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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ~ Rumi

In the previous post, I wrote about momentum. Momentum is about sustaining action (large and small) long enough that our project picks up a speed of its own and carries us along with it. We don’t feel like we have to push so much.

Motivation is about what gets us into (or out of) action in the first place. It speaks to a need or a desire that moves us. It can just as easily move us away from our target as toward it. Motivation can come from fear as well as love. It matters that our motivation be honest and in alignment with our more real self.

If we are motivated by fear, we may seek to avoid something. Even if we are motivated by a need to fill a sense of lack in ourselves (looking for love, recognition, a sense of belonging from an outside source), we may be trying to avoid the pain and emotion of feeling that sense of lack. In that case, we are afraid of our own emotions more than that from which we think we are running.

Feeling deeply our own emotions is one of the  first steps toward recognizing we are the authors of our lives and as such are the ones who create our feeling loved, recognized and belonging.

If we are motivated by love, we may seek to express a passion, to share skills and insights, to create something for ourselves, for others, for the sheer beauty or play of it.

interesting photo

Our motivation contributes to our momentum. It is important to explore our motivations because, to put it bluntly, if our motivation is to prove something to someone else or to get something from them, then our strategy may well backfire. Our energy reserves will be depleted and our momentum will lose steam.

If you are procrastinating around something that makes your heart sing, you are more than likely avoiding vulnerability. It is vulnerable to allow yourself to be seen in your awkward exploration, grand adventure, playful innocence, sheer majesty.

If you are procrastinating around something that you think you should do, but it doesn’t really float your boat, then look deeply into your motivation. Is this your agenda or someone else’s? How in alignment with your values and desires for your life is it really? What do you expect to achieve or get for this? If you say yes to this, to what are you saying no? What are you avoiding by focusing on this instead of what you really want? Do you need to delegate or ask for help?

Let’s play with “motivation” as both a process/conditions question and one of goals/outcomes (motive).

As a process/conditions question, we are addressing how we can move ourselves into action, build and sustain momentum.

Some responses might be to:

• Build a habit or routine
• Plant a seed the night before to facilitate more automatic action the next day
• Make a game of it
• Have an accountability buddy
• Create a ritual around it
• Work with others
• Go on a working retreat
• A clean office
• Setting a timer
• Play music while doing the work

What processes/conditions motivate you? Are you putting them into place?

As a goal/outcome (motive) question, we are addressing why we want to do what we say we want to do. What we hope to get from it. It may also be a question of why we are avoiding what we say we want to do. Again whose agenda is it? Is it a should a have to a must or a desire? Is it for short term gratification or long term satisfaction?

Here’s an exercise to help you tease out whose agenda you are following (or chasing).

What do you want?

Take a moment or two to write down your answer to that question. Write at least 10 things you want and include the thing you are procrastinating around that you think or know you want.

Some of your wants may be simple, like a new washing machine. Some may be more complex like to have a child or change careers. An avoidance want might be, to get out of my marriage or get away from this town. (You aren’t sure what you want, but you know what you don’t want. If you have to start there, then do.)

What do you really want?

Take time to write down the answer(s) to that question, however it shows up for you.

If your first answer was more of a “don’t want” avoidance item, then write what you want instead of that. For example, I want to get away from this town might now become I want to live in the country or I want to live where the weather is more temperate.

For some people, it will be further clarity around their original answer, like a front-loading, red washing machine or a career in which I can telecommute.

For others, the answer(s) may be entirely different. The first wants become replaced by something deeper, more heart-felt, more vulnerable. Perhaps it even feels risky to put it in writing or say it out loud.

Many of my new clients have difficulty with the question, “What do you want?” It is totally understandable. For the most part, we have been shut down over the years with admonishments about what we should and shouldn’t want, can and can’t have, need to accept, plan B’s and compromises.

We’ve also been told it is selfish to want what we want unless it is for someone else or “world peace.” We are subjected to the opinions and judgments of others about our desires and preferences. It is painful to want something we think we can’t have. So, over the years, we’ve learned to stuff it.

We bury our treasures so deep that finding them is a major archeological dig. So, don’t worry if you are having trouble with the question. Stay with it. You were designed to want what you want at a heart and soul level. Our life energy and time is too precious to waste on chasing after someone else’s (including our wounded ego’s) agenda.

Here is another fun and powerful way to open up to your heart’s true desire, which you may also interpret as your calling). I first heard this from my good friend Joette Tizzone. She says she may have adapted it from elsewhere. You’ve probably heard similar approaches. I am fond of this version.

The Bliss Question

Close your eyes.

You have everything you need to create the life of your dreams.

There are absolutely no obstacles.

You have the money you need.

You have the knowledge you need.

You are surrounded by helpers, and anything you don’t know or think you might need is happily supplied to you by others.

Everything is in harmony as you create your beautiful life.

Allow yourself to feel this….

Now, please describe it to me, in the present tense, such as I am ….

Where are you? ( I am …)

What are you doing? (I am …)

What is around you?

Who is with you?

What does it feel like? (I feel …)

Allow yourself to bask in the feeling.

Open your eyes.

If you take the time to do this with reverence for the spiritual human you are, you will have begun to feed energy to a future that motivates you into creative action and comes back to you as a river moving through you.

Do not worry for now about the how. The how is always revealed as needed.

As Joseph Campbell said:

If what you are following, however, is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness, then magical guides will appear to help you. If you say, ‘Everyone’s going on this trip this year, and I’m going too,’ the no guides will appear. Your adventure has to be coming right out of your own interior…You must have courage. It’s the call to adventure, which means there is no security, no rules.*

So, dear reader:  What do you want? What motivates you?

The next post in this series will help you make a distinction between the form and the function of what you want which will help you go further with understanding the why.

If you would like to uncover the buried treasure of your true calling, begin your grand adventure and could use an ally along the way, contact me and we can talk about how coaching might be your best investment in your self.

copyright © October 2015 Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

*Joseph Campbell in A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.

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Momentum: 1: a property of a moving body that the body has by virtue of its mass and motion and that is equal to the product of the body’s mass and velocity; broadly a property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to a rest when under the action of a constant force or moment 2: strength or force gained by motion or through the development of events. – Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

To build and maintain momentum with a project, we need to be willing and able to be with discomfort.

Most of us have experienced (and really like) flow. It is a momentum of ease and effortless focused attention. But, when we hit a snag that disrupts our flow, we can become discouraged or even infuriated and fall prey to an internal dynamic that steals our thunder and stalls our momentum.

We might allow distractions to lead us to further distractions and voila, we soon discover our project is in a dormant state.

Starting an engine takes much more effort than keeping it running, particularly if it has been unused for some time. (Think of the lawn mower after a long cold winter.) And, we are not machines. We can play all kinds of games with ourselves creating our own virtual winters leading to the energy drain of starting our creative action engines over and over again.

copyright(c)Jordonna Dores 2007

Hero’s Journey by Jordonna Dores 2007

Our momentum might be disrupted by circumstances; both honest and illusory.

Honest circumstances are the stuff of life like death, natural disaster, birth of a child, illness, moving.
When our momentum is disrupted by honest circumstances, we need to find our own center of gravity and dance with it, knowing we can and will begin again. We must be willing to be with the discomfort of starting the engine again. The least we might do is nurture our love for our project in some small way every day to keep the spark alive, keep the engine warm.

Illusory circumstances are excuses we use to avoid our project and pretend we are not at choice in order to avoid discomfort. These might be things like blaming other people for taking up our time, doing things for everyone else except ourselves, busying ourselves with many small but low priority tasks, trying to do everything ourselves.
Some reasons we reach for excuses and blame are that we get stuck on some aspect of our project, we arrive at a complex point and need to spend time working through it and we run into something we don’t know how to do.

Remember the saying “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” Simply put, this means we need to learn to stay with the discomfort. Don’t run from it.

I know, when I hit a snag in my creative work, I become like a Mexican jumping bean. I become wired with anxiety and can hardly sit still. I walk into the kitchen looking for something to eat multiple times. Well, I call it anxiety, but maybe it is just the extra fire I need to push through something. Creativity requires resistance.

Sometimes a walk is good if we stay focused on the question, carry the inquiry. Sometimes we need to gently redirect ourselves back to the chair and stay put. Sometimes we need to ask for help.

Showers, walking, and gardening are all flow activities: ones where you can engage your body while your mind is free to muse and problem solve creatively. Sometimes sleeping on it helps. My father, an engineer and systems designer, used to doze in front of the TV and would suddenly pop up and say “I’ve got it!” meaning he’d solved a problem he’d been working on in his half-awake state.

Most importantly, when you hit a bump in the momentum road, don’t let it derail you. Stop, get grounded and be with what is. Don’t fight it. Be like water. Work with, through and around it.

Hitting a plateau can feel like a disruption of momentum, but it is really a different form of momentum. It is a time when it feels like we’ve completely stalled out for weeks at a time after a period when we’d been making steady progress. This is most obvious when we are engaged in projects with a learning curve, like learning to play an instrument, learning a language, spiritual growth and practices and it is also true of some instances of writer’s block.

During a plateau, we think nothing is happening and we’ve lost momentum. Actually, it is an essential part of our process which is integration and assimilation. This is the time that is needed for us to embody a new skill, a new habit, a new way of being. We don’t just think ourselves into something. We build a field which becomes us and align all aspects of ourselves in the embodiment of that field. This is where the magic happens. It looks like nothing is happening, but once it is over, the new skill, the new way of being is established and we can rely upon it in a way we could not before.

Momentum takes time to take hold and build speed. Whether experienced incrementally or exponentially, the more momentum you have with something the easier it feels to sustain. Some like to think of momentum as a wheel that goes around in a cycle. I prefer to think of it as a spiral, because we never really return to the same place where we started. Spirals represent duality: increasing-decreasing, rising-falling, growing-decaying. It depends on the direction of the spiral. Is it expanding outwardly or contracting inwardly? Is it rising in resonance or falling?

So, we can see that we can have momentum that contributes to our desired outcome and momentum that does not. For example, the momentum of a daily writing habit vs the momentum of daily procrastination around that habit; getting to it – putting it off. The longer we procrastinate, the more speed and familiarity (potentially inevitability) the procrastination momentum gains.

At the top of this post, I wrote that we have to be willing to be with discomfort to build momentum. Consider the irony that we also need to be with discomfort to procrastinate; the discomfort of not making any progress toward our dreams and desires and the discomfort of changing our momentum direction.

We’ve got to stop, become present, make a powerful and often uncomfortable choice (or two or three), turn ourselves around, get some traction in your new direction and stick with it until we have new expanding momentum. We can do this by becoming still and stepping into the center of the spiral as an observer of our world, our direction, our life. From there, we can find our center of gravity and empower ourselves to make the shift.

Having completed something before helps build momentum, because now you know we can do it. So, if you are making things, make lots of them. If you are writing poetry or songs, write lots of them. Be willing to make bad things on the way to what you saw in your mind’s eye. This is difficult for visionaries who see things whole and perfect but must now fumble through the imperfection of manifestation in physical form. Each step prepares you for the next.

Be willing to be with the mystery of what you don’t yet know and challenge yourself. You will bring forward what you have already assimilated and what is next will be revealed to you or even created by you. If you wait to know how to do the entire thing, you will blow your momentum.

When I used to play tennis, I remember being told to play with someone more skilled than me. That way, I could be challenged to rise to the next level whether I felt ready for it or not, even if I fumbled and flailed. Be willing to fumble and flail when you stall out, when you are blocked. Don’t wait for the perfect feeling or time. Stay and keep going. Don’t judge. Get curious.

Something else to remember about momentum is that it is a force that is not necessarily entirely created by your muscle and effort. Your commitment, your daily meeting with the muse, your self-trust, the project itself and even the future participate in momentum.

When we birth something, it takes on a life of its own, which is to say a momentum of its own. Know that you can tap into that like a surfer rides a wave.

When we seed the future with the vision of something we are creating, that future, that vision, reaches back and pulls us toward it, if we allow it. It sends us opportunities and signs. We need only pay attention and lean into it with our commitment and awareness. This means we need to be willing to be with discomfort of mystery, because we do not necessarily know the outcome. It is being created as we go. We need to release control. It’s not all about our ego.

We also may face having to be willing to be with the discomfort of being seen and standing out as a tall poppy. We are revealed by what we create. It is vulnerable to stand out in the world and make a big noise, a big splash. Momentum might be destroyed by too much worrying about these things along the creative path or too much sensitivity to the opinions of others along the way.

Next, I will write about motivation, form and function and their impact on our momentum, willingness and capacity to getting things done.

Ready to stop procrastinating and get some momentum going toward the life you really want? Consider hiring me as your coach. I’ve helped many people get off the train to nowhere and fall in love with life again. I invite you to contact me for an exploratory consultation to see if coaching is right for you.

Copyright © October 2015,Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
Photograph of original art copyright © 2007 Jordonna Dores, Used with permission.

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“Anyone else having a bumpy re-entry? Today was one of those days where by noon I was already back curled up under the covers and needed to do a bit of yoga to re-center.”

A lovely, creative colleague of mine posted those words (above) on her Facebook page the first Monday of 2015. It caught my attention, because I’d already posted to my business development group that I was finding myself in a state of huge resistance to returning to work after two weeks “off.”

I enclose off in quotes because truly the weeks of Christmas and New Years are not a time of rest and retreat. All that time “off” is needed to attend to the busy-ness of the holidays. I posted my agreement as a comment in her thread and was comforted to see others, especially my creative friends, do the same.

While I didn’t feel like I wanted to crawl under the covers, I did want to stop time. I especially wanted to stop the tidal wave of emails coming in from marketers with whom I’d traded my email address for freebies this past year. It seems that the new year, the time of making resolutions, putting away the last year and gathering (or in most cases re-gathering) our hopes for the new year, is a good time to market your programs to people. But, to me, it all came across as too much noise.

photo of apacheta

Apacheta, offering to Gaia with gratitude – I later added rose petals from my solstice ceremony

Add to that, the noise of my panicked inner slave-driver chastising me for not having my own program launching with the others and that was all it took for my inner dragon to arise from its slumber. That’s good actually. I can use a little fire. Healthy anger is an indication that some boundaries have been crossed. I needed some boundaries. I needed to quiet the noise and shut off the inner slave-driver. I started opting out of all the lists and deleting emails. I refused to get on the new year-new you-productivity bound train. Instead, I stood on the platform and watched the train roll out of the station. As I did, I began to wonder. Why?

Why do we think that turning a calendar page from one year to another means we suddenly have a boatload of will power we didn’t have before?

Why do we think it’s time to rev our engines? If your holiday has been as relaxing as a two week silent meditation or spa retreat, perhaps you are ready to go on January 2nd. But for many of us the holiday has been go, go, go and January 2nd feels like jet-lag after a European whirlwind tour.

Yet, there is more at play here than a busy holiday.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, January falls in the dead of winter. The days are very short and the nights are long. Unless you are a night owl, trying to fit all you want to accomplish in the daylight hours is extremely challenging. It’s not natural to begin pushing ourselves to adopt new schedules and achieve high productivity in the winter months. OK, for you, maybe, but not for me and certainly not for the others who responded to my colleague’s Facebook post.

For me, what is natural at this time of year is to slow down, hibernate a bit, plan, and look within. As Ted Andrews wrote (in his book Nature-Speak):

This is actually a time for withdrawal from our outer activities, so that we can give birth to the light within our own darkness. To bring new life from the darkness of the womb is the goal of this season…These universal rhythms converging upon us are keyed to enable anyone who is seeking to awaken the interior gifts and light….Unfortunately, society has created an attitude of participation in continual gatherings and outward celebrations. This is contrary to the energy and rhythms of this season. The energies playing upon humanity stimulate great introspection and facilitate meditative states of awareness, and time should be given for these.

If we have attended to the gathering and preparations of Autumn, then we are ready to pay attention and receive the whispers, signs and messages from the Mystery that help guide us on an inward journey where we may commune with our soul and shine a light on our shadow.

All I really wanted to do, besides meditate, journal and walk, was put away the holiday decorations, clear the clutter, clean up my office and make it a beautiful and welcoming space within which to work. I wanted to futz and putter. I liken it to stretching the canvas, sharpening the pencils, noodling at the keys, ordering seeds.

Every creative knows that a good deal of puttering and dream time is needed to get the flow going. Futzing evokes the muse.

The other thing that happened was I reviewed my journal from the turn of 2013 to 2014 and I discovered that I had not accomplished all I’d hoped to. Honestly, I already knew that, but there it was in black and white. It was deflating to see that year after year, I wish for the same thing that does not materialize and it was disheartening to assume this year would be different. Still, I know I didn’t fail, because I certainly lived a wonderful year. I grew. I loved. I played. I stayed in business doing work I love.

What if I just let these perennial wishes go?

If I want to grow a garden, I first plan it. I browse seed catalogs. I dream of the harvest in Technicolor savoring, in my imagination, the smell and taste of fresh ripe tomatoes. I determine the space that I will designate as garden and when the soil is ready, I till it. I amend it. I till it some more. I will not plant until the days are longer and the frost is past. Why not do the same for my life?

At the Winter Solstice, I did just this. My planning consisted of setting the resonance for my future and in so doing, I invited my future to reach back and show me the way. The tug I feel upon my heart; the messages I receive from animals and experiences of synchronicity; those chills I feel when I make a proclamation or someone else says something to me with which my soul is in alignment; those events are my future speaking to me, beckoning me, the one for which I built a resonant field, not with specific form, but with how I want it to feel and who I want to be when I am living it.

When dreaming a future, form can be so limiting. Resonance is generative. My Solstice ceremony was to build that resonant field that invites possibility, while releasing with compassion and forgiveness the past and anything that does not align with that field or hold that resonance.

photo of a collage

2015 New Year Collage

So, when the first Monday of the new year arrived, for me, the soil of 2015 was nowhere near ready to be tilled, not to mention harvested. I want to hear my own voice, not the voice of others telling me what is missing in my life, what needs fixing and their method for doing so. Oh boy, can the “never-enough” ego get hooked by all that advertising!

It is winter and I want to hang out with my soul; the two of us cozy by the fire. I want to hear my soul acknowledge my journey thus far with love and compassion, as it will. I want to know the truth of myself, not as someone who is broken and needs fixing, but as a unique expression of the Divine, whole and complete; a perfect rose unfolding more and more each day. I want to have a clear sense of what is truly productive and not mere busy-ness.

Together my soul and I can dream the delicious future that calls to me, putter about and weave it into a visionary tapestry. I may not know what it means yet and I may not be able to control the form, but I can listen deeply, beneath the ego’s complaints and rest in the inner knowing that I am deeply loved and held. It’s OK to simply be me following my own rhythm. That rhythm is what gives me my desired sense of experiencing time-out-of-time.

photo of collage detail

Under the window of the collage

And you, dear reader, how will you dance to your own rhythm and fashion a life that suits your soul and invites the assistance of the Universe in a profound way?

A coach is a powerful ally who assists you with visioning a future in alignment with your true rhythm and soul’s calling while also helping you stay the path when the forest gets thick and the way unclear. I offer several options to help you fall in love with life again. Watch also for an upcoming FUN way to move through your fears (group program). To sign up to be the first to hear about my new offerings or to contact me for a consultation, check out my website

Copyright© January 2015, Kathy J Loh, All rights reserved

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

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

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

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

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

mushroom

Back to Spring. I’ll go first….

The landscape of my Spring

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will nourish the energies of play and love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will wander and I will be still.

I will listen

and

I

will

make

noise.

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

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

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I finally did it. I’ve been threatening to do it for nearly a year, ok longer, but I kept telling myself that my little point and shoot Canon Powershot S500 was good enough. I kept telling myself, “It’s compact, takes a decent macro shot and someday…someday…” Besides, every time I’d begin to research DSLR cameras, I’d get a little spun out in a whirlwind of confusion and decide to check into it “later.”

So yes, you’ve guessed it.  I bought a DSLR camera. I landed upon a great deal with 18 months to pay, no interest, at Best Buy and I had my new Canon EOS Rebel T1i with two lenses delivered directly to my doorstep. I was like a kid on Christmas morning opening the box. I kept saying out loud “Look Dad! Look what I bought for myself!” My father liked to take photographs too. We mostly bonded around photography, windsurfing and computers.  He passed away a couple of years ago. I knew he’d share my joy.

Full Moon Copyright (c) Feb 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

Now I can "shoot the moon" (c) K J Loh

But this post is not about cameras or my beloved father. It’s about giving ourselves what we want.

It’s about honoring ourselves with instruments and spaces that allow us to explore and expand our creative outlets, talents and passions, for no reason other than we want it.

Over the years, I’ve wrestled  with  good enough and it works mantras. I’m frugal. I didn’t build a decent retirement fund chasing after every new shiny toy. Sometimes good enough would win and I’d go into toleration mode letting my ego make up stories about how it was a better than ethic to be able to suffer having less. Like my neighbor’s bumper sticker says, “Less is Moral.”

I am not one of the Americans who over consumed and is now attending the church of new found simplicity. I don’t have over-consumption guilt or a heavy yoke of debt around my neck.  I bet many of you can relate despite the headlines in the local rag.

There is another kind of yoke that can make the spirit weary and that is the yoke of tolerating and being stingy with oneself.

I’ve pursued a number of activities in my life. The new tennis racket, the new windsurf board, harness and proper sails, the proper fitting mountain bike with great suspension,  all made an extreme difference in my skill and joy for these sports.

When I was in high school, I took voice lessons and I taught myself guitar. My mother let me have her little nylon string guitar from Mexico. One night, while lying in bed, I was shocked out of my sleep by a loud snap, whap and echoing tone. I turned on the light to find that the bridge had snapped free and tossed itself, with all six strings, at the wall behind the guitar and was left dangling pitifully from the neck. The front of the guitar body was also loosening from the back. My solution?  Duct tape.

One night, at a party, I was playing that taped-up guitar and singing. A guy I’d never met before said to me, “You need a better guitar. I can get you one.” A few days later he called. He had a brand new nylon string guitar that he would sell me (with case) for $50. It was a huge sum for me in those days and well worth the investment. With that new guitar in my arms, I began classical lessons with a neighborhood friend and relished every beautiful sound we made together, that guitar and I.

When I was in college studying music, my parents helped me buy my own piano so that I would have it at my apartment instead of having to go to the dimly lit, dreary, smoke-filled practice rooms. I bought it used from a woman who’d received it on her 16th birthday.  She never played it and was happy that it was finding a good home with me. She gave me an amazing deal. It was still in great shape and when I had it worked on years later, we found a snippet of ribbon inside the piano which I just know was part of the original Sweet Sixteen Birthday wrapping.

As much as I loved that piano, I always dreamed of a beautiful light-filled studio with an Asian carpet and a grand piano. A grand piano is not something you want to move around with a lot. In the earlier years, I told myself I was waiting to know I’d not be moving again in the foreseeable future.  Every move with my “sweet sixteen” piano required  four strong guys, a borrowed truck and cost me a case of beer.

Yet even when I bought my first home, I did not buy the grand piano. I told myself the home was enough and besides, I had not earned it yet. Someday….someday…

When I opened my private music studio, I used the “sweet sixteen” piano for 6 years before I treated myself to the grand. The truth is, I did not count my desire for the piano, my musicianship (because I was a singer and composer more than a pianist) or my worthiness as good enough to give myself such a treasure.

It took one new adult student ‘s words to send me out looking for the grand piano I’d always wanted. She said something like, “I wasn’t sure I should take lessons from someone who didn’t have a better instrument. I wasn’t sure you were a serious musician.” Those words gave me an understanding of the way in which how I value myself creates how others value me.

Within a month of that insight, I had my new Kawai grand piano and I was in heaven. I took jazz and classical lessons from local musician Gini Wilson (The Duchess). My playing improved dramatically. Having the instrument motivated me to play every day and encouraged me to see myself as a real musician, something I’d always had trouble calling myself, M.A. in music notwithstanding.

So now, we hit upon the “good enough – good enough” irony. I did not consider myself good enough, so I sang the good enough song. In other words, I decided that whatever I had was good enough for the not-so- good-enough me. I was the gatekeeper to my own happiness and I was using the ever-elusive goal of being flawlessly good and masterfully skilled as the key to the “promised land.” I had it all backwards.

My Self knows when I’m being stingy with me and it creates an awful rift, a painful disconnection between me and my soul.

The self that feels honored will rise to the occasion.

Who’s responsible for that honoring?

I am.

So, while there may be a hollow kind of consumerism, a need to fill some unspoken void when we chase after bigger, better, newer, there is also an incredible sacred honoring that comes with giving oneself the instruments, the space, the beauty that enable us to open to new landscapes of joy, creativity and serenity.

Yes, there is stretch that is called challenge and there is a stretch that is called receiving.

What is the stretch for which you are longing now?

I take my new camera everywhere. I wear it like an appendage. Not only has it enabled me to take better pictures, it has already stirred my creative juices with some very fun ideas. I have a lot to learn, but I am eager and  I am totally in love. I see the world through a new lens (no pun intended). I notice the smallest of creatures and delight in playing with perspective. I see color and light like never before. As a musician I’ve always heard the world and now, for the first time since I got my first SLR, I am also seeing the world up close and personal.

My inner creative self no longer stands before me all raggedy with an empty bowl pleading “Please sir, may I have some more?” My spirit soars and there is much joy and anticipation over what will happen next.

The earth is the soul’s playground. Give yourself something worth playing with.

And you, my wonderful reader:

What are you tolerating?

What is the one gift you could give yourself today that will inspire and challenge you, taking your skills, your talents to the next level?

What is that you really want?

What will feed your passion?

When will you let yourself to have it; to receive it?

Where there is the will there is a way.

The question is …  are you willing?

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

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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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Hello fellow travelers on the Full Moon Path!

Today, I am using the blog to announce some fun things I’ve been playing with in the realms of creativity, energy and mystery. I invite you to join me.

Podcasts

I have had the most enjoyable pleasure of being a guest on two different podcasts over the past couple of months.

The first was with highly creative Jamie Ridler of Jamie Ridler Studios. She has a most delightful blog/podcast:  Creative Living with Jamie.  On her site, you will find a number of other fascinating podcasts and invitations to play.

On her podcast, Jamie and I talked about creativity as I am exploring it now; about living a life of free invention as my creative activity. We also talked about the importance of self-care, especially as pertains to creative artists. I edited the podcast to begin where Jamie brings me in after an introduction in which she talks about the end of the year 2009.

To see the Sand Dancer video I mention in this podcast click here –>SandDancer

The second was with Lisa Lauffer and Wendy Balman on their podcast/blog Brilliant Chaos. It’s a relatively new blog and I’m excited to see where they will take this. They are two brilliant and funny women and coaches.  I love their tagline: “Welcome to Planet Chaos where gifted living and systems thinking collide. Permission to land granted.”

On Brilliant Chaos we talked about energy management. I had commented on a previous Brilliant Chaos post about time being flexible; something I called “slinky time.” So, we discussed time and its relationship with energy. We also spoke briefly about the specific energy needs of Highly Sensitive and Gifted People. (The volume on my microphone was a bit low, so turn your volume up on your computer to hear it.)

Click here to go to the Brilliant Chaos Podcast

So that covers creativity and energy. Where’s the Mystery?

mystery shadow in the trees

(c) Kathy J Loh

The answer, for now, is in two parts:

Part one: Mystery Messages

I recently created Mystery Messages. If you sign up for Mystery Messages, they will be delivered to your email inbox.  They are not scheduled, but sporadic with plenty of time between deliveries for you to savor each one completely. The form is flexible, meaning it may not be the same from message to message.

They are designed to bring enchantment to the Great Mystery, to engage us with the unknown as a friendly ally. And, it remains a mystery, even to me, how they will evolve.  Each one offers inquiries (questions that you can muse upon), challenges (things to do that might stretch you), and/or activities in the form of adventure or creativity.

The first Mystery Message went out last week.  If you haven’t yet signed up to receive them and would like to, you can do so on my website. Just click on that link and then scroll down to the blue box for Mystery Messages. Watch for the confirmation email and reply to it and you are set.

Part two: Coming Attractions

Very shortly, I will be offering a tele-seminar for those who are interested in deepening their relationship with what I call the Great Mystery, what you may call Source, Divine, Unknown.  If you are on my website mailing list, you will receive an announcement when the class is offered. I will also post about it here in Full Moon Path.

Meanwhile, I will continue to post to Full Moon Path. I am grateful for your readership and revel in your comments.  And, of course, I continue to offer soulful and creative coaching for individuals and couples. You can reach me at kathyloh@coachkathy.com

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” ~Albert Einstein

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

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