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Posts Tagged ‘balance’

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is your attention?

To what are you giving your energy?

What do you tell yourself about you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lanikai, Oahu, HI

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

Question: was it real?

Answer: Did I experience it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This post was inspired by a coaching session. I have asked for and received the permission of the client to blog about it. The name I use herein is fictitious. Although the client is a musician, I invite you to consider your own craft or passion as you read about his discoveries.

One of my favorite coaching experiences is coaching a musician, in person, at their instrument (or with it, as a singer might be.) It’s not always possible to do this though when your clients live all over the US, Canada and Europe. I discovered that there is much we can do to create in-the-body and in-the-moment experiences for our clients even over the phone. Here’s an example of that.

Recently, while coaching a long standing client, whom I’ll call Tom, we got into a perennial discussion around readiness, or lack thereof, for an upcoming recital. As a university professor, Tom’s schedule is full and practice all too often takes a back seat to administrative duties.

His goal in the conversation was discover how he might “bring peace to chaos.”

We explored preparedness. Tom feels he needs to be extra prepared for concerts. What rattles him about performance deadlines and not feeling well enough prepared is that he experiences some measure of performance anxiety which impedes his ability to read the score. So, even if the score is there for memory slips, he can’t rely upon being able to see it.

[ I am all too familiar with this experience. Why we are expected not to have to see when we are in fight or flight mode is beyond me and I know it’s caused by the blood being pumped toward the torso that causes this effect.]

While describing his experience, Tom came up with this metaphor:

“I feel like I’m spinning in a blender, trying to focus but in a soup of chaos.”

I asked him, “Do you have a piano there?” He said “yes.” So I asked him to put down the phone and go over and play part of the piece for about 1 minute and to do so as if he were spinning in a blender. I wanted to bring the experience home to him in the current moment. I could hear him playing.

When he came back to the phone, we discussed what happened for him and what he noticed as he played “in a blender.” It was helpful to him to recreate the experience while not actually in rehearsal or on stage. In this way, he could bring more awareness to the process.

At one point, I asked “what do you need to create peace in the midst of the chaos of a spinning blender?”

He responded, “I need a minute to center myself.”

This was the off switch to his blender: “I need a minute.” It would become his private internal mantra.

As we explored how this would show up, he said that it meant he would deliberately allow himself the time to create the mental space he needs. He would allow himself to move a little more slowly before diving into playing. He would also allow himself more practice time in his schedule for any performance.

Tom needs to stand up for himself. He decided that if it’s about keeping himself peaceful inside, then his fears around disappointing others, making them wait, failing or playing miserably needed to take a backseat to creating peace within.

This peace within, in turn, creates peace in motion.

Tom said that standing up for himself also means not letting other people define him.

piano keyboard (c) March 2010 Kathy J Loh

So back to the keyboard he went. This time, I suggested he take his time, expand into the peace he wants to create (which I just now notice is a kind of double entendre for the piece he wants to create), and then play. He set down the phone and, after a pregnant pause, I heard him begin to play.

What he discovered in that second exercise was, in his own words “I need to take up space.”

We then compared actual performance with practice.

In practice, especially the early stages, we are listening with a critical ear, with curiosity, there is a sense of constant refinement and we are working individual measures and phrases at a time. We are getting the lay of the land and familiarizing the muscles with the routine; introducing them to nuances of expression. We move from shorter to longer arcs. I like to say, we are courting music at this point.

In performance, we are music’s only way to be heard. We are music’s instrument. Imagine you are music. You whisper into the ear of a composer who translates the whisperings into notes on paper. You then come fully alive through a skilled and talented musician like Tom. What do you care about?

I’m not so sure music cares about a bobble or dropped note when the arc is so much longer than that. In the same way that we can read this sentence:

Mry hd a lttl lmb

we hear the full message of music despite the occasional error. In fact, most audience members don’t miss a thing and only those with the most trained ear notice.

Let’s face it, we can assume a lot of forgiveness here. All too often, we assume none.

What music wants is to come alive.

It’s about the pure essence of the art and delivering the message sincerely, rather than being keenly focused on perfection of technique and score. And I say this as a composer who cares about every note I write. There’s a message in the music, that only music can express and it’s about that message, not perfection of each note.

I asked my client; “If you took out your ego’s ambition (which is also driving the fear of failure and concern for what others think) to be in the top tier of all pianists in the world, what would be the next tier?”

He replied: “All I have to do is be a seeker and co-create with music.”

Can you be a seeker and co-create with music and still reach the top tier?

If we are co-creating with music when performing, we are taking up space in a very special way. It’s not about our ego taking up the space. It’s about offering ourselves to the music, to the experience it will create for our listeners, in a way that requires that we command the space. In other words, we create a whole new wondrous space of music, sound, vibration, resonance, emotion, energy. We can’t create that space as magnificently when we are rigidly controlled and cautious.  It takes full on letting go, being a lover to music. It means not holding back, because music will meet you wherever you are from tiny and constricted to the full expression of Beauty.

Please note, I am not making a case for sloppy musicianship. I am assuming that the co-creator in this scenario is someone who has dedicated many disciplined hours to their technical chops.

Co-creating with music means stepping up to ownership of the true skills that all those years of dedicated practice have delivered to us.

You ARE a musician. Stop waiting to become one or receive some seal of approval. From this point on, it’s all play.  Proving, deserving, or earning are not needed. We don’t know what we can truly do until we stretch into it. The stretching will create learning and broaden our musical horizon. It will deepen our relationship with music, our instrument and ourselves.

Tom and I concluded the session by talking about what it means to claim ownership and to take up space as a performing musician, including the structures and accountability for that.

Tom offered that, as a “seeker and co-creator with music,” he thinks of practice time as sacred. It is not an after-thought or luxury on his schedule. He agreed to create that sacred practice space in his schedule and to hold boundaries with others around the use of his time.

From this perspective, saying “no” to others is honoring the sacred “yes” to music.

He also decided that, in rehearsal, he would arrive early and, as uncomfortable as it might be, he would take the time to make others wait while he centered himself before playing.  He also mentioned that ownership brings him the confidence he’s lusted after.

Ownership, being a co-creator with music, a seeker, a lover, creating sacred space for his passion, risking, stretching, taking up space; these are Tom’s off-switch to the chaos blender. He is now at choice. The switch is in his hands.

And now you, dear reader:

What passion awaits your loving, co-creation?

What will have you decide you have arrived and just dance with it, recognizing that there is always more to refine, explore and learn?

When is the more powerful yes the one that you say to yourself and your art (or even your life) than the yes that you say to the opinion of others?

I’m right there with you and taking a lot of my own medicine.

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

Looking to create a sense of peace and balance in the midst of chaos? You’ve come to the right place. I invite you to check out my website and set up a complimentary consultation with me to see if coaching is appropriate for your situation.

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Happy New Year!

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

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

Soul-time knows no calendar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clay figure from Bell Pine Art Farm "Open Heart"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Am – Mercy

I Will  – Inspire

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

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

Throw It Away (Abbey Lincoln)

I think about the life I live

A figure made of clay

And think about the things I lost

The things I gave away

And when I’m in a certain mood

I search the house and look

One night I found these magic words

In a magic book

Throw it away

Throw it away

Give your love, live your life

Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open

Let the sun shine through

‘Cause you can never lose a thing

If it belongs to you

There’s a hand to rock the cradle

And a hand to help us stand

With a gentle kind of motion

As it moves across the land

And the hand’s unclenched and open

Gifts of life and love it brings

So keep your hand wide open

If you’re needing anything

Throw it away

Throw it away

Give your love, live your life

Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open

Let the sun shine through

‘Cause you can never lose a thing

If it belongs to you

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

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There’s a technique I like to use whenever I feel stuck or stalled. I interview myself and get the energy moving again by creating an internal board of directors meeting.

Who sits on the board?

Well, it depends on who I wish to assemble at the time.

I draw from my internal “cast of thousands.”

Sometimes, it is a gathering of various iterations of child, adolescent, parent voices along with the inner critic.

One of my favorite, though, is a four way conversation between Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart. Generally, these conversations show me where these aspects are out of alignment and how to bring their energies back into balance.

The other day, I was feeling out of sorts, antsy and I caught myself in a procrastination loop. I knew I had the entire day free to go at those boxes of files again.  I sat with this board in contemplation of the issue, attempting to get some clarity as to which aspect(s) was in resistance and why.  It was quite informative. I’ll share it with you:

The first thing I noticed is that mind was at the “head” of the table. (no pun intended)

After checking in on the energies, I felt into Heart first. Heart appeared with some sort of metal ties wrapped around it. It seemed kind of mopey and said it was tired of Mind running the show.

Mind said something about Heart needing to heal and Heart said it is healed enough and it is Mind that needs to “heal” by dropping all those old patterns of thinking.

Body appeared as a giant banana slug…tired…too tired…Mind tires it out. It wants to follow Heart. Body asks when we are going swimming again.

Spirit came from some distant place to which it had retreated, zipped into the room as dragonfly (a totem for me these days) and landed on the table as Shrek and said “It’s all about fun and adventure.”

Then, I got this image of the three of them (Heart, Body and Spirit) sitting around playing cards all day waiting for Mind to get over itself and get on board with them.

It never fails. When I interview Mind, Mind says it is tired of running the show and would like a little support from the other three. Actually, it likes to show its prowess, but then it gets too high on itself and takes over. So I tried something. I let Mind be held by the other three, as if in a hammock.

I asked: What is it to release to the wisdom of heart, body and spirit?

(c) Kathy J Loh

(c) Kathy J Loh

This question landed on the backdrop of attempting to seriously downsize my possessions and files. When this internal board discusses letting go of all my stuff, Mind goes right back to all the sorting, organizing, what to sell, donate, etc. Why wouldn’t it do that? Mind is a brilliant strategist and calculator.
The other three just sigh and say, “Stop bogging us down!” They tell Mind that it doesn’t have to be done that way. Just get rid of it. It’s stale. C’est passé!

This is where my heart quickened – that familiar cocktail of excitement and fear.

I know I’m at an edge here.

I put heart at the head of the table, not as the boss, but as a way of realigning the weight of the voices. My energetic motor was restarted and I accomplished a good deal of work that day which I’d previously been avoiding.

Here’s what I know. There is a new way for me to be in the world that I am evolving toward. Since it is new, I don’t know what it is. I call it moving into the Great Mystery. I say I am looking to follow The Beauty Way (as the Navajo call it).

I know that it requires a strong internal alliance and alignment of Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart. Each aspect is called forth to its highest strength and my highest purpose is best served by the strength of the team not one or two individual aspects. Each holds a powerful truth. Together, in their alignment, they provide the point of contact between the human me and my soul.

Together, in alignment, Body, Mind, Spirit and Heart resonate with the one-ness from which I feel so separate and help me re-member that unity.

(Tomorrow, a note on what happened the day after I was whirlwind productive at downsizing boxes and files, because this moving into the Great Mystery thing is way bigger than just clearing clutter. I’m only setting the stage with that stuff.)

Meanwhile, try this stuff at home, kids! Many of my clients get great results with this. I’d love to hear what happens for you.

copyright(c) August 2009, 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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