Charlotte A. Stout

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

Feb 2018Jan 2018Dec 2017Nov 2017Oct 2017Sept 2017

March 30th:They Are Who They Are

Gosh, I wish more people were like me. It could make life easier, but it would also be incredibly boring. With whom would I debate issues? How would I obtain exposure to differing viewpoints, ideas, and experiences that may enrich my life?

While it is frustrating to engage with and accept some people because of their viewpoints I have learned that we are a product of our environment. If one is raised in a gun toting, racist, conservative, patriarchal, autocratic or bigoted environment then that is what a person knows and believes is appropriate. In contrast if raised in a liberal, embracing, open, democratic and accepting environment, that is what one knows and believes.

I am of the latter persuasion, so it is difficult for me to understand how someone can be closed minded and not accept those with different sexual persuasions, faiths, and who see only one side of any issue – their side.

I cannot change a person, but I can share with them my side of an issue if I am given an opportunity. In contrast, I want to know why a person believes as they do. What is the basis for their belief and actions? I am genuinely interested. Why? Because I may learn something about their background that provides insight to their stand. I may even hear something that helps me see an issue differently. If that is the case, I am open to changing my stance. If not, then we choose to disagree, and I will accept their stand because “they are who they are.” While I may not agree with them and their viewpoint, being angry and hateful toward those who differ from me only creates stress, discord, and unhappiness in my life.

I will do what I can to have meaningful conversations about issues with those who think and live differently than me. Maybe we will influence each other enough to find middle ground. If not, that is okay. I choose to accept them for who they are and hope they do the same toward me. Only by respecting our differences can we find release from frustration, anger and create a more peaceful life for ourselves.

March 23rd: Keep Moving

On our walk today I was introduced to Don who was out walking his dog Chloe. Chloe is an adorable mix breed who is young, energetic and very friendly. I felt the same could be said for Don except Don appeared to be in his mid to late 60’s. He had a bounce in his step and he was as friendly as Chloe. However, Don was not always this mobile.

A year ago Don was overweight and had a very sedentary life. Walking Chloe was painful on his back, his legs, his knees and his feet. His partner walked Chloe because Don felt he just couldn’t. Don believed this was his lot in life and he would have to bear it until his life ended. His partner refused to give up on Don and he engaged a personal trainer to work with Don.

Don was resistant and didn’t believe anything could help. He honestly thought this was just old age settling in his body and he had to learn to live with this inactive life forever. The personal trainer changed Don’s way of thinking, and fast.

Diet, movement and weight training were the beginning of Don’s transformation from couch potato to gym rat, dog walker and gaining a renewed energy (literally) for life and everything he can now do. It was slow going but now he not only walks Chloe a few miles each day but he goes to the gym regularly to continue building and maintaining his strength and getting his serious cardio work in. Don splits his time between a home on the water in BC and Palm Springs. He is looking forward to throwing sticks and balls for Chloe to chase on the beach behind his house this summer.

I am not saying you need to engage a personal trainer to get in shape. What I do believe with my whole being is if you stop moving the quality of your life will be dramatically impacted. Barring an injury that confines y0u to a wheelchair, get up and move. Even if it is just walking around the block, do it. One turn around the block for a week will lead to two turns around the block, then three and four and before you know it you are walking a mile.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Keep Moving. You will love the results.

March 16th: The Many Faces in the E R

No one wants to spent time in a hospital emergency room. Especially me! When it was necessary for me to spend several hours in the ER recently I passed the time observing those around me in varying states of distress and could not help but listen to their conversations (unintentionally of course!). There isn’t much opportunity for privacy in such a public setting.

A young woman was worried about the baby growing in her womb. Just 20 weeks developed and she had started vomiting two days prior, not eating anything and felt contractions. I saw such raw concern etched across her face and the face of her husband as they held hands awaiting their turn to go back and meet with the medical team.

Two sisters brought in their mother who showed flu like symptoms. The mom appeared to be in her 80’s, the daughters in their 60’s. What was clearly evident to me was the strong unit these three women were. One of the daughters had packed sandwiches, obviously knowing there would be quite a wait and not wanting any of the three to go hungry (why didn’t I think of that?). The other daughter packed a small cooler bag with drinks and mom had a bag on her lap that held playing cards. The sisters ate, drank and played some card game using their mother’s lap as a table for the cards. Mom laughed occasionally but she was mainly quiet and watchful. Every so often, as if by reflex, one of the sisters would coax mom to take a sip of water. I watched and thought “I hope I have someone who will treat me with such respect when I am that age.”

There were several couples present with one or the other there to be evaluated or treated for the flu. It was interesting to see the range of behaviors exhibited between these couples. They ran the gambit from indifferent, to outright loathing to sensitive and caring. I wondered why people stay together who loathe each other during their most vulnerable times. Money, kids, housing…I have no way of knowing. And, I know I can’t fix whatever it is.

My heart was heavy sitting in that place where people were so sick. I wanted to wave a wand and make everyone better. I especially wanted to hug those who were there alone or were being met with unfriendly or despicable behavior from their significant other or family member who acted like it was an intrusion into their life to show compassion and help a loved one. But, I was too sick to get up. So, I sat and projected positive thoughts into the universe to help all those present to receive whatever they needed to improve their circumstances and their health.

March 9th: “Evicted, Poverty and Profit in the American City”

I recently finished reading “Evicted,” by Matthew Desmond.

I wondered if the book would hold my attention since it is a work of non-fiction. I was pleasantly surprised. The book gripped me from the beginning and did not let go.

The author takes us on a journey through the poorest areas in Milwaukee during 2008 and 2009. He introduces us to eight families and we get to know each person very well as he captures their honest conversations about where they live, how they live, why they live where they do, their landlords, their fears, tears and how some use the system while others truly need societal support.

He shows us how, even in the poorest neighborhoods, communities exist where members watch out for each other. Desmond shows us the seedier side of people too as some community members feed on the despair and misfortune of others by ransacking their trailer or apartment while they are in court for an eviction hearing, in the hospital recovering from various issues and how taking from others in these situations is a matter of survival of the fittest.

We meet the landlords and listen to their perspective on rents, repairs (or lack thereof), how they feel about their tenants and how the only concern they have is how to wring profit from their extremely distressed properties by exploiting their tenants.

What I found so distressing is how these eight families feel this is all they deserve. Poverty was and would continue to be a way of life. They could not see a way out. Their landlords treated them worse than they would some animals by letting tenants live in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Many families in these areas are forced to take what they can find due to their limited income from SSI or other government programs. Landlords know this and take advantage by charging high rent for what the tenant gets. What the landlord presents as an acceptable apartment or trailer for a family to rent may have windows broken out, no running water, backed up and plugged toilets and sinks, rotting floors, maggots or roaches throughout. There is nothing sanitary or respectable about these places.

Landlords in these poor areas tell tenants that they don’t fix things because, “you don’t appreciate it and don’t know how to take care of nice things.” This leads tenants to start questioning their self-worth. Their self-esteem is already in the negative and being treated like they are less than human does nothing to bolster that self-esteem. So the cycle is perpetuated. If tenants complain they are threatened with or are actually evicted. Eviction is always a concern of the tenant. Landlords evict tenants for calling police when a crime is being committed, an ambulance to help a child with asthma, or registering a complaint with building inspectors or any kind. They don’t want any attention drawn toward their property because it could result in a citation to fix up the unlivable space and that cuts into profits. Landlords so easily evict tenants in these poor areas because they know there is another needy low-income tenant waiting for shelter. So, tenants don’t speak up for fear of eviction.

While the author focused on the poorest areas in Milwaukee, the poverty portrayed in this book can be found in every major city in the United States. I don’t know what we can do about the landlords who treat human beings so poorly and believe that it is ok or tenants who don’t give a damn. I just know something in society has to change.

March 2nd: Selfish

“devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.”

I awoke today feeling a bit disappointed in human kind. I don’t like this feeling. I had an epiphany over the last week. Many people are quite selfish.

Do you know people who think only of themselves? When you get together for a friendly chat over tea or coffee is the conversation not really a two-way exchange but a diatribe about how difficult, tedious, busy, glorious, their life is with little regard for what is happening in your life? I have had this happen many times. I give the other party the benefit of the doubt thinking they will eventually demonstrate an interest in what is happening in my life. Sometimes it happens but often it does not. I choose to state here and now that these people are not true friends but showboat friends. They act like they care for show; to get in God’s good graces, to show others how sensitive they are towards others’ feelings, to make themselves feel good inside, but they don’t honestly care – not really.

A person who really cares reaches out in good and bad times, whether they are in a good or bad mood and they are genuinely interested in you and your life. I find these genuine friends are rare. That is probably why I have few really good friends and many acquaintances.

I value my friends and the relationship I have with each one of them. I would do anything for a true friend. My friends are people I have cared about for a long time, some going back 50 plus years. They don’t take advantage of our friendship. We support one another. Conversations are just that – conversations about our lives – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I see people taking advantage of others all the time. The selfish nature of people will always bother me. But, I can choose not to engage with these people and keep my life filled with people who care about me and me about them. You should do the same. It will be a step toward purging toxicity that can permeate all aspects of your life.