Charlotte A. Stout

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

Jan 2018Dec 2017Nov 2017Oct 2017Sept 2017

February 23rd: It Goes On

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life – It Goes On!”
Robert Frost

I recently finished reading “Turtles All The Way Down,” by John Green. It left an impression on me that I haven’t been able to shake. The story addresses the complex issues of mental health, love, loss, friendship, and values in the lives of a high school girl and her best friend. Amidst the angst of being a teen the primary character, Aza, is a girl with destructive invasive thoughts that significantly impact her life. How she navigates her life with these thoughts, her interaction with her therapist, her first love, her friend and her mother is interesting and left me admiring her and her mother for how they survived. The book is not depressing but it is impactful. The author has done an excellent job showing us Aza’s invasive thoughts in narrative form and how Aza negotiates with herself, gives in to or attempts to disregard the thoughts that control her. The author is masterful in helping us feel what Aza is feeling; the conflict of wanting to be normal and knowing you are not.

The Robert Frost quote noted above is referenced in the book and I believe is a testimonial to how all the characters respond to and see life. It just goes on. No matter what happens, whether good or bad, nothing stops life short of death. It just goes on and on and on. And, because it goes on we need to learn how to manage our life to the best of our ability when presented with challenges, adversity, happiness, wealth or poverty, sickness or health; all that life is and can be.

This is not an easy thing to do. Most of us spend a lifetime learning how to live life. For me, it has taken most of my sixty plus years to learn to appreciate, really appreciate, all of my blessings. Heck, it has taken that long just to be able to recognize my blessings. When I read a book like “Turtles All The Way Down,” I am able to reflect back on the blessings I had even as a teen. We all have our challenges growing up but Aza and her friends show us it is how we choose to deal with the challenges that define our life, who we are and will ultimately become.

February 16th: Kindness Does Still Exist

I received an email from a friend of mine recently in which she shared an act of kindness she observed at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Minnesota. Minnesota nice is a thing but I believe you will see this gesture goes beyond just being nice.

My friend had to get her license renewed. When she arrived and pulled her paper number off the machine she was number 59. She looked up to see what number was being serviced and almost fell over when she saw the display registered number 18. She took a seat next to an elderly gentleman who was as calm as could be as he patiently waited for his number to be called.

In came a lady (mom) pushing a baby stroller with a baby carrier in it. She pulled her number off the machine, saw it was number 60 and sat across from the elderly gentleman and my friend. Mom didn’t harrumph or complain she just rocked the stroller back and forth to comfort the now fussy baby.

My friend watched as the elderly gentleman stood and walked over to the young mother. He sat next to her and asked how old her baby was to which she replied; “He is one month today.” The new mom beamed as she lifted the blanket covering her baby so the gentleman could see her little man.

The elderly gentleman held out his ticket to her and said, “Here, why don’t you take my ticket and I will take yours. You need to get out of here faster than I do.”

The Mom looked at his ticket and saw it was number 21. She looked at her own ticked and said, “But, I have number 60.”

The gentleman smiled at her and said, “That’s no problem,” as the next available service representative called number 21. “You better hurry Miss,” the gentleman said as he took her ticket and gently placed his ticket in her hand.

The young mom hugged the gentleman before she rushed toward the waiting service representative.

In this world where rhetoric is divisive creating anger amongst so many it is refreshing to hear stories like this one. It helps restore my faith in humanity. Random Acts of Kindness bless the giver as much as the receiver. Kindness begets kindness. Let’s all find ways to be a kinder in our daily life.

February 9th: ATTITUDE –
I saw this verse and wanted to share it with all of you. There are times I want to whine about all I have to do but then I stop and give thanks for being able to do all I do. Our life is all about attitude. Enjoy!

I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight.
I have responsibilities to fulfill today.
I am important. My job is to choose what kind of day I am going to have.
Today I can complain because the weather is rainy
or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.
Today I can feel sad that I don’t have more money or I can be glad
that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.
Today I can grumble about my health or I can rejoice that I am alive.
Today I can lament over all that my parents didn’t give me when I was growing up
or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.
Today I can cry because roses have thorns or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.
Today I can mourn my lack of friends
or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.
Today I can whine because I have to go to work
or I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.
Today I can complain because I have to go to school
or eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.
Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework
or I can feel honored because the Lord has provided shelter for my mind, body, and soul.
Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped,
and I am the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.
Today, my attitude is the difference. I get to choose what kind of day I will have!
—Author Unknown

February 2nd: Just say No

Most of us don’t have a problem saying no to things that can obviously harm our longevity such as drugs, overeating, alcohol, cigarettes, or the like.

But, when it comes to saying no to doing something you may not want to do, that takes away from “me/you” time, we often have a harder time being honest and declining. I know this is true for me. I say yes because I like to be busy, want to feel needed, and I was raised to find the joy in helping others, no matter the cost to me.

Recently I was asked to take on a task that I really did not want to do. I knew how much the additional help was needed by the requestor but if I said yes it would cut into time I needed to replenish my spirit through other activities. It was so hard to say No but I did. And, once I did I felt lighter in spirit and knew it was the right choice for me.

Why is it we feel we can put our needs, desires, wants secondary to those of others? When I started working I was told to work hard, put in the extra time and don’t complain. If I was asked to do something, even if I didn’t want to, I was to do it anyway. No complaints. I believe this carried over into my personal life leaving little time and energy for me.

With experience and age I have learned that saying No to others is a big Yes for me. Kristina Phelan wrote a column about this and it really hit home with me, which is why I am now sharing my thoughts on the matter with you.

Before saying yes to taking on additional responsibilities, take a moment to reflect on what it means to you. Is it important enough to take time away from you, your family, friends, or other activities that may replenish your spirit and help you finish all the tasks already on your plate? If it is, by all means say yes. But, if after reflection you can say it is not more important than spending time on you, with family or friends then say No, which is a big Yes for you and your time.