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“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Nelson Mandela

I notice as I begin to write this post, that it is high noon. I’m reminded of Westerns in which the moment of confrontation is scheduled for high noon.

I have felt myself to be traveling toward high noon. The confrontation is not with any outer circumstance or individual. It is within me. It is that moment when my personality squares up with my soul and says “draw pahrdner!” It is the moment when my mind steps aside in deference to my heart.  It is the portal to a new way of being that can’t be known, but only glimpsed, from this side of the door jamb.

But wait…let’s rewrite the script here.  I think I’ll write it as me riding off into the sunset at the beck and call of soul.

I’m not interested in fighting. Fighting, especially with the negative ego, is the ultimate detour. I’m interested in being an enchanted wanderer in the Great Mystery.

I’ve not posted much here recently, and I’ve had plenty of passion and ideas about what to write. Passion and inspiration are moving through me so quickly that I find myself living those unwritten posts and moving on before I ever get near the computer.  Some of it gets disseminated in my journals, my emails to friends and comments on other people’s blogs. The rest is simply digested.

It used to be that I kept track of every inspiration, every whisper or sign from the Universe that it is friendly and helpful. I wanted to remember the magic, hold on to it forever. Now I’m inundated with messages and it’s all too much to hold; spilling over. Trying to accumulate to remember is another distraction. True remembrance is re-membering; embodying

I have a suspicion many of you have been feeling something similar; an apparent acceleration (or shrinking) of time. I say apparent because the reality of linear time is questionable and so it follows that acceleration would also be an illusion. What if it is about the speed of soul and we are beginning to feel that vibration? I suspect that we will find ourselves soothing our physical bodies by slowing down to speed up; meaning becoming more deeply present to the infinite here and now in order to attune to (or even survive) the new frequencies.

Still, here we are…moments past the actual time of the Super Moon (2:10 pm EDT), hours away from the Spring Equinox tomorrow (March 20 7:21 pm EDT) praying for Japan, praying for the ocean, praying for ourselves.

copyright(c) March 2011, Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

Do you see the dancer in the shadow to the right?

This equinox finds us at a different kind of high noon. We are precariously unbalanced and in great need of realignment. Fear begins to shut down our physical systems. We begin to show symptoms in pain, illness, depression, confusion. We can meet our fear at high-noon and stare it down, hope to God/dess to have the fastest draw, or we can let our fear live out its own story in some other reality while we ride off into the sunset of Love, guided by our hearts.

This riding off into the sunset is not an ending. It is a beginning. It is accomplished in the simplest of steps and awarenesses:

Where is your attention?

To what are you giving your energy?

What do you tell yourself about you?

When you are thinking, who is thinking and who is listening?

Where is the Love? (hint: all around you)

What does it take to open to receive Love even in the face of fear?

How can you extend any amount of Love if you are not opening to receive it?

What will soothe your physical body so that you feel safe?  (hint: it’s the small things)

What in your space and activities is more noise and distraction than beauty and clarity?

What will you do about that? (in the name of Love)

Here’s an example of soothing by way of something I created for myself in an improvisatory moment last night.

I’d been feeling very out of sorts. I had a stiff neck (from exercising my frozen shoulder) and I was feeling some kind of heaviness in my head. My blood pressure felt low. I was also sick and tired of all the rain and dankness in my place. I was miserably cold. I decided to take a bath to get warm.

I set up the bath with the usual candle and bath amenities and I set Pandora to my Hawaiian slack key channel. I immersed myself and let the water work its magic. I let my arms float and make hula movements in the water. I found myself in the warm waters of Manele Bay where the dolphins swim.

I sang along with the instrumental music in Hawaiian style, making up words that sound Hawaiian but are actually nonsense. The amount of challenge presented by singing with harmonies that were unknown to me was just right. As I sang, I pictured Lanikai Beach. My mind drifted to the memory of a game I’d played with Jeff Jacobson and other Lucid Living friends. We made up words and phrases in fake Hawaiian sound-alike language.  In my imagination, while soaking in the tub, I created a reality in which I was having a great time with these friends. Jeff’s wonderful playful energy was with me in that moment. I laughed and sang and laughed some more. I got downright silly.

copyright (c) Oct 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Lanikai, Oahu, HI

By the time I got out of the tub, my entire system had been re-set. I had created community and fun and my heart was filled with joy, love and playfulness. Love was present and I was present to Love.

Question: was it real?

Answer: Did I experience it?

Now I ask you, as you consider riding off into the sunset at high noon: if we create our reality, what reality do we want to create? One of fear and constriction?  One of Love and expansion? (And yes, there are many more choices and we include it all, but I have a notion that Love and expansion are more inclusive than fear and constriction.)

Even if you don’t believe you create it all, you can at least think about your capacity to be at choice with how you will be with the reality you perceive.

My bath time wonderland last night was my oxygen mask. The one I put on before I can help others; the one that enables me to spill over with joy and Love – the same joy and love that powers my prayers and visions for Japan, for Christchurch, for Chile, for Haiti, for Libya, for New Orleans, for polar bears and arctic ice floes.

Tragedy, chaos and destruction in the world do not preclude laughter and play, they demand it.

So, I invite you to leave your fear standing alone in the dusty, empty center of some ghost town and ride off into the sunset of your new reality on a laughing and singing on a horse called Love. It must be high noon somewhere and the world needs laughter and prayers from hearts spilling over with Love and joy.

Here’s a soundtrack for your ride (Led (Ledward) Kaapana):

PS: How about some hope? Lucid Living is offering a workshop: Anchoring New Hope: Sacred Ceremonies for a New World. Click HERE for more info.

Copyright © March 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
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I have a frozen shoulder, otherwise known as adhesive capsulitis. This means, I can’t raise the arm attached to that shoulder much higher than the shoulder itself. It makes things like sweeping, washing my hair, putting on pullover tops and the like challenging or nearly impossible without pain. I’m to avoid pain. Nice directive and one for which I need little reminding.

[Let me take a moment to announce to everyone, especially the mid-life women out there, if you feel pain in your shoulder and it doesn’t go away for weeks on end, get it checked out. It is easier to take care of early in the game. Once it adheres, the recovery can be a long one. Natural recovery (without intervention) can take 2 to 4 years. Much of what I’ve read says it is likely hormone related. I would have liked to have known about all of this prior to the adhesion, so consider this my public service warning to all you ladies out there.]

As for me, I felt it last fall, before I went to Hawaii, but I figured it was just another of those aches that goes away if you just give it a little time. While I was in Hawaii, it loosened up as I swam in the warm waters of Lanai. But then, I suspect everything feels better in Hawaii.

There are details of the journey, whom I saw and what they recommended, but where this post really begins is the night after I got a cortisone shot in my shoulder.  Agony was my teacher.

The pain was the worst I’d felt since I broke my foot.  I experienced wave after wave of pain and no position made it better.  There was no break, no breather from the misery.  I walked around my house saying “and this is supposed to make me feel better? Are you kidding me? WTF!”  I began to wonder how people with chronic pain manage and my compassion for those people went up exponentially.

When I went to bed,  I put on the Reiki Whale music I listen to every night and tried finding the least painful position to lay in. At first, I resisted, as in, I tried to go to sleep despite the pain, trying to ignore the pain and listen to the music. That didn’t work.

Finally, I decided to work with it rather than against it. I repeatedly said “You are a part of me. You are a part of my wholeness.” Then I went deeper into the pain with curiosity; wanting to know more about this part of me. I found myself being with its rhythm, riding its wave. Somewhere in that ride, I drifted off. When I awoke, the pain was gone.

That morning, with my focus no longer captive to waves of pain in my arm, I noticed that my big toe joint hurt, my left shoulder was also unhappy and there was a kind of kink in my groin. These typical morning aches and pains felt heavenly in comparison to the previous night’s waves.

I took the contemplation of wholeness to my morning meditation. What was the pain teaching me?  I thought of all the ways I have separated from myself in resistance to pain; physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain, mental pain. Whenever I resist, I am saying, you are not me, you are the enemy.

Then I became aware of all the ways I’ve separated from myself by berating myself. Every time I have found myself wrong, imperfect, flawed in some way, I’ve disowned a piece of me and created separation.  I became aware of the ways I’ve colluded with others who have foisted their own pain on me in the form of disrespect and abuse.

When I am not experiencing myself as whole, I feel broken and feeling broken I chase after whatever I think will fix me. Thus, I’ve set up a cycle of separation and pain.

In my meditation I welcomed it all back, all of it and all of me. I sent messages and vibrations of love to all of me, the whole me with everything included.

Now, the me who is already (and always was) beautiful has an opportunity to catch up to the me that has been chasing after perfection.

Beauty is not perfection.

I said to myself: This is where I not only “see what is,” I accept. I surrender. I stop chasing. Now I can begin again from Love.

As I sat with those thoughts, I noticed little complaints from various parts of my body as if to ask “me too?” “Yes, knee, you too.” And as quickly as it came, the throbbing in the knee vanished.

The prior night’s pain brought me into my body and would not let me escape. Being in my body had me be aware of what it needs. It forces me to listen and that’s all the body wants, for me to be present and listen.

I became aware that if I am self-loathing in any dark little corner of myself, I hold myself separate from me, from others, from life, from God / Goddess / All that is.  This loving wholeness, embracing it all, is the antidote to self-loathing. Rather than focusing on how I am not perfect and all the things that need fixing, which has me not like myself until those things are fixed, I am turning my attention to being whole. I’m loving the whole me inclusively and my body, mind, spirit and heart can all feel safe and loved, rather than marginalized and disowned.

If I want to be heard and seen, best to begin by seeing and hearing myself.

And so, I am re-membering the disowned parts and I am remembering who I really am.

And you, dear reader, what pains you and how is it related to separation?

copyright (c) February 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Happy New Year!

Last night I danced by the light of the blue moon and sang whatever song illumined my heart. Any day I have written and walked in the woods is a good day. Any day that sends me a sprinkling of synchronicity is one that sparkles. Yesterday was one of those good and sparkly days.

I am contemplating the word “open.”  It’s not my new word for 2010.  It’s a 2009 spillover.  Just because I turned the calendar page, doesn’t mean I’m done with the contemplations of 2009.

Soul-time knows no calendar.

My body, in its infinite though sometimes painful wisdom, is having me look again at this word “open,” by way of a very swollen tendon in my right-hand thumb pad. I did not do this in some noticeable way, like an accident. It just came on and the explanation is likely connected with some way I held the steering wheel during my long drive home. It’s painful. I type very slowly. It hurts to write with a pen. To hold or grasp anything with my right hand, I have to use the fingers only. It’s giving me a new appreciation for the evolution of the opposable thumb!

In Heal Your Body, Louise Hay writes that issues with hands are about how we handle life. I took a walk contemplating how I might be trying to hold on too tightly, steering too much with the masculine (right side of body) “doing” aspect of my being; how it might serve me to release and open more. I took my hands out of my pockets despite the chill, and opened them wide.  As I left the woods and approached the driveway, I thought “I need to get rid of all that stuff I’m holding on to in the garage.” Then I stopped in my tracks and laughed out loud when I heard, “You don’t even need to hold on to letting go.”

The either /or of hold on – let go is a polarity that keeps me distracted with the game of it all rather than living life more freely. There is the baggage without and the baggage within that weighs me down, physically and psychically. In this contemplation it was about stuff, but in the bigger picture, it’s about life.

It’s not the stuff in the boxes that weighs me down. It’s how I think about them. It’s not my past that holds me back, but the story I tell about it and this notion that I somehow have to be entirely free of the sadness and anger in order to feel alive and happy. It’s also some idea I have that if it crosses my mind at all, I didn’t really release it.

I don’t have to do anything. I can do whatever I want: pick through it, let it go, give it away, sell it, never look at it again, let it rot, mold, be destroyed by mice. It’s not about letting go of the stuff. It’s about awareness of my fears; that there is one right or best way to handle it, that I will be letting things slip through my fingers, that I have to honor it, hold on to the lessons, understand everything about it, to release it and be complete. That’s precisely how having to let go makes letting go nearly impossible.

I don’t have to permanently forget people and pain from the past. I don’t have to make them saints for the lessons I learned from them. I don’t have to do anything other than what I want, which is to accept it for what it is, and open wide to accept new people and new experiences into my life. If tears come through now and then, it doesn’t mean I’m not healed. It means I have an open heart and energy moves through and around an open heart.

I want to hand-le life with an open heart!

Clay figure from Bell Pine Art Farm "Open Heart"

"Open Heart" Bell Pine Art Farm* (K J Loh)

*you can get this and other lovely clay figurines from Bell Pine Art Farm.

Interlude: Breathing is a cycle of inhale and exhale and that curious space of nothingness (no-thing-ness) in between.  I use both my fingers and my thumb to grasp things. They are in opposition, like the poles of hold-on and let-go, and they work better together than alone. So, as I open to grasping, I grasp opening. Giving and receiving, I hold one hand turned outward and one hand facing me, and both are open. It’s becoming clear that the lesson for me here is in giving and receiving open handedly.

Living in the paradox (hold on, let go: give, receive) means living in the question. Living in the question is living in that curious space between the in and out breath.  It’s what Julie Daley wrote about in her blog today as the “blessed unrest” and what Beth Follini wrote about in her New Year post as “living with not-knowing.”

I call this space “creative tension.” It’s where we are always at the edge of our frontier as creative, evolving beings and consciousness; where the drop knows it is the ocean and yet still the drop. It’s unfamiliar, edgy and completely natural.

It’s a muscle we build, this willingness to be and live in the tension of the question. The friction ignites our creative embers. I want to warm and heal the way I handle life by the wisdom and courage of this fire. I want to use its light to illumine my way through the ever-unfolding Mystery.  And, while I’m driving the distance, perhaps I don’t have to hold the steering wheel so tightly!

Oh, and my new 2010 Spirit Cards (chosen during my New Year’s Day ritual)?

I Am – Mercy

I Will  – Inspire

I’m dancing with these to the music of Open.

I’m dancing to this song by Abbey Lincoln that my friend Joette Tizzone played for me after I told her about my contemplation during our New Years Eve chat. Enjoy! (The lyrics are below)

Throw It Away (Abbey Lincoln)

I think about the life I live

A figure made of clay

And think about the things I lost

The things I gave away

And when I’m in a certain mood

I search the house and look

One night I found these magic words

In a magic book

Throw it away

Throw it away

Give your love, live your life

Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open

Let the sun shine through

‘Cause you can never lose a thing

If it belongs to you

There’s a hand to rock the cradle

And a hand to help us stand

With a gentle kind of motion

As it moves across the land

And the hand’s unclenched and open

Gifts of life and love it brings

So keep your hand wide open

If you’re needing anything

Throw it away

Throw it away

Give your love, live your life

Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open

Let the sun shine through

‘Cause you can never lose a thing

If it belongs to you

Copyright (c) January 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (excluding artwork, video, music, lyrics)

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I remember sitting on the beach in La Jolla doing the beach-bunny thing while my boyfriend surfed the waves with his friends. I was in high school at the time. I was full of my youth, full of myself. I was lookin’ good and I knew it, even if I did get insecure from time to time. Youth rocked (so we thought).

I remember a woman walking by who caught my attention and the words I said to myself:

I hope I’m like her when I get older.

She was probably in her 50s or 60s. Hard to tell. At 16, everyone over 30 looks old. She was very tan, wrinkly and very round like an apple on two poles. She had a long gray braid down her back and she wore a bright orange one-piece swimsuit. She was walking with no noticeable trace of self-consciousness.  She was out there, hiding nothing. She was absolutely beautiful in her ease.

“She wrinkled, but she lovely” (1)

I wanted to be like her when I grew old, to feel free and comfortable in my own skin, happy to walk along the beach in a swimsuit. I wanted to keep my long hair. In those days, I held the assumption that you had to cut your hair short after your 20s, because all the magazines advised us that short hair “lifts the features and gives women a more youthful appearance.”

grand canyon late 2002

Grand Canyon 2002 (K Loh)

I remember a moment out of time during one of my many hikes in the Grand Canyon. We’d just spent two nights at Phantom Ranch and were coming up the Bright Angel trail. At one point, nearing the last portion of the hike, we rested, taking in the stunning view of the Coconino sandstone walls rising toward the rim. Standing at their base, feeling very small, I felt their grandeur suck all the air right out of my chest. I was mesmerized, immobilized.  And then I heard myself utter:

This is so beautiful! God made this and God made me, so I must be beautiful too!

The tears rolled down my face and I felt the first healing of the wounds of years of self-denigration as I received the truth of Beauty with a capital B. It was an epiphany, a moment of insight. It was one moment to combat the constant bombardment of cultural youth worship.

“You are so beautiful" (2)

I remember standing in line at a drug store looking at the faces of models and celebrities on the magazines filled with make-up tips and the latest diet craze. I’d just come back from a mirror-free week of camping in Baja. I was still in travel-daze, that feeling of having been to another planet and back. I remember wondering, “what is this all about?” I also remember that a week later, it was all too familiar again.

I remember hearing a woman in the gym locker room say to her friend that, although she had smile-lines around her eyes, she felt lucky that she didn’t have that sagging jaw line that other women get. I remember the first time, 10 years later, that I looked in a mirror and realized I was one of those less fortunate ones. I remember when the first age spot showed up right near my left eye. I can’t fathom how many times I’ve used my fingers to pull my face taught in an attempt to see what I might look like without all those wrinkles and sags. I walk around feeling 25 and then catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder “Aak! Who’s that?”

“...man you're old
 Getting old
 Old
 Getting old.” (3)

I say that I want to age gracefully. I used to think that meant aging slowly and remaining youthful in my appearance. You know, the kind where people are amazed to find out how old you really are because they think you are 10 years younger.

Now, I hold aging gracefully as being filled with grace.

Something has washed over me in recent days. Something about surrender. Something that snake is teaching me. (The second striped racer crossed my path this week) Snake is about transmuting poison. I want to transmute the poison of comparing myself with air-brushed women in media or women half my age into the golden grace of self-acceptance;  loving myself exactly as I am: curvy, sagging, with cellulite, healthy, strong and wrinkly, and ok, with a lot of blond highlights.

“Will you take me as I am, will you? Will you take me as I am” (4)

I am beginning to know my Beauty:

The Beauty we all are and can’t help but be

The Beauty that can’t be bought by dialing a phone number scrolling across the bottom of the screen during an  infomercial.

The Beauty of our stories of triumph and grief.

The Beauty of our scarred, courageous hearts and wild, winged souls.

The Beauty of being completely and wholly ourselves, loving and nurturing ourselves.

OK people…listen up!

No more holding ourselves as problems in search of the next solution.

No more berating and shaming.

Stop it!

Everything is our mirror; the soaring redwoods, the majestic mountains, the silvery moon, the deep brown earth, the billowy clouds. I want to be that kind of Beautiful. I want to stand tall, know my majesty, light up the darkest of nights, be a solid place to land, and dance across the sky on a windy day.

I want to hear myself say to me, “You are Beautiful” and receive the gift and grace of that in every cell of my being.

Something tells me I don’t need botox to do that and I think my thighs can walk the path of Beauty without liposuction.

Who will walk this path with me?

Suggestions for remembering your Beauty:

  • Find a tree, sit beneath it and listen. It will tell you of your Beauty.
  • When you look in the mirror, let your heart be your eyes.
  • Treat yourself as you would the most beautiful of orchids; nurture yourself completely.
  • Listen to your self-talk. Track it for a full day and then a full week. Write down the most common things you say to yourself that are unkind or mean. Change the way you speak to yourself. Give yourself the respect you deserve.
  • Do the “I love you” exercise I wrote about in an earlier posting.
  • Look for Beauty everywhere. It will show itself to you in the most surprising ways.
  • Listen to this song and imagine God/Source/Divine is singing it to you. Let it in. You are So Beautiful!

Songs referenced in this post:

(1) “Trinkets” (Emory Joseph) on Bonnie Raitt’s Souls Alike

(2) “You are So Beautiful” (Billy Preston & Bruce Fisher) sung by Joe Cocker

(3) “Old” on Paul Simon’s You’re the One

(4) “California” on Joni Mitchell’s Blue

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

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I drove the 10 hour run from San Diego to Santa Cruz yesterday, entertained myself with good music and listened yet again to The power of Myth. It’s a 6 CD set of interviews of Joseph Campbell by Bill Moyers and it is worth yearly revisits.

At one point, Campbell (one of the most celebrated scholars of world mythology) talks about the accord needed between the mind and the body to find our center. He says the mind is interested in doings and in finding meaning. The body is not so interested in meaning as it is in being and experience.

I’ve noticed, in myself and in clients, a tendency to separate from the body. We talk about getting it in shape and what it will or won’t do. We forget that we are our bodies, at least while we are here having this human experience.

I don’t know about you, but my body will always get the best of me if I try to do something it does not want to do. It will give me information and feedback in the form of headaches, sprained ankle, a wrist that no longer wants to type, a cold, you name it. I’ve learned to listen to the wisdom of my body.

While the mind is willing to tolerate, to maintain intense focus for hours at a time, the body has its own sense of what’s good for it. When we forget to satisfy all of our senses, we are neglecting our bodies. Our bodies want to feel fully alive!

I just found out this morning that an informal Holy Body Day is happening this Friday May 22nd and I’m inviting you to join us.  I came across this in Moira Mallison’s blog Authentic Body Project. She credits our mutual friend Cynthia Morris with the inspiration. Cynthia  writes in her blog Journey Juju that she was in Portugal May 22, 2008 where they celebrate Dia de Corpo de Cristo. It translates Holy Body Day.  OK, that’s a different event, true, but Cynthia decided to designate it as a personal Holy Body Day.

AND why not celebrate a day of our bodies?

If, when you rise on Friday morning, your body gets to choose what it wants to experience that day, how might it respond? How will your body in-form you?

Trumpet Vine (K Loh)

Trumpet Vine (K Loh)

I’m guessing mine will say:

  • Let my feet feel the soft forest earth beneath them as I follow them down to the river
  • Let my skin soak up some warm sunshine and feel the cool waters run the length of me
  • Vibrate with the sounds of some relaxing music and with the chanting of my own voice
  • Breathe in scents of lavender, trumpet vine, ocean spray, pines in the warm mid-day sun
  • Mindfully attend to cooking foods that delight me and let my tastebuds dance a slow dance with each bite
  • Relax on the patio lounger in the cool night air and feast on the Milky Way (New moon is 24th)
  • Dawdle like a school child while walking nowhere in particular and take in the many curiosities of this world like colorful flowers, butterflies, strange bugs, interesting sticks, singing birds, trees that come alive with “faces” in their trunks and dancing boughs.

Won’t you join us? How will you celebrate Holy Body Day this Friday?

(oh oh, I can already hear someone saying: soaking up the rays of the fluorescents, vibrating with the hum of the lunch room frig, warming myself by the photocopier lamp…) Hey, if that’s you, go for it!

Spread the word!

all images and words copyright(C) May 2009 Kathy Loh All rights reserved

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