Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Busting Beliefs’ Category

First a few questions for you to consider:

Did you have a productive day today (or yesterday if you are reading this in the morning)?

How much did you do?

How do you personally quantify and or qualify productivity?

How important were the things you did and by whose standard?

How do the things you accomplished fit into the big picture of what you want for your life?

Merriam-Webster’s tells us that to be productive is to “have the quality or power of producing, especially in abundance” which is how most of us think of it, but it also says to be productive is to “yield results, benefits, profit as well as yielding or devoted to the satisfaction of wants or the creation of utilities.”

So, if we review our activities at the end of the day with the measurement of how much we got done, are we necessarily speaking to our productivity? Maybe and maybe not. Perhaps we are just bustling with activity or checking things off of our list without being discriminating about the value we are producing.

If you sat under a tree all day, would you be productive? What if you were Buddha?

P1010709fbready

Most of us collapse productive with being visibly busy or producing visible results.   We often feel like we are playing beat the clock. There is only so much time in the day. This leads to multi-tasking (now known to be counterproductive for most people) and myopic vision of what is important; putting out fires.

Busy-ness with no cohesion of direction or intention, with no sense of overarching purpose and lacking in substance, leads to overwhelm and burnout. For a long time now, being the busiest, most overwhelmed person around has been a kind of badge of honor. It is the ego’s way of saying “I am important. I must be, because I am so busy. Everyone needs something from me.” It is also the martyr’s excuse for never being able to get to what matters to them, because they are taking care of everyone else’s business.

But what does the wound-driven ego or the martyr know about what really matters in your big picture?

If you invested your time today in things, thoughts, activities, people that are in alignment with your soul vision, in alignment with your values and priorities, then you have been productive whether we can see it or not. You have surrendered to your vision and your priorities and come to understand what, at the end of the day (literally), really matters to you, no matter what other people make of that.

In the same way that action without substance can lead to burnout, substance without action can lead to a whole lot of potential with nowhere to go and it can lead you to depression or delusion.

So, being productive is about both the visible and the invisible, action and substance. There is a story that Einstein was often found sitting with his feet on the desk staring out the window. Was he being productive in those moments?

The key is not to fool yourself into thinking you are not procrastinating simply because you are being busy. By the same token, your musing, planning and visioning time may be highly productive or it may be a delay tactic. In either case, be honest with yourself.

Were you able to accomplish anything today that feeds your soul vision, your values, your creativity, your imagination of what’s possible for you in this life? If so, congratulations! If not, what were you up to instead?

Were you taking care of another person’s agenda?

Were the decisions and choices to be made so overwhelming that you escaped into the social media vortex?

Were you focused on that mountain of things that you think need to be out of your way, before you get to what matters?

It is time to walk away from the mountain. One thing I have learned about that mountain is that it will never be conquered. It is always growing. Trying to get to the top is about as easy as trying to move a sand dune, one teaspoon-full at a time.

You will need your body to help you out here. The mind sees things as done: whole and perfect. It has little concept of what it takes to birth something. Consider the last time you installed a new program on your computer and ended up online with tech help the rest of the day. Consider the last time you had a remodeling project or thought you might just do a “little yard cleanup.” Consider what you feel like the first Monday morning after we switch the clocks to daylight savings time.

The mind can plug things into your calendar without regard for your body’s needs. It just sees open squares with times next to them. Your body doesn’t care about the calendar whether paper or digital. It is not a machine. It follows the sunlight, your bio-rhythms, the moons, the seasons and the weather and reacts to what you ate the night before. Your body has reliable reactions to your choices and what you consider your priorities.

So, if your mind tries to convince you that you can add this one little thing your friend asked you to do because, it shouldn’t take long or says you can sit at your computer eight hours a day without consequence, check in with your body. Trust your aches and pains, your gut reactions.

Procrastination then is not necessarily detectable by a lack of action, nor is being busy proof you are not procrastinating. Meanwhile, we can just as easily procrastinate on what matters by getting busy with unimportant things or constantly taking care of other’s needs as we can procrastinate by doing nothing.

Sometimes what looks like procrastination is actually a time of stopping so that we can break old habits that keep us locked in our familiar patterns. This happens to musicians all the time. She may find that she’s been playing something incorrectly all along and the only way to break the habit is to leave it alone until she can approach it with a fresh start.

We are evolutionary beings. We are not meant to lock into one way of being and working our entire lives. We are not machines. We are not meant to be grinding our gears 24/7. Sometimes we need to just stop and wait and listen for a sign, a vision, a direction.

It takes love and hope to generate and receive your soul vision.

It takes vulnerability and willingness to stand for that vision.

It takes courage to hold your boundaries around your own agenda. Many will call you selfish for their own selfish reasons.

It takes commitment to invest your time and energy regularly in your soul vision

It takes discipline to meet that commitment time and time again.

It takes flexibility to surrender to the river of life when it takes an unexpected turn.

It takes forgiveness to meet your failings and begin again.

It takes faith to get off the familiar trail you’ve been on for years and follow your heart to blaze a trail  that is entirely yours.

How do you get a vision, develop deep listening, receive signs?

How do you develop these qualities of courage, commitment, flexibility, forgiveness?

That’s what I’m here for. If you are ready to invest in yourself and your dreams by receiving the help of a qualified coach and spiritual anchor, contact me today to set up an exploratory consultation.

I also invite you to read the other entries in this blog for inspiration and illumination.

Copyright(c)March 2016 Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (includes photograph)

Read Full Post »

Responsibility – how does that word sit with you? Does it cause you to feel expanded or contracted? I’ve decided that responsibility is an O word. What does that mean? What is the O? For some, it is a ring of fire. For others it is a wormhole to higher consciousness. What the heck am I talking about?

Think of O as a looking glass, a lens. Heck, think of it as a hula hoop if that serves.  Depending on how you view it and the way you relate to it, responsibility is (and here come the O-words) obligation, onerous, one-way, one-right-way, or it can be, for you, opportunity, options, optimization.

I’ve written about responsibility before and how we can re-resonate the word for ourselves by seeing it as our ability to respond. That works for a while. Then, something, someone comes along and we are triggered by the word, falling back again into the resonance of obligation. We feel imprisoned, victimized. We get blamed and we blame. We look forward to some illusive day of liberation equating it with “no more responsibility” and get that all mixed up with freedom.

What is the pivotal point? How can we infuse this word, responsibility, with light, love and power and beauty? (I realize that there are other cultures that will not get what the problem is at all and that’s wonderful. If you don’t have a problem with the word, carry on. You have better things to do with your time than read this.)

Emerald Lake Copyright (C) Oct 2011 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

Emerald Lake, Cananda

 

In order to take responsibility for my life, my feelings and my actions, I have to recognize that I am my own authority. I am the author of my life. I create my reality. I am the cause of my effect. OK, so stuff happens, but I am at choice regarding my reaction to and action around my circumstances.

As I pondered being my own authority, I flashed back on the many ways I’ve handed my authority over to others: parents, teachers, leaders, lovers, books. Yes, books. For the longest time, if it was in print, it must be so. Go figure…

I was an eager student in search of straight A’s, in search of perfection, in search of safety, belonging, security and knowing I was loved. If I could just get the formula right, just solve the problem of me, not life, me, then I could live “happily ever after.” That’s how it works, right? Happily Ever After!

It was only last year that I truly let myself and all of my multidimensional being off the hook for straight As. I’d inadvertently eaten a gluten meal and ruined my perfect record. Like so many are fond of saying, “I’m harder on myself than anyone else is on me.” I had every opportunity to be that way with myself again, but chose differently and experienced a profound shift. Take note those of you who resonate with being hard on yourself – it’s not something to boast about, this preemptive criticizing of one’s self. It’s downright self-destructive.

Where was I? Oh yes, responsibility and authority. You know when you get a kind of aha! that’s gentle and yet profound; the kind that feels like a ping on the temple that shakes something loose in the brain? That’s what I got this past weekend at a Lucid Living workshop on the Beauty of Belonging. There is no one right answer, no one right way to live. There are a multitude of possibilities from which to choose and I am the chooser. As the one who chooses, I am my own authority. What?!! No one right choice, just the one I choose out of a sea of possibility? How the heck do we get into heaven if we haven’t found that one key for that one gate?

It all fell away in an instance. My search for the key died right then and there. But here’s the important part. It didn’t fall away because I got that there’s not one right way. It fell away because I am meeting my own needs and I am not looking to have them met out there.

I’ve spent my life being my own rebellious authority from the obligation and opposition side of the O lens of responsibility. I’ve defined who I am to myself in resistance to, comparison with and belonging among.

I’m a freedom junkie as are many of you. We hunger for freedom and I hear it in my clients all the time. I’ve written about freedom from and freedom to in other articles and posts and I have given it as an inquiry to clients,  and now, for me,  it is landing at a deeper level.

As long as I was defining myself in resistance to, I was looking to be free from. As long as I was looking to become free from, I was wearing responsibility like a noose. I was looking to be free of obligations while living in a world (that I fabricated) of obligation. Sounds suspect doesn’t it?

We can never be free as long as we are trying to be free from, because the resonance of that is one of blame, defensiveness, denial and resistance.  As we all know, what we resist, persists.  Besides, what is a rebel without a cause?

On the opportunity and options side of the responsibility lens, the resonance of freedom is not to be free from, but free to. I am free to choose, free to create, free to say yes and free to say no, free to love what I love. I am free to, because I am responsible.

What happens when we stand at that cross-roads of the choice to accept or shun responsibility can be daunting. If I am no longer in resistance to or trying to get myself free from, then I am no longer defined by my resistance. If I am no longer who I have known myself to be then who am I and what do I want, REALLY? Sit with that question for yourself a moment. How free are you to even look for the answer to that question? How much of your answer is shaped by the fact that you’ve stuffed it for so long it’s downright painful to even begin the excavation process? If you know the answer and you are not creating that for yourself, what is the responsibility you are unwilling to take?

When we know what it is we really want; when we hear our soul’s calling and take full responsibility for our lives, our reality shifts. That shift will create some manner of chaos big or small, because chaos is a necessary precursor to change. For me, this time, it will be small, because I’ve been through the big ones and I’ve done it the painful way: in resistance, getting myself out from under.

This time, I know it will be gentler and kinder, because I am gentler and kinder to myself and I have done the work internally coming to know that I belong in this world exactly as I am, in fact, more so as I am. I’ve met the enemies of the judge, trickster, debt collector and dark lover within. I’ve been mean and critical to myself. I’ve played all kinds of mind games. I’ve made myself pay for anything I could have possibly done that was wrong and I’ve tarried far too long in suffering and struggling.

I’ve learned the hard way (which is something my mom once told me is the way I seem to do it). Well, mom, Happy Mother’s Day – I’m not doing it the hard way anymore. And guess what? I’ve totally forgiven myself for all of that and include all I’ve been and done in the wholeness of my journey.

It’s a huge leap of faith, this courage of my convictions, this full on authoring of my own life without ghostwriters, this resonance of responsibility as opportunity and free to. It’s not my familiar home.  And yet, as I say that, I suspect, for the soul and the heart, it is the more familiar and truer home.

So, choose your O-words for responsibility. You already do and now, I invite you to do so consciously and lovingly.

Note 1: A huge hug of gratitude to Lucid Living (Leza Danly and Jeanine Mancusi and all my Lucid Living tribe) for guiding and loving me through the maze.

Note 2: Today would have been the 30th anniversary of my marriage which died, officially,  over 6 years ago. It seems more than appropriate that today, on this date, I would be writing about authoring my own life. Healing takes time. Healing is becoming whole. It’s worth the journey, every step of the way.

Note 3: this is my 99th blog post. Next one, #100, will be a celebration in more ways than one!

Copyright© May 2012, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved.

Read Full Post »

“Your matter matters.” Tantra Maat

You matter!

Why? How do I know?

No matter what you do, who you are to others, where you live, it comes down to one thing:

You matter because you are here. (And you are here, because you matter.)

We are are the frontier extension of source energy that is ever expanding. We are the pioneers, the messengers and the creators.

We matter, you and I. (The emphasis being on and, because it is not about or, or even about more than, less than.)

Maybe, if we allowed ourselves to embody that, everything else would fall into alignment.

Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine,

“What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” This is his answer.

copyright(c) March 2012, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (except video)

Read Full Post »

I’ve started this sentence many times over. It’s not that I don’t know what to say. Rather, I am distracted by (or what I prefer to call otherwise attracted to) the wildlife outside my window. It’s the daily luncheon at the oak diner for chickadees, juncos and woodpeckers. Today they are joined by two robins who are perched still as statues while a jay warns in the distance of a hawk soaring overhead. That same hawk is sharing the air space and the wind currents with two turkey vultures. A crow is showing off its wide vocal range. Several birds follow their feast with a bath in the copper sculpture across the way, while two red squirrels chase each other through the branches with clownish grace.

Such are the magical moments presence in the Great Mystery offers. I’ll sprinkle the images throughout this post.

And I’m feeling a bit like a cat at the window;  my eyes tracking every little movement; “what was that? What was that?”

Crow - copyright (c) December 2010 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

It’s precisely this sense of surprise and wonder that I want to expand as I move, with the passing of the Solstice, into days of more light. And, yes, I mean that metaphorically as well as literally.

The only appointment on my calendar today was a meditation and energy healing with Ping Li of Awaken Within Path. Today’s meditation and energy healing was on abundance and receiving. As I sat in the silence, open to receiving purification of old energies that no longer serve who I am becoming, I brought forth three things for transmutation: money, love, healing.

I distilled it down to three unproven notions still swimming in my energy field:

  • Money is evil (or at least the root of it) [clarification to come]
  • Love hurts (betrayal being my sore spot)
  • Healers suffer for their gift(s), not only have they been wounded, they remain crippled (don’t have a clue where I got this one…past life?)

You can imagine how helpful these beliefs are for one who wants more income, a loving partner and is engaged in healing practices. Uh-huh! Does any of this sound familiar to you?

I’m not much of a scientist. I have the curiosity of one, but I’m not very detailed oriented and don’t like restrictions on my movement.  I’m more an explorer than a scientist. So, I set about to explore these notions to find the one thing that would help me release them, which is to say, to discover them once and for all untrue.  Here’s what bubbled up:

It’s all just history.

Money is evil

The whole money is evil thing is from the Bible, only the words are actually: “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10, KJV ) and, according to a Wikipedia article: “A more accurate rendering from the original Greek may be: ‘For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil,’ (New American Standard Bible).”

Money doesn’t create anything. We do. What we do with money and how we are about it, is not about money, it’s about us.

Love hurts

Love doesn’t hurt, we do. We get hurt and we hurt others. We betray, get betrayed and worst of all, betray ourselves. We numb out, freeze our hearts, cheat, create eternal busy-ness in our attempts to avoid pain, thereby creating the greatest pain of all – separation.

We are afraid to love because we are afraid to feel the loss of love. In a funny way, we pre-empt the pain by creating it from the start with our separation and isolation. That’s about as rational as saying: I’m afraid that, someday, I won’t have any food.  So I’m not going to eat anything ever and that I won’t know the feeling of hunger after having experienced a full belly.

woodpecker copyright(c) Dec 2010, Kathy J LohHealer’s suffer or are crippled (as in saints and martyrs and psychic healers struck by lightning and the archetype of the wounded healer.)

People don’t suffer because they have chosen to be healers, they likely became healers,  because they have suffered and it is easy enough to gather evidence that there are amazing healers in the world who are not crippled or ill.

This is a story my negative ego dangles in front of me when, faced with the question, “who am I becoming if it is not who I am now?”  It responds with a lot of very scary images to keep me confined to the shadow of who I think I know myself to be. Because that’s what the negative ego does. It pulls together little bits and pieces of sayings and events, tosses them in a blender and pours a toxic cocktail of half truths and assumptions and serves them to us with a mischievous smile. “Here, have a drink. It’ll make you feel better.”  It’s much safer to cling to my “personality” than to go off on some adventure to find a “me” I’ve never known before.

Sure, I’ve been wounded. Who reading this has not? Opening to my capacity to heal myself and others has no direct correlation to suffering other than it is meant to alleviate it.

Byron Katie’s (The Work) questions help here:

Me: (Supposition): If I open to my full capacity as a healer, I will suffer.

Katie: Is that true?

Me: Yes (tenuously, but I can’t say no)

Katie: Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

Me: No (I must admit)

Katie: How do you react when you think that thought?

Me: I feel scared and weak and timid. I feel like I’m not living up to my fullest potential as a compassionate being. I’m sitting on my hands, so to speak. I hide out.

Katie: Who would you be without the thought?

Me: (here we are back to that question…who would I be, but this time instead of the great wild unknown of who I am becoming, it is an exploration of life without just this one thought…just this one)

I’d be someone willing to engage with the world with an open and compassionate heart. I’d be someone exploring their fullest potential.

OK – this is a no-brainer now! Without that thought, I can be one who brings healing to others, in whatever form I do, while also being mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically vital. That is to say, in integrity.

The precise time of solstice is 14 minutes away.  At this time of our shortest day and longest night (in northern hemisphere); at this time when there is much promise of hope, forgiveness and new beginnings; at this time when the old structures are giving way and new ones await our creation; at this time:

I release history and dance into the Mystery

Robin in birdbath copyright (c) Dec 2010 Kathy J Loh

wash it all away

What happens when I no longer believe that evil and money are married at the hip?

What happens when I no longer believe that falling in love is setting myself up for betrayal?

What happens when I bring forth my healing gifts with integral health and well-being of body, mind, spirit and heart?

At this point in my meditation I heard, “We’ve been waiting to play with you.”

I smiled and the word surrender bubbled to the surface of my awareness for another go round.

Surrender your history

Surrender to the unknown

Surrender to potential and possibility.

I recall a quote I used in a recent Mystery Message about surrender:

“You can remain in your present idea about yourself, or you can choose again. I like the idea of choosing again.” Neale Donald Walsch

As I type these final words, the solstice moment has arrived, right on time.

Into the light everyone, into the light.

Surrender to the truer, more real you.

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

 

Eclipse lunar copyright (c) Dec 2010 Kathy J Loh

Read Full Post »

From the farthest reaches of a dark passageway, at the end of which I could see the reflection of heat and flame, came a giant turning lathe.  It was not menacing. In fact it was benevolent. (I don’t even know for sure what a lathe is, but I knew it to be one). The lathe was a bit larger than me and as it approached, I heard a booming voice ask, “What do you want?”

So many pictures ran through my mind: musician, photographer, writer.  I want to live in the country, have a solid coaching career, be an artist. I want romance, love, adventure, health, to be inspired, to make a difference. I had to make a choice and I could not do it.

The lathe paused, though it kept turning in preparation, and the voice inquired again, “What do you want?”

I grew anxious. I was unable to move. I knew that whatever I picked, the lathe would create for me or even of me. Though there was a sense of urgency in making the choice, I was not in need of Superman’s intervention or rescue. The voice and the lathe were not threatening. They were patient and generous. They wanted very much to give me what I want.

I awoke in the midst of my indecision. I experienced this dream in a half-awake, half-asleep 6 am state. I laughed as my now-awake mind quipped “Is there a combo platter?” I often go to humor to release my anxiety.

Beetle, copyright (c) Kathy J Loh

Lost? (K J Loh)

Now that I am in this bigger house with plenty of room for my various activities, I am still facing the fact that there is not enough time to do everything I want to do; at least, not to the degree to which I want to do them.  As I wrote in the prior post, I am in the midst of reviewing my interests and activities (and the stuff that supports those activities that have come out of the boxes).

I’m a Gemini. I have no lack of ideas (three boxes full of little notes with ideas on them) and no lack of interests. Sometimes, I am content with simply being present to now, enjoying what I enjoy and at other times I want to really dive deep and achieve mastery at something, some one thing. I’m probably what Barbara Sher calls a “scanner.”

But the lathe and voice were not interested in combo-platters or scanning.

“Wood turning lathes never make mistakes, only kindling!”

I found that quote when I looked up “lathe” on the web. No wonder I was anxious in the dream. Picking one thing makes kindling of the rest. Aaack!

My dream-interpreting friends will advise me to become the lathe, become the voice and get their perspective. The voice loves me. The voice wants me to have what I want. The lathe loves me. It is ready to create for me whatever I ask. They are the parts of me that feel a deep desire for something. The me that faces them is the confused one. She who is feeling lost.

What I am coming to realize is that, while form matters to some degree, the deep desire, the longing in my heart is more about function. The forms of composing/playing music, photography, writing are all forms of creative expression; intimacy with words, sounds, nature, connecting with self and other. What I notice when I review my personalized combo-platter, is that the underlying function or essence of every option is intimacy.

I sat in meditation with this and discovered how lost I’d gotten along the way. As far back as I can remember (and I have memories from when I was 3), I have looked to others to know what I “should” do in life. I have followed the bread crumbs of acknowledgment, rewards and high marks. Gifted children have many talents. Not all of them speak to their heart’s desire, while too many of them speak to well-meaning parents, teachers and counselors. I had many ways I could make others happy and get their love and approval.

My own way went into hiding, deep in the recesses of my heart. For whatever reason, I felt a need to protect my desires (and me) from shame and humiliation. As a result, I’ve been a lot of things to a lot of people and mostly lost to me. People don’t know me as well as they think because so much of what I love to do, I do in solitude and in the hours that are not taken by the activities deemed as productive, useful and helpful. And, as this dream shows, even I don’t know me as well as I think I do.

The intimacy I crave has been (until now) doomed by the very behavior that was meant to preserve it.

Awakening to being lost isn’t such a bad thing. As these words unfold before me, I recognize it to be a story shared by many.

Being lost is uncomfortable. It is edgy and vulnerable. At my age, it is fodder for the “wasted-your-life” vortex. It’s also an opportunity. I intend to stay lost for as long as it takes. The voice and the lathe will wait. I know it’s about intimacy, yes, and I know it’s about Love (with a capital L).

I have been declaring my willingness to be changed by Love. I am standing still and listening. I am sitting with an open heart. I am playing with the sounds that come out of my throat. I am seeing the world up close and personal through the camera lens. I let words unfold in speech and on the paper and let myself be surprised by them. I am not able to identify myself as this or that.

I am co-creating with Love and I am not declaring the outcome. Is feeling lost uncomfortable? You bet it’s uncomfortable, agonizingly, joyfully, mysteriously, intimately uncomfortable.

Postscript: As I reviewed this prior to posting, I was struck by this: What I love about these activities and about intimacy is actually that same feeling of being lost – the taste of the infinite and timeless. Perhaps lost is where soul is found.

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

Read Full Post »

“You carry all the ingredients to turn your existence into joy. Mix them, mix them!” – Hafiz

What do three friends, a book, a dozen squabbling woodpeckers, three caterpillars, Neale Donald Waslch and Joni Mitchell have to do with each other? Anything and everything and they have all conspired to lift me to a new level of awareness. They have at once been the container and the ingredients of a personal insight. Do you have a few minutes? Here’s the story and a little music too…

There are some big changes afoot for me, big decisions to be made and I will be writing about them; revealing more as the weeks go by.

Decision making is not my strong suit, or has not been thus far. What I notice is that I will receive an incredible opportunity, get very excited and then begin the downward spiral of analysis paralysis. The rabbit that takes me down that hole is my fear of making a mistake, of being sorry I made the choice I made, finding out there was something better, feeling trapped.

Well, at least I thought that was my fear. And it is. At least it is the trunk of the tree of that fear. I got a clear insight that it was not the true fear when the first friend, Pemma, asked me “So, what if you do make a really big mistake?” I started to laugh. I didn’t know why in the moment, but I knew that the answer was simply, then I walk away and do something else. For a shining moment, my fear of making a mistake, even a really big one, had vanished, poof!

Later, my friend Joette, sent me an email and asked what the root of my fear was. I set it aside for further musing. Sometimes the mere invocation of a question allows an answer to reveal itself down the road.

Fighting Woodpeckers

Acorn Woodpeckers (K J Loh)

I stepped outside to photograph the dozen or so Acorn Woodpeckers squabbling over territory. Woodpeckers are symbolic of mental activity (red caps) and these completely mirrored my inner experience of the discord between my body, mind, spirit and heart, not to mention my higher and lesser selves. My mind was in a distortion spin cycle. Several of the woodpeckers were drumming loudly and furiously on trees and posts. Their drumming encouraged me to invite new rhythms into my life.

That afternoon, I was scanning the book The Trance of Scarcity to gather some abundance momentum, muster up some courage for risk-taking, and remind me that living small creates smaller living. Author Victoria Castle tells a story of a trip to Yosemite. She writes of wanting to take in all the grandeur and beauty on her day of departure. She tries to breathe it in, but can’t seem to hold it, to keep it. As she walks back to her cabin disappointed, she hears something rumbling deep inside.” She stops to listen and hears,

“How about if you let us absorb you?”

She then allows the majesty of Yosemite to absorb her and that is how she “knew the oneness [she] had longed for.”

Reading these words, I knew that I would not lose what I was leaving behind, if I allowed it to absorb me. I don’t have to try to pack it all into my memory or find some way to take it with me or recreate it. I can be absorbed by it and know that, in our oneness, these days, these places, these experiences, these people are always with me as I am with them.

Later, my friend Alicia held a beautiful space of mindfulness in our conversation and I got in touch with how my wounded ego uses drama to scare me; the drama and pain of good-byes. I also discovered how I make up that I need to suffer mightily in letting go to prove my love for something or someone.  It can’t look like it was too easy. Alicia reminded me to express and receive gratitude for these people, places and times and release the drama and story about goodbyes that create suffering.

Neale Donald Walsch’s message for the day read:

On this day of your life, dear friend, I believe God wants you to know…

…that when you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it

is not beneficial to go out and build more tunnel.

Cocoon/chrysalis copyright (c) April 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Dissolved (K J Loh)

I thought of the third caterpillar that had crawled across my driveway, up the front wall of my house and attached itself a fair distance from two others, to begin its metamorphosis. When we have been through the chaos of transformation, why would we want to create more darkness for ourselves? Why would we not wholly embrace the emergence as a winged creature feeding on the nectar of life? The only answer I can come up with is fear.

I return to Joette’s question, what is the root? What is the threat my wounded ego holds over me regarding mistakes? The answer came through:

If you make a mistake I will never forgive you. I will shame you and berate you for your stupidity. I will punish you mightily.

I used to do that to myself, but it’s hardly how I am with myself now. It’s more an old habit than a current reality. It’s a flinch with no punch to back it up.  I think this is why I could see it. The root is no longer submerged in my unconscious. I am aware of my self-talk and have changed it to be more nurturing than critical.

I made a pact with myself that enabled me to move forward with my decision making process. I will love, respect and forgive myself if it turns out that I want to make a different choice in the future. I will not punish, berate or shame myself. I will make another choice and move on. I will look for the gratitude for all that the apparently mistaken choice has taught me.

You see, it’s not the mistake that feels so bad; it’s not the coulda-shoulda-woulda’s, themselves. It’s how mean we are to ourselves that scares us.

For me, this insight was an invitation to release the delusion that mistakes have to inflict painful consequences; that learning is painful and if you don’t feel enough pain, you haven’t learned much.

I awakened the next day at peace and the woodpeckers had stopped squabbling. Only the original family remained.

When we contract, we pull in our energy, our world gets small, our thinking becomes circular or numbed by habit. We become an energy vortex, sucking things in an inward spiral. We feel the pain of separateness. There is never enough of anything and at the same time we refuse and are even blind to all that is offered to us.

When we expand, our energy grows; alchemy and synthesis are available to us. The world becomes a friendlier place; even enchanting. Our thinking evolves and there is always enough. We are open and we receive. We know we are not separate.

The important thing to remember is that contracting and defending in order to create a sense of safety actually results in less safety.  It’s dangerous territory when you live with a sense of “me against the world.”

And Joni Mitchell? Where does she come in? As a post that came across my Facebook feed, it was yet another wink. Both sides now – child and adult – before and after – caterpillar and butterfly.

The aspect of me that thinks there is such a thing as a mistake or a failure thinks there is something to know about life. Something to learn that will be the ultimate key for success and happiness.

What is there to know? Hindsight is not 20/20. It’s a story.

“It’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all.”

And I have to say, in this moment, that feels darn good – a huge sigh of relief! The beauty of not knowing and not having to know leaves lots of room for play, exploration, adventure.

A caterpillar undergoes total dissolution in the chrysalis/cocoon. It becomes fully absorbed by its new form.

The chrysalis on my wall will be abandoned in 7 to 10 days.

I’m celebrating immersion and emergence!

What is the sound of butterfly wings clapping?

Butterfly Copyright(c)April2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

photo: K J Loh

Note: for more information about the symbolic meanings of butterflies and woodpeckers, see Ted Andrew’s Animal Speak.

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

Read Full Post »

I finally did it. I’ve been threatening to do it for nearly a year, ok longer, but I kept telling myself that my little point and shoot Canon Powershot S500 was good enough. I kept telling myself, “It’s compact, takes a decent macro shot and someday…someday…” Besides, every time I’d begin to research DSLR cameras, I’d get a little spun out in a whirlwind of confusion and decide to check into it “later.”

So yes, you’ve guessed it.  I bought a DSLR camera. I landed upon a great deal with 18 months to pay, no interest, at Best Buy and I had my new Canon EOS Rebel T1i with two lenses delivered directly to my doorstep. I was like a kid on Christmas morning opening the box. I kept saying out loud “Look Dad! Look what I bought for myself!” My father liked to take photographs too. We mostly bonded around photography, windsurfing and computers.  He passed away a couple of years ago. I knew he’d share my joy.

Full Moon Copyright (c) Feb 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Now I can "shoot the moon" (c) K J Loh

But this post is not about cameras or my beloved father. It’s about giving ourselves what we want.

It’s about honoring ourselves with instruments and spaces that allow us to explore and expand our creative outlets, talents and passions, for no reason other than we want it.

Over the years, I’ve wrestled  with  good enough and it works mantras. I’m frugal. I didn’t build a decent retirement fund chasing after every new shiny toy. Sometimes good enough would win and I’d go into toleration mode letting my ego make up stories about how it was a better than ethic to be able to suffer having less. Like my neighbor’s bumper sticker says, “Less is Moral.”

I am not one of the Americans who over consumed and is now attending the church of new found simplicity. I don’t have over-consumption guilt or a heavy yoke of debt around my neck.  I bet many of you can relate despite the headlines in the local rag.

There is another kind of yoke that can make the spirit weary and that is the yoke of tolerating and being stingy with oneself.

I’ve pursued a number of activities in my life. The new tennis racket, the new windsurf board, harness and proper sails, the proper fitting mountain bike with great suspension,  all made an extreme difference in my skill and joy for these sports.

When I was in high school, I took voice lessons and I taught myself guitar. My mother let me have her little nylon string guitar from Mexico. One night, while lying in bed, I was shocked out of my sleep by a loud snap, whap and echoing tone. I turned on the light to find that the bridge had snapped free and tossed itself, with all six strings, at the wall behind the guitar and was left dangling pitifully from the neck. The front of the guitar body was also loosening from the back. My solution?  Duct tape.

One night, at a party, I was playing that taped-up guitar and singing. A guy I’d never met before said to me, “You need a better guitar. I can get you one.” A few days later he called. He had a brand new nylon string guitar that he would sell me (with case) for $50. It was a huge sum for me in those days and well worth the investment. With that new guitar in my arms, I began classical lessons with a neighborhood friend and relished every beautiful sound we made together, that guitar and I.

When I was in college studying music, my parents helped me buy my own piano so that I would have it at my apartment instead of having to go to the dimly lit, dreary, smoke-filled practice rooms. I bought it used from a woman who’d received it on her 16th birthday.  She never played it and was happy that it was finding a good home with me. She gave me an amazing deal. It was still in great shape and when I had it worked on years later, we found a snippet of ribbon inside the piano which I just know was part of the original Sweet Sixteen Birthday wrapping.

As much as I loved that piano, I always dreamed of a beautiful light-filled studio with an Asian carpet and a grand piano. A grand piano is not something you want to move around with a lot. In the earlier years, I told myself I was waiting to know I’d not be moving again in the foreseeable future.  Every move with my “sweet sixteen” piano required  four strong guys, a borrowed truck and cost me a case of beer.

Yet even when I bought my first home, I did not buy the grand piano. I told myself the home was enough and besides, I had not earned it yet. Someday….someday…

When I opened my private music studio, I used the “sweet sixteen” piano for 6 years before I treated myself to the grand. The truth is, I did not count my desire for the piano, my musicianship (because I was a singer and composer more than a pianist) or my worthiness as good enough to give myself such a treasure.

It took one new adult student ‘s words to send me out looking for the grand piano I’d always wanted. She said something like, “I wasn’t sure I should take lessons from someone who didn’t have a better instrument. I wasn’t sure you were a serious musician.” Those words gave me an understanding of the way in which how I value myself creates how others value me.

Within a month of that insight, I had my new Kawai grand piano and I was in heaven. I took jazz and classical lessons from local musician Gini Wilson (The Duchess). My playing improved dramatically. Having the instrument motivated me to play every day and encouraged me to see myself as a real musician, something I’d always had trouble calling myself, M.A. in music notwithstanding.

So now, we hit upon the “good enough – good enough” irony. I did not consider myself good enough, so I sang the good enough song. In other words, I decided that whatever I had was good enough for the not-so- good-enough me. I was the gatekeeper to my own happiness and I was using the ever-elusive goal of being flawlessly good and masterfully skilled as the key to the “promised land.” I had it all backwards.

My Self knows when I’m being stingy with me and it creates an awful rift, a painful disconnection between me and my soul.

The self that feels honored will rise to the occasion.

Who’s responsible for that honoring?

I am.

So, while there may be a hollow kind of consumerism, a need to fill some unspoken void when we chase after bigger, better, newer, there is also an incredible sacred honoring that comes with giving oneself the instruments, the space, the beauty that enable us to open to new landscapes of joy, creativity and serenity.

Yes, there is stretch that is called challenge and there is a stretch that is called receiving.

What is the stretch for which you are longing now?

I take my new camera everywhere. I wear it like an appendage. Not only has it enabled me to take better pictures, it has already stirred my creative juices with some very fun ideas. I have a lot to learn, but I am eager and  I am totally in love. I see the world through a new lens (no pun intended). I notice the smallest of creatures and delight in playing with perspective. I see color and light like never before. As a musician I’ve always heard the world and now, for the first time since I got my first SLR, I am also seeing the world up close and personal.

My inner creative self no longer stands before me all raggedy with an empty bowl pleading “Please sir, may I have some more?” My spirit soars and there is much joy and anticipation over what will happen next.

The earth is the soul’s playground. Give yourself something worth playing with.

And you, my wonderful reader:

What are you tolerating?

What is the one gift you could give yourself today that will inspire and challenge you, taking your skills, your talents to the next level?

What is that you really want?

What will feed your passion?

When will you let yourself to have it; to receive it?

Where there is the will there is a way.

The question is …  are you willing?

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: