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.

Reflections and Looking Forward

Each year at this time, I post something similar to this message. This year is special because this may be my last blog – at least as a therapist, as I’m slowing down my practice and will be retiring in mid-2019. I’m not sure what is next for me. I love to write, so I may be back, but in a different format. Until then, please read on:

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. My 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.

But also remember that the more connection we have with others, the more we learn and the more abundance we have in our lives. The fact that many of you have, on occasion, taken me into your confidence and trusted me with your deepest feelings and concerns humbles me.  I’m so honored to have had all of you in my life. Thank you.

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.

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 for once we will be able to spend time with all our kids and grandkids.

My husband is a professional Santa, so (while I seldom play Mrs. Claus) I do occasionally go along to 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, even 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.

Finding the Giving in the Holidays

I have posted this blog a couple of times at Thanksgiving time.  When I re-read it, I got the same teary-eyed, choked up feeling of love and connection that I describe in the blog below. So even though Thanksgiving has passed, and regardless of what you celebrate this time of year, at least part of the meaning for most of us is centered around giving to others. I hope you enjoy reading my memory of an exciting and wonderful day in my life.

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As Thanksgiving approaches, most of us focus on the gratitude we feel for all that we have.  But today, my 4 year old granddaughter reminded me of a different aspect of the holiday.

Her Papa is a professional Santa, so this is a busy time of year for him.  Today (the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving), he had 2 gigs, so it was just us girls playing around the house.  After lunch, we bundled up and drove to the local Price Chopper to pick up a couple of items.  Jess always jumps into the carts that look like a truck and pretends to drive me around the store.  She has never been very shy, so she usually yells, “Beep, Beep!  Get outta the way!” at everyone we meet.

Today was no different.  She jumped into the “truck” and we began our trip into the store.  The flower shop is the first thing you see, and all the cut flower bouquets are at eye level for her, so of course, she wanted some flowers. Finances have been pretty tight recently, so it felt a little frivolous at first, but I agreed to buy her a bouquet, on the condition she share.

Thus began our quest to give away flowers.  She chose one, very small bud that she wanted to keep for herself, and one by one, she gave flowers to other shoppers.  I can’t describe the elation I felt as I watched.  Occasionally someone would decline and tell her to keep the flower, but she had none of that!  She would follow them, tug on their coat and say, “No!  These are for you!”  As they accepted, she said, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

A couple of shoppers who weren’t fortunate enough to receive the flowers came up and told me what a wonderful lesson I was teaching her.  I nodded – I know it’s sappy, but I was getting choked up – because, in reality, SHE was showing ME how to give from the heart.

When we had given the last flower away, we got in line, paid for our items, and as we left, Jess turned around to the cashier and said, “Happy Thanksgiving!!”

Most of us have so much in our lives.  We get hung up on thinking about all the things we don’t have or believing we need more.  Changing our energy to one of abundance and giving helps us remember to be grateful for all that we do have!  And I have it on good authority, that when we can really do that, we receive even more.

As for the shopping trips, I have a feeling I’ve started something.  But that’s OK!  I can’t think of a better way to brighten a trip to the grocery store!  Jessica and I challenge each of you to find the “giving” in Thanksgiving this year.

And have a Happy Happy Holiday Season, regardless of what you celebrate!

Remembering Your Choices During the Holidays

If you find yourself getting more stressed as the season continues, here are a few things to keep in mind.

CHOOSE to stay in the present rather than dwelling on past experiences and traditions that place high expectations on you and others.

CHOOSE to keep a sense of humor about it all.

CHOOSE to take a break occasionally and do something different — like taking a walk, deep breathing, or calling a friend who will understand and not judge you.

CHOOSE to avoid major life changes during the holidays. If at all possible, this is not a good time to move, change jobs, or begin or end relationships.

CHOOSE to keep a running list of Gratitude — helps the attitude. There is much to be said about counting your blessings rather than stewing in your sorrows.

CHOOSE to start a new tradition this year. If your family isn’t healthy for you to be around, find something else to do that you enjoy — sleep in, take a short trip, read that book you haven’t been able to find time to get to — or just spend time with someone you enjoy being around. A change of scenery can be especially helpful – fewer reminders of the negative past experiences. And if you go somewhere you’ve never been, you have to be more in the moment just to find your way around.

CHOOSE to take one day – hour – minute at a time. We can get through anything for a short period of time, easier than thinking in terms of “forever”.

CHOOSE to remember that we have choices in how we look at things.

Best Wishes for a great Holiday Season!!