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Archive for the ‘dawdling’ 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)

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What a fantastic day it is for a walk in our SF Bay area!  The weather reminds me of Hawaii, temperate and humid. Thunder rumbles in the distance. Spring has arrived on time with pungent earth smells released by a week of rain, birds chirping loudly, a fledgling hawk screeching as its mother approaches with a meal in her talons, fresh green ferns and yellow daffodils popping out under oak trees on loamy slopes.

Nature’s exuberance will not be denied!

Exuberance! Remember that feeling?

It’s the dog’s tail when you say “walk?”

It’s the swagger of a young boy in his blanket cape wielding his duct-tape and wooden sword.

It’s the twirling, whirling and laughter of little girls.

It’s the giddiness and innocence of falling in love for the first time.

It’s the way the world sings, trees and all.

It’s life loving being alive.

It’s source energy reveling in the experience of physical form.

sunflower

Exuberance is the music that runs through us all, but we have become really good at turning it off, tuning it out, devaluing it, making it an obstacle to getting real. I’m not kidding – an obstacle.

As a child, my exuberant singing at bedtime often brought a “good night!” from down the hall. True, it was necessary for me to get some sleep and it never failed to scare me silly as it stunned me out of my reverie.

Other variations with which we are all familiar are:

“Somebody’s going to get hurt!”

“You’ll poke an eye out with that thing.”

 “Pipe down!”

“Who do you think you are?”

“What will the neighbors think?”  

I laugh when I think of saying these things to the daffodils or the fledgling hawk.

I knew exuberance as a kid. We were all fledgling hawks at some point, circling ever higher toward the sun, that symbol for passion. I had a passion for making things, for creating plays, for make-believe scenarios, for writing stories, for teaching other kids how to do arithmetic on the chalk board in my garage. I would not have called it passion then and I certainly would not have called it exuberance. I would have probably simply said I was having fun.  I had an idea of something I’d like to try and I set about the task of making it real. In those days it was all about what I could create simply for the fun and play of it, the exploration.

As time went by and the educational system got hold of me, my focus turned more to what I could get for succeeding and what the consequences were for failing. Let’s say I was a good student and maybe too good. (For more on success and failure see my last post “Failure and Success.

We say we have lost our innocence. We’ve become worldly. We say we are grown up now. And our hearts are in pain for it all. I’m not totally clear here, but I believe there is a way to reclaim our innocence and it has to do with holding the more real perspective of who we really are.

Say “I am” out loud and let the numinous silence that follows in-form you of a more real you than all the identities and self-images you’ve held could convey.**

Here’s the thing about exuberance – it’s not something that comes to us because of something we do, get or have. It is something that already exists as can be seen all around us on these fine spring days. Exuberance comes from exuberare which is abundance. We are abundant in our aliveness. The only reason we don’t know that, don’t feel it, is because we’ve choked it off, pruned it back, made it a cause for humiliation, embraced cynicism, let fear tell us we can be pretty much exiled for being overly exuberant.

Exuberance is not something we do, it is something we allow. When we are exuberant, we allow the life force to sing through us freely. It moves us, it makes noise, it dances, it celebrates. My guess is it also keeps us healthy.

If you’ve lost your exuberance, your passion, don’t go looking for it. Stop judging it, criticizing it, blaming it, stuffing it. Allow it to live in you, through you.

Invite life to express its magnificently creative self through you,

as you…

the only you that ever was

and ever will be.

Yes you,

my darling snowflake,

my dancing mirage of stardust,

you!

** for more on “I am” see my post:  Tree of Life (the Movie) and I Am (not the movie)

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

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I meditate.

I contemplate.

I have great internal Board of Directors meetings.

I sing and chant and sometimes even rant.

I fill my heart and empty my mind.

I follow my mind and empty my heart.

Dance with my spirit and inhabit my body.

Sometimes I am guided. Most often, I dance alone.

This morning the sunrise was a sight to behold. Clouds to the west kissed illuminated hills and homes. I could not sequester myself in my meditation room and miss the morning.

 

copyright(c) Oct 2010, Kathy J Loh

Where does the pathway in the clouds lead?

 

Jackhammers abused concrete somewhere in the valley below. A steady stream of cars snaked its way up Wolfe Grade and silver jets left vapor trails between the clouds…so many people going somewhere.

Is this how we honor the dawn?

Is this how we honor all beginnings?

I don’t know. I only wonder.

Not wanting to miss the changing colors and shapes of the clouds; not wanting to miss the flocks of crows (and one tiny hummingbird) that traverse the skyscape, I began to sing, as I always do to begin meditation.

At first I was aware of my voice and the wending of the melody. Soon enough, I was absorbed by the pastel hues, absorbed by whatever it is that absorbs me, of which I am a part, to which I belong, and the song emerged as a completely self-organized melody; my morning song; this morning song.

Or is it mourning song, like the dove in the pine outside my window? For the tears come as my heart cracks open and I don’t really know what is sad or what is too much to hold.

Perhaps it is gratitude.

Perhaps it is Beauty.

Surely it is Love.

And, it doesn’t need a name.

When I retreat to my mediation room each morning, supposedly to ground myself so as to be more present during the day, to what have I become un-present? Where have I gone and how much of the day already missed?

This “being present to”… this offering of lullaby to the dawn and all the weary travelers, this is what grounds me now.

What is your morning practice?

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

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I’ve always been fairly active. I loved recess in elementary school, because I loved to play and be active. I was not one of those girls that hangs out at the edge of the playground gossiping about the boys. I played team ball, baseball, tether ball with them. In junior high I was in the Girls Athletic Club and in high school I went for yoga, dance and distance running.

I have natural coordination, but I’m not an athlete. I’ve never broken intermediate level at any sport. In my thirties, I took up windsurfing, skiing, and tennis. I was an avid walker and now I hike regularly. I swim and, having lived near the ocean most of my life, anything I can do in the water makes me happy.  I enjoyed Jazzercise when it was in vogue. I mountain biked when I lived in Marin. You gotta be crazy to live in Marin and not mountain bike right?

The first gym I joined was actually a tennis club that had a nice weight room. I watched my weight go up and down with the level of my activity and the awareness I had or did not have about my eating.  I have chased after the Twiggy model body, the toned body, the beach babe body of the surf culture, nearly all my life and I’ve never “caught” any of them. I’ve come close, but then there’s this maintenance thing and I get really, really bored with the gym and diets.

I’m old enough now to be able to look in the mirror and know that my youth is never coming back. I’m getting closer and closer to being ok with that. I joined a gym when I moved to Santa Cruz and for the first time in my life, I quit going after a few months even though I’d paid for an entire year. You might say it was the distance and time it took to get there, but the truth is I did not want to go. I didn’t like the environment: the stale air, the loud music, the distracted indifference of the other people who were not too thrilled to be there either. If I am going to spend time being active, I want it to be outdoors. So, these days,  I stick with hiking in the fresh air year round, adding swimming in the summers.

What I’ve discovered is that the key to staying with it is to stop exercising and simply play.

Are you coming? (c) Kathy Loh

Are you coming? (c) Kathy Loh

I think we have this tendency to compartmentalize our activities, chopping up the hours of our days into blocks on the calendar that have to do with work, recreation, exercise,  community, family, etc. This kind of thinking leads us to imagine that balance is a matter of rationing out those blocks to the various activities. It creates illusory borderlines between each category, especially work and play.

Balance is a dynamic. If we want to find time to do all we intend to do, I suspect we need to drop this compartmentalization process and look at weaving and synthesis. (I’ll write more on this in another entry.)

I vote we give up exercise! If we are counting laps, tracking “calories burned’ on some machine, dragging ourselves to the gym kicking and screaming, there’s something wrong here. Resistance is showing up for sure, but who’s to say the resistance is aimed at doing something that’s good for us? Maybe it’s about finding a better way; one that makes us come alive!

Hiking, biking, walking, swimming does not have to be an Olympics qualifying event. We are not “in training.” We are just letting our bodies do what they love to do: move. Take a swing dancing class, bike to work, play with your children and dogs at the beach or park, go for walks, play frisbee. Do these things alone, with someone or in a group, whatever pleases YOU.

It’s about being active and integrating activity and play into our lives. That integration will likely guarantee us much more activity than the prescribed 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. Find what it is that you love to do and become a disciple to it…that’s true discipline. Go kayaking, horseback riding, kite sailing, or grow a vegetable garden. If you think about it, this beautiful earth of ours offers ample opportunity for activity. What are we doing cooped up in gyms if (and that’s a big if) we don’t really want to be there. And if you love it…GREAT!…keep going, because you are probably at play there.

This integrative activity requires deep listening; tuning in to what it is our heart, mind, body and spirit find most nourishing and feeding them what they want. My passion for hiking is born of my heart’s desire to connect with nature, my spirit’s desire for adventure, my mind’s love of inspired musing and my body’s urge to move at whatever pace I choose in the moment.  (It’s a natural way of doing intervals, the latest trend in cardio-workouts.) When all aspects: mind, body, spirit, and heart are happy, then resistance disappears and all that’s left is joy, fun and play.

This is dawdling for sure! Feeling good and in flow while getting healthy? Go figure!

(Oh and one final tip: Play makes us happy and when we are happy we eat less and what we do eat is much better for us. That’s a little preview of an upcoming installment in my dawdling series.)

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

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When my thoughts get stuck in spin-cycle, it’s usually because I’m trying to vision a new way of doing something through an old pair of problem-solving lenses. I’m trying to create something new with an old structure. Other times, it’s because I have so much jammed in my mind that I can’t “see” it well enough to organize it. So, I need to get it out in front of me.

One way I do that is by using sticky-notes of various sizes. I color code them and write one item on each note. It doesn’t matter if I’m creating a giant to-do list, creating schedules or writing an article. I find it really helpful to do a big brain-dump of every item related even slightly to the project and then post them on a blank wall. I’m able to then organize them freely by moving them about until their final format completely resonates with me. By completely, I mean with my body, mind, heart and spirit.

Project Brainstorm (Kathy Loh)

Project Brainstorm (Kathy Loh)

This is also a great process of elimination, because it gives me a reality-check as to how much time I really have and how many things I think I can do in that amount of time.  A few “heck yes!” items really stand out on a wall full of “interesting.”

When I am working on a new project, workshop, marketing plan or just creating clarity about who I am becoming now, I will use large re-stickable flip-chart papers. I fill them up with lists, mind-maps, constellations, symbols and images that have something to do with whatever it is I am working on. I don’t always know what it has to do with the project when I add it to the sheet, but the juxtaposition of things sparks ideas. I use plenty of color and I devote each chart to a separate subject. I might mind-map it, collage images and words, show how things connect.  Again, it’s a brain dump that gets it out of my head and in front of me where I can see it. These I post all over the walls of my office so that I can see them individually and together.

(Kathy Loh)

(Kathy Loh)

When I have a period of multiple synchronicities, animal messages, email messages, read a sentence or paragraph that syncs up with something else that’s going on for me, I doodle with them and put them all on one sheet of paper. Then I look for the feedback they are giving me regarding the reality I am creating.

I don’t stop at the notion that a synchronicity tells me I’m on the right path. I assume it tells me to take notice.  Recently, I mentioned to a friend that if it feels like the Universe is hitting me on the head with a repeated message or messenger, I could just as easily assume it’s because I’m NOT getting something and need to pay attention as I could assume it is affirming my direction.

A friend of mine, writing coach and author, Judy Duenow (Judy Baer), once advised me to put all my notes for a book in a basket and let them compost. I like that composting notion and here’s what I’ve added to it. If I’m working on a conundrum, a mystery with which I am living, I move the giant flip-chart papers to my bedroom walls so that they surround me as I sleep.

Words, symbols, images all have vibrations. Their impact is powerful if often subtle or denied. (This is one reason why vision boards can be so helpful in manifesting our desired outcomes.) I’ve noticed that when I put the papers up on my bedroom walls, I have vivid and helpful dreams, insights pop up from my intuition and meditations and answers come to me without my mind getting all knotted up over it. The results are generally more meaningful and creative, when my integral whole (body, mind, spirit, heart) is involved in this composting method, than when my mind takes charge. I get to think outside my normal box, my normal pattern of logic, or otherwise-logic as it were.

It takes patience, though, and I do have to sacrifice nice artwork and décor so that I have blank walls with which to work. My answers might not meet a deadline, but they almost always will be satisfying.  I find less resistance to getting into action when body, mind, spirit and heart are aligned. I’ve discovered that mind loves the extra help and gets to relax a bit. It takes a willingness to live in the dreaming space for an undetermined amount of time and it’s worth it. There’s a lot of tension in not knowing and that tension is the sweet spot of creativity. Creativity loves mystery.

So give it try! The next time you find yourself in a mental spin-cycle, get out the sticky-notes, flip-chart papers, colorful pens, images, scissors and glue and let yourself dawdle a little. Get unstructured. Doodle and noodle. Then let it compost on your walls for awhile and see what new perspectives, connections and ideas arise for you. Let me know how it goes.

Copyright (c) June 2009, Kathy Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Contemplate:

Creating art for near instant destruction…

Creativity as a ritual, as meditation, for your spiritual sanity…

Living from spirit, freely, released from ego attachments…

Joy for the moment…

Taking something to the “edge of its collapse”…(Goldsworthy)

Finding who you are, re-membering who you are in/by the act of creating…

Knowing the whole and each small bit at one and the same time…

Being in-formed by your part in the creative act…

Here are two great inspirations I want to share with you today:

The film: Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time

(here is a YouTube exerpt)

Sand Dancer – in New Zealand…art in the sand that gets washed away with the incoming tide

This is some serious dawdling!

Letting go….letting go…

(note: if you can’t see these, then go to http://www.YouTube.com and search:

Andy Goldsworthy Rivers and Tides

Sand Dancer

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“I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep.”*

Visiting with a friend the other night, we got to talking about dawdling. 35 years ago, she was a busy mother of 3 young children running a family business. As we talked, she reminisced about a morning that truly stands out for her as a special time spent with her son, who is now nearly 40. I asked her to send me the story again so I could get the details correct. Most of these words are hers with some sentence crafting by me:

One day, when her son was 4 years old, they were walking home together from the family business.  What was normally  a ten-minute drive turned into a two-hour walk. It was early spring and it was one of those crisp, crystal clear, sunny days. There was an aliveness to the air as the sun warmed the morning dew, releasing the sweet and pungent odors of grass, flowers and weeds.  In those days, the neighborhood was semi-rural. There were no curbs or gutters. In some yards, chickens played catch-me-if-you-can through holes in the fences.

Mother and son chose a pathway where they could stop to visit horses in someone’s expansive yard.  As they walked, they stopped to investigate the silvery tracks of snails heading for shade as the pavement heated up. She can still see him, a little boy, scuffing the dirt, creating dust clouds with his feet; the dust sticking to the sweat on his face. He climbed a low fence and he tossed the occasional rock.

She concluded her note to me with, “JUST BE and be in motion. NOTICE the details of the world.  A little boy and his mom in communion with the day – precious moments. Makes me smile to this day – 35 years later.”

What are your memories of precious moments and communion with other; with the day?

For me, it’s the time spent outside of time. The time spent lingering in the glow of friendship and love. The time spent on a trail, on the beach, adrift with the notes of beautiful music.  Like that one night with friends, watching the full moon rise over the ocean while listening to shimmering strains of John Abercrombie’s  Timeless.  I remember an afternoon on the beach where everything was perfection; the sound of the waves, the sunshine, the warmth of the sand, the gentle breeze and the sounds of laughter. It drew me in and I had no desire to leave, ever; until the sun began to set and it got chilly and, I would have to guess, I got hungry.

I remember the moment, while performing a piece I wrote specifically for him, when my father’s voice and the notes I was playing on the piano locked in together, rising into a beautiful unexpected crescendo, taking on a life of its own, something really sublime.  It was a moment when the music used us and we did not get in the way.

I remember being 10 and a girlfriend and I lying on our backs on the carpet in the living room, staring up at the ceiling and creating our own laugh-fest. Gosh it felt good! Summer nights bring on the memory of my bare feet on the warm asphalt of the street after dinner;  those delicious extra hours of play and gathering of neighborhood kids that come with the longer days.

I’ve check off plenty of things on my to-do lists and I’ve rarely been anything other than punctual, but there are times when I’ve just had to ignore the clock say to the trees, to my lover, to my dinner guests, to the music on the page, the keys under my fingers, …….”I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here with you.” When I say this to them, am I not also saying it to myself?

And when I think about it, on my list of regrets, not one was due to taking the time to commune, to dawdle, to play.

When all is said and done, what are the memories that will find you smiling as you look back over your life?

What really is worth your time and attention?

Where, really, do you have to be and for what – and – what will you remember about that?

When a moment begs to be savored, another soul needs to be heard and seen, when beauty calls out “over here…over here…” how will we respond?

If we are always “late for a very important date,” as the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland lamented, then maybe it’s time to create a margin for dawdling in our schedules.

If we can take the time to dawdle, to linger just a little bit longer and then a little bit longer more, we are saying:

“Life I love you!”*  And life will be very happy to hear that!

*The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)

( Simon & Garfunkel )

Slow down, you move too fast
You’ve got to make the morning last
Just kickin’ down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy!
(La,la,la,la,la,la, feelin’ groovy)

Hello, lamp post, whatcha knowing?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growing
Ain’t ya got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in’ doo-doo, feelin’ groovy!
(La,la,la,la,la,la, feelin’ groovy)

Got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life, I love you, all is groovy!
(La,la,la,la,la,la, feelin’ groovy)
(La,la,la,la,la,la, feelin’ groovy)

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