Author Archives: Patti Peterson

Embrace ALL of Life

Years ago, when I was going through some issues with my family, I went to my mentor. He shared a story that has stuck with me since.

He began by telling me how much he loved tomatoes. This seemed strange to me & I wondered what that had to do with my family problems, but I trusted him, so I listened. He went on and on about how he fixed his tomatoes, what foods he ate them with, etc.

Then he told me that the tomatoes he bought in the grocery store were pretty good. He knew they were grown in a greenhouse and because they were protected from the harsh sun and wind, and storms that were common in the town where we lived, they were nice and red and round – and they seldom had any other marks on them because they were also protected from insects and other varmints.

At that point, he began to brag about the tomatoes he grew in his own garden. They grew in his back yard, had to weather those storms and hot sun and wind that we often experienced during our Kansas summers. His tomatoes were not always perfectly round, and they often had spots from the small animals eating on them. But their color was a much richer color of red and they were so much more juicy and flavorful.

;)

What he was telling me is that sometimes life sucks. (That’s a clinical term). We all have to face the elements of our particular environment.

We aren’t usually able to protect ourselves or our loved ones from going through the sucky part of life. We try sometimes – by helping too much when someone we care about is having a problem that they could (or need to) handle themselves. Or we keep ourselves so busy (or drink or get involved in some other compulsive behavior) so we don’t have to feel the pain of some loss in our own lives.

Even if we do manage to prevent ourselves or loved ones from going through the problem, it will come up again – and we (or they) will be less prepared than if we had begun to develop the skills we needed the first time.

But if we do allow life to unfold as it is, face it head on and realize we don’t have to orchestrate it, we’ll learn valuable lessons and develop our emotional muscles so that the next time, we’ll not only be more aware and ready to deal – it might not hurt as much as it did before.

And when we get through it, we’ll have a strength, a sense of accomplishment, and a confidence that will lead to a higher level of peace. (Going through that part of life might look a little chaotic at times, and not as “pretty” or controlled as it looks from the outside when we manage to avoid it. But the colors will be much more vivid and the taste, juicier and more full of flavor!!)

So embrace all of life – the good flavors – and the sucky stuff.

I’m On The Highway

I had a birthday last week. Although I’ve been on Medicare and Social Security for a few years now, at 69, this year still feels like the last one before I have to admit I am a “senior citizen.”

Any more, I use birthdays to reflect briefly on what I’ve learned and to set my focus again on where I want to go.  There are some wonderful things that happen when we begin to age if we take the right perspective. I no longer beat myself up over things I should have done or thought I would have done by this time in my life. I recognize that I’m doing what I’m led to do. It’s one of the things I ask every day as I meditate – “Guide me today as I move along this path and bring the people that are supposed to be in my life.”

I also see some physical benefits. Even though much of my body tends to resist things I used to accomplish easily, such as getting up off the floor after sitting for a few minutes (assuming I made it down there without a catastrophe). But the lack of focus and memory that I once dreaded has actually turned out to be rather helpful at times.  I’ve always been someone who loves being physically fit, and currently use a Fitbit to monitor that. (I’ve worn pedometers and kept records of my exercise and health for years).

My husband and I live in a 3 story house, and on days when I have lots of chores to complete, I notice that I tend to get more exercise. When I forget what I wanted as soon as I walk into the bedroom upstairs, I have to go back down to my office (in the walk-out basement) to figure out what triggered the need in the first place.  Then on the way down, something catches my eye in the main floor that I forgot to finish, so I stop to do that; run back upstairs to get whatever it was I originally needed, and then realize I have to go back DOWNstairs again.  Before I know it, I’ve hit my step goal and didn’t even “work out.” 😉 (Another thing old age is teaching me is that a sense of humor makes “the moment” more tolerable).

At any rate, my husband teases me that I think I’m going to live forever. Yes, I do – the real me is eternal. So even if my body is already deteriorating some, that’s just the reality of our physical beings. But I made the decision years ago that I was not going to let an old person take up residence in my body.

A while back, I was discussing this with a friend, and she shared that when they were talking about *life* one of her daughters made this comment; “Mom, you’re on the highway and your exit is coming up!”

While I hope my exit isn’t coming for a little while yet, none of us knows when that’s going to be. Which is the point of this blog!

We’re all on the highway of life. Some of us travel in the fast lane, at least for a while, but we eventually realize that can’t last forever for a variety of reasons. Some of us have learned that we need to take the scenic route at least occasionally (especially those of us who have been here a while), and some even make a number of stops to smell the roses and watch the sunsets. ALL of us take detours from time to time, but as long as we pay attention to our inner GPS system, we either eventually get back on course, or we end up in a place that turns out to be even better than our original path. Regardless of what route we take, we need to realize the destination is not the point of the trip, it’s the journey. Have you ever rushed to get someplace you thought you really wanted or needed to go, only to discover once you arrived that it didn’t measure up to the hype? Or even if it did, once you got there & did all the things you wanted to do, you didn’t really feel as satisfied as you had hoped?

That’s the problem with not living in the now. For me, planning the trip is usually the most fun part – the anticipation and dreaming about what it will be like. Living in the future like that can be exciting. But as those of us who have some anxiety know, it can also be exhausting and nerve-racking; and if we stay there, we’ll never really live the life we are meant to have.

So I don’t want to have any regrets when I come upon that exit. As long as I keep my vehicle on the highway, and don’t spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror and learn from previous bumps in the road, I can sit back and enjoy the ride.  In fact, I’ve come to understand more and more that I’m not even driving this rig!   I just sit in the passenger seat and trust that it will take me where I need to go.

Valentines Day

(This blog is from last year. Update on my husband’s cancer diagnosis: he was fortunate to have a very slow type of prostate cancer that was caught early. With a round of radiation and a hormone shot, he has managed to lower his PSA and is doing great. We both continue to participate in support groups with the Prostate Network, though and express gratitude every day that his story wasn’t worse).

Valentines Day is day to recognize the love that connects us with others we deem as special. It’s a holiday I can’t let pass without some kind of acknowledgement here, because it’s all about LOVE, which is what I believe is our primary purpose here on earth. We are here to experience and to expand our understanding of what love is all about.

As I’ve aged, I’ve had some health scares, and currently, my husband is newly diagnosed with cancer, so we’re awaiting some results and weighing options on how to proceed. I also have several friends who are dealing with cancer and other health issues and the loss of loved ones. They are each approaching it in their own way, but I’m in awe of the courage they show as they move forward and take in the wisdom such experiences offer them. All of this just reminds me all too well how short life can be. I continue to learn to appreciate every moment of my life – the good, the bad and the ugly. I know ALL of it holds important opportunities for me and my loved ones.

Life doesn’t promise us anything, except choices. We have the opportunity to live any way we like. No matter how we choose to live, we’ll have pain and we’ll have joy. And we can learn from both. Life didn’t promise to be wonderful, but it sure is full of little wonders! And we only have to be open to see them, feel them, and allow them to happen.

We can choose to close ourselves off to all of this. From one perspective, it might feel safer that way. The belief is that no one can use us or hurt us. But in the long run, that route only hurts us the most. We would probably miss out on some of the pain that will inevitably happen (because it’s part of human relationships); but we would also miss out on the wonderful excitement, brilliance and loving energy that human connection provides. So we can choose to have life’s biggest wonder – love. Love has to be shared in order to grow and fertilize our lives. We share it in a smile, a touch, a hug or a kiss. We share it with a Tweet or post on social media, a card, a phone call or video chat, or a text. We share it with our friends, our partners, our family. And we can also share it with others we don’t even know, but who we see have been knocked down by natural disasters, poverty, health concerns or just mistreatment because of the color of their skin, their lifestyle or their beliefs that are slightly different from what a majority follows. Sometimes this is the most significant kind of love – the kind that forces us to step outside our comfort zone for someone who needs help more than we do.

There is no such thing as an ordinary moment. They are each extraordinary and wonderful in their own way! But they are more wonderful when we make a little effort to be the change we want to see in the world. So on this Valentines Day, I challenge you to give one moment of your precious time to someone who needs something you can give. It can be something simple, like helping an elderly person with their cart at the grocery store, buying lunch for a homeless person on the street, or just sitting silently beside someone who looks lonely. We often can’t do anything to change another person’s situation or feelings, but sitting with someone in pain is the most precious gift we can give, and the dividends are extraordinarily high for the cost of a few moments.

There is no pass or fail in life, All the experiences that happen to us serve as seeds for growth. So go forward and plant your seeds. And have a Happy Valentines Day!

Integrity

Our values are those things that carry the most significance for us. As such, it would follow that what we verbalize as most valuable is where we put our energy and actions. However, that’s not always the case.  We sometimes just give lip service to what we think are our values – like family, spiritual beliefs, honesty, etc.  But if our behaviors don’t match our words, then we really need to examine why that is.

Our values come from our core. Those using only lip service (chatter) about their values are often applying a thinly-veiled veneer that covers a center of greed and a *me first* attitude. Sometimes it feels as if the moral compass in our culture is pointing south. It’s not my intention to negatively judge these people. My spiritual studies have taught me that they are simply operating at a lower energetic frequency. (Our level of frequency is not good or bad, it’s just lower or higher in varying degrees as we each evolve). That said, I do have concerns that they are hindering the betterment of civilization as a whole.

But I’m convinced the majority of us sincerely want and work to become better people, hence raising our energetic level. Lately, I’ve taken notice of how the character of a person can tell us a lot about whether they are someone who has a core value system that can benefit their own life (and all whose lives they touch), or whether they are simply using chatter to create an outer perception of strength; which ultimately leads to the decline of society as a whole. ONE PERSON’S ENERGY MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN THE ENERGY OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

Frankly, even though this has been the case since the beginning of time, I’m still astonished to see so much abuse of power by those in the most powerful positions. Their actions and words seem to give permission to others to espouse similar views that (even if they thought it previously), used to be socially unacceptable to verbalize; using the phrase “politically correct” to put down those of us who want to encompass unity and equality in our speech and lives. I admit, at least maybe they’re being honest about their beliefs. But our thoughts are energy, and as such, they influence our attitudes, emotions, and actions. Speaking those thoughts out loud strengthens attitudes of disdain towards others who are different from them; which in turn often fosters action in a similar vein. Violence (verbal or physical) is the crutch of the emotionally crippled.

So, I started researching what really constitutes a character of integrity. As I’m sure most of you do, I had my own ideas, but I didn’t want to get stuck on just my own experiences and concepts. First, I looked up antonyms for integrity in the thesaurus: corruption, disgrace, dishonest, dishonor, incompleteness. When I looked for definitions and characteristics, I found (which, of course, is no surprise), that Integrity has to have a solid foundation of ethics, but that it also encompasses other characteristics.

In the past, I have shared this quote by Dr. Wayne Dyer about not getting stuck in our past:

. . . I use the metaphor of a boat going down the river. When you’re standing at the back of the boat, looking at the water as you’re going along at forty knots, what you see there is the wake. The wake is the trail that’s left behind. You can ask the question, “What’s making the boat go forward?” It can’t be the wake. The wake can’t drive the boat. It’s just the trail left behind. It can’t make the boat go forward, any more than the trail that you’ve left behind in your life is responsible for where you’re going now in your life. . .

Interestingly, in his book INTEGRITY, Dr. Henry Cloud describes a process he uses to assess character.  He calls it The Wake.  Again, it’s a metaphor about sitting in a boat and watching its wake.  While the wake obviously doesn’t drive the boat, you can tell a lot about the boat as you look at the wake.  For instance, if the wake’s in a straight line, you get a feeling that the boat is steadily on course, and the captain isn’t sleeping at the wheel.  It also feels that the engine or a shaft is not out of whack.  If it’s smooth and flat, you know something about the speed of the boat; and if it’s steep, you can tell something about its drag. But, if the wake is wavering, you begin to wonder.

Here’s the point he’s making. As a person goes through life, (s)he leaves a wake behind, and there is much to be learned from that history. The character of that person is what leaves the wake.  That’s what (s)he and others can point to that gives us a sense of the contribution the person has made and is continuing to make to the larger society.

So what are the qualities we might want in order to keep our wake steady? Here are some questions we can each ask ourselves to get started:

1) Am I able to establish trust? In other words, if I expect others to trust me, do my past behaviors confirm that I am trustworthy in my words and actions?

2) Am I oriented toward the truth? Am I willing to listen to all sides of an issue without prejudice (as much as is humanly possible) and come to a conclusion that encompasses a rational reality?

3) Am I focused on getting a specific result? Rather than arbitrarily going about my day, do I have a purposeful focus of my eventual destination (recognizing that I may never reach that destination, but the journey is what is important)?

4) Do I embrace the negative as it arises, instead of avoiding it, or allowing it to get me down and slowing or stopping any progress?

5) Am I continually trying to become a better person? Do I have a sense of who/what I want to become? And what am I doing NOW toward that end?

6) Do I focus on letting go of human selfishness and self-centeredness and live in a reality that embraces the greater good of all involved? Allowing for the good of all inevitably improves my own life, even if I have to give up my original belief of what is “right.”

Integrity is a quality of adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character and honesty.  It’s the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified; internal consistency or lack of corruption. Some of the roots of the word include: intact, integrate and integral. In human terms, it’s wholeness and effectiveness as a person – running on all cylinders.

It’s not about strength so much as it’s about courage. It’s not about how we appear to others, but who we REALLY are. Rather than stretching for our highest goals, it’s about digging for our deepest treasure from within.

The purpose of the veneer I mentioned earlier is to make something look like what it’s not; to conceal what is really underneath. So when we boast about our characteristics or talk about what we’re going to do without follow-up, we’re causing more harm than good. (In fact, if we feel the need to boast at all, it’s a red flag that we’re trying to be something we are not).

The true worth of our core values becomes visible through our actions. A strong core is what helps us weather the storms of daily life. We’re all exposed to the same storms from time to time, but how we respond to them is what shows our strength of character. We each have the tools available to us, but we have to use them. Just carrying an umbrella won’t protect us from the rain. We need to open that umbrella or put on our boots so we can wade through the floods to higher land. And sometimes we have to be aware enough to be able to change course and avoid the storm altogether.

I don’t want anyone to get the idea that if they don’t feel “whole” or “intact”  or strong enough that means they’ll never measure up to this character trait.  It may feel like a tall order, but none of us starts out there.  We grow into it. That’s where courage enters into the picture.  Courage is only courage when there’s risk involved. That’s the point of recognizing when we’ve made a mistake, own it, and making the effort to do it differently next time.

If I want you to remember anything from this blog, it’s that we each have a contribution to make to this world. It’s up to each of us how our own wake will look and, in turn, how we can help enrich the environment for all of us.

“We are all energetically connected and affected by each other. Each of us has an impact that far exceeds our current understanding. It’s a wonderful opportunity and a great responsibility to be conscious of that influence. . . . Each of us is a seed that has been planted within our world’s current vibration. When we raise our own frequencies by the growth produced by our life challenges, we raise the world’s frequency from within – like a single drop of dye added to a glass of water, each person alters the entire hue .  . .”                   -Robert Schwartz

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.