout my life. I wanted to move away from the small town where I grew up so I moved to Alaska once I was an adult. When I finished my Bachelor’s degree I set my sites on completing my Master’s degree, which I did.

I always wanted to write and publish a novel, so I did. I not only wrote and published one novel but I wrote and published two. This may not seem like a major deal to some but to me it was a huge goal and I am very proud of this accomplishment.

I wanted to learn how to make greeting cards, paint with watercolors, create a website and publish a weekly reflection on the web page - all of which I have accomplished. Every time I achieved a goal I started thinking about or looking for the next challenge. But, this is because I have so many interests and I am driven enough to attempt to reach some level of expertise in every area of interest to me.

I believe if we don’t ask the question, What Now?, when we finish a major milestone we miss out on life’s possibilities. Asking, What Now?, opens our minds and senses. We look at things differently, with a fresh perspective. What once may not have been on our radar is now of interest and a potential next milestone.

So, set your goals but once you complete a goal don’t become lax, take action and ask, “What Now?” You never know what the answer may be.

I never (yes, never ever) thought I would be a gym rat. But, I was looking for my next milestone and decided to get buff. I work with a personal trainer four times a week for an hour each time. I push myself and sweat like I am on fire during my workouts. But, what a feeling of exhilaration I have at the end of each session. Once I reach my body fat and muscle mass goals I will be asking the question, “What Now?” I can’t wait to see where this leads me.

May 5th: Ultimatum –
noun “a final, uncompromising demand or set of terms issued by a party to a dispute, the rejection of which may lead to a severance of relations or to the use of force. “

How many times have you drawn a line in the sand over an issue you thought was important only to realize it wasn’t the end all be all when the line was crossed, redrawn or erased? I know I have done this and when I have done so over small things I have regretted being so inflexible.

When we present an ultimatum, we need to be prepared for what happens should that ultimatum be challenged, upheld or disregarded. Are we prepared to re-negotiate terms, accept the loss should the ultimatum be ignored, or eat a little crow and erase the line in the sand all together, admitting we had a little brain glitch when we gave the ultimatum in the first place?

Only you can decide how important an issue is to you personally and then determine how you want to proceed. Is that salary you are demanding worth the possibility of losing the job you want or need? Is that relationship with a sibling or friend of so little value you would throw it away over an “ultimatum” that may or may not be reasonable?

I am not saying ultimatums are not warranted at times. If a loved one is in trouble, you have done all you can in terms of offering and providing financial and moral support, access to resources and there is no sign of sincere interest in changing or improving their situation an ultimatum may be appropriate. “If you don’t do this by…then…” This may be seen as “tough love” by some rather than an ultimatum. Even in these “tough love” situations you need to be ready to accept the consequences of the ultimatum not being met.

If you are in an abusive situation at work or at home an ultimatum may be necessitated. However, you must be willing to follow through on the conditions you set forth. If you don’t then you give power to the other party and future ultimatums are meaningless.

There is a place for ultimatums. However, an ultimatum is a hard line – “if you don’t do this – then this will happen.” I would like to suggest that before you give an ultimatum you think through the reason you feel an “ultimatum” is necessary versus having an open dialogue or constructive negotiation. You must also be aware of the consequence to you should the ultimatum not be met. Are you ready to accept this outcome?

If not, take time to think through the situation and determine the best route to achieving the outcome that is most beneficial and fair to all parties. As I stated earlier, alternatives to that hardline ultimatum may be an open dialogue, oral or written proposal with alternative options, or formal or informal negotiations.

Evaluate the situation and assess options to resolving or addressing a condition before delivering an inflexible “ultimatum.” You will be glad you did.