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Archive for November, 2010

This is a post specifically written for  Karen Caterson’s blog (which is always a great read BTW) round robin: Support Stories – Strength from Within. Thanks for inviting me to participate Karen! (Click on the link to see more stories, poems and posts on the topic by other bloggers)


When a tree is a sapling, it may be given some additional and external support. It may need stakes, ties and even deer guard to give it a chance to become the giant it was born to be. Over time, if all goes well, the tree outgrows the stakes. The branches reach high enough to evade foraging deer. Its root system grows deep and wide, bringing it nourishment from the ground. A strong trunk supports the wide canopy that drinks in sunlight. A tree wants to live. That’s an assumption I make. It will do all it can to survive in the densest of shade and the driest of soil. It wants to live.

There was a point in my life, not long ago, (ok, about 6 years ago) when I came to a cross-roads. I wasn’t sure I could go on much longer feeling so much emotional pain. I entertained the notion of suicide without really contemplating it. I was aware that I could let the big wind that entered my life completely uproot me or I could let a branch or two snap off, bend with the winds that blew, send a taproot deeper into a still place and make my stand.   In one inspired moment, I chose the latter.  Despite the pain, the complete uncertainty about my future (especially financially), I wanted to live. I wanted to create something new, find out what I was made of, maybe, eventually, find new love. I had a faint glimmer of hope that I’d make it to a better day.

That’s the thing about hope. It’s like a homeopathic remedy. It only takes the essence of hope, the faintest hint of hope to keep us going.

As I applied the essence of hope daily, I began to develop a relationship with myself, with nature and the Divine. I came to appreciate the gift of Mystery and the way in which we can navigate the unknown with Love. I filled the empty hole of feeling unappreciated and broken with a deep regard for the sacredness of all of life, mine included.

It meant giving up any notion of being rescued. It meant giving up suffering like a martyr.

Victims wait to be rescued.

Martyrs go through all kinds of tap dancing to suffer in silence (with a few deep sighs) and then get angry when no one notices all they have sacrificed for others.

Victims and martyrs are waiting for something outside themselves to support them. They’ve let the stakes, ties and deer fencing become their (illusory) prisons.  I know. I’m an “ex-con.”

Here’s the thing; once we commit to something, all of reality (and that which is unseen) conspires to support us.

If we are playing footsies with victim and martyr, we will be supported there too. We will create relationships with unwritten co-dependent contracts acting out roles of heroes and villains.

We make choices and those choices create our reality. What reality have you created?

What reality will you create now?

Some trees in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Parkgrow at right angles. They were tossed sideways in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 and then continued their upward growth toward the sun.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been tossed sideways by some kind of earthquake in their lives. We can live sideways and consider it over or reach for the warmth and light. It’s a choice.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  I’m not saying it’s hard.

I am saying, stop waiting for someone to come to the rescue. Chances are if you are not loving and nurturing  yourself, you won’t have an open enough heart to receive the help when it’s offered anyway.

You are your own hero (and your own villain). It’s an inside job.

Squirrel resting in tree Copyright (C) November 2010, Kathy J Loh

A sturdy tree makes a nice resting place (c) K J Loh

When it feels like all the world’s  got you in a spin and circumstances are chaotic, when you feel lonely and like you don’t belong, what to do? Be still. Breathe. Find your center. Send that taproot even deeper, let your canopy dance in the passing breeze. There’s a lot of space between you and all that is happening. Observe. Rest. Be with your genuine emotions raw and real as they are and pan the story. At least tell a new one.

I’ve created a strong sense of inner support by way of connecting with nature, the Divine, my own heart. Here are some of my practices with some selected resources. They are practices because there is no arrival, simply the daily devotion.

Wow, that’s a lot of external resources for developing inner strength. Like I said before, it’s an inside job and it is the commitment to the inner work that brings the support of a friendly world to your doorstep.

Enjoy dear ones!

If you have something you’d like to add to the list, feel free to leave a comment with your practices for creating strength from within.

Ready to receive some help with that inside job? Email me at kathyloh@coachkathy.com and we can set up a conversation about how I might be able to be of service to you.

If you are ready for radical transformation of your inner world (which will have a delightful impact on your external world) then you are ready for a Sacred Life Walkabout with me. Let’s talk!

Copyright © November 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Years ago, I had a breast lump aspirated and had to wait a few days for the results. Those days grew my compassion as I wandered about the grocery store and streets of town wondering what kind of news others might have recently received that had them seem so disconnected or disgruntled. I remember saying to myself, “You never know who just got a frightening diagnosis, word of someone’s death, or lost their job.”

My results were benign and I was greatly relieved. With the relief came a loss of memory, for compassion. Some of it stuck, but the frustration I felt with others on the road, in the shopping aisles returned. Old habits die hard I guess, but they do eventually die if we persist.

It’s also true that we never know who just received great news and is celebrating. When I am not feeling so great I can wonder about another’s happiness and even envy it some. Compassion teaches me to hold both the joy and the sorrow in the same cup.

Lately, I’ve been feeling compassion in a way that has me realize why I’ve found it so difficult to be with in the past. It’s not particularly comfortable.

I cried the other day as I watched a woman standing on a traffic island receive money from a stranger passing by in a car. She checked the bill several times, pocketed it and shuffled wearily back to her position.  I wondered about her, what journey she’d been on, what brought her to this point. It’s so much easier to judge than be curious. To be curious, to wonder, includes feeling into what might be happening over there. I don’t like feeling that. It hurts.

I cried yesterday when I saw a young guy being clueless and projected that he was not well educated, not particularly conscious (I don’t really know) and I thought of the world and humanity. I cried for the human condition. We try. We really try. I don’t like thinking about it. I don’t like how it feels. It hurts.

I cried today when a Jerusalem Cricket gave up the ghost. Spider bite? Age? I don’t know. All I know is that it hurt me to watch it wiggle all of its parts as its brain gave its final hard-wired instructions. I don’t like death. I don’t like losing people. I don’t like thinking about losses that will come. It hurts.

I’ve built a lot of protection between me and the pain I feel in the world. I’ve got rules, assumptions, avoidance techniques and no lack of judgment that create a wall around my heart. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that it hurts so much to feel it. And, feel it I must, beginning with my own stuffed-down emotions. As the heart cracks open, the ability to be with a full spectrum of emotions grows and I can still cry, but I don’t make it into another brick in my protective wall.

(If you are interested in growing your emotional capacity, keep an eye on Lucid Living. They are up to some amazing work and I’ve grown tremendously from my experiences with them.)

Karen Caterson (who writes a fun blog, by the way) shared this on Facebook today. I hope you’ll take the time to watch it and that it touches your heart as it touched mine.

Copyright (c) November 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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