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This is my last post in response to Gwen Bell’s #best09 blog challenge

I just could not keep up with this challenge of a daily blog post responding to specific prompts. It’s not that I don’t think it’s a great idea and plenty of bloggers have kept the faith. I’ve enjoyed reading what others have written, even if it does at times leave me wondering if I’m just old or don’t have a life anymore!

What can I say? I’m a Gemini. Yeah, that’s it. I’m a Gemini and I am a freedom lover. I don’t blog every day. I don’t stick with plans. Besides, it sounds better to say that than have to answer nearly every one of the prompts with either “I didn’t have such a moment” or “I can’t remember. Let me get out all my journals and look it up.”

Still I have this desire to complete this challenge and so, with apologies for bad meter and iffy rhymes, here is my response to prompts for Dec 12th through Dec 31st. To help your orientation, I’ve used italics to indicate Gwen’s prompts.

Except for the cactus I had in November

I’ve eaten no new foods since way last December.

I keep my meals boring to control my weight

But offer me chocolate, I won’t hesitate.

Changes I’ve made to my home have been

The absolute miracle I keep it clean.

I moved some boxes to the shed

And off to Goodwill others led.

I got a rush each time I spied

A hawk or deer or when I cried

For knowing I am so well loved

By Goddess and the moon above.

Best packaging, I’d have to say

Are new notebooks that came my way.

Punch Studio is one I’ll name

Makes Staples stuff look pretty tame.

Tea of the year I can’t vote for.

I am allergic to all tea, so

I drink hot water, with a dash

Of honey and a lemon splash.

A word or phrase to give the gist

Of 2009 without a list;

A picture, poem or epitaph

I’d have to say it’s Full Moon Path.

Where did I spend my cash this year?

What shop is irresistibly dear?

I spend my cash on staying well

With massages from Jennifer Eisele.

My camper van’s my only car

I love to drive it near and far

The best  of drives is  HWY 1

Until into Big Sur you run.

Hwy 1 Coastal view

CA Hwy 1 (K J Loh)

Pamela, Carol, Julie and Lisa

Lori and Annie, Mom and Alicia

These are some of my newest friends

My mom, because we’ve made new amends.

The project I started this year was my blog

It helps me to write my way out of a fog

Out of the shadows and into the light

Of dancing with love, and freedom and life.

I cannot seem to bring to mind

A new startup business of any kind

That I came across in 2009

Other than what I plan to do with mine.

A web tool I don’t think I can live without?

If they ever make one, I’ll give you a shout.

So far this web thing has only served

To suck up my time and leave me unnerved.

What lesson did I learn this year that changed me?

That I control nothing and that I am free

That Love is the answer as is often said

That my heart knows plenty that’s lost to my head.

The gift that keeps giving that I gave to me

Was to love, love myself unconditionally

The insight or aha! or epiphany

Was that I am the drop and the entire sea.

My social web moments were blissful and fun

But my isolation, it has run its run.

The time of my healing is over and done

I’m about to become a more outgoing one.

I’m not a paper fanatic and so

I can’t vote for stationery although

I do like a slick blank page and a pen

That is purple and flows evenly when

I lay on my back with my journal upended

While the latest adventures of the day are appended.

Three more entries before the  conclusion;

A big laugh, an ad and an old resolution.

I laugh with delight every time that I see

A sign Trickster Universe has sent to me

The giggle zone is where my bro and I went

When an evening of good times and teasing we spent.

Advertizing on TV and in mags make me scream,

All lying and shouting and promising dreams

Underscored with disclaimers that spell it out clearly

Any meds that you take you will pay for quite dearly.

And so here we are at the end of the line

There is one more question before Auld Lang Syne

What did I resolve on last New Year’s Day

That I wish I’d stuck with and had not delayed?

The gift of forgetting is I can’t remember

What I might have promised myself last December!

So this year I decided to give it a rest

And not put myself through this challenging test

Which I know all too well I am bound to fail.

I’ll just pay attention and keep trimming my sail.

copyright (c) December 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
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Dear beautiful wonderful readers:

Here’s a little something that I hope casts golden sunshine your way!

We are all drops in the same ocean; uniquely exquisitely gifted drops sparkling in the sunlight, dancing in the moonlight, and we are all beautiful.

May this song, its sentiment, its dancing pulse and celebration wash over you and free you from any dark little hyper critical thoughts to which you may have been giving way too much air time.

Time for a bit of the truth!

I met the songwriter, Mark Shepard, on Twitter. That’s how I discovered this song, which I am now declaring one of my Best 2009 song finds. My heart is voting.

It’s a simple song, yes. And isn’t it all really that simple while deeply complex? Complicating things with drama just might be over-rated.

Thank you Mark!

(If you haven’t seen it yet, you might like to read my earlier post You are so Beautiful)

Copyright © Dec 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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In conversation with a redwood tree

Redwood Tree

(c) K J Loh

Walking to the river on a misty morning

trail inthe mist

(c) K J Loh

In or on water

toes in water

(c) K J Loh

Coolin’ my heels in the river at Big Sur River Inn

sitting at the River Inn in the river

(c) Rick Loh

An uncrowded beach

Footprints on beach

(c) K J Loh

On a road trip in my van

Van at campground

(c) K J Loh

There’s one favorite place that I’m unable to photograph, so I will attempt to describe it.

This place is an intersection of the outer and inner worlds, somewhere near the third-eye and not really.

It is a spark, an essence, the smallest point of a point and yet it’s as deep and expansive as the universe.

The stillpoint perhaps?

I’ve been there a few times.

Once was during a shamanic journey when I found myself on some distant star.

Other times during meditation.

It is a peaceful, quiet place. A place of no time (and hence no urgency) and no judgment.

The only word I have for this place is home.

It is a place where the I that is my ego, my identity in this lifetime, discovers a new me which doesn’t know separation from all the other me’s.

It is a place of unconditional love.

Not so much a love I feel.

More a love that I am.

Copyright (c) December 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved (including images)

This post is in response to Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 blog challenge for the month of December

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Today’s Best 2009 prompt is: Album of the year

Oh gosh, never ask a musician to make such a choice. How much time do you have? Which genre? For the lyrics, the music, the voices?

I decided to share two of my favorites with you today.

The first one is a re-discovery. I still play CDs in my car. Whenever I hit the road for more than local errands, I grab a stack of CDs from my collection and on this last trip, I listened to James Taylor’s Hourglass. I’d forgotten how much I love that CD. Every song on it is exquisite, provocative and  the entire CD is true to Taylor’s mix of loving kindness, consciousness, musicianship and mischievous humor.

The lyrics of the song “Gaia” move me as much today as they did in 1997. I especially love when he sings:

As if you were your own creation

As if you were the chosen nation

And the world around you just a rude and

Dangerous invasion

As per Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary , Gaia is the hypothesis that the living and nonliving components of earth function as a single system.

Lyrics

The sky was light and the land all dark
The sun rose up over central park
I was walking home from work
Gaia

The petal sky and the rosy dawn
The world turning on the burning sun
Sacred wet green one we live on
Gaia

Run run run run said the automobile and we ran
Run for your life take to your heels
Foolish school of fish on wheels
Gaia

Turn away from your animal kind
Try to leave your body just to live in your mind
Leave your cold cruel mother earth behind
Gaia

As if you were your own creation
As if you were the chosen nation
And the world around you just a rude and
Dangerous invasion
Gaia

Someone’s got to stop us now
Save us from us gaia
No one’s gonna stop us now

We thought we ought to walk awhile
So we left that town in a single file
Up and up and up mile after mile after mile

We reached the tree line and I dropped my pack
Sat down on my haunches and I looked back down
Over the mountain
Helpless and speechless and breathless

Gaia

Pray for the forest pray to the tree
Pray for the fish in the deep blue sea
Pray for yourself and for god’s sake
Say one for me
Poor wretched unbeliever

Someone’s got to stop us now
Save us from us gaia
No one’s gonna stop us now

The second CD  I want to share with you is Reiki Whale Song by Kamal Engels. I listen to this CD or Reiki Whale Dreaming every night while I do Reiki and then drift off to sleep. I think it is one of my secrets for a good night’s rest. I love to immerse myself in the sounds of water and whales.

I’ve listened to this watching the stars out the window of the back of my VW Camper in campgrounds all over the west. I’ ve listened to it with the light of the full moon on my face. I’ve listened to it in good times and bad, through smiles and tears, at home and in strange bedrooms when I was tossing about deciding where to live after my divorce. I’m listening to it now as I write and it brings me immense peace. It is music of the heart. Whatever your heart feels will be brought to the surface and released to the ocean breezes.  Now that’s music.

Here is “Whale Dreaming” from the CD Reiki Whale Song

Please share with me your favorites. I love to discover new music.

Copyright (c) December 2009, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
(the lyrics and music are copyrighted by the artists)

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Today’s prompt (for the Best of 2009 blog challenge by Gwen Bell) is challenge: something that made you grow this year. That made you go to your edge and then some. What made it the best challenge of the year for you?

I set a challenge for myself each year. The challenge is meant to expand my being beyond its current edge. I say “being” because it’s more about the unfolding of my soul’s journey for me, than about a specific tangible goal. (And yes, every year  I say I’m going to be fitter and healthier, along with everyone else who pledges that on January 1st)

When I set it, the challenge feels edgy or exciting (depending on the eyes of my perception) but as the year progresses, it reveals itself to be a synthesis of the monumental and the mundane; the sacred and the profane.

Here’s the thing about resolutions, intentions, and challenges: be willing to be surprised. That’s the nice way of saying “be careful what you pray for.”

shadow on beach Nov 09

Mystery (K J Loh)

The challenge I set for myself in 2009 and beyond (I’m now hearing Buzz Lightyear’s voice) is to make an ally of the unknown. I made a conscious decision to play in the Great Mystery. I tend to forget the play part all too often. So, life throws me a full range of opportunities to remember and this year was no different than any other in that respect.

In addition to naming a challenge,  I  pull Spirit Cards (by Joette Tizzone) on New Year’s Day. This year, I accidentally pulled two I AM cards along with the one I WILL card. The result was:

I AM abundance worthy

I WILL open

What I know about invocations is that powerful energies are brought into the space through word, sound, symbols and intention.

This year, I invoked opening to abundance, to knowing there is always enough. This brought on inquiries of what is enough; lessons of gratitude; challenges around receiving and patience.

I invoked knowing that I am worthy of this abundance for no other reason than because I was born. This brought on numerous dialogues between my ego and my soul. My internal board of directors went toe to toe around proving, earning, receiving, allowing.

I invoked the possibility that play will serve me in ways that struggle never has. (I can hear my mom’s voice commenting on how I always have to make things hard – you were right mom) This brought on further lessons in martyr archetype and helped me release any interest I have in looking like I am suffering more than others. I’m kind of over suffering. It’s so 2008.

I invoked the possibility that I will actually enjoy not knowing. What I mean is, not knowing in a way my logical mind can wrap itself around. Yet, knowing in a way my heart understands. I am choosing to read the signals of the world around me as feedback; be present and aware in the moment and work with rather than against the flow;  to co-create with cosmos and the great river of life.

So it all sounds really good huh?

Well on the monumental level, the littlest things are pure magic to me; animal messengers, falling trees, chance encounters, heart connections.

On the mundane level I find myself challenged by what others would find perfectly common place.

I promised yesterday to tell the story of going to a concert alone. This was mundane on the surface and monumental in its impact on me. Here’s the story:

There is a song I love, that I first heard on a Trisha Yearwood CD “On a Bus to St Cloud.” I was searching for a performance of it on YouTube to share on Facebook and Twitter when I came across the performance by the actual songwriter herself, Gretchen Peters. So I tweeted about it and within an hour, I got a tweet from Gretchen saying she hoped to see me at her concert at a local venue two nights later. I had no idea she was playing here, but I could not resist this opportunity, which I took to be a flirt from the Universe to get out in the world even if I have to go alone. So I said yes I was coming.

It would have been so easy for me to back out. I was not accountable to anyone except Gretchen and that was only in my imagination. My soul egged me on. I had to go, to a new part of town and a new venue I’d never visited. I called ahead to get a sense of the seating arrangement and where to park. When the time came, I got dressed hoping to be dressed up enough and not overly so. Then I hopped in my van and took off singing loudly to steady my nerves.

I walked into the bar and everyone turned around and looked at me. Oh boy, feeling conspicuous already. I let my solar plexus lead the way as I went right up to someone who might point me in the right direction. The place was already pretty packed with groups of people enjoying drinks and dinner at cozy tables. I asked the ticket taker to show me a good seat. He showed me two tables in the darker corners of the back and side walls and one right up front. I took the one directly in front of the piano; one little table and three chairs. I sat in the middle chair. Maybe someone, someone handsome and single,  would decide to join me. Uh huh…

Gretchen’s songs are stories. They are lovely, poignant, fun. They make me laugh and they make me cry. Sitting front and center, in the skirt-edges of the stage lights, alone, I was not comfortable crying, but so many of the songs reminded me of loss; loss of love and loss of my dad, that I had to reach into my purse for some Kleenex, despite rapid blinking. Sitting there, I was reminded of the many concerts I went to with my ex-husband. One thing I miss about him is his voice and the gentle strains from his guitar. So Gretchen’s beautiful voice and genuine presence scratched across a few of the scars on my heart and it hurt while it healed.

Click on the play button for this video and enjoy a bit of the “concert” for yourself. (For further info, please click through to YouTube)

When the concert was over, I saw an opportunity to go over and catch her as she stepped off the tiny stage. I wanted to thank her and to let her know that the “Twitter gal” had shown up. We spoke briefly. I was conscious of the fact that she had an agenda with others. I spontaneously hugged her and I could feel her grow rigid, but accepting. Then I left and headed toward my car as two bar patrons hopped on their Harleys and disappeared down a very quiet, very lonely Highway 9.

I was feeling embarrassed for my spontaneous hug. How could I behave as if we were so familiar? Performers just hate that don’t they? Gretchen has no idea the catalyst she was for me; the beginning of re-entering a world I’ve missed. She can’t know the way her tweet reached out to me as a personal invitation.  I hugged her like she saved my life.

I drove home by a new unknown route, following my instincts, newly freed by my willingness to venture out alone, using the gift of a great internal compass. As  I rounded a bend, I was greeted by a full moon rising in an ink washed sky, mysterious wisps of clouds suspended across its face. It was right out of a William Blake collection. That’s when I knew this seemingly innocuous challenge was truly a turning point for me. The opportunity presented itself and I accepted it. The moon smiled back. I’d walked right to my edge and over it.

I am abundance worthy

I will open

I am making an ally of the unknown

Lookout unknown!

In 2010 you can forget about me making you my ally

I’m ratcheting this up a notch to full on lover!

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

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I just listed myself on Gwen Bell’s blog for the “Best of 2009” (#best09) event. There is a theme to write about each day, but I suspect, as is my style, I’ll pick and choose themes and will not publish daily.

Here are my responses to the prompts for the first eight days.

I invite you to consider how you might answer these questions as well and write your discoveries in the comments section.  It provides a fun structure for reviewing the year.  This review can, in turn, feed into a powerful intention and release for Winter Solstice on Dec 21st. (More about that in an upcoming post)

December 1st – What was your best trip of 2009?

I am tempted to look at my calendar. One trip shines out in my memory. That is surely the one and yet, wanting to be thorough (ok, perfect) I sift through my memory for others. Surely there were others. I’m always going somewhere. I have friends who begin every phone conversation by asking, “Where are you?” My memory banks are full and it takes considerable effort to line things up sequentially. Consulting the calendar will inform me as to whether an event happened in this year or last.

The shining trip was a Lucid Living retreat entitled  Secrets of Happiness at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, CA. Exquisite lodging, impeccable service, conscious companions, brilliant material in a beautiful setting with dolphins revealing themselves to me during a particular meditative  beach walk.

breakfast on balcony 4 seasons Aug 09

Balcony Breakfast Four Seasons (K Loh)

December 2nd – Restaurant moment

Uhm…..(stare out the window for awhile, watch a black squirrel scampering through trees)

Uhm….. (see what new tweets are rolling down my Twitter page)

Uhm…(get hungry and go to the kitchen. Gosh, it takes a lot of work to break open the new box of Ferrero Rocher candies.)

Ok – I don’t eat at restaurants much. Oh, but last week , I took my good friend Leslie out for a belated birthday lunch. We tried to go to our favorite Insalatas in San Anselmo, but they’d just stop serving. They directed us to their other restaurant just up the street, Marinitas . We sat by a lovely warm fire and were the only patrons in the place at 2:30 in the afternoon. We ordered from the bar menu and shared two mouthwatering dishes – Mini salmon tostadas with shredded cactus and a Chili Relleno stuffed with 4 cheeses, butternut squash, pumpkin seeds with a delicious green drizzle sauce sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. I wish I had the menu so I could satisfy the “foodies” who might be reading this. We didn’t have much of a conversation beyond “Oh yum” and “This is so good!” The food was savory, sumptuous, downright sensuous. We had to restrain ourselves from licking the plates.

December 3rd – Article (that I read that blew me away and the I consistently reference)

I generally speed read articles. Most do not stick with me. There’s a lightness to articles that always leaves me hungry for something more meaty. One that did have quite an impact on me though, and that I have referenced a couple of times in conversation, was in More Magazine,  Killer Sex: Midlife Women and HIV. As a divorced woman ready to begin dating again, it scared the enthusiasm out of me. It also made me really grateful that my cheating ex-husband showed no interest in me in those final years, as I read of other married women whose husbands brought sexual diseases into their marital bedroom. This is a must read for you married and single women alike. Be informed. Be prepared.

December 4th – Book – what book touched me?

My friend, Karen, gave me Bill Plotkin’s book Nature and the Human Soul. It struck a deep chord in me and I experienced several reactions. The discouraging ones ran like this: “Oh darn, someone has already written about this stuff; someone with a big PhD behind his name; someone who is established and runs retreats.”

The greater part of me felt relieved that someone else knew how I experience the world. My copy is full of stickies indicating the choice quotes. Well, I might as well reference the entire book because that’s how many stickies are in it. Think nature and soul, of course as the title reflects, and add Hero’s Journey, archetypes, cycles, rhythms, rites of passage and you get the idea. Plotkin calls it “ecopsychology.”

December 5th – Night Out (one that rocked my world)

Uhm ….(gosh, I’m staring out the window and getting hungry again)

Do I expose to the world that I don’t have many nights out? There was that drive home at night when I was terrorized by three yahoos in three tricked out dirt trucks. Does that constitute rocking my world?

There are my friends Leslie and Brooks who have welcomed me in their guest room and served me delicious home-cooked meals on multiple evenings over the past couple of years.

And there is that great evening with Alicia and DJ where we hit the spa and then had dinner, sitting at the bar.

Just about any night out rocks my world. No, that’s not true. There was that guy that spoke on non-duality at the local bookstore who nearly put me to sleep. Of course, rocking puts me to sleep. I digress.

You know what rocks my world at night?

It’s the amazing cricket chorus in the summer.

It’s the Great Horned Owls encircling our house and calling to one another.

It’s the full moon shining on me through the skylight as I sleep.

It’s the silhouette of the bobcat sitting at the top of our driveway.

It’s lying bundled up on my lounger gazing at the Milky Way and meteor showers.

Oh and there was the Gretchen Peters concert I went to all alone. That was a rocky adventure for me. I see that December 9th is about a challenge. So I’ll tell you the story in my next post as it certainly was a challenge.

December 6th workshop or conference

Hands down: Lucid Living. I revisited the entire series of weekend seminars that I’d attended 6 years ago and I went to the retreat in Santa Barbara that I mentioned above. Whether it’s for personal growth or further self-development for coaches, I can’t recommend Lucid Living highly enough. I know more of who I am both as human and as spiritual being. I understand that I create my reality. I know what an empowered relationship looks like. I know that Love is the way. I am making distinctions about happiness and its source.

I also did a year-long study of Tarot with Pamela Eakin’s Lightning Spiral Mystery School and absolutely loved it. If you would like to delve more into Tarot, this course is offered online/distance. I highly recommend it.

Finally, it wasn’t all in 2009, but my study of Soul’s Dream with Michele Mchall was a journey I will always cherish and will likely do again. I learned so much about myself and became even more intimate with body, mind, spirit and heart energies and how to align them. Michele coined the term “Whole IQ.” I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about this.

I am also enjoying a series of teleconferences Great Integral Awakening. Check it out.

December 7th Blog find of the year

I don’t read many blogs. Not because I don’t like them, but because there are so many amazing blogs, written by writers who are cleaver, brilliant, creative, inspirational, I simply can’t follow them all. To start naming some here would feel like creating a list for a wedding. I am not sure where the close-and–intimate part ends and the go-ahead-and-invite-everyone portion begins. So I’m going to “elope” with apologies to those I love and whom I’d like to promote here.

December 8th Moment of Peace (hour, day, week of solitude)

I’ve had so many incredible moments of peace. Just walking in the woods with a notepad, camera and no time limit leaves me perfectly content and filled with inspiration.

I do a solitude meditation from Lazaris that my coach Jeanine Mancusi gave me. I call in the four elements (air, earth, water, fire) as well as guides and guardians, ask for clues regarding something that’s up for me, and then sink into a deep state of meditation. Sometimes it feels like insight meditation, sometimes like a shamanic journey and others like an internal board of directors meeting.

There’s so much I could write about this, and here’s the bit that knocked my socks off:

One day, after doing this meditation daily for about a week, I was returning from a walk in the woods and I had the most amazing and wonderful experience. I knew that I belonged. I belonged with the woods, with the trees, the earth, the sky, the river, the air we breathe. I knew I belonged in a way that had my solar plexus feel full and shining. I knew I belonged in a way that was fully in me and all around me, but was not to something outside of me. In that moment, I knew that I was home and I belonged, no matter where I found myself. This freed me to be more of who I am than who I thought others wanted me to be. It freed me to be alone without feeling lonely. Yes, I already knew that feeling, and this was something more rich and satisfying. I felt very, very full, which is to say, whole and complete.

I know myself

To be cosmos

And cosmos

To be me.

How can I not belong

Knowing

I

Am?

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

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