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Archive for the ‘Transformation’ 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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I was in conversation with a couple of friends the other day and one of them said she knew she was at a crossroads in her life, but she felt like she was sitting in a folding chair at that crossroads, not ready to choose a direction, not to mention a final destination.* I am reminded of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, and that he made a choice, presuming he could return and try the other path one day, but as he discovered, every choice point leads us to another and there really is no return. If you have ever gone back to your hometown, you know this. Nothing stays the same waiting for our return.

copyright (c) May 2013, Kathy J Loh

Many of us Baby Boomers, as we are called, are at a crossroads after having experienced others over the years; college or not, marriage or live together, children or not, divorce or stay, relocate , this job or that.  Now we find ourselves at a shared crossroads that has been called the Encore Years or our Third Act.

Many of us were young idealists during the Vietnam War era. We thought anyone over 30 was not to be trusted. We were wise beyond our years and more naïve than we knew. We’d only been on the planet for 15 to 25 years (well, this time around), but we felt so grown up. (“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”**) This was our beginning and the road we thought we were on was marked by the sign post Change the World.

But, (screeching halt, right hand turn), we hit a crossroads as we reached our 30s, that “untrustworthy” age, and we began to chase after the American dream of another sort, homes, money, families, symbols of safety, security and comfort. Maybe you didn’t and that’s OK, but most of us did. Our idealism was funneled into joining certain political parties, contributing time and/or money to non-profits, following a guru, taking weekend personal growth workshops or haunting the self-help aisles of bookstores.

As we approach our retirement years, our children creating their own families, we find our time and mental space is freed up. We are feeling new (or abandoned) desires emerging or re-emerging. What got left behind? What went underground or became a hobby? Was it the artist, the researcher, the adventurer, the tree hugger, the idealist philosopher?  We have become the elders and some say that many of us only incarnated for the work we are up to now in our later years – to co-create a new paradigm, participate in the Big Shift.

Elders? Yes! I’m not talking about shuffling off to a retirement home and watching TV in your studio apartment all day. I’m talking about wise mentors, guides, creators. I’m not talking about pontificating at a family gathering as everyone rolls their eyes: there goes grandpa again. I’m talking about wise elders with a resonance of being that is grounded, present, trustworthy as well as actions that are in complete alignment with your soul’s calling. That calling may be difficult to hear beneath the cynical or hopeless chatter of a weary ego that has decided long ago that anything outside its comfort zone is unattainable. It takes willingness and courage to stop, pull out that folding chair and sit a spell, be quiet, listen deeply with great patience and curiosity.

For many, the crossroads is the result of being downsized, failing health, empty nesting, retiring from a long-time career, divorce, widowhood. For others it is the simple question that won’t leave them in peace: “Is this all there is?” A sense of urgency can accompany it, especially if you are 60 and older. It’s a completely different question from the one of our youth, “what do I want to be when I grow up?” It’s more like: “ I’m grown up and closer to my end, but I might very well have a good number of years yet to live and contribute.  What still wants to happen for me to know I’ve lived a good and meaningful life and can die with few or no regrets?”

And that is the crossroads you may come to face; the one where you can choose to continue the rest of your days in a comfort zone of the familiar or embark on an adventure into unknown territory, uncertain of the outcome, becoming more familiar with an unfamiliar you.  When I say an adventure, I am not saying that you must change everything in your life. Your life may look exactly the same in form and situation, but how you perceive it, whom you are as you are living it, even how you perceive the life you have lived so far, will be different and everyone will notice.

So, I suggest that when you find yourself at a crossroads, you take your time and pull out that folding chair. There is much to be done in the sitting. I think we all too often are propelled onto a path to avoid the discomfort of being present to our inner world and our soul’s requests.  It’s so much easier and so much more familiar to just get busy doing something again. Instead, take time to be still, to review and celebrate. Heck yes, celebrate! Get out of that chair sometimes and dance around with joy for the life you have lived so far and who you had to be to live it. No one gets this far without a bruised and battered heart and that heart, broken so wide open, is raring to dance.

This is the work that my clients do with me on my year-long Walkabouts.  We stand, we sit, we dance at the crossroads together.  We take a look back and see what needs your attention.  We recontextualize your past. You set down the burdens carried to this point and make a commitment to travel lightly. We laugh, we cry, we celebrate and a new story of your life emerges. This is the truer story that can carry the more real and soulful you forward, whereas the old story might have weighed you down.

You’ll spend some time sitting in the folding chair, or a granite boulder, or on a meditation cushion, listening, contemplating, becoming deeply intimate with you, the beating of your heart, the power of your breath, the stirrings of your soul, your radiant essence, your wild nature. This sitting becomes something that gets woven into your journey of transformation. It is a time of ambiguity, of not knowing and getting more comfortable with that. It is a time where you begin to surprise yourself and discover the sheer pleasure of being a beginner again as you vision and fashion what and how you want to use your wisdom and gifts in the years ahead.

Bring your folding chair along as you embark in your chosen direction. There will be other times you will want to sit a spell while traveling further and further onto the frontiers of your thinking, your emotions, expanding your energy and your world, exploring beyond the familiar and comfortable box that has so neatly contained you all these years. This internal and external exploration begins to weave a tapestry and that tapestry is the very fabric of the new you who now engages in their world in a profoundly new way. Not so oddly enough, that means the world engages with you in a profoundly new and magical way as well.

I call my path the Wisdom Path. What path calls to you?

Discover your unique path on a year long Walkabout with me. I invite you to contact me at kathyloh@coachkathy.com   We’ll set up a phone conversation where I will answer your questions and we can explore whether or not this is the right step for you at this time, as well as whether or not we make good companion explorers.  I am only accepting 6 Walkabout clients in 2014, so it this calls to you, contact me soon.

* The metaphor of a folding chair at the crossroads was attributed by my friend to Stephen Cope, but I have been unable to locate an exact quote.

** From the song My Back Pages written by Bob Dylan, made popular by The Byrds.

Copyright © Dec 2, 2013, Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

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“It’s a quarter after one, I’m all alone and I need you now.”  – Lady Antebellum (Need You Now)

I had to take my van in for scheduled maintenance and I knew I’d be house-bound for the day, except for wherever I might choose to go on foot. Well, let’s not argue bikes and buses, that’s not the point. I chose to make today one free of the obligation to go anywhere.  I thought I was clearing today to work on some projects and it’s still possible I will do that later.

What I didn’t expect was that my entire system, body, mind, spirit and heart, would seize the opportunity to do a little (or a lot of) integrating and healing. It’s like my system saw the open space coming and the entire assembly line began to whir.

It began with reviewing my post-divorce journey yesterday. (The project I’m working on has to do with that journey.) Those thoughts led to noticing what I really feel about where I live, what I do and what I’ve left behind, including what more there is to leave at the curb.

I had a vivid dream about my ex. I’ll spare you the details (and dream analysis) and will simply say that, in the dream, I held him with huge compassion and love. I wrote about it in my journal and pulled an angel card: Healing. The cards on either side of it being: Forgiveness and Self-acceptance.

Iris - copyright(c) May 2010, K Loh, All Rights Reserved

Iris: symbolizes new birth at hand

In my morning meditation, it occurred to me to offer the same love, compassion and forgiveness to myself that I had offered my ex in my dream.  I did so out loud. Whoever lives in me and carries some sense of unworthiness heard it and sobbed with relief. I felt the guilt and pain dissolve while my cells danced with the light and love of healing forgiveness.

We hold things against ourselves unconsciously. It’s so important to become curious about and intimate with our self-talk. How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m harder on myself than anyone else?” Hello? Is this supposed to earn us some kind of award? No wonder the body hurts, the spirit sinks, the heart cowers and the mind becomes distorted. No wonder. We become so separated from ourselves.

Jump ahead an hour or so and I am home, without a vehicle of the gas-guzzling variety. There’s a sense of solitude about it, kind of like when the power goes out or being snowed in. The spaciousness is visceral. The house feels doubly insulated and there’s a kind of sobriety about the stillness when the mind is not able to run a checklist of all the places I can go to get away from here.

The phone rang, once and then nothing. No caller ID to know who it was. I discovered the garage door was open… (must’ve hit the clicker in my purse when I was reaching for my keys.) How odd, I thought. But then, I get that my own personal garage door of past memories, slights, and embarrassments has been opened wide. I’m shedding light on those old boxes stored away deep inside. Not some glaring construction light that has to do with fixing. Rather a soft dappled sunlight that says “it’s over now. You are safe. You can come out of hiding.”

Then I found myself checking email and catching the odd video link here and there on Twitter and Facebook that catches my fancy. It’s a kind of warmup ritual (that serves double duty of procrastination ritual) for me and it gives me something to post to each stream.  I came across music session videos on Huffington Post and I clicked on Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now.

I was that person at one time and I have had a hard time reconciling with that self and her behavior; the neediness, the addiction to someone, the pain of the attachment, the lack of control that had me make a phone call that only leads to more shame and  pain.  I love the song, bought the CD, but never let myself fully feel it. Today, I was able to watch the video, listen to the words, feel the emotion, recognize it as if looking in a mirror, and not turn away. I can accept that I’ve been there and done that. Really, who hasn’t?

And so, with the help of a dream, a bit of space and time, loving guides, meditation, gentle whispers and winks from the Universe, and Lady Antebellum, I have discovered that my body, mind, spirit and heart have opted to spend the day aligning, integrating and moving toward the next greater wholeness of my being. Who am I to argue with their wisdom?

I took my car to the shop for maintenance. My soul created sacred space for its “vehicle’s” healing and I am re-membering innocence.

What will you re-member today? What disowned part of you gets to come home and rest in the vast loving space of your heart?


copyright (c) May 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (includes images, but not youtube video)

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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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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

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“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

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I noticed a Dark-eyed Junco sitting on the table in a corner of my garden. Junco’s are common here, no big deal and still delightful, but this one was courageous. He was not about to move even as I stepped outside to get a better look, though he did keep an eye on my every move. Then, I saw why he was determined to keep his post. A female, foraging for seeds on the driveway, appeared from under my car. With him keeping guard, she had no need to be wary. When he gave the signal, they both took flight to the shelter of the nearest tree limb.

Dark Eyed Junco - copyright (c) March 2010 Kathy J Loh

Dark-Eyed Junco (c) Kathy J Loh

This exquisitely represents the masculine and feminine principles to me. Not as in male and female gender, but as in the yin and the yang that makes the whole of each of us and all that is. The wild feminine dances while the masculine creates and holds the container. What is the water without the shore?

Spring’s return is a delightful time. The first butterflies emerge and dance with the wind. Wildflowers burst forth, seemingly and sometimes truly, overnight. The evening air is filled with the most delicious fragrances, my favorite being jasmine.

I’ve noticed the squirrels again. After months of gathering acorns, they seemed to disappear. Now, one has returned to its commuter route; feeding young in the nest? The first quail have appeared as well. Like the male Junco, the male quail also serves as a reliable sentry for the female and her chicks.

At the turn of the year, I wrote about the conflicting energies of robust New Year’s resolutions, astronomical events and seasonal cycles. While we experience a sense of new beginnings on the first of the year, it is mostly because we replace one calendar on the wall with another and we make a big deal of it with parties and a big ball in NYC that drops at midnight.

Winter is a time of rest, hibernation, integration. It is a feminine season and its element is water. Our energy is in retreat.

Spring brings in the masculine energy of fire. Everything wants to burst forth: chicks from eggs, butterflies from chrysalis, buds from branches, blossoms from stems, even us from our houses. The sun calls and the world responds.

This is the season when the energy to make changes, to transmute our realities, is most powerful. At this equinox, the dark watery feminine meets the active fire-y masculine and a new creative wave is unleashed. It’s where polar opposites meet and create the new way.  It is a time of birth and rebirth.

If we had intentions at the New Year that seem to have gone astray, we can likely revisit them now with much more success. As everything bursts forth, so does our enthusiasm. We now have the heart to be disciples to that which we most desire to create and that is the true essence of discipline.  We become the sentries to our own creative dancer.

The Spring equinox (in the northern hemisphere) occurs at 10:32 am PDT on Saturday March 20, 2010. At that point, we will be at a midpoint between the shortest and the longest days of the year; the balance of dark and light.

The entire time I’ve been writing this post, butterflies have been riding the waves of the breeze, surfing past my window. I take it as a sign. I’m not going to list, in bullet-point fashion, how to create your Spring Equinox Ceremony or ways to creatively magnify your intentions.

What I do suggest is that we all revisit what it is we want from life and what we want to bring to it.

What will have you dance like butterflies, surf like dolphins, soar like hawks?  Bring your brilliant masculine energy to create the container, the sentry, together with the wild creative feminine energy in you to make it happen. Imagine what becomes available when discipline and creativity play together.

Oh, and maybe clean out your garage and dawdle* a lot –   not necessarily in that order.

Postcript:

Just now, I saw a hawk land in the redwood across the way and I stepped outside to prepare to photograph it in flight, should it choose to circle nearer and overhead. As I waited, I became distracted by a small black and orange caterpillar crawling up the wall. Since I’d taken a little movie of one at my front door about an hour ago, I thought I’d get a couple of still shots of this one. When I zoomed in, I was surprised to find that a tiny spider was furiously working its magic thread between the caterpillar and the wall.

I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the same caterpillar. Had it traveled all this distance and found the right place to go into metamorphic goo only to become a banquet for a spider?

Let’s play with the Mystery Message here (and if you want more like this, sign up to receive Mystery Messages from me).

Using Ted Andrew’s book  Animal Speak for quick access to symbolism of these two creatures:

Butterfly (and thus, caterpillar) is about transmutation and the dance of joy.

Spider is about creativity and the weaving of fate.

These questions arise for me and I invite you to create more:

What will have you allow your creative urge to make a meal of the old you, your old stories and old identities, so that you may be transformed into one whose heart is light as a feather and dances for joy?

How might you be allowing the web of fate and the sting of life events dictate who you think you are and prevent you from becoming the joyful passionate being you were born to be?

Copyright(c) March 2010 Kathy J Loh -

Caterpillar and Spider

Post – postscript

I just went back out to check on the caterpillar-spider drama. Neither was anywhere to be found. Ten minutes gone and it was as if the event never happened. Wow – now that’s a mystery in and of itself. Then, to top it off, I saw a walking stick. That’s a rare sighting for me. This one was so small and slim it looked like a fiber shred. Wow – another delight delivered from the Mystery. How can I not travel life with eyes wide open? How can I not dance for joy?

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

* For more posts on dawdling, click on “dawdling” in the cloud to the right or locate dawdling under categories.

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