Published September, 2017
After finishing our evening meal at a restaurant in town, my husband and I were walking back to our car. Along the way I stopped and picked up a salon brochure. Going to catch up to my husband, two elderly gentlemen started talking to me. Because I sensed they had been drinking, I moved briskly to get to our car.
As I walked ahead of them, I overheard the two of them talking. "Well, what number would you give her?" My thoughts wheeled in stunned disbelief. Was this really happening? It brought me back to my high school days. At that time in my life, the only thing that really mattered was what young men thought about my body. Getting in the car I told my husband about their comments. He responded casually, "So what rating did you get?" Feeling alone and lost, I rode home in silence.
The next day while journaling, my heart opened. This form of free flow writing brought enlightening revelations onto the paper. Then I noticed my own angst. My thoughts went to how rude others could be and how I had to put up with individuals who judged my appearance. Surely they saw my own physical imperfections which caused me to feel out of control and insecure.
It seems easier to reprimand the men and go down the well worn path about how hurtful this can be and when will men stop treating women as objects. Instead of focusing on the men's behavior, I paid attention to how I was feeling. What was I thinking? A deep sorrow and sadness followed.
Published March 20, 2017
We learn from mistakes so we do um on purpose? Is this true for you? How do you view mistakes?
Logically I know that without mistakes, new ideas and innovations aren't possible. Mistakes invite us to move outside our comfort zone and enable us to grow personally and professionally. We get to try something new. If we didn't meet our objective, we can try again. Being philosophical about mistake making is one thing. Experiencing them is quite another.
My morning coffee ritual reminds me of my Italian vacation taken five years ago. Making Italian coffee is easy. I put water in the lower chamber of the pot. As it heats up, water magically pushes through the coffee grounds. Presto coffee!
On one particular morning, I told my husband I couldn't chat, I needed to get to the stove because the coffee makes a gurgling sound when it's ready and I was too far away to hear it. As I approached the stove, instead of the normal aroma of fresh brewed coffee, there was a pungent burnt odor.
How could this be? The answer was simple. I made a mistake. I forgot to add the water.
I felt embarrassed even though I was alone. What course of action did I take? Automatically, I grabbed the pot and burned my fingers. After retrieving a hot pad, I quickly emptied the grounds into the trash. This compounded my problem because the plastic garbage bag melted onto the pot's hot side.
My own "heated" frustration rose. Then I moved to fear. I became aware of my thoughts and heard my own self talk recriminations. "How could I be so stupid? As a mindfulness teacher, I obviously wasn't practicing what I preach. I'll never be able to make coffee again." I felt my confidence shatter.
Published February, 2017
Does your idea of family extend to the people you work with? The last episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show is a great example. Mary said that sometimes she thinks she gives too much importance to her job. That the people she works with are just the people she works with and not her family. Then she asked herself, what is a family? They are people who make you feel less alone, and really loved. She goes on to tell her co-workers that is what they have done for her. She thanks them for being her family.
Like Mary I have experienced loving work families. In each, I have learned valuable life lessons.
My first was at a grocery store. When I responded to the loudspeaker page "Ellie to the deli," customers smiled as I walked briskly through the store. Having worked at the St. Paul deli for ten years, I was on a first name basis with many of the regulars.
Many times Jayne, a daytime cook, had my favorite dishes cooling on the stove. Like a schoolchild greeted at home with milk and cookies, I felt her welcome me to my afternoon shifts. The food's warmth extended all the way to my heart. Read entire article
Published January 26, 2017
Feeling agitated, angry, and frustrated are normal human emotions. Healthy individuals feel difficult emotions when they occur. Their body and mind awareness then enables them to consciously choose how to respond to life's events instead of reacting and most importantly overreacting.
Meet Judy, a young woman who derives her sense of self by being a super powered mom. As she frantically gets dinner ready, the green kitchen walls seem to close in on her. Katie is whining and pulling Cassandra's hair while the newborn infant cries and wants to be held. Looking at her own hands, she wonders how many she needs to properly take care of everyone else. Easy answer. More hands than she's got.
Because her husband arrives home late, they have started eating. As he brushes the smashed, errant cheerios off of his chair, Judy places a hot baked potato on his plate. He casually states, "No potato for me tonight." Her mind explodes. Her mouth follows. With no warning, she unleashes her pent up, charged frustrations. Yelling at him uncontrollably, her tears stain her worn out t-shirt.
What happened? Simply put Judy's inability to release her emotions as she experiences them is the cause of her outburst. When we are unaware of our feelings and thoughts, they actually get stored in our physical bodies. The energy then builds up to the point that it has to come out. Just like a tea kettle. When the pressure inside gets hot enough, the steamy air whistles indicating it's ready. Well, we can get too hot when anger, frustration, and disappointments are kept inside. Unfortunately we don't whistle. We blow up and hurt ourselves and the ones we love.
The solution. Judy needs to start taking care of her own needs. Understandably, it is difficult for a young mother of three to take time for herself on a regular basis. Yet it is crucial for Judy's health and her family's well-being.
Published December 26, 2016
Trauma alters lives whether the cause is a catastrophic situation like a war, a natural disaster or overwhelming everyday occurrences like health problems and car accidents. The Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shown that one in five Americans was sexually molested as a child; one in four was beaten by a parent to the point of a mark being left on their body; and one in three couples engages in physical violence. A quarter of us grew up with alcoholic relatives and one out of eight witnessed their mother being beaten or hit.
My personal trauma manifested a divorced, co-dependent, depressed mother of three small children with a smoking addiction living in poverty. Because trauma is imprinted on the body, brain, and spirit, complete healing needs to encompass all of them. This is why I created the Meditative Movement technique.
Brain: The brain works to ensure our survival. With repressed trauma, it is on constant alert. Becoming aware of past thoughts and feelings as well as future fears starts the healing process. Our own energy becomes depleted when we try to deny and avoid our pasts. When I acknowledged my thoughts and felt my emotions, I began exercising my personal power. The book, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, gave me insights into the root cause of my distress. It revealed the impacts my own negative self-talk was having on my well-being. Affirmations are a positive way to rewire the brain.
Other Practices: Meditation, prayer, support groups like AA and Al-anon, talk therapy, writing/speaking affirmations, and journaling.
Published November, 2016
Yes I admit I am an adamant dark chocolate lover. My husband is a milk chocolaty one. That's why the Christmas limited edition of the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Collection is heaven sent. Luscious squares of peppermint in dark chocolate for me and an equal amount of milk chocolate for him. Each piece individually wrapped in its own special silvery smooth packaging. No mistake about what's inside. No need to hoard or overindulge to ensure I get my fair share. Is that because there are only the two of us, not like growing up with my eight other family members?
Everything about the experience is inviting. The shiny colorful bag is perfect. Feeling the slenderness of the individual bar in my hand, assures my mind of its sleekness. Combining the eagerness of youth with adult reverence, I unbind the paper. Freed from their temporary confines, the coca and mint impart their scent which swiftly wafts up to my awaiting nose.
In delightful anticipation, I close my eyes as the bar reaches my lips. Pure ecstasy! As the chocolate melts, my tongue searches for another morsel of joy. Taking one more bite, the pleasure lingers and then is gone. Do I dare have another?
Could this be a simple yes or no answer? Not for me. Instead of considering the number of calories or the need to eat them all before they expire, my judging mind diligently enlightens me.
Published Aug, 2016
Is the Presidential Election giving you stress? If you answered yes, let's explore why and more importantly what you can do about it.
Stress is often categorized as positive and negative. Positive stress allows you to become a better version of yourself whereas negative stress removes or depletes your ability to effectively live your life.
Positive stress examples: You are excited about your upcoming vacation adventure yet planning it adds more tasks to your to-do list. You get promoted at work and your new responsibilities mean a change in your behavior and daily activities. Both desired situations may overwhelm and stress you out.
Negative stress happens when you discount your own self-care needs. If you become too busy to exercise or sleep properly, you will get into a negative cycle. When you try to control things that are not controllable (like the election), you will feel imbalanced.
How can the election be a positive stressor? First, you would need to see it as a personal growth opportunity. It can stretch you beyond your current belief limits. You can learn how to be happier in any situation. Here are 3 mindsets to consider.
Published May, 2016
Mental Health America offers ten proven tools for maintaining your mental health. Meditative Movements, a new exercise technique, incorporates three of them. Stay positive, get physically active and take care of your spirit. Healthy living means you are able to cope with everyday stressors and hassles with a calm confidence. By practicing this program, you can learn how to exercise your own personal power in a new way so you can be in control of your own health and well-being.
1. Stay positive by changing any unhealthy self-talk. My life started changing when I became aware of the impact that my thoughts were having on my current life situation. Over time, I came to understand that my repeated, destructive self-talk was causing an overall unhealthy state of being in me. Because I internally repeated, accepted, and identified with toxic thoughts like "I am useless, I am not good enough, and I am a failure", I was essentially destroying myself.
That is why each Meditative Movement uses a positive affirmation as a way to easily change any unhealthy self-talk. The affirmations begin with the word "I" so that you take ownership of the thoughts you think. Based on what you need for that day, a centering or energizing affirmation follows. As a twenty-three-year-old divorced mother of three small children, the "I Can Meditative Movement" helped me get through the day. It was a simple way for me to redirect my negative, harmful thinking.
Published May, 2016
Mental illness feels like a two hundred pound weight securely fashioned around my neck forcing my eyes to stare blankly onto the hard earthen ground. The brilliant sun's rays shine brightly, yet my limited view sees only the looming shadows of my past. My future burrows further towards the cold madness as I succumb to the emotional pull of self-destruction. Ellie Peterson, Apr 15, 2016 Journal Entry
With the approach of May Mental Health month, I have been reflecting on all of my pre-qualified disorders. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Major Depressive Disorder. Eating Disorder. Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders.
Is there a limit to the amount of disorders one person can have? I'm not complaining although if I live long enough a Complicating Complaining Disorder may be identified. I can see it now. Once diagnosed, the person would wear a bright red necklace. When the complaining thought arrived at the back of the neck, just prior to being spoken, the necklace would flash like an emergency vehicle strobe light and the siren would sound its menacing alarm. In addition, the complainer would receive an electronic shock to the tongue. If the jolt intensity did not deter the negative thinker from speaking the thought, than anyone in the vicinity could see the light, hear the amplified warnings, and get out of the way.
Republished April, 2016
Love is a word that is hard to define yet used in our everyday language. If we want to feel love from others, we need to be open to loving ourselves first. Here are some suggestions to making love more real in your everyday life.
Looking within. You are loved and your true self is wanting to be acknowledged. Meditation and Meditative Movements are fantastic ways to connect with your loving self.
Overlooking fear. To live with inner peace, you need to see past the fear to where the perfection in life exists. Focusing your attention on loving thoughts and feelings is the answer.
Valuing your voice. What you say internally to yourself and to others creates your reality. That is why the affirmations spoken during your workouts are best stated out loud.
Embracing your whole self. Acknowledging that you are more than your mind and body frees you to feel love totally in your being.
This "I Am Loved Meditative Movement" is taken from Ellie's Meditative Yoga eBook
Published March, 2016
When our garage roof needed repair my three children and I took on the task of reroofing it. Why you ask? You can bet so did my children. My response to my 15, 13 and 10-year-old kids was that their education costs took a big chunk of the budget. As a single parent, it was exciting to save money on something I thought we could do. How difficult could reroofing be? Lay one shingle down, then another.
As "Ellie-from-the-deli", making $10 an hour and teaching fourteen workout classes a week, I was doing all I could to meet our financial obligations. So I had my motivation. Reroofing the garage seemed like a simple enough task except for the fact that I was afraid of heights. No way would I have attempted my house roof because of the sharp incline plus I'd heard of people breaking body parts after falling.
This was the perfect equation for a life lesson: learn something new + overcome a fear = inner satisfaction.
Published November, 2015
Halloween was one holiday I shunned as I was growing up. Trick or treating for candy was its only redemption. Because I found daily living scary enough, I did not enjoy seeing witches, skeletons, bats, dismemberment, zombies, blood and death. Hearing haunting noises exemplified the frightening, horrifying thoughts that were swirling in my head. Having my fears validated by the Halloween reminders accentuated my unease in life.
Today Halloween does not elicit these same responses. Although I still have disturbing thoughts, they no longer have the same power over me. Just last evening, I was having a quiet meal alone and thoughts continually bombarded me. It was as if I was helpless to defend myself. What kind of thoughts you may ask. Well, they ranged from you aren't capable of living a healthy life to life is too hard and it doesn't make sense anymore.
At any age when you have scary thoughts, what options do you have?
Published October, 2015
The earliest written records of meditation, around 1500 BCE, come from the Hindu traditions. Today meditation is being practiced in our Western culture because of its physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of being in the present moment fully. The meditator’s mind expands in an openness to embrace each unfolding moment. As the meditator deepens their practice, they gain more wisdom, truth, compassion, and interconnection with all things. These insights guide the meditator in living their daily life in ease and love.
Published September, 2015
September is Recovery Month. Minnesota Recovery Connection (MRC) states, "Recovery is a life-long journey." Can you join MRC vision of a world where recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs is understood, promoted, embraced, and enjoyed and where all who seek it have access to the support, care, and resources they need to achieve long-term recovery?
Let's all say yes. Whatever role you are playing relative to the world of afflicted addiction: the addicted one, parent, sibling, co-worker, friend, child of the addict, you can bring healing to everyone impacted.
May you dedicate this month to expanding your awareness of recovery. Remember, healing starts with yourself. As you explore, ah, ha moments show up so be ready to take more responsibility for your own health and well-being. This healing requires education, practice and patience. As you grow, you can learn how to let go of blame, resentments, anger and fears which are the obstacles to your own happiness and wholeness.
Written by Paul Batz
Competitive golfers are encouraged to journal about their thoughts in the heat of the battle. The most common trap is negative self-talk. Sports psychologists say 'beating you up' is the job of mother nature and your opponent: your job is to be your own best friend, so you can stay positive and keep your best golf possible.
Can we agree sometimes it's hard to avoid beating ourselves up? We're all living in the same movie..it's easy for unpredictable plot twists to trigger the negative self-talk. That's why I'm so pleased to introduce you to my coach: Ellie Peterson.
Published May 1, 2014
Yes Minnesotans, it is snowing on May 1. Are you feeling sorry for yourself? Does that self-pity extend to the outdoor creatures and would you consider inviting a mouse into your home? Of course not. According to Deepak Chopra self-pity is the opposite of self-esteem. So why invite self-pity into your home (your being). Let's treat self-pity as we would the outdoor creatures and keep it out of our lives. During times like these I remind myself of the the Alcoholics Anonymous big book that promises:
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which use to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
So keep believing in yourself and your ability to take charge of your emotions.
Click here to read Deepak Chopra entire response to How to Stop Feeling Self-Pity.
How do we feel peaceful when horrific events like a local school shooting and the Boston marathon bombing occur? We all need to feel safe and confident amidst the stresses in our external world and believe that everything is well. Inner peace can be achieved by following these three simple daily practices.
First, you need to take time for yourself. It can be 5 minute intervals taken throughout your day or extended periods of time that you scheduled for yourself. Every Sunday you can take 3-5 minutes scheduling that week's Me time. Remember to view this time as an investment in your own well-being. Each evening before retiring for bed, ask yourself if you spent quality time just for you today. If the answer is no, take that time now. For me, the best time is right away in the morning. Because I want to give and be my best self for others, I need to be filled up to be impactful.
Second, be aware of what you are thinking and feeling. There are many ways to help you get in touch with your inner self. We respond all day to life's interactions; many times out of habit versus conscious thought about how we want to be. Therefore connecting with ourselves is the key. Meditation is a fantastic way to become more aware. Because it can be completed virtually anywhere, it appeals to busy individuals. Feeling more in tune with life is one of the results of practicing.
Third, you can affirm yourself as you move your body. When an event like this occurs, many people repeat the images and messages from the television and radio in their minds. Instead of feeding the pain, it is necessary to focus your attention on what is within your own control. The "I Am Safe" Meditative Movement and "I Forgive" Meditative Movements support and nurture your human needs, especially at these unsettling times. These simple movements bring your mind, body and being in alignment in the present moment and inner peace can be experienced.
These movements are available in Ellie's Meditative Yoga eBook.