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Archive for October, 2009

(This is a follow-up post to Informed by a Fallen Oak)

The guys showed up at 7:24 Monday morning. I watched them walk by in the dim light of dawn; the boss and the three workmen, looking a bit grim and bracing themselves against the cold morning air. Within moments the disturbing whining of two chainsaws broke the silence.  The men had been summoned to cut up the fallen oak and remove a couple more live ones.

I sat on the edge of my bed and wept after hearing the first limbs fall. I cried for the tree and its life and I cried for all of the creatures it has supported. I cried for the beauty of life. It felt important to me to honor them by being present to their demise. I decided to take some photos too and this is when something magical happened.

I was struck by the relationship between the tree cutter and the tree. They looked to be in intimate embrace, tied together by the ropes that keep the tree cutter from falling. He wrapped his rope around the tree and after he sawed off some limbs, he climbed higher by moving the rope up the trunk with the saw hanging by a separate cord. He used the limb stumps like telephone pole staples; stomping heavily on each to be sure they would hold before applying his full weight.  Once in position, he pulled the saw up and removed the next batch of limbs.

I thought: The oak allows the one with the chainsaw to climb it for the purpose of taking it down.

Fallen and sawed up oak tree

Oak remains (K Loh)

The oak that fell the week prior, spoke to me of being done and not knowing what’s next; of being uprooted with no sense of a new home.

Watching these live oaks being taken down, I thought of the structures, external and internal, that present potential hazards and blocks to who I am becoming now. I wondered what those structures are.  Internally, I know they are beliefs and fundamental choices. Externally, there are many options, from the amount of time I spend online to where I live.  It’s possible they are also the spiritual practices to which I’ve become somewhat attached. They’ve served me so well, that it pains me to let them go. They will support me as I disassemble them.

And so, I am in an intimate dance with my structures, climbing to the top, chainsaw in hand, removing limbs as I go and allowing enough to remain to support me as I climb. At some point, I will remove the top and begin the decent and dismantling of the trunk.

With the root, the original essence of all that is my calling, remaining in the soil, new sprouts will grow. These will be the new structures and new ways of doing and being that will arise in service of that calling.

firewood remnants of fallen tree

Firewood (K Loh)

The logs from the original tree will become firewood to warm us and our neighbors through the cold winter months.  As my coach, Jeanine Mancusi,  reminded me, the energy of the tree lives on in every piece of firewood, every stem, every leaf. There is a phoenix that rises from the ashes of all that I’m willing to burn.  The ashes feed the seeds.

There is more spaciousness in my view with the trees gone. There is more room to breathe and more room to move without some of those old beliefs and habits. The sunsets and stars are more visible. I can see beyond the forest.

I have tremendous gratitude for the old practices and how they helped me survive some very rough times. I grieve for them even as I embrace the adventure of creating and easing into new ones.

Just as I typed those words, a hawk rode a wind gust past my window, through the very space that used to be crowded with trees. It banked, circled and then flew directly at me gliding up over the roof.

It says something to me about where I’m headed these days…

Maybe it feels like being uprooted.

Maybe it feels like deconstructing, removing, rebuilding.

Maybe it feels like burning it all to the ground.

Hawk reminds me… it’s all about dancing with the winds of change.

Copyright(c) October 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved


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I can’t even remember if I was sitting at my computer desk or walking toward it when this happened.  What I do remember is hearing a very loud sound, looking out the window and seeing  a 100+ foot oak tree falling toward me. It hit the ground, branches bouncing around, and ultimately came to rest pressed into my window like an impetuous “please don’t leave me” lover’s embrace. The canopy was so wide it completely darkened a second window at the other end of the room.

The rest of the general story is fairly predictable. My landlords were quick to respond and the details that are generally left up to those who own property were in their hands; assessing damage, contacting tree services, etc. All around there was gratitude for the limited damage and the fact that no one was hurt.

This left me with the freedom to explore and play with it as a sign of some sort; to imbue the event with meaning, as is my nature.  I’m aware that some people prefer to see it as: a tree fell, end of story, move on. I can see it that way too. I choose not to. I choose to live in a more enchanting world. I have been deepening my relationship with Nature for a long time and animals in particular have become lively and important messengers for me. I go to stands of trees to find healing and comfort. We have “conversations.”

Old Vista with Oak (K Loh)

When the oak stood tall (K Loh)

Fallen Oak (K Loh)

Fallen Oak (K Loh)

The lease on another oak’s life is up as a result of the threat it poses by being so close to the house. It will be taken down because of its potential. I could not help but cry about that during my evening meditation; grieving the trees. At the same time, two pines, about 10 and 20 feet, are about to get a break as they no longer stand in the shade of the oaks.

I thought too of how the squirrels have been working so hard to collect their winter’s stash. I didn’t see them yesterday, but today I noticed they’ve already determined their new commuter route. They don’t pause for a moment to complain about the loss or the inconvenience (unless they do). They simply do what must be done and continue “squirreling away” for the cold months to come.

As I waited for the tree “morticians” to show up and improvise a requiem from chain saws and chippers, I wondered what happens when Cosmos decides that it has outgrown the form of an oak tree? Where does the energy go? What will be the new form? Chipper shred or something else? We see the tree, we see the chips and firewood, but there is something else we don’t see. Cosmos is always unfolding and moving and re-forming.

This week, the Tarot of the Spirit card upon which I’m meditating (as part of my class with Lightning Spiral Mystery School) is Seven of Wind – Many Tongues. There is change afoot. Articulation eludes us as we move into a new consciousness. Old structures need to give way as they, fashioned from an old perspective, no longer serve. It makes me ask: how can my mind, having created those structures as a mirror of itself, fathom a new one? What’s coming?

I am in that place between knowing and knowing anew. I have a sense, I have intuition, but I don’t yet have the words. The energy that was the oak tree and outgrew it is moving on and showing up in some new form, but I don’t know what. All I see is the fallen oak.

What comes with the fallen tree is the opening of a new vista. I can now see the previously hidden stands of redwoods and there is more sky which means more light, fuller sunsets, more moon and more stars.  The birds and squirrels will be farther from my view having moved to the trees further down the hill.

A friend and colleague drew an angel card for me, regarding this event. She drew Aspiration which indicated it was time to set my sights higher.  Now I have the vista and sky to do so and it may require the toppling of some structures.

This tree fell directly at me and if I crawled out my window, I could crawl directly down its branches to its main trunk and straight on down to the unearthed root ball. I can make up that a great groan of “done-ness” has arisen from its roots and shot straight up the trunk to me, entered into my field of awareness and left me with that same energy. All the things I am reticent to release, from beliefs to old stories to the stuff of clutter, are gathering, energetically, in me into a full surrender roar of enough!

It’s edgy business, this being done with no sense of what’s to come. There is no new structure already built and in place for me to inhabit and by which to live. I’ve purposefully invoked the unknown, the Mystery and here it is; a big gaping hole in the space where once a mighty oak stood; a hole where the light can now shine and from which the stars can be viewed.

I am setting my sights higher, wider, deeper,  broader. I’m setting my sights and getting insights; familiarizing myself with the lay of this new terrain and feeling incredible gratitude for the Beauty we call Nature. In these ways and so many others, I allow myself to be enchanted an  in-formed by a fallen oak.

Copyright (c) October 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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A wonderful comment from Shulamit on yesterday’s post, Vision Quest: Vision Story, took me on a little brainstorming venture.  The conundrum she presented is what to do when you are talking with clients or students about their visions, asking them what they want and getting the response, “I don’t know.”

There are a number of ways (and please feel free to post your own in comments) to respond to “I don’t know” such as:

  • If you did know, what would you know?
  • What don’t you know?
  • What do you know?
  • Is it that you don’t know or something more like you are afraid to know, what’s the point because you believe you can’t have it anyway, etc.
  • What is it to know?
  • How would you know that you know (or what has you sure you don’t know?)

That would be a conversation around knowing and not-knowing that might be fruitful if this person consistently responds with “I don’t know” regardless of the question and you know it’s not about stalemating you.

Where are you going? (Kathy Loh)

Where are you going? (Kathy Loh)

What draws my creative attention is the ways we might assist those who really want to know what they want and are just beginning to allow themselves to explore it.

Here are some ideas (again, please feel free to add yours to comments):

  • Make a list of all the things you know you don’t want and then restate them as what you do want.
  • Gather images from magazines, papers, websites that evoke a feeling of “I’d like to have that” or “I’d like to be that”  in you.
  • Gather quotes and lines from poems and songs that make you feel wonderful.
  • Remember one or more peak experiences vividly and savor it/them. What was it about that time?
  • Set the stage for full possibility by creating a scenario in which all material needs are met and then ask what you want.
  • Clear out what you think you should want: what is it politically, spiritually, socially correct for you to want? And now, what do you want?
  • Clear out what you think you have to do to make others happy: What do your parents, spouse, teachers, children want you to want? And now, what do you want?
  • Create a scenario of your perfect day and if it seems too limited, then create the perfect week. These will show you a lot about what you want.
  • Have an internal tea party with your inner cast of thousands. There are two gatherings I enjoy having: (1)child, adolescent, young adult, adult, higher self and gremlin (2) body, mind, spirit, heart. It’s fascinating to see what each has to say and to find the alchemy of their alignment.
  • Take time in nature to just be and to hear your own voice rather than the buzz of the world.
  • Create and do visualizations that help you step into what you want and unfold your vision.
  • Get out post-it notes, post-it flip charts and lots of colored pens. Write down, draw, make mind-maps and clouds of all that you love and put them on the wall. Let yourself steep in them for awhile and see what comes up as a picture for how they all come together. (see my earlier post:  Dawdling un-rule #4 from June 29, 2009)
  • Imagine you are lying on your death-bed and you are looking back over your life. What do you want to see as the life you lived and the person you were while living it?
  • What is the legacy you want to leave, whether as an individual or as a business – how will the world or a demographic be better because you followed your bliss?
  • Step outside yourself by asking a tree, God/Goddess/Angels, your pet, a flower, etc. to speak for you and see what it/they say.
  • Play with perspectives: choose 6 to 8 different objects in your space, randomly, and let each one somehow be a symbol of what you want. Play with the metaphors that come to mind.
  • Do some deep breathing and drop into your heart. What does your heart know that you want?
  • Ask some body part – I’ve often gotten great results asking, “What does your left big toe know about that?”
  • Get into the body, become a firmly rooted tree…feel the roots going into the ground and the branches stretching and reaching for the sky. What do you know now?
  • Play with the elements: If you were the wind (water, earth, fire) what would you want?
  • If all you get is images that don’t seem to make sense (elephant, sunflower, raft on the ocean) play with it as a message from your intuition. Be patient. It may take time to unfold the message.

This is just the beginning. From here, I would coach a client around why they want it and why they don’t want it. I’d also work with them regarding values and passions to see where they are honored and not. When we work with visions and the question “What do you want?”, we inevitably bump up against a big tangled mass of limiting beliefs, fundamental choices and unmet needs that begs for  unraveling.

Visioning is an iterative process.  Our visions are meant to evolve with us. So whether you write a vision story, vision statement or create a vision board, you will likely want to revisit it on a regular basis (suggesting here an annual vision retreat) so that it keeps pace with who you are becoming.

More on visioning is coming in future posts, including creating a vision story, group visioning and a bit on the ever-popular vision board.

For today, I  leave you with this inquiry:

Imagine you are taking your final breath and you are conscious enough to be able to see your entire life behind you.

What do you want to see (and know) you did; who do you want to see (and know) you were as a person?

What will have you say “I’ve lived a good life and I’m complete?”

Then look at your life today as feedback (without judgment, simply with curiosity) and ask:

How is my life in alignment with my answer to those questions above (and how not?)

Congratulate yourself for your success, for certainly you will find you are in some ways, or many, in alignment.

Then give yourself the gift of taking one small step toward creating, enhancing or rewriting that vision and one small step toward making it happen.

Happy Visioning!

PS If you want help creating, re-tooling or coaxing your vision, hop on over to my website (see sidebar) for contact info.  I’d be happy to talk with you about a short-term vision coaching arrangement.

Copyright(c) October 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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“Is the life I’m living the life that wants to live in me?” – Parker Palmer

(I’ve not been posting very regularly. That’s not new for me. I don’t subscribe to the “rule” that one must post to their blog at least four times a week. After a full morning of journaling, meditation and a hike, there’s not often time for me to write the kind of posts I like to write. And, this month something more is up for me.)

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the Tarot Pilgrimage I attended in January. It’s a day-long event with Pamela Eakins of Lightning Spiral Mystery School where we go through an intuitive process and draw one card for each month of the upcoming year. My card for October is a very special card called The Secret Card.

I’m also studying the Tarot seven cards this month. So, I asked Pamela for guidance in working with both of these at the same time. She advised me to create a vision quest for myself.

Then I met with friend and colleague, Robin Jones of Success Becomes You who is assisting me with my marketing plan development. His first assignment was to review the vision story I wrote for my original plan in early 2004.

OK – I get the message: Vision Quest!

Visioning and imagination are gifts of mine. It’s not hard for me to imagine a wide range of possibilities and fill in each and every one of them with a finely focused vision.  Where I have trouble making distinctions is between what I can see and what I really want.  After a day of working on a vision story, I will find myself crawling into bed with the thought, “Do I really want that? Wait…what about…?”

I pulled out my old vision story from 2004. It was delightful and tough to read. The people included in it have completely disappeared from my life. While I’ve grieved the loss, I also know that it was meant to be. I’ve achieved some of my goals and dropped others entirely.  I have changed and so has my focus.

What surprised me most was the wording; how small I was holding myself while supposedly “dreaming big.”

For example I wrote: “I have achieved a balance of working for enough income to support my lifestyle, which is comfortable and not extravagant and time to work on my own creative projects, some of which produce income and some of which do not have to produce anything other than satisfaction of self-expression.”

You might ask, “What’s wrong with that?” Here’s what I notice.

  • It implies work and living my life are separate entities to be put upon a scale so as to get equal attention.
  • It assumes work is less pleasurable than and something other than living.
  • It assumes there is no freedom in working.
  • It exposes a belief that I can only expect to make so much money as a payoff for this balance and puts an unspoken ceiling on the amount.
  • It also strives to protect my creative output from being work or anything other than self-expression.
  • It exposes my belief that my creative activities cannot support me on their own (starving artist with a day-job syndrome).

Bottom line: it says, “Don’t expect too much.”  It’s a hedge against disappointment and, I suspect, since we did this in a group workshop, a hedge against looking like a failure if I don’t achieve my goals or looking like an idiot for thinking I could achieve more; that I might have that much to offer.

A place to contemplate (Kathy Loh)

A place to contemplate (Kathy Loh)

Writing a vision story is a brave and vulnerable act. We are saying to ourselves and the world, out loud and in print what we really, really want from the bottom of our all too often scarred and hurting heart.

We are saying, “This is what I love to do, the passion that calls to me and the beauty, the love, the joy, the fulfillment I want to experience every day. Here’s the meaning, the inspiration, the laughter I want to bring to others and my life and I want to be paid for it. I get to have full faith that I will have a roof over my head and food on the table.  I dare to dream that doing what I love is not a sacrificial act upon the altar of food stamps and welfare.  I am declaring out loud that what means the most to me is valuable and that the pursuit of that life I’m dreaming is not only possible; it is a birthright. I dare to believe that following my bliss is my greatest legacy.”

In other words, we are saying:  I matter.

When I can say I matter, then I have to own responsibility for my impact.

When I own responsibility for my impact, I can stop reaching for control or a sense of false power with manipulation. I can stop blaming others and circumstances for my reality.

I get to start PLAYING.

This is huge …read it again.

I get to start PLAYING in the mystery, because everything now is just feedback. It’s not about me being worthy or unworthy, good or bad, better than less than.

When I become responsible for my impact and I am playing in the mystery and everything is just feedback, then I am ever more consciously creating my reality. I say consciously because we are creating our reality all the time and a lot of it unconsciously.

So here’s the jist of my vision story. It’s called evolution, because it changes as I grow. I don’t know what the end looks like. I only get this picture of doorway after doorway opening up and the hallway I’m traversing is in the midst of some huge galaxy in the middle of an ever expanding universe.

The balance I am looking for is mindfulness and checking in with myself now and now and now each step of the way.  What matters to me as I travel is whether or not I am in alignment with my bliss and how I am relating to my fellow travelers; am I honoring, loving and valuing myself and extending that same generosity and compassion to all living creatures?

That’s the starting point for my vision quest and my vision story.

What’s yours?

copyright(c) October 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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This is a guest post from my friend Pemma Fox*

Full Moon in Aries .. Sunday 4th

This full Moon in Aries gives us the courage to go for it, and also the hope to believe in a fresh start. With Aries fire sweeping through, there’s some forgetting of recent trials.

Like the Fool in the Tarot, Aries sets forth without the baggage of the past, just a small bundle filled with essentials.  This full Moon in Aries inspires that breathless feeling of travelling light, when we know we’re setting off on an adventure.

This full Moon can renew our faith, and infuse us with vitality. The dark season ahead (for those of us going into the winter months) can be a productive time when we dig deep for the strength to make foundational changes. Under the cover of darkness (winter), we can do an ‘internal’ house cleaning, and make important steps toward our goals.

By spring, when the Sun is in Aries, there’s an unveiling of all that’s been quietly created.

Enjoy!

Thank you Pemma!

* Pemma Fox, CPCC lives in the UK. She is a magical energy worker and you can reach her at: pemmaf@yahoo.co.uk

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“All seasons are beautiful for the person who carries happiness within. “ – Horace Friess

“ My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” – Charles Schulz

It was a Monday (Oct 2008) I will never forget…(hopefully)

Strike One:

Construction had begun on the remodel of a garage-soon-to-be-family-room to which my granny unit apartment is attached. Sledge hammers and crow bars were being used to rip away the old wall. I work, on the phone, on the other side of that wall.  It was disruptive and annoying and the nightmare, as I called it, was only beginning.

Strike Two:

Let me back up for a moment. On the Friday prior I got a warning signal. My computer crashed.  It summarily told me, by way of some error message I can’t recall, that it was done and it died. I was grateful I had a back up drive and I used it regularly. I still had time on my 3 year warranty, so I picked up the phone and waited to have a conversation with a techie in India. Secretly, I hoped my computer would be pronounced dead so I could go out and buy a Mac.

The techie took me through a number of fruitless steps and then told me all we could do was wipe out my hard drive and start over. With her supervisor on the line, she asked me if I understood what we were about to do. I said yes and that I wasn’t happy.

We wiped the drive clean while re-installing the operating system. (Sometimes I wish I could clear my “drive” and re-install my own internal operating system. Do they outsource for this service as well?)

I spent the weekend re-loading software. The only reward was the speed I now experienced with the newly cleaned disk.

So, now back to Monday’s strike two.  It comes in two parts. My back-up drive died after downloading a fraction of what it held. My computer’s wireless card died and some other, less memorable things got funky. Again, I called India (I mean my computer company’s Technical Service). There was a program the techie wanted to download to my computer, but since my wireless card was not working, that was not possible. I had to go around to the landlord’s place and download it through their computer to transfer to mine. This had me traipsing back and forth across the property  into the dusky hours of twilight, carrying my computer at all times.  I was hurrying back to get his return phone call at my place when…

Strike Three:

I stepped down the two stairs between my bedroom and office and missed the second one.  My ankle folded in half and my computer went flying out of my hands and into the desk leg. (Would this be my Mac opportunity?)

The phone rang and we continued our work on my computer, while I had my leg up on the desk with ice on it. The techie came to the conclusion that my problem could not be fixed over the phone and they would now honor my “in home service” warranty and send someone out to the house to fix things. (Gee, wonder why he hadn’t come to that hours and a healthy ankle ago.)

Before the choice comes the surrender

Tuesday found me propped up in bed with no online service available, painstakingly moving from spot to spot in the house with the use of a borrowed walker, unable to drive, listening to hammers, saws, and loud music as the construction crew continued their demolition fiesta. I was trapped. I felt like a cornered animal. My daily swim/float in the pool had come to an abrupt end. It was like the powers that be said “no more fun for you little missy” and pulled the plug. What’s with my life mirroring my computer anyway?

I had a  call with my writing coach and she let me whine and blame for a bit. Then she reminded me of my exquisite imagination. There, on the phone, lying in the bed, I began to float on water. I was as much in the pool as on the bed. As we completed the imaginary float, she asked,  “What did you hear while you were floating?” I was surprised to realize I’d not heard the hammering at all. I’d heard it, but hadn’t noticed it. I was no longer triggered by it.

Floating (c) Kathy J Loh

Floating (c) Kathy J Loh

In that moment, I integrated what, until then, I’d only known intellectually.

Happiness is a choice.

Despite the circumstances, I knew I did not want to feel miserable as well. How I feel is within the realm of my control.  Days prior to this strike-out, I’d been blissfully happy and carefree. I did not want to lose that joy. I may be “out” but I’m not going down! I decided to feel happy. I surrendered to the what-is of a sprained ankle, a lack of internet connection, non-mobility and invasive noise. I asked for help. Rather than spending the hours in anger and frustration, I spent them following my heart’s desire in each moment.  I was truly happy.

So, I suggest following these steps for the next time circumstances knock you sideways:

  • Stop and breathe
  • Notice what is
  • Ask:  what can I change and what is out of my control?
  • Surrender to it
  • Let yourself wallow for a little bit; feel what you are feeling.  (I discovered something about why I’m so triggered by loud noises when I did this.)
  • Ask for help
  • Choose happiness
  • Follow your heart’s desire and create it for yourself in whatever responsible (ability to respond) way you can

Oh, and my laptop computer? I still have it. The in-home technician replaced the wireless, gave me a new keyboard and an incredible deal on more memory and extended the warranty. ( Uhm…can I get one of those extended warranties for me too?) And the Mac is on hold for now.

Copyright (c) October 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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