Author Archives: Patti Peterson

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr

With all the division, hate and violence permeating our world these days, it’s hard not to feel fear and intimidation.  Martin Luther King, Jr aid “The only way to convert an enemy into a friend is through love.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer used to talk a lot about those we’re told to hate.  Here’s how he used to spell it out:

Throughout our history, there has been a long list of those we’ve been conditioned to hate. The British, French, Spanish, Germans, Japanese, Russians, Communists, Northern Koreans, Vietnamese, Iranians, Taliban, and both northerners and southerners in our own country are some of the people we’ve been encouraged at various times to call enemies and to hate. The list is long, and as time passes, those we were assigned to hate we later were told should be removed from our hate list. The enemy is obviously hatred itself . . .

Love heals all.  It doesn’t negate the horror or the pain that we had to navigate to get there.  That’s just the journey we all have to tread. It’s necessary to go through that, in order to get to the other side. Our trip will take it’s detours – but that’s just part of the design.  It gives us time to develop the emotional muscles to endure the reality, and when we are ready, the reality appears.  The timing is not ours; it is divine order.  But when we find the love and the ability to let go and experience the freedom, we can bask in the love that gave birth to each of us.

I hope you will take a few minutes this week to examine the path you’ve been on. Things have been so divided lately, that I’m guessing all of us has someone in our lives that we just don’t understand.  They’re SO different.  Don’t run from that and retreat to the comfort of your own tribe.  Seek them out; talk to them. Ask questions about why they are the way they are, or did something they did.  Share something from your life.  Talk about your beliefs – and why you believe that way.  I’ll bet you’ll find you have more in common with each other, than is different.

“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr

Bozos on the Bus

I’ve posted this blog several times, but it’s been a while. It’s one of my favorite concepts because I see this over and over in my office.  People come in thinking that whatever they need to share with me is the most horrific thing I’ve ever heard.  One of the reasons I love what I do is because I have an opportunity that many of you apparently don’t have.  I hear these stories, and I am reassured that I’m not the only weird, crazy person in the world!

It helps us to put it into perspective when we can realize that we’re ALL on that same bus!

I’ve been re-listening to the audiobook BROKEN OPEN by Elizabeth Lesser, and it blows me away. I read (listen to) a LOT of audiobooks – mostly spiritual and some “self-help”. I love doing this because they lift my day and inspire my work. But for some reason, this particular book  really hits me where I live. No new concepts – but a unique way of explaining things I try to help others understand.

Here’s an example: Elizabeth speaks of Wavy Gravy (Hugh Romney) who was the MC for Woodstock and has spent the rest of his life inspiring others through humor.

One of his one liners is how we are all “Bozos on the Bus” – in other words, we are all vulnerable, human, have problems and occasionally make huge mistakes. Direct quote from the book:
“We should welcome our defects as part of the standard human operating system. Every single person on this bus we called earth hurts. It’s when we have shame about our failings that hurt turns into suffering.”

When we’re engulfed in our shame, we assume there’s another bus. One whose passengers are all thin, healthy, happy, have fulfilling jobs and are from loving, functional families. These passengers never do mean or stupid things, get all the great jobs, and generally just manage their lives appropriately – living happily ever after.

“But we are on the bus that says BOZO on the front, and we worry that we may be the only passenger on board. This is the illusion that so many of us labor under- that we’re all alone in our weirdness and our uncertainty; that we may be the most lost person on the highway. Of course we don’t always feel like this. Sometimes a wave of self-forgiveness washes over us, and suddenly we’re connected to our fellow humans; suddenly we belong.

It is wonderful to take your place on the bus with the other bozos. It may be the first step to enlightenment to understand with all of your brain cells that the other bus – that sleek bus with the cool people who know where they are going – is also filled with bozos – bozos in drag; bozos with a secret. When we see clearly that every single human being, regardless of fame or fortune or age or brains or beauty, shares the same ordinary foibles, a strange thing happens. We begin to cheer up, to loosen up, and we become as buoyant as those people we imagined on the other bus. As we rumble along the potholed road, lost as ever, through the valleys and over the hills, we find ourselves among friends. We sit back, and enjoy the ride.”

Resolutions/Commitment

Each year at this time, I post something similar to this message: I don’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions because they’re usually just a wish that lasts a few days or maybe weeks into the new year & then forgotten or given up on. I try to live my life by being a better person today than I was yesterday – more open to love and to listening to whatever the Universe has in store for me.

What I do believe in is stopping occasionally to reflect on all that I have been blessed to experience. That includes many positive, loving experiences. But it also includes a lot of times that I didn’t feel so positive, and I wasn’t so loving, and times I couldn’t wait to get through. At this point in my life, I understand (even in the moment) that I will be grateful for those times eventually – and sometimes I can even say thank you in the middle of them.

I know that some people don’t agree that things happen for a reason and I certainly want to honor their belief. Myy experience, though, is that those are usually people who don’t always take advantage of those difficult moments. The hard times can become lessons, but only if we allow them to be. One of the reasons we have to experience things repeatedly is because we don’t always take personal responsibility for them enough to recognize how we can avoid going that same direction the next time.

Mindlessly setting goals that I won’t be able to fulfill will not help me make changes in my life. Staying in the moment, living consciously and mindfully, is the only way to get there eventually. So instead of making a bunch of resolutions this year, make a commitment to be more aware of each moment, beginning now. You won’t remember to do it every moment of the new year, but when you catch yourself living in the past or future, just gently bring your mind back to what’s happening now. We can all get through anything for a moment. The design of this existence is successful because we are each unique and beautiful in our own way; traveling our own path.

Wishing each of you enough peace to find your center; enough pain to find your strengths; and enough love to be able to recognize your own worth in this world.

Sending Love for Your Holiday

This morning, I’m thinking back over all the hurtful and negative stories that have touched each of us this year, and I can get sick to my stomach if I stay in my initial reaction. There have been incidents involving racism and White Nationalists; a huge flow of men in power being outed for exerting that power over women, other men and children who are vulnerable because of their lack of power; ongoing investigations into our government and those at the top trying to uproot everything our constitution stands for; assaults on our earth, our internet, educational and healthcare systems, attacks on regulations that have kept us healthier and on science, itself.  All of this has created a culture of division between those of us who have historically stood together as the backbone of of our society.

I know, as a white, middle class female, I have no real concept of what it must feel like to be in  the shoes of black, Hispanic or LGBTQ men or women, a Muslim who is harassed just because (s)he is different from the majority, or immigrants who may be facing leaving the only home they’ve ever known.  But I have had the opportunity, thanks to many clients who have courageously opened their lives to me and allowed me to see the world through their eyes for just a few moments at a time.  And I’m in awe of the bravery so many people in this country exhibit because they are determined not to lose their own personal power.

I don’t know what the answers are to all these issues; but what I do know is that violence and hatred is not the answer to any of it. So I am re-committing to be open-minded about each situation as it arises and to those who come from different backgrounds and religions, rather than to lump them all together and make assumptions. I commit to continuing to learn more about other walks of life in order to understand a little better

I know not all of you may celebrate Christmas. I hope your holidays are full of peace; and I send you love and light, regardless of what you believe and how you celebrate. We are all so much more alike than we are different.

“I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear.”             

                                         -Martin Luther King

Expectations for the Holidays

Almost any client who has worked with me knows I talk about expectations a lot, because they affect everything in our lives – our relationships, our jobs, how we view our lives in general. . .

The holidays are no different. My office is busier this time of year than any other. Most years, the sun is less visible, causing a lower level of vitamin D and more cases of the blues, if not depression. Some of us have lost someone close to us, and are trying to decide how to make a holiday work in the midst of the pain and emptiness.  And then there is the anticipation of celebrations that we fear will not measure up to expectations, or the letdown when they didn’t – but mostly I hear the awareness that it won’t actually come close to what it’s “supposed to be”.

In fact, there may be more expectations wrapped around holidays than any other time of year. The media throws romanticized versions at us, dictating what is “traditional”. Many people believe holidays should be spent with loving family where everyone smiles and laughs and gets along wonderfully. If it doesn’t turn out that way – or if their family doesn’t look like that, they feel upset or down that their family is so dysfunctional. And some are just depressed because they don’t have family to spend the holidays with – or can’t be with their family, and feel they have nothing to look forward to at all.

The truth is holidays were seldom (if ever) the way the media portrays them for most of us. Movies, TV shows and songs are forms of art. Art is supposed to evoke emotions, so it often portrays things more extremely to reach that sentimental place within each of us.

My husband and I had a few years where we couldn’t be with any family for the holidays. What we did was to start a new tradition. A couple of Thanksgivings were spent in a Bed & Breakfast at a tourist location where there was lots of shopping and interesting restaurants. One Christmas, we went to a different movie each day for 3 days. The point is that we spent time doing things that we enjoy doing, but seldom have time for.

I love being with family, and this year, our Christmas is exciting because we will be able to spend some time with our daughter and granddaughter, then we’ll all four go to Chicago where we’ll be able to celebrate with our son, daughter-in-law and our grandson, who just turned 1 year old! And, as a special treat, we’re taking the train home.

My husband is a professional Santa, so occasionally I go along to the events he works. This reminds me that, while there is a religious meaning in the holiday for many; the magic of Christmas is about and for kids. If we watch, we can learn from our children.  They constantly remind us to stay in the moment and to be in awe of everything that shows up!  I’m hoping my Christmas this year will be a time full of love, but I’ve learned that the only way it can be is if I go into it without expectations of how everyone should behave. I love them for who they are, not who I want them to be. l don’t have control over them.  So if one or more of them choose to exhibit behavior that is less than acceptable, I’ll set what boundaries I need to and remind myself that their mood and behavior is about them, not me. I’ll also do the best I can to understand that this can be a very stressful time for a multitude of reasons, and we’ll move forward.

What I can be responsible for is preparing myself by allowing time for exercise, meditation and eating a relatively healthy diet.  I know those things contribute to a better mood for me, and I’m less impulsive and reactive when I do those things.

Finally, I prepare by remembering that (for me) Christmas means giving to others, remembering with love those who are not here in the same way as they once were, and feeling gratitude (and yes, awe) for the abundance that is in my life. I wish each and every one of you that same abundance and peace.

Be open to everything, but not attached to anything.