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Posts Tagged ‘Play’

What a fantastic day it is for a walk in our SF Bay area!  The weather reminds me of Hawaii, temperate and humid. Thunder rumbles in the distance. Spring has arrived on time with pungent earth smells released by a week of rain, birds chirping loudly, a fledgling hawk screeching as its mother approaches with a meal in her talons, fresh green ferns and yellow daffodils popping out under oak trees on loamy slopes.

Nature’s exuberance will not be denied!

Exuberance! Remember that feeling?

It’s the dog’s tail when you say “walk?”

It’s the swagger of a young boy in his blanket cape wielding his duct-tape and wooden sword.

It’s the twirling, whirling and laughter of little girls.

It’s the giddiness and innocence of falling in love for the first time.

It’s the way the world sings, trees and all.

It’s life loving being alive.

It’s source energy reveling in the experience of physical form.

sunflower

Exuberance is the music that runs through us all, but we have become really good at turning it off, tuning it out, devaluing it, making it an obstacle to getting real. I’m not kidding – an obstacle.

As a child, my exuberant singing at bedtime often brought a “good night!” from down the hall. True, it was necessary for me to get some sleep and it never failed to scare me silly as it stunned me out of my reverie.

Other variations with which we are all familiar are:

“Somebody’s going to get hurt!”

“You’ll poke an eye out with that thing.”

 “Pipe down!”

“Who do you think you are?”

“What will the neighbors think?”  

I laugh when I think of saying these things to the daffodils or the fledgling hawk.

I knew exuberance as a kid. We were all fledgling hawks at some point, circling ever higher toward the sun, that symbol for passion. I had a passion for making things, for creating plays, for make-believe scenarios, for writing stories, for teaching other kids how to do arithmetic on the chalk board in my garage. I would not have called it passion then and I certainly would not have called it exuberance. I would have probably simply said I was having fun.  I had an idea of something I’d like to try and I set about the task of making it real. In those days it was all about what I could create simply for the fun and play of it, the exploration.

As time went by and the educational system got hold of me, my focus turned more to what I could get for succeeding and what the consequences were for failing. Let’s say I was a good student and maybe too good. (For more on success and failure see my last post “Failure and Success.

We say we have lost our innocence. We’ve become worldly. We say we are grown up now. And our hearts are in pain for it all. I’m not totally clear here, but I believe there is a way to reclaim our innocence and it has to do with holding the more real perspective of who we really are.

Say “I am” out loud and let the numinous silence that follows in-form you of a more real you than all the identities and self-images you’ve held could convey.**

Here’s the thing about exuberance – it’s not something that comes to us because of something we do, get or have. It is something that already exists as can be seen all around us on these fine spring days. Exuberance comes from exuberare which is abundance. We are abundant in our aliveness. The only reason we don’t know that, don’t feel it, is because we’ve choked it off, pruned it back, made it a cause for humiliation, embraced cynicism, let fear tell us we can be pretty much exiled for being overly exuberant.

Exuberance is not something we do, it is something we allow. When we are exuberant, we allow the life force to sing through us freely. It moves us, it makes noise, it dances, it celebrates. My guess is it also keeps us healthy.

If you’ve lost your exuberance, your passion, don’t go looking for it. Stop judging it, criticizing it, blaming it, stuffing it. Allow it to live in you, through you.

Invite life to express its magnificently creative self through you,

as you…

the only you that ever was

and ever will be.

Yes you,

my darling snowflake,

my dancing mirage of stardust,

you!

** for more on “I am” see my post:  Tree of Life (the Movie) and I Am (not the movie)

 copyright(c) March 2012, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved

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I’ve always been fairly active. I loved recess in elementary school, because I loved to play and be active. I was not one of those girls that hangs out at the edge of the playground gossiping about the boys. I played team ball, baseball, tether ball with them. In junior high I was in the Girls Athletic Club and in high school I went for yoga, dance and distance running.

I have natural coordination, but I’m not an athlete. I’ve never broken intermediate level at any sport. In my thirties, I took up windsurfing, skiing, and tennis. I was an avid walker and now I hike regularly. I swim and, having lived near the ocean most of my life, anything I can do in the water makes me happy.  I enjoyed Jazzercise when it was in vogue. I mountain biked when I lived in Marin. You gotta be crazy to live in Marin and not mountain bike right?

The first gym I joined was actually a tennis club that had a nice weight room. I watched my weight go up and down with the level of my activity and the awareness I had or did not have about my eating.  I have chased after the Twiggy model body, the toned body, the beach babe body of the surf culture, nearly all my life and I’ve never “caught” any of them. I’ve come close, but then there’s this maintenance thing and I get really, really bored with the gym and diets.

I’m old enough now to be able to look in the mirror and know that my youth is never coming back. I’m getting closer and closer to being ok with that. I joined a gym when I moved to Santa Cruz and for the first time in my life, I quit going after a few months even though I’d paid for an entire year. You might say it was the distance and time it took to get there, but the truth is I did not want to go. I didn’t like the environment: the stale air, the loud music, the distracted indifference of the other people who were not too thrilled to be there either. If I am going to spend time being active, I want it to be outdoors. So, these days,  I stick with hiking in the fresh air year round, adding swimming in the summers.

What I’ve discovered is that the key to staying with it is to stop exercising and simply play.

Are you coming? (c) Kathy Loh

Are you coming? (c) Kathy Loh

I think we have this tendency to compartmentalize our activities, chopping up the hours of our days into blocks on the calendar that have to do with work, recreation, exercise,  community, family, etc. This kind of thinking leads us to imagine that balance is a matter of rationing out those blocks to the various activities. It creates illusory borderlines between each category, especially work and play.

Balance is a dynamic. If we want to find time to do all we intend to do, I suspect we need to drop this compartmentalization process and look at weaving and synthesis. (I’ll write more on this in another entry.)

I vote we give up exercise! If we are counting laps, tracking “calories burned’ on some machine, dragging ourselves to the gym kicking and screaming, there’s something wrong here. Resistance is showing up for sure, but who’s to say the resistance is aimed at doing something that’s good for us? Maybe it’s about finding a better way; one that makes us come alive!

Hiking, biking, walking, swimming does not have to be an Olympics qualifying event. We are not “in training.” We are just letting our bodies do what they love to do: move. Take a swing dancing class, bike to work, play with your children and dogs at the beach or park, go for walks, play frisbee. Do these things alone, with someone or in a group, whatever pleases YOU.

It’s about being active and integrating activity and play into our lives. That integration will likely guarantee us much more activity than the prescribed 30 minutes at least 3 times a week. Find what it is that you love to do and become a disciple to it…that’s true discipline. Go kayaking, horseback riding, kite sailing, or grow a vegetable garden. If you think about it, this beautiful earth of ours offers ample opportunity for activity. What are we doing cooped up in gyms if (and that’s a big if) we don’t really want to be there. And if you love it…GREAT!…keep going, because you are probably at play there.

This integrative activity requires deep listening; tuning in to what it is our heart, mind, body and spirit find most nourishing and feeding them what they want. My passion for hiking is born of my heart’s desire to connect with nature, my spirit’s desire for adventure, my mind’s love of inspired musing and my body’s urge to move at whatever pace I choose in the moment.  (It’s a natural way of doing intervals, the latest trend in cardio-workouts.) When all aspects: mind, body, spirit, and heart are happy, then resistance disappears and all that’s left is joy, fun and play.

This is dawdling for sure! Feeling good and in flow while getting healthy? Go figure!

(Oh and one final tip: Play makes us happy and when we are happy we eat less and what we do eat is much better for us. That’s a little preview of an upcoming installment in my dawdling series.)

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

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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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Every day, well, nearly every day, I walk down to my mailbox to retrieve the mail and the daily newspaper. I live in a semi-rural area, so the boxes are lined up roadside rather than connected to our homes. To get there, I have to walk down and back up a fairly steep hill that would qualify as a good ski run in snow country.

I could drive down and back, but the only time my conscience let me do that was when I sprained my ankle or when the rain was absolutely torrential.  After a morning hike in the woods and a mid-day swim in the pool, an evening walk to the mailbox is hardly about exercise for me. Besides, it’s as treacherous to walk quickly downhill on pavement (think, knees) as it is to walk uphill (think, calves and lungs). I want to honor the rhythm and mechanics of my body.

So, I take my time and I head out in the cool and quiet of the early evening when the quail and bunnies come out to eat. It’s a time when the sun is low enough to cast long shadows on the roadway and cliffs and fog is creeping in over the hills to the west. It’s a beautiful time of day and a beautiful walk, if I take the time to notice.

(photo: Kathy Loh)

(photo: Kathy Loh)

The unexpected gift of walking this hill is that I’ve remembered how to dawdle.

Do you remember walking to school as a child? I guess it depends on your age and where you lived, but I remember walking to school. I remember avoiding cracks in the sidewalk so as not to break my mother’s back, except when I was mad at her for something.

I remember not being aware of the time, just following the usual route and somehow landing at the playground before the bell rang. Well, ok, there were days when I heard the bell ring in the distance and made a beeline for the classroom. Along the way, I got lost in the sights, sounds and smells of the early morning; bacon, birds chirping on the wires, parents driving off to work, black shiny beetles crossing the sidewalk. I danced, twirled and sang. I called “hello” to the cats sitting on porches.

Merriam-Webster defines dawdling as wasting time. I define dawdling (or, if you prefer, dilly-dallying) as an art, one I’ve forgotten and am consciously re-membering.

So, I’m dedicating the entries in Full Moon Path to the art of dawdling for the rest of this week and perhaps into the next. Who knows when or how many entries, because I am, after-all, dawdling. I suspect that dawdling is one of the portals to the Mystery.

Meanwhile, whether your mailbox is attached to the front of your house, at the end of the driveway or down the road, take the opportunity to dawdle the very next time you retrieve your mail. Take time to engage with a flower, a bird flitting about in the bushes, that smell of wood fire down the way, the sound of children playing. Watch the dragon you think you see in a cloud morph into a dog. Dance with your shadow.

Float your imagination, observation and memory until they intersect in sublime timelessness and surrender your busy-ness to a little dilly-dallying.

Let’s see what we can discover together about the fine art of dawdling. Are you game?

copyright(c) June 2009, Kathy Loh, all rights reserved

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Let’s Play

I’ve finally done it.

It’s taken a couple of years of  rigorous procrastination, a few free teleconferences, some book purchases and one afternoon with WordPress to get here.

How does “several years” boil down to one afternoon?

One afternoon following one hike during which I was inspired to create a few more pages of notes to add to the giant box of notes I’ve gathered over many more hikes and long distance drives…

This is starting to sound like The House that Jack Built.

Nope, this is the blog that Kathy built and what it took to move beyond inspiration to construction was my willingness to throw away the plan. No blueprint. Just write.

Kind of like I’m living life these days. Forget the plans and just live. Might catch more of it that way.

So let’s go! As the Native American saying goes: “Life is a Great Mystery and we were meant to play in it.”

Welcome dear reader…..let’s play!

copyright(C) April 2009, Kathy Loh, all rights reserved

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