Charlotte A. Stout

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

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

This page contains the final reflections Charlotte wrote.
November 10th: Tone Says It All

Have you noticed when someone asks you a question or makes a comment about your hair, attire, attitude, beliefs that how you react or respond is often a reaction to the tone they used when communicating with you?

I sure have. I have several friends who are hilarious and tend to tease. They have an easy way that makes the teasing fun and funny. Their tone is playful not biting and that makes all the difference in being able to laugh with them and at what they say.

I know someone who no matter what she says it comes across as acerbic. Her tone is sharp, critical and leaves people cringing and wondering what they did to elicit such an attitude. People have a hard time being around her. Simple questions are answered with quick short and terse responses. This is not engaging behavior.

I would like to suggest that we all take a minute to think about our tone when speaking to someone over the phone or when leaving a voice mail, writing a letter, or using social media formats. I know we are often in a hurry. We want to get this item off our to-do list so we give a short quick response to a question; text or email which may be viewed the wrong way by the recipient.

I remember when my husband was traveling a lot for work. Sometimes I felt it was better if we didn’t speak by phone in the evenings. He was tired, I was tired, we were missing each other, had the stresses of work looming over us but felt like we wanted or needed to speak with each other each evening. Some of those conversations caused periods of silence between us because one of us came across abruptly and we took what was said the wrong way. We couldn’t see the body language or facial expression to help us understand the context. We had many discussions about those phone calls and learned to preface or explain a short or terse response with, “sorry, I’ve had a rough day so if I sound off that’s why. It is not you.”

What I have learned through those conversations with my husband is to remember that when speaking with others or responding via email, text, other forms of social media or by voice mail to keep a smile on my face as I deliver or type my response. Smiling helps my mindset and I find my response can be short and to the point but retain a positive tone. Finally, always be kind and respectful when speaking with others and remember to speak to them as you would want to be spoken to. Tone make the difference between effective communication and mis-communication.

 Her spirit is so appropriately reflected in this reflection.
November 1st: The Best is Yet to Come

Every day I wake up wonder how the day will evolve. I am not anxious about it rather I am excited to see what lies ahead. Who will I run into when out and about? What morsel of information will I learn that leaves me filled with wonder? What will make me laugh like a little child with wild abandon? Will I connect with a friend I am separated from by geography but deeply connected with in other-worldly ways?

I am experiencing new adventures all the time. It absolutely delights me to find a new hiking or biking trail, attempt a new sport, or face a fear and conquer it.

I was recently given the opportunity to experience a new biking adventure that required me to conquer my fear of heights. There is a rather famous bike experience for people of all ages, sizes and physical fitness. The ride is along an old railroad line called the Hiawatha Trail. It is 15 miles long with one very long extremely dark tunnel, a few medium range tunnels and a few short tunnels as well as numerous railroad trestles over 200 feet above the ground to be traversed.

Riding through the first tunnel, which was the longest at 1.8 miles was creepy. We had lights on our bikes but it is pitch black in the tunnel, water trickles down the sides, there are drainage ditches on each side and it is very cold – 40 degrees. We made it through the tunnel without any major incident but felt like we had been in a meat freezer. Our hands and legs were tingly with cold.

As we made our way along the trail the beauty is beyond description. We rode high above trees yet we were still in trees. At various vantage points there are placards giving historical information. We took advantage of this opportunity to expand our knowledge of trains and this former rail line.

As we were rattling our way down the extremely washboard trail one person in our group pointed out the first trestle we would be traversing, which could be seen through the trees further down the trail. I have a great fear of heights. Seeing that trestle almost made me stop mid-ride, turn around and ride back up hill to the car. But, I didn’t and what I found was I could ride across the trestle without fearing I was going to go over the edge or the trestle was going to collapse under me. It was a milestone for me to be able to accomplish something that in the past made me fearful and caused me to break out in a cold sweat.

So, when I say “the best is yet to come” I mean that every day you should be prepared to be surprised by life, opportunities presented and what you can accomplish. Take a risk, face a fear, learn, grow and enjoy each moment because “The Best is Yet To Come.”