Charlotte A. Stout

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

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

May 25th: Be On Your Own Side
I read an article recently about the importance of building a good foundation in all aspects of one’s life.

While it may appear others achieve overnight success, rarely is this the case. We don’t know the years of planning, work, dedication, sacrifice and determination required of someone to achieve their dreams. But, it is easy for us to sit back and bemoan the fact that we are not where we want to be, who we want to be or in the relationship we deserve. We look externally for reasons that support why we aren’t who, what or where we want to be rather than looking internally.

When I say “Be on your Own Side” I mean stepping back to observe what is in your mind so you can build good foundations in all aspects of life. Before diving into a relationship think about what is important to you in a relationship? Is it mutual respect, honesty and kindness towards each other? That’s a good start.

What about physical health? I belong to a gym. I see how hard people work to maintain their strength, mobility and endurance. I remember when I first started at the gym I couldn’t run a mile, lift more than five pound dumb bells or do a lunge without almost falling over. My goal was and still is to maintain a healthy level of strength, mobility and increase my endurance. This is my foundation. What about you?

My mental health foundation is to destress and calm my life. This means taking in the good of positive experiences; allowing myself to have self-compassion because I am not perfect; excising the negativity from my life, whether it is people, places or experiences, as much as possible; and retraining myself from jumping into things without thought.

Without an understanding and acknowledgement of the basic foundation upon which to build your life you may struggle and wonder why relationships don’t work; careers flounder; or, your physical and mental health suffers.

When you build solid foundations for the various aspects of your life you are honoring yourself and others. Be on your own side by knowing what is important to you and enjoy the positive results that will flow your way.

May 18th: Fortitude – “mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.”

I recently ran in the Bloomsday Race in Spokane, Washington. It is a 7.5 mile run that draws from all over the world. This year there were 41,669 people registered. Each person who completes the race receives a coveted Bloomsday t-shirt. The t-shirt is coveted because it signifies a huge accomplishment and each year the color and design are unique. No one knows in advance of race day what the t-shirt will look like.

This year we (my husband and I) participated with two dear friends. Each of us has ‘issues’ we deal with every day. There are back problems, auto-immune system issues, feet that don’t cooperate because of sensitive bones, numbness and poor arches. I am sure you wonder why we went forward with this race considering we sound like hot messes.

Here’s the thing. We all work out a lot. We are strong and we don’t let little things like the issues referenced above stop us from doing anything. We believe we can accomplish anything we put our minds to if we want it bad enough. On days when we don’t want to work out or feel too sore to do so, we do it anyway. We work through it.

Was this race easy? Absolutely not! Did we suffer to get to the finish line? Indeed we did. But each one of us finished. How did we do it? We dug deep and drew on our grit, determination, fortitude and the lure of the coveted t-shirt at the end.

I am so proud of each one of the four of us because we participated with our heart and soul and finished without injury. I am also proud of the other 39,000 plus who finished the race. For those who started but did not finish, I am proud of them too. They showed courage in starting.

This race along flat ground, down hills, and up the crazy steep Doomsday Hill is not easy for the most experienced racer. So, no matter where one finishes in this race, just finishing is an accomplishment requiring great fortitude. Congratulations to all 2018 Bloomsday Racers.

May 11th: Wake up Slowly

I have written before about waking up and having my first thought be of something I value or that makes me happy. It is a great way to start the day. I still do this but I have added a little something to my awakening process.

I set my alarm for fifteen minutes prior to the actual time I need to be out of bed. This additional time allows me to wake up slowly. I don’t dwell on what is on my calendar for the day during those fifteen minutes. I attempt to keep my mind a blank slate.

The empty canvas of my mind allows me to take in the sights and sounds around me while I stretch, greet my spousal unit with a kiss, and just relish the peace in these moments. I have found that waking up early often leads to my husband and me laughing about something, joking around or sharing a silly dream. I can’t tell you how much fun it is to laugh in bed first thing in the morning with your special someone. It sets the tone for the rest of the day.

Rather than dragging my tired body out of bed when the alarm goes off if I take an extra fifteen minutes to really wake up I am ready to rise and start the day with a sense of peace and joy. Weird eh! But, it is true. I don’t know how or why it works as I am not a neuro scientist, but it works for me.

So, next time you set the alarm, experiment with setting it for fifteen minutes prior to the time you actually need to be up. Take that time to wake up slowly stretching the body and the mind. This is your time to find enjoy peace and get centered for the day ahead. Don’t think about all the ick that needs to get done. Rather, let your mind be still and peaceful. If you need to exercise your mind think about something silly or fun and have a good laugh to get those endorphins fired up. Otherwise, luxuriate in the bliss of this quiet time that is reserved for you and you alone.

Enjoy waking up slowly.

May 4th: Friendships

I totally understand how people come and go in our lives. Some relationships are short term because, when initially formed, they presented us with an opportunity to grow or we met a need of that other person. Once the growth happens or their need is met I can see how the relationship moves on in a natural direction that benefits both parties and that direction may not be as close friends. However, when this happens, in this type of situation, I look back at the relationship with fondness and a warm feeling.

I have separated from people I was friends with. The separation may have been caused when our interests became dissimilar, our physical abilities and activities were different or we became engaged in a career or volunteer activities that left little time for others but family and really close friends. I know that sounds selfish but I don’t think it is. I am honest with myself and that allows me to feel a sense of freedom to do as I please, as long as it doesn’t intentionally hurt others.

What I do not understand is a person who uses others in the name of friendship and then leaves them in the dust. That is NOT friendship. A friend is one who makes things easy for you. If you are low they do their best to lift your spirits. If you are fearful they help you understand why and how to address the fear. If you are facing a crisis they listen and help in any way they can to ease your burden.

It is a hard lesson to learn, and sometimes we never learn, that not all friendships are built on honesty and are meant to last. The ones you should value are those that fill you with joy, feed your spirit, are built on honesty, make you laugh and ease life’s journey. You will know those people when you meet them. These relationships are the ones that endure over years and miles. So, be choosy and when you choose someone to befriend water and fertilize your friendship garden with lots of love, kindness, and honesty.