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Posts Tagged ‘clutter’

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

photo of Cody - copyright (c)2015KJLoh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fire photo copyright(c)2011 K J Loh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hallelujah!

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

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

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

FIRE DRILL suggestions – design your own:

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

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

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

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

Take a few moments to assess:

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

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

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

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

copyright © June 2015, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
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What can you learn from your clutter and unfinished business?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

copyright(c)2011 Kathy J Loh All Rights Reserved

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

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

Suggested activity:

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

Add to the list all incomplete projects

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

Add anything else that fits in similar categories for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feel free to comment or email me with your discoveries!

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

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

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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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I spent a bit of each day this weekend sorting and sifting through more boxes. I have to admit, no matter how much enthusiasm I can gather for the image of spending the entire weekend efficiently and magically clearing away all forms of clutter and leaving my home Martha Stewart clean, when it comes to the actual doing of it all, I fall short. I fall into the pool and onto the sun lounger. I trip down the hiking trail toward the river. I fall into my friend’s car and out to a few of the many boutique wineries in Santa Cruz for some tasting. I fall into reverie. I fall onto the ground and stare up at the stars. I fall into bed with renewed enthusiasm for what tomorrow might bring.

Pool time! (Kathy Loh)

Pool time! (Kathy Loh)

Still, I did manage to make another dent in the entire project. Wrestling with it all just doesn’t serve. I’ve surrendered to the one-box-at-a-time process. I relish every trip out to the recycle bin. The sound of the shredder makes me giddy. With each slam of the recycle bin lid or whir of the shredder, I become lighter, my life and the weight of the journey becomes lighter.

It’s all about energy. Somewhere during those years of transformation, I lost the will to expend more energy than I receive. That’s not a way of being that I’ll be looking for in “lost and found” any time soon. Time spent writing, connecting with friends, connecting with Nature, connecting with Spirit and with myself is more important to me than time spent herding paper. So, I will be keeping less of it in the field of my life. Yet, it takes time to trim the herd, especially one that’s been growing for so many years.  I am reminded to be patient.

I was talking with my neighbor, Chuck, yesterday while carrying a box out to the recycle bin. He is an interesting character. He lives in one room and has a minimum amount of possessions. He was talking about his tools. He loves to woodwork and he has an amazing mind for invention. I marvel at his spatial intelligence. He spoke about things needing to have good homes.  He feels if he is not using his tools enough, he is not honoring their energy. If we are keeping things and not using them, not enjoying their beauty, then, in a way, they want us to find them new homes. Things lose their energy if neglected.

I thought of a lovely illustrated poem by Michael Hogan “Progress” which I have displayed in a glass clip-frame. I noticed it was dusty and I could feel its energy was depleted. Like crystals, things need to be cleansed and re-energized. Although I bought this poem-picture 30 years ago, it has stood the test of time. Like any good poetry, one can relate to it from just about any level of awareness. The simple process of dusting it had me re-read it. Its message was renewed in me.

I wonder sometimes if we don’t buy more things only because we’ve neglected to renew the energy in old things. We might be trying to revitalize ourselves through the energy of “new.” So many of our old things actually do still resonate for us, when we renew our connection with them. The ones that no longer feed us deserve new homes, where they are appreciated. It gives new meaning to house cleaning and dusting.  In doing so, we are creating beauty in the space, renewing the energy of the objects in that space and, thereby, reinvigorating ourselves.

As I ponder this, I realize that I can have this all or-nothing-approach. Keep it all, file it all, maintain it all or toss it all away. Both perspectives are about quantity. Either-or quantity quickly leads to scarcity or abundance. Now, I’m considering resonance. What is the resonance factor of each piece, each item, in terms of the whole of who I am now and who I am becoming? Memories are lovely. Some items filled with memory serve my current resonance. Others do not. Those need to be released to find new homes.

By releasing them, I create space for alignment of my energy with my environment as well as a lightness of being. I also create more time to spend floating in the pool….which is precisely where I’m headed now. The next box can wait.

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

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