Charlotte A. Stout

If you missed an ealier post, this page has my previous January 2018 Reflection postings.
If you want to read some earlier Reflections, click on the links below for the month you are interested in:

Dec 2017Nov 2017Oct 2017Sept 2017

January 26th: Oscar Buzz

Oscar Wilde said, “Life is much too important a thing to ever talk seriously about it,” Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892.

While this is a line from one of Oscar Wilde’s plays it articulates his approach to life and his writing before his imprisonment at the age of 41 for homosexual acts. Upon his release, after two years of hard labor, he wrote about his experience in prison. The poem he wrote after his release is dark, very descriptive and lacking in the humor and satire we find in Wilde’s other works. Of course this is understandable considering what he witnessed in prison and felt compelled to commit to paper following his release.

Oscar Wilde experienced a life event that changed him. He was 46 at the time of his death, which happened just three years after his release from prison. The last three years of his life were spent wandering around Europe, staying in cheap hotels, visiting friends and spending a lot of time alone. His creative spirit for writing his fun satirical take on life was snuffed out during his imprisonment.

Our experiences and the events that happen to us and around us affect how we approach and live life. These events are part of what makes us who we are. Some events are more difficult to reconcile with than others. And, it is very difficult to live life with the level of frivolity Wilde suggests in many of his works when horrible things happen to us. We need time to work through these events before we can let them go and get back to not taking life too seriously.

So, if you are working through an issue, take time to process. Some things do require us to be serious and thoughtful in how we respond. Once you have the issue under control, or, if there is nothing you can do about the situation or issue, then I say embrace Oscar Wilde’s words and don’t take the rest of life too seriously. See the humor in the absurd, laugh at the silliness around us and promise yourself that barring imprisonment like Wilde experienced you will seek out joy in the people around you and the life you choose to lead.

January 19th: Sacred – “regarded with reverence.”

What do you hold ‘Sacred’ in your life? What is most precious to you and warrants your protection? For me it is my relationships with others and myself. I value honesty and integrity in my interactions with others, the community and with myself.

I include myself in this because I have to be honest with myself first and treat all that I think and do with integrity before I can do the same with others and the community at large. I admit there are times I lose sight of this and have a more myopic view of what is important to me. Perhaps a more selfish, materialistic, unrealistic perception of what I see, want or need.

I am inclined to lose sight of what is sacred to me when I am feeling lost, insecure and concerned or a bit down. I tend to believe I need to fill the perceived void with ‘something’ even though I don’t know what that ‘something’ is. The more I seek out what I feel is missing the more I feel a void in my life. It is at these moments when I need to be honest with myself and get down to the ‘real’ issue. This takes introspection at a gut level. It’s hard but most things worth doing are difficult.

The exercise I perform is to take time to look at my life right now, today and tic through situations, friendships, encounters, activities and evaluate what might be throwing me off balance. Am I at odds with a friend? Have I not had enough positive social interactions to feed my spirit? Am I harboring resentment toward anyone or a situation that did not have the outcome I wanted? Did I have a negative encounter with someone that has left me feeling unsettled? What is the issue?

It isn’t until I know what the issue is that I can do something about it. As I said earlier, friendships, my relationship with people in general and with my community at large are sacred to me. I hold myself to the highest standard as a friend and community member. If I am honest in how I interact with others, maintain integrity in all that I do, and address issues openly when they arise then I am holding dear and protecting what is most sacred to me; honesty and integrity in me and my life.

How about you? What is ‘Sacred’ to you?

January 12th: Reality vs. Facebook

Have you ever spent time on Facebook looking at all the ‘cool’ things your friends are doing and how perfect and fun their lives seem compared to yours. I believe we all have done or do this from time to time. I know I have.

The thing is the life you see on Facebook may not accurately reflect what is really happening in that person’s life. Behind the smiles could be a complex life filled with stress. We don’t know the reality because we don’t live that person’s life. So, stop being envious of their life and all they are doing. I know this is hard to do but not stepping back and taking a good hard look at your life and all you have to be thankful for, rather than envying someone else’s life, can be destructive.

I spent time on the phone today catching up with a couple of good friends. Both mentioned seeing pictures of friends on Facebook and how they wish they had a fun-filled and exciting life filled with parties and adventures like their friends were having, as shown on Facebook.

Wow! The conversation made me a little sad. Why? Because, pictures we see on Facebook are snapshots in time. They do not reflect the daily life of an individual or a couple. They don’t show the illness, addiction, work stress, family or relationship issues they may be dealing with outside that snapshot.

I love Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and seeing the way they are celebrating life. I don’t envy their adventures; I celebrate and applaud them. I LOVE my life, the people I know and have a connection with, where I live, activities that fill my day and I value the experiences that have shaped and molded me into the person I am. I don’t feel a need to compete with what others show me they are doing via Facebook.

I am sad that others out there are envious of what they see their friends are doing via their Facebook posts. Don’t envy others. Create your own fun-filled life. Take a risk and join a group that shares a common interest of yours. Find a cause where you can volunteer and create more good. Hike a new trail. Go roller skating and get a good belly laugh as you watch yourself and others flounder around the rink. Attempt ice skating. Sit outside around a fire pit at night or inside around the fireplace and listen to music or tell stories with friends or just your special someone.

Create memories that are permanently etched in your mind. Ones you will be able to recall when you are feeling a little low. And, spend less time looking at Facebook and the fleeting moments captured there and more time making your own memories.

January 5th: A Little Kindness Please

Today I spent some time in a clinic that treats seriously ill patients. Thank goodness I am not classified as ‘seriously ill’ any longer. I still need to go regularly for checkups. But, this is not about me.

I want to share a couple of observations I made while waiting to be seen by the doctor. There was a woman with pink hair in her early 30’s sitting across the room from me with a frail and very pale man who looked to be in his late 60’s or early 70’s. A walker stood at attention in front of him awaiting his attempt at movement. When he was called for blood work the young lady got up and started walking away with the phlebotomist leaving this frail man to struggle to his feet and take hold of his walker. As he shuffled forward the younger woman turned around and said, “hurry, this way.” The poor elderly man who was clearly not feeling well and had quite a time navigating his way to the lab didn’t say anything. He just continued to shuffle along at his pace. Before long the pink haired young lady was seated back in a chair in the waiting room. Then shuffling along way behind her was the elderly gentleman.

Seeing the disrespect this woman showed toward the elderly gentleman I leaned over to my husband and said, “I hope we have someone who will be able to treat us with dignity and respect if we need help getting to a place like this in the future.” I was appalled by this woman’s behavior. Perhaps there is good reason for the woman to dislike this specific man. Maybe he was not kind to her earlier in life. Or, his need for help was keeping her from earning money, her favorite television show or who knows what else. However, during periods of serious illness people need others around them to be supportive, kind, sensitive and generally nice. I think he needs to find a different person to accompany him to these appointments. Just saying!

Contrast the above with the couple who clearly were in their 80’s, dressed adorably – she in a skirt, tights, collared shirt, sweater and a lovely bright blue rain coat; he, in dress slacks, long sleeve dress shirt and sweater vest. I’ll refer to them at ‘Mr. and Mrs. Adorable.’ Mrs. Adorable had a spring in her step even though she was hunched over with the effects of age. Mr. Adorable was using a walker. Sitting in the waiting room Mr. Adorable had a question for one of the office staff at the front desk. Mrs. Adorable patted his hand and said, “I’ll just go check on that.”

As Mrs. Adorable was walking back to her chair next to her beloved she looked at me and gave me a radiant smile. I thought, ‘oh my gosh – I hope we are like them when we are older’ and then I realized we already are like them. We like and respect one another. Yay!

As I was scheduling my next appointment Mr. and Mrs. Adorable were exiting the infusion room. Mr. Adorable was having difficulty holding on to some papers one of the nurses gave him. Mrs. Adorable placed one of her hands on top of Mr. Adorable’s trembling one and said, “I’ve got it dear.” She took the papers so he could manage his walker and they exited.

Just a little bit of kindness toward another person can warm a stranger’s heart (mine). I watched them and I felt worse for the man being accompanied by the lady with the pink hair. I wish he had a little bit of kindness in his life. Maybe it awaits him at home. Here’s hoping.