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This is a post specifically written for  Karen Caterson’s blog (which is always a great read BTW) round robin: Support Stories – Strength from Within. Thanks for inviting me to participate Karen! (Click on the link to see more stories, poems and posts on the topic by other bloggers)


When a tree is a sapling, it may be given some additional and external support. It may need stakes, ties and even deer guard to give it a chance to become the giant it was born to be. Over time, if all goes well, the tree outgrows the stakes. The branches reach high enough to evade foraging deer. Its root system grows deep and wide, bringing it nourishment from the ground. A strong trunk supports the wide canopy that drinks in sunlight. A tree wants to live. That’s an assumption I make. It will do all it can to survive in the densest of shade and the driest of soil. It wants to live.

There was a point in my life, not long ago, (ok, about 6 years ago) when I came to a cross-roads. I wasn’t sure I could go on much longer feeling so much emotional pain. I entertained the notion of suicide without really contemplating it. I was aware that I could let the big wind that entered my life completely uproot me or I could let a branch or two snap off, bend with the winds that blew, send a taproot deeper into a still place and make my stand.   In one inspired moment, I chose the latter.  Despite the pain, the complete uncertainty about my future (especially financially), I wanted to live. I wanted to create something new, find out what I was made of, maybe, eventually, find new love. I had a faint glimmer of hope that I’d make it to a better day.

That’s the thing about hope. It’s like a homeopathic remedy. It only takes the essence of hope, the faintest hint of hope to keep us going.

As I applied the essence of hope daily, I began to develop a relationship with myself, with nature and the Divine. I came to appreciate the gift of Mystery and the way in which we can navigate the unknown with Love. I filled the empty hole of feeling unappreciated and broken with a deep regard for the sacredness of all of life, mine included.

It meant giving up any notion of being rescued. It meant giving up suffering like a martyr.

Victims wait to be rescued.

Martyrs go through all kinds of tap dancing to suffer in silence (with a few deep sighs) and then get angry when no one notices all they have sacrificed for others.

Victims and martyrs are waiting for something outside themselves to support them. They’ve let the stakes, ties and deer fencing become their (illusory) prisons.  I know. I’m an “ex-con.”

Here’s the thing; once we commit to something, all of reality (and that which is unseen) conspires to support us.

If we are playing footsies with victim and martyr, we will be supported there too. We will create relationships with unwritten co-dependent contracts acting out roles of heroes and villains.

We make choices and those choices create our reality. What reality have you created?

What reality will you create now?

Some trees in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Parkgrow at right angles. They were tossed sideways in the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 and then continued their upward growth toward the sun.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been tossed sideways by some kind of earthquake in their lives. We can live sideways and consider it over or reach for the warmth and light. It’s a choice.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  I’m not saying it’s hard.

I am saying, stop waiting for someone to come to the rescue. Chances are if you are not loving and nurturing  yourself, you won’t have an open enough heart to receive the help when it’s offered anyway.

You are your own hero (and your own villain). It’s an inside job.

Squirrel resting in tree Copyright (C) November 2010, Kathy J Loh

A sturdy tree makes a nice resting place (c) K J Loh

When it feels like all the world’s  got you in a spin and circumstances are chaotic, when you feel lonely and like you don’t belong, what to do? Be still. Breathe. Find your center. Send that taproot even deeper, let your canopy dance in the passing breeze. There’s a lot of space between you and all that is happening. Observe. Rest. Be with your genuine emotions raw and real as they are and pan the story. At least tell a new one.

I’ve created a strong sense of inner support by way of connecting with nature, the Divine, my own heart. Here are some of my practices with some selected resources. They are practices because there is no arrival, simply the daily devotion.

Wow, that’s a lot of external resources for developing inner strength. Like I said before, it’s an inside job and it is the commitment to the inner work that brings the support of a friendly world to your doorstep.

Enjoy dear ones!

If you have something you’d like to add to the list, feel free to leave a comment with your practices for creating strength from within.

Ready to receive some help with that inside job? Email me at kathyloh@coachkathy.com and we can set up a conversation about how I might be able to be of service to you.

If you are ready for radical transformation of your inner world (which will have a delightful impact on your external world) then you are ready for a Sacred Life Walkabout with me. Let’s talk!

Copyright © November 2010, Kathy J Loh, All Rights Reserved
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I have a morning practice of journaling, pulling an angel card and meditation/contemplation. Yesterday, I wrote in my journal about the myriad of irritations that I’ve been experiencing, wondering “what’s the feedback?” What am I getting out of feeling so “put upon” that I continue to gather these small annoyances?

I decided to take it to meditation, but first I pulled an angel card for the day. Now, I’ve been doing this for so long, that it has evolved into something really amazing. The card almost always responds, in some way, to what I’ve just written. In addition, the cards right in front of and behind the card I pull (the wing cards) give me greater detail by way of the perspective they bring to the first card.

I opened the Healing with Angels card box and pulled out the deck. I noticed something in the bottom of the box. What’s this? A flea! A flea was in the angel card box. How did that get in there? I don’t have pets. (The dog I walk with belongs to my neighbor.) In my 4 years here, I’ve never seen a flea (and I would know if they were here because I’m highly allergic).

I tried to grab it to give it a good squeeze, but it hopped on to the side of the bed. I grabbed it again, but its beautifully evolved hard shell would not bend to my will. It jumped out from between my fingers and onto the carpet. I got out the vacuum and have no idea what kind of life that flea is or is not living now.

I went on to pull a card: Miracles (between Blessings and Guardian Angel)

Fleas are pretty amazing little creatures with barbed hairs that enable them to stick to animals like Velcro and they jump over 100 times their height. They even perform somersaults while leaping. They are hardy and they cause misery. It’s a miracle of creation, a miracle that it was in my angel card box.  Miracles come in all shapes and sizes and, at first glance, they may not appear to be miracles.

The angel card informs me:

“Miracles are occurring all around you right now. Begin to notice them, and you will experience even more miracles.”

Taking into account the shoulder cards, Blessings and Guardian Angel, I make up that miracles will be more visible to me when I count my blessings and accept the support of my Guardian Angels. I am blessed and I am not alone.

I am not seeing the miracles for the “fleas.”

When one itch arises, I think I have to flee.

When I see one flea, I think “oh no! It’s an invasion. They are going to overrun the place!”

Isn’t that just how I have been viewing the little irritations in my days lately? Stringing them together like beads, creating for myself a nice little choke-chain.  Trying to control everything and everyone and getting really angry when they won’t let me. I’m choking myself into isolation and insolation.

About the flea, I hear, “Remember, it came from The Mystery.”

Circumstances, too, often arise from The Mystery.

What if these circumstances, which I experience as annoying, are miracles?

Sunset Pond - trees, reflected

What's Real? (K J Loh)

In the ensuing meditation, I viewed my life from what I call the Angels’ perspective. (Those of you who get the Mystery Messages may be reminded, here, of the Merlin Hawk message.)

While holding myself as blessed and protected, I was able to see that what I get out of all this itching from the flea-like circumstances is an opportunity to suffer. Suffering supports my inner martyr. (Victim or martyr; choose your poison.) It allows me to blame, collect pity and sympathy, punish other people, throw temper tantrums, and a wide variety of other strategies to avoid taking responsibility for my life and my happiness. Basically, it is the perspective that the world is out to get me and I am bending over backwards to accommodate it, while never being able to have a day go the way I want it to. “Look at me! I’m covered in flea bites and it itches like crazy! How can you expect me to be happy?”

Here’s the kicker. My martyr voice tells me that taking responsibility will lead to suffering and struggle. It’s too hard!

Hello? Uhm…..isn’t that what martyr is doing? It’s causing me to struggle and suffer to avoid suffering and struggling. Huh?

The meditation/contemplation continued with many more insights around betrayal, anger, abandonment; all really juicy stuff. Suffice it to say, I found that all the people and circumstances were completely transformed when I transformed how I saw them.

I forgave myself for a long list of ways I twist what is into something to rail against. I took that choke-chain off. I saw my life on a big screen as it would be without martyr. I could not think it. I just sat and watched. It’s the same picture, but the feeling is different. I realized, I can’t get there through martyr. Suffering, trying to control and struggling will only lead to isolation, loneliness, and constriction. The point to martyr is to never get there anyway.

Suffering is highly over-rated. Struggling is highly over-rated.

Today’s angel card reminds me to open my eyes and see the miracles happening all around; those amazing events and people sent by The Mystery, which I’ve refused to see in order to support struggle, suffering and misery.

I can hold my goals and visions very tightly, like putting myself into lock-down. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of a vortex; a drain spiraling inward.

I can hold my goals and visions lightly, with love, trusting that The Mystery is friendly and helpful; honoring my priorities, being real and joyful; taking responsibility. This creates an image in my mind’s eye of an outwardly expansive release of energy. (I’m reminded of my Open Hands Open Heart post)

I’ve done a lot of work around martyr and victim. I’ve been through workshops and years of coaching. I know both intimately. Yet, I still find myself in retreat from responsibility at times and that gives martyr a toe-hold.

Awareness is a practice.

Here is an exercise to support your awareness practice:

For the next few days, listen to your inner voice and notice what it is saying about everything that happens to you and how others are treating you. Write it down. Become familiar with your “favorite” sayings. Then review your inner voice’s general perspective.  Is it supporting your happiness or feeding your misery?

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

Got a flea bugging you? Coaching helps you gain insight around the obstacles you create to your own happiness. I’m happy to schedule a complimentary consultation for anyone seriously considering hiring a coach. Email me at: kathyloh@coachkathy.com

Re: photo – that’s a pond, reflecting the trees and fence which is why they appear upside down.

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