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Archive for the ‘Exercises and Inquiries’ Category

Last Saturday was my birthday. I’ve been treated to a couple of dinners, gifts, a mailbox full of cards, phone calls and a long string of celebrations from Facebook friends. Say what you will about the latter, it certainly lifted my resonance. Thanks to everyone who made my day that much brighter!

photo of Cody - copyright (c)2015KJLoh

I enjoy celebrating my birthday and Summer Solstice with collage or a Tarot reading and this year, the reading was my choice. So, after taking Cody for a long morning romp along the irrigation ditch where he loves to play in the water, I settled on the deck to do a Tarot spread. (I use Tarot of the Spirit)

After grounding myself and doing a little soul searching, I asked my question, drew the cards for the Magna Diamond spread and began taking notes in my journal. Gradually, I became aware that the usual quiet of my neighborhood was being disrupted by planes overhead. I am used to the sound of helicopters in the summer because I live near the river. People get reckless and need to be airlifted due to injuries from broken legs to broken backs. I did hear a helicopter, but I also heard the distinct sound of fire retardant tankers and that meant only one thing, wild fire. They were headed north east as they flew directly overhead.

I checked Yubanet online, our local resource for breaking news, and discovered the fire was 20 min by car from my home; close enough to create concern but far enough to take a wait and see attitude for the moment.

I continued to take notes, discovering that the entire spread indicated I was at the end of a long run of trials and that to move forward, I need to release things, patterns, structures, and identities. I need to be willing to walk in the Mystery unable to see the future., holding to faith by following my heart and inner guidance, one step at a time.

I am aware that I can get very excited about the idea of downsizing and releasing things, but when it comes to action, I tend to go into a stupor, and manipulate myself into an incapacitating spin over HOW to get rid of things: sell, donate, give away, trash. Let’s just say, I am both good and bad at this. I have already downsized several times; halving my possessions in a divorce and moving four times since. Yet, I could easily halve my belongings again. Currently any dream of a tiny house or living in an RV is, shall we say, ludicrous.

Anyway, pumped up on iced-coffee, I was feeling anxious and I decided to check the fire report on Yubanet again. Only six minutes had passed, and only ¾ acre was involved thus far, but these words alarmed me:

“very difficult access, but potential for a major incident.”

Now, I was getting distracted. How long should I wait?  Surrounded by tall trees as I am, there is no vista in any direction. So, I couldn’t see anything.I could barely smell smoke. I continued to take notes and was struck by card in position 9 representing the immediate future: Father Fire. One word in the interpretive text stood out: wildfire.

Every 5 minutes or so, I checked the update. The fire was burning slowly through the retardant and ground crews were having trouble getting to it. An access gate was locked and crews were redirected. I heard sirens and horns as fire trucks took the road near my house to get to the fire. Planes continued to fly overhead.

At some point I decided it made sense to stop taking notes and assess what I will take if I have to evacuate. Nature was giving me a fire drill in letting go of my stuff. I love magic and synchronicity, but couldn’t we do this without making the hair on the back of my neck stand up?

fire photo copyright(c)2011 K J Loh

I’ve taken pictures of my things before, but not recently, so I grabbed my camera and took pictures of everything, even opening the cupboards. The least it would do is prove I had these things and jog my own memory should I be reporting to insurance.

I then got some boxes from the garage. The first decision was that I would take the camper van and leave the RAV4. I threw my journals, that have not yet been taken to storage (which is where I keep journals and photos in case of fire), into a box. I then lined up bubble pack and a box for my crystals and altar items, packed my laptop and iPad, pulled out mom’s and grandmother’s silver. My data from my desktop is stored on the cloud; a step I took after three different backup hard drives crashed on me. So, no need to try to save it.

As I walked through the house assessing what would come with me and what would not, I found it easy to have clarity as to what mattered to me and what could be replaced or forgotten. Truly, I did not have to think much about anything. Of course, it still felt like a drill, albeit with high potential, and not yet a reality.

Some things, like clothes and toiletries (as if traveling) are priority just because you need them every day. If the airlines has ever lost your luggage, you know the misery of wearing the same clothes for a week and the hassle of having to buy every little personal care item.

Other things have sentimental value to me, like dad’s photo of a snow-covered Chicago street scene by lamplight from 1949 that hangs on my wall, or the silk painting of me as a toddler painted in Japan in 1954. They mean something to me and are irreplaceable. They bring me joy, yes (as Marie Kondo advises in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), but more importantly, they touch me deeply. Joy is momentary, love is everlasting.

I was also stressing about my friends’ cat, Ashley. They are on vacation. Ashley is alone during the days.. She is a reclusive cat and when I go to keep her company, she is hard enough just to find, not to mention coax to come out and get a few head rubs. How the heck was I going to get her to come out and put her in a carry case? Certainly, I needed to allot a chunk of time for that. I also wondered what else they would want me to grab for them. The giant crystal, for sure, if I can carry it.

If the fire were closer and we were being evacuated, there would not be enough time for all of these questions. I would just toss things in the car and go. This became very clear as I saw how long it actually takes to locate items, pack them in boxes and carry them to the car. I had only been staging so far, staging and planning. I wanted to be ready. I kept one ear open for a reverse call from the Emergency Services advising evacuation.

I checked Yubanet again. They reported that ground resources were staging at Cooper and Lightning Tree roads. Cooper? That’s the road across from mine. I continued saying goodbye to things, by way of deciding they would go in the fire as I continued preparations. Mind you, my goodbyes were perfunctory, as in “you are replaceable” or “I’ll be fine without you.”

Then, just as gradually as I’d become aware of air traffic in the first place, I noticed the quiet. No more tankers. I checked Yubanet.

“Air attack has released the tankers, the forward progress of the fire has been stopped.”

Hallelujah!

The fire drill was over. The fire awareness remains. Tomorrow, I will move journals and other essentials to storage. We are in a severe drought and fire is an ever present danger in these mountains.

I laughed out loud as I asked my guides, “did you really need to go to that length to show me what matters and how much I can do without?”

That evening, I confess, I noticed some relief creep in, in the form of “Thank goodness, I get to keep all my stuff!” OK, maybe I even experienced a little giddiness. Isn’t that just human nature, the gatekeeper at the threshold of change keeping me detained in the land of comfort…..for now.

FIRE DRILL suggestions – design your own:

When we talk about releasing things, we are not just talking about stuff. We are also talking about structures (the way we do things), self-images, identities and roles we play, thought patterns, beliefs, grudges, fears. You know the drill, right?

When you think of what you want and how you want your life to be:

What are the structures, thoughts, beliefs, roles, self-images and identities, people (yes people) that are obstacles?

What are all the things in your environment that have found a home with you and get to stay, mostly because they fly under the radar of your awareness, not because they are an important part of your desired life?

Take a few moments to assess:

If there were a fire approaching and you had 20 minutes to get out of your house, what would you take? (think fast, see what pops up right away)

If a wildfire of a mystical source were coming and was going to burn everything about your beliefs, thoughts and self-image, what 10 beliefs or thoughts would you keep? What would you want to take forward of your self-image and what would you leave behind? If your answer is you’d completely rebuild, then what would your new self-image be? What would it take for you to build it?

I invite you to entertain these fire drills and spin them out over a week in daily journal entries. See what arises.

If you want help making it real without the drama of a real fire, get in touch with me and we will chat about how my way of coaching may be of service to you and your dreams.

copyright © June 2015, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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What can you learn from your clutter and unfinished business?

For one of my clients,  (I’ll call him Sam) it was profound what several boxes of books sitting in his office brought to light. These books had found their way to him through someone’s estate. For whatever reason, the original owner, never having found a suitable home for the books, felt that Sam was the right person to inherit something she could not let go.

This is what we do. We can’t let go of something, so we try to find someone to whom we can give it. Then we can feel good about placing the stuff somewhere “useful.” Often, though, we are just passing our burden along to another. The recipient co-creates the misery by being unable to say no to the offering, or desperate plea, however it is perceived.

Sam, in turn, felt that the library should take these books, but the librarian didn’t want them. There was a bit of a standoff, which the librarian won. Sam was left with the boxes of books and the decision of what to do with them, where to donate them, etc. Like many busy professionals, he procrastinated and the energetic presence of the books in his environment created ongoing anxiety and served as a reminder of his frustration with the librarian.

Sam put it so eloquently, “This is just a story that didn’t end the way I wanted it to and I dragged it out. The fact is, it ended, and I just need to treat it as such and move on. We have a tendency to stop living if our whole self isn’t moving forward. “

Think about it. All the items in boxes, in storage, on shelves gathering dust, waiting for repair, waiting to be used, to find new homes that are piling up day after day because we can’t come to grips with the fact that their time has passed. Whatever and whomever they are associated with (whether another person or an old you), is gone; is an old story.

What if each of these items represents some way that we stopped living along the way; some way in which a piece of us got left behind and hasn’t yet caught up, leaving us feeling less than whole?

As Sam and I dove deeper, he discovered a tape he’s been running in his head since he was very young. It was a kind of rule of thumb he’d followed all these years. I won’t tell you his, but I will make up something similar for illustration: Don’t rock the boat and keep everyone smiling.

This is what we call a fundamental choice. It is a decision we make when we are very young that becomes a rule we follow in life without ever questioning its current validity.  Once I uncover these with a client, we can look at it with an adult perspective and fashion a new, more useful fundamental choice for the client to carry forward (and in many ways, the new choice is what carries the client forward).

Other things revealed in exploring clutter, incomplete projects, etc. are basic beliefs that have to do with what you think of yourself and your place in the world; beliefs and rules that impact every aspect of your life. These are generally unconscious but running the show. Also revealed might be old identities and self-images that no longer serve you.

copyright(c)2011 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

When you awaken to the energetic drag encapsulated in these seemingly innocuous boxes of old stuff, you stand a fighting chance of becoming free.

Becoming free releases the bits and pieces of you held hostage in the old story to come and join you in the here and now where you can be whole and create a new story that speaks to who you are now and who you are becoming. A new story begs new beliefs, new choices, new identities and images, new perspectives. It’s not that you have to make up all of these from scratch (unless that’s your preference).  You are already here and you can already vision what’s next. The story you are writing is your choice. You are already on your way. You just need to lovingly and rigorously invite the outdated you to catch up.

Suggested activity:

Make a list of all of the things you own that you want to get rid of, but have not. Don’t worry about the reason for not releasing them yet, just make the list. Make sure to include items of clothing in your closets and drawers.

Add to the list all incomplete projects

Add to the list the people in your life with whom you have a wobbly relationship; not sure you are still friends, stay in touch with half-heartedly.

Add anything else that fits in similar categories for you.

After you have your list, take a broad general overview of it and ask yourself : What 2 or 3 main themes are revealed in this list? An example might be: college related, scarcity related (might need it some day), old relationships/lovers related.

Then write a brief story that is the OLD story associated with these things. Just a paragraph or two will do. This is not a literary work of art. An example might be:  High School and College Athlete that weighed 20 lbs less. Spent all his spare time training. Proud of his letterman jacket. Found his identity in being an athlete.

Then, ask yourself, what parts of me are being borrowed or held hostage by that old story? Write down those parts of you. Perhaps it is the lover or maybe it is the artist or the adventurer.  In our example, it might be the part that is disciplined and can stick to a program or is passionate or active.

Now, ask yourself, how might these parts of me serve me, if I release the old stuff and bring them into the now, to help me be whole and create a new story? Write down your findings and continue to contemplate this question for another week, preferably on a daily or ongoing basis. Notice what is showing up each day that gives you more information about this question.

At the end of the week, return to your original list and ask yourself, would I rather leave parts of me living in the past and attached to this stuff, or would I rather get rid of the stuff, complete the projects, release them and bringing ALL of me forward into my new story?

The choice is yours. I can’t say there is a right or wrong. There is definitely a difference.

Feel free to comment or email me with your discoveries!

Oh – and Sam? The boxes of books were gone from his office the very next day.

PS – “Sam” gave me permission to use his quote and use him as an example in this post.

——

If this calls to you and you’d like some help with this, consider my 3 month intensive or 6 month immersion one-one coaching program. Find out more about it here: CLICK

If you are interested in an even deeper dive, consider a year long transformational journey by enrolling in my Sacred Life Walkabout. CLICK HERE

Copyright © January 2014, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Spring Equinox – when the day and night are of equal length – is tomorrow for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

With a new storm coming in and the lights flickering threatening to take me off line and detain me from posting this, it doesn’t much feel like Spring. Then again, Spring can be expected to be every bit as active as Winter, in its own way. Whereas stormy Winter is a time of hibernation and going inward, Spring is a time of emergence and new life. So, maybe I can think of this latest storm, after a week of truly magnificent weather, as a new foal kicking up its heels for the first time; everything and everyone feeling their oats. (Oh gosh, now I’m hearing Marvin Gaye singing “Let’s get it on.”) And I digress…I know, just when you thought it was going to get interesting!

This Spring Equinox, I invite you to explore, describe or express the landscape you will cultivate as the days grow longer and the Winter fights to be remembered but will, as it must, give way to Spring.  Write it, paint it, dance it, sing it, drum it. Allow Spring to introduce itself anew to you in dreams and meditations. However it feels right for you, let it flow out of you from your deepest connection to what matters most for you.

Then take another look and see what, in metaphor and symbolic, soulful dreamscape, you are creating for the landscape or the field known as you.

(A note for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere:  Fall is a time of harvesting the fruits of our labor and letting go. The first storms will rip the leaves right off of the trees and the first frosts promote deadlines for harvest.  What is the landscape you will create for Autumn?)

mushroom

Back to Spring. I’ll go first….

The landscape of my Spring

I want to work with the natural wild landscape that is already here.

Put some benches in the best sitting spots for all kinds of moods.

Some memorable moments will come for me on those benches and often, they will be shared with others.

I will cultivate invitations to birds, butterflies, wildlife and fairies.

I want to prune the fruit trees to give them the best chance to produce new fruit on last year’s wood.

I want to clear open space for Medicine Wheel work, meditation and ceremony.

I will nourish the energies of play and love.

I will grow flowers with color and express delight at every mushroom that pops up under the pine needles.

I know that each corner of the landscape has its own gift to offer.  Beauty is not always pretty.

If it doesn’t rain enough I will water the land.

If there is too much sun, I will provide shade.

In all instances, I will honor this landscape and if something wants to go, I will not argue; will not hold on.

I will gather the fallen twigs and branches and burn them.

I will till a specifically designated bed for growing organic vegetables and herbs and will compost the remains of what I have consumed to nourish what is just now growing.

I will wander and I will be still.

I will listen

and

I

will

make

noise.

And you, dear reader, what is the landscape of your Spring?

Copyright © March 2013, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.
– Ruth Ann Schabacker

There are always plenty of reasons not to write. I have had lots lately. At least, I’ve had plenty of reasons not to post to the blog, though I remain faithful to my morning pages, which I’ve done for nearly 20 years. (Don’t even try to fathom the number of journals that has filled.)

The surface reasons are things like: not feeling well, lacking the inspiration, too many insights coming through so fast that picking one to write about is difficult, beautiful weather beckoning me outdoors, drawers and cabinets to clean out and organize, get-togethers with friends, client calls, brainstorming and mind-mapping my new offerings and directions, physical therapy sessions (for a frozen shoulder)  interrupting my creative time.

Subterranean reasons are, well they are subterranean, so I am not all that aware of them. My guess about the subterranean reason is that I’m in a period of rapid change and what used to satisfy me as a post, is shifting.

What is it I want to say now? What wants to be shared from this place, this raw, smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-it terrain?

I guess we’ll find out over the next few months.  Meanwhile, I know some people have been waiting for my next post, because they’ve written to me or told me face to face that they are wondering why I’ve not posted lately. Thank you faithful readers! I count you among my blessings.

Speaking of which, I want to share with you one of the practices that spontaneously burst out of me one morning during a few days of peak discomfort. It brought me relief and heartened me.

I was making breakfast and was so tired of feeling crumby, that I made the decision to shift my attention to what is working in my experience from a whole body, mind, spirit, heart perspective as well as from each aspect. I found the first and began saying out loud:

Thank you for the blessing of: (fill in the blank with a blessing of  simple things like):

Thank you for the blessing of another day.

Thank you for the blessing of full breaths.

Thank you for the blessing of the smell of coffee.

Thank you for the blessing of the pink clouds at sunrise.

 

Sunrise Pink Skies copyright(c) JAN 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Thank you for the blessing of a wonderful new client.

Thank you for the blessing of friends and family who care.

Thank you for the blessing of a heater that works and warms my house.

(Pretty soon I was dancing around the tile kitchen floor in my socks, whirling like a 7 year old ballerina)

Thank you for the blessing of these feet and legs that walk and dance.

The inner wretched one (aka party-pooper) wants to say things like “yeah, but…” and “what if …?” Thankfully, it gets drowned out pretty quickly as I persist in finding the blessings and the heart begins to radiate and fill my mind, body and spirit with brilliant light and happiness. (Hint: It helps to begin with a smile, even if it is simply a physical turning upward of the lips.)

It’s all really simple isn’t it? Simple and complex; like breathing.

We are living through some tough times. A courageous heart is one filled with radiant love and light. We can’t go to the well often enough to drink of beauty and raise our vibration.

As with any ritual, it is easier to remember to actually do it if we practice regularly. So, I’ve begun what I call the Ten Blessings Breakfast. However, lately it’s become, Ten Blessings Wakeup, since I have fallen into an awareness that has me look for the blessings immediately upon awakening.

I also have added it to my evening ritual – Ten Blessings Bedtime.

I’ve had occasion to play with it as Ten Blessings Bruhaha. This one I use whenever something comes up that throws me into anxiety or fear; generally conflict in my body, my life or in the world. Recognizing and saying ten blessings in such moments soothes me and brings me present. Most of what I fear is a projection of what might happen (and likely won’t). Most of what causes me grief is past. When I look at this very now moment, I see that right here, right now, there is much to enjoy, embrace and savor.

Why ten? Intuitively, it struck me as a good number. It was something I had to reach for so I would not just stop at a few. In certain studies it is also the number where completion and beginning meet: 1 and 0.

The ten blessings practice opened the way for some amazing insights regarding pain, fear, wholeness and separateness and I plan to share these with you in coming posts.

For now, I’m headed out for an unlimited blessings walk.

Copyright© February 2011, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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Day 4 #Reverb10 – How do you cultivate wonder?


It seems to me that wonder is a natural state of being.

Wonder comes when I am deeply present.

When I am in the past, my wonder becomes wandering. I get lost in what was. I am not with what is.

When I am in the future, my wonder becomes worrying and hoping. I get lost in what might be. I am not here.

I cultivate wonder by nurturing truth, integrity, beauty and presence.

Wonder is a garden. I weed.  I feed. It’s a labor of love. It’s a practice.

I pull the weeds of:

  • Judgment (as much of me as of others)
  • Fear (move toward anxiety)
  • Ostrich behavior (changing don’t see: doesn’t exist to being with what is)
  • Shadow projections (bring it on home)
  • Blame (bring that one home too)
  • Urgency (there is plenty of time – step into the flow of Divine timing)
  • Dis-ease and dis-harmony (bring awareness to it)

I feed and receive truth, integrity, beauty and presence by:

  • Opening my senses
  • Sowing seeds of happiness
  • Engaging with dogs, cats and wild creatures big and small.
  • Communing with trees
  • Receiving the gifts of flowers
  • Getting up close and personal with the world through the camera’s macro and telescopic lenses
Pin-sized mushroom copyright (c) April 2010, Kathy J Loh

Pin-sized mushroom

  • Cloud gazing
  • Watching the sun rise and set

Sunset 3/6/2010 copyright (c) March 2010 Kathy J Loh

  • Meditation and grounding daily, engaging soul, body mind spirit heart, and Divine Essence
  • Remaining ever curious (Who is that person across from me, really? I look beyond my assumptions and I open to be with who he/she is.)
  • Reading Rumi, Hafiz, David Whyte, Mary Oliver
  • Cultivating magic and miracles
  • Playing with messages from the Mystery
  • Stargazing and contemplating infinity
  • Watching the moon rise and set
Venus and crescent moon copyright (c) April 2010 Kathy J Loh

Venus and the crescent moon

  • Walking a path of Beauty
  • Receiving Grace
  • Living in the question
  • Dawdling
  • Singing the song that asks to be sung in the moment
  • Falling into the silence that follows the song
  • Listening to music, traversing the pathways of melodies and bathing in colorful harmonies

And you, dear reader, how do you cultivate wonder?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Victims wait to be rescued.

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

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

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

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

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

What reality will you create now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy dear ones!

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

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

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

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

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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

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