Charlotte A. Stout

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

Nov 2017Oct 2017Sept 2017June 2017

December 29th: The Goal is Living Now

As I prepare to move into 2018 – how did this year slip by so darn fast – I am ready to recommit to living life in the NOW. Some people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, be kinder to others, demonstrate good intentions or, fill in the blank with your wish.

A nephew who stayed with us over the holiday left me a thank you card on the nightstand in the guest room that I found when cleaning the room. Inside the card was a powerful message from Charlotte Joko Beck. It reads:

“Even though we think of the goal as some future state to achieve, the real goal is always the life of this moment, this moment, this moment.”

I was struck by the power in this statement. We seem to always be looking out into the future and the goals we want to achieve over a span of time. As we accomplish a goal we tick it off as completed and feel a sense of achievement. But, did we enjoy the journey and celebrate all the little goals along the way?

I’ve written about living in the moment in prior postings but I feel the above quote adds a new dimension to this mantra. The ‘goal’ is to live in this moment. There is no other goal that is more important than this one. Living in this moment sharpens our senses to be able to recognize need in the community and identify ways to meet that need; friends who may be hurting or celebrating one of their own accomplishments and require an extra bit of attention. Making ‘this moment’ count may lead us to reset long term plans, start a business, provide a service or take a class to learn more about a topic that interests us.

As we live these moments we need to keep our minds open to all the possibilities presented through this heightened awareness. Who knows what this could mean for your 2018. Me, I can’t wait to find out.

December 22nd: Changes

I have always been one who is able and willing to accept change in my life. I like the thrill of learning about new places, building new homes, remodeling existing homes, meeting new people, new jobs and companies and everything that goes along with new beginnings.

However, there are some things I like to be constant in my life. I love having my fur babies around me; long-term friends who know and understand my quirkiness but love me anyway; a stable partnership; a steadiness in values and morals that dictate my actions. These things balance me with all the change I crave.

When one of these stabilizing influences disappears it is a change that I have a hard time accepting. I said goodbye to another fur baby today. She was special in so many ways. Brandi came to us so damaged from the abuse she suffered at the hands of her prior owners. I like to think that we made her life better, happier and easier. I spent lots of time on the floor with Brandi just letting her sniff me, snort on me, rub her eyes all over my clothes and lay on top of me. These are the things that made her feel safe, loved and secure. I learned so much about how to let another being just be and not force her to be what I wanted her to be. Brandi came to us as a damaged senior citizen. I like to think she left us happy, content, at peace and feeling very loved.

This type of change is not one I like. It is hard. But, it is also a part of the circle of life. My life will continue with fond memories of Brandi’s time here. When I feel sad I will draw on the strength I get from my other constants in life – friends, activities, and the knowledge that there is another fur baby out there waiting for me.

December 15th: Kindness in Thought and Action

I know a person who speaks a lot about kindness. She believes it is important to be kind toward others even when you don’t feel it in your soul. However, I have watched this person in action and I believe she embodies what is wrong with the world right now.

Insincere kindness is the worst. I remember when I was growing up my grandparents, on both sides, stressed the importance of being kind to people whether we knew them, liked them or were related to them. But, the kindness was to always be genuine. If we complimented someone we had to mean it. And darn if grannie and gramps could tell when we were insincere. That insincerity was met with swift punishment like a look, a nudge or a swift kick (figuratively).

Looking back on this upbringing I can say I am so thankful I was raised to be genuine in my dealings with people. I learned that if I could not be genuinely complimentary about something related to the person with whom I was engaged I always had the fallback of saying, “it is a real pleasure to meet you,” and mean it. Normally you don’t feel displeasure the first time you meet someone, although there are exceptions to this of course. So, saying it is a pleasure to meet someone is true and genuine at the time.

My grandparents said we aren’t fooling anyone with our disingenuous compliments. People know if we are sincere or not. The person I reference above believes that when she compliments someone on their dress, hair, makeup, house, car, bank account or whatever else she might deem worthy of praise and she does so with sarcasm, a “but” or a false smile that it is still a compliment and she has been kind to that person.

Whoa Nellie – that is such a messed-up definition of kindness. An Insincere compliment is the antithesis of kind. Kindness in thought and action is sorely missing in the discourse taking place in this nation. Look at the comments coming from the President, members of his Cabinet, his Press Secretary and members of Congress. The comments are mean spirited, often untrue and create a divisive environment. It is not that hard to be kind if we truly look at a person with the intent to be kind in thought and action. Imagine the strides we could make if everyone worked a little harder at dispensing kindness.

December 8th: Change That Tune

In life we sometimes find that a song, melody and verse, gets trapped in our head. It rolls around and around until we think we are going to go crazy. We know the words by heart, hum along even when we don’t want to because we are stuck, stuck, stuck. To get the song out of our head we need to change the tune we are singing.

The same can be true in life. We are in the same old hum drum job, relationship, social or other extracurricular activities and we don’t see a way out of the web we have spun. We wonder why we are bored or dissatisfied when we, according to those on the outside, have so much to be thankful for. Well, there may be a simple answer. We aren’t feeling fulfilled, challenged, supported, or loved where we are in life. When we feel this way, we may seek excitement elsewhere and possibly not where anything good could come of it.

So, what do we do? Think about exactly where you are in life right now. Are you happy with your job, your health, friends, partner, fun time activities? If yes, good for you. All you need to do to get a pesky song out of your head is truly to listen to a different song.

For those who may find the behaviors they are demonstrating are inconsistent with who they want to be and can trace these behaviors back to that same old song rolling around, it is time to find a new song. A song that inspires you, makes you happy and helps you realize your highest potential.

I have spoken about making life changes before and how difficult these can be. As difficult as they are you may need to pull up those big girl panties or big boy boxers and take action. I have also attempted to emphasize that major life changes should never be made on a whim. Changing the tune may result in simple steps forward. As impatient as we are as humans it is important to plan when making major changes, so you are prepared for eventualities. If that means keeping quiet about your plans while they germinate and not sharing them with others until they are in bloom, that is fine. Take time, make lists, save $$$, seek advice and counsel, and be patient. The new song, melody and lyrics, will unfold and become your new favorite tune.

December 1st: The Six Pack (Girl Gang)

What could be more awesome than six women traveling together who accept each other for our individuality, laugh at the silliest things, listen to each other’s life stories, cry over our difficult life experiences, care about our current and future happiness, talk over one another and can laugh about it and don’t compete with one another for attention. Everyone is equal; all opinions count and are respected. Nothing can compare with this experience. Nothing!

I have traveled with three girlfriends at a time in the past and that has been great. No competition and it was very comfortable. But, that was with three friends, not six.

I must say when we planned this week long get away for the six of us I didn’t really have concerns about how we would mesh as a group. However, often in groups of this size, no matter whether it is couples or individual friends there may be disagreements or issues that arise that can be divisive and leave people feeling frustrated and uncomfortable. Not so with this Six Pack.

We are our own party. Laughter abounds and often we don’t really know what originated the laugher. We only know that it is hard to stop the hilarity once it starts. And, nothing compares to the stomach ache one gets from laughing with friends.
In the words of Charlie Chaplin;

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

So, take a second and think about something silly – a moment, a gesture, a look, something a friend said, a joke or… and allow yourself time during the day to experience a belly laugh or two. It is not only good for the excretion of endorphins, improving our mental state and attitude but it is a great ab exercise to strengthen our core. 😊 Just sayin!

Thank you Six Pack for so many hours of laughter and true friendship. Will we survive the second annual “Six Pack” trip. We shall see and I know we are up to the challenge!