Friday, November 28, 2014

Substituting Kindness for Complaining

Since we went to a community Thanksgiving dinner, we don't have any leftovers. So I tried parsley pesto pasta for dinner. So delicious! And so green-green.

Instead of basil, I substituted a half pint of the parsley paste I made 2 days ago. Instead of pine nuts, I used walnuts. As usual, I used garlic, Parmesan, and my own sun-dried tomatoes.

When we substitute a good habit for a bad habit, we develop our strategy before the bad habit strikes (again). For instance, we substitute loving-kindness for irritation, impatience, and frustration.

Lauren, my step-daughter, has Asperger's syndrome and is very sensation sensitive. In her new apartment (and she has had 3 new apartments in the past few months), the downstairs neighbor, an old man, turns his TV quite loud. Instead of complaining to the management,  Lauren took him a pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. (She's a very good cook!) She chatted with him and noticed that his TV is not loud in his  living room. She substituted kindness for her usual why-don't-people-understand-what-I-need attitude.

What a delicious and refreshing change of habit, change of heart.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Heavy Snow This Morning

Heavy snow is coming this morning. It's the last chance to clean up the garden and put away the paraphernalia that's lying around because very soon it will all be covered with a big thick white blanket.

I want to harvest another gallon of parsley, the last shreds of chard, a few pathetic cabbages, and some more kale. I wonder how much of that will actually get done?

Last week, a friend lamented that her friend who had done tons of research in his (and her) field of interest had died. Before she got over to his apartment, his heirs had thrown out all his papers in black trash bags.

What is it that we really want to do, but don't quite get around to? We are distracted by daily life. We are in denial that the snows of winter are coming.

This cleaning up of loose ends is one of the reasons i publish an annual book of my writings. I used to think that the administrator of my estate could hire someone to go through my writing, but now i see how unrealistic that idea was. All my writings, all my notebooks, will be thrown out in black trash bags, and my computer, and all its files, will be scrapped. That's the reason to publish now. Because i will perish one of these days. Maybe today.

This year's manuscript is almost ready to go to the book designer. So she'll have something to do when she's snowed in today.

Here's a list of some of my previous books:
Every Good Thing
Impermanent Immortality
At the Mercy of the Elements
That Rascal Mind

Monday, November 24, 2014

Just a Spoonful of Parsley

I bought a 6-pack of parsley in the spring, and each one developed into a nice bushy plant. What to do with gallons of parsley? Obviously, i need to use it as more than a garnish.

Since i can't bear to let anything in the garden go to waste, i cut it yesterday and made parsley pesto, which i am freezing in little containers.

Parsley is the antidote for garlic breath, and because we eat a lot of garlic in this household, we can probably use all the parsley. I just have to get into the habit of using it :)

Our bad habits also have antidotes. The way to stop a bad habit is not to directly stop it, but to replace it with a good habit.

When we feel irritable, worried, or anxious, we practice loving-kindness.
When we desire something, want something, yearn for something, we practice generosity of spirit.
When we are confused, doubtful, and lacking self-confidence, we practice wisdom.

I'm keeping one container of parsley pesto in the refrigerator, so i can dip into it, a spoonful at a time.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Slippery Oak Leaves

Going for a walk in the woods is a bit slippery in November. Those beautiful rust-red oak leaves fall to earth at the very end of October, and then paths become slick with these tough, shiny leaves. Walking uphill or downhill (and we do have hills here in New England) feels a bit hazardous. It's always good to have the walking poles for balance, even for a short, easy walk.

What are the slick and slippery places in our lives? The places where we lose our balance?

For me, it's my grudge-list. Once i get started down that slippery slope, i feel very off-center.

We regain our balance with a moment of mindfulness. Oh, these thoughts are not really beneficial--to me or to the other person. A moment of mindfulness is enough, followed by another moment of mindfulness Hmm. So that's how begrudging feels in my body. Contracted, tense, tight. This thought is a moment of suffering.

We might then take the next step and antidote these resentful, irritating thoughts with some self-compassion. May i be kind to myself. Or May i accept myself as i am. Or May i treat myself as i would treat my best friend.

I'm not begrudging those darn slippery oak leaves, which are covering the body of Mother Earth for her long winter sleep.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kale Icicles

It was 22 degrees at ten o'clock last night when i went outdoors with a flashlight to pick some lacinato kale for this morning's breakfast quiche. The kale leaves snapped off like icicles, so gathering a handful was a lot of fun.

My thought was to saute the kale and some onions before bedtime, so that this morning, all i have to do is add the eggs and (goat) cheese.

It's not easy to slice icicles, even with my big, sharp Julia-Child-style chopping knife.

Oh, how we yearn for stability in our lives. In order to do this, we sometimes make our lives small so that they will be predictable. We try to freeze people, places, and things into place and then believe "that's how things are." Actually, it's just our story about them and about ourselves.

We can become so crystallized in our views and opinions that not even the sword of wisdom can cut through. "Cheryl, why do you talk about aging and death so often? Can't you say something positive for a change?" or "Not-self? How ridiculous." or "Of course time exists."

We are all caught in a collective delusion.

Melt into the present moment and report on what you find there. Sitting. Reading. Drinking. Eating. That is all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Enjoying the Company of Kale

November cold and quiet is visiting for a few days. The sky is blue, and the winds of change are blowing.

It's time to harvest my lacinato kale, the so-called dinosaur kale. Most people say this wrinkly, narrow-leaved kale is the sweetest. From past experience, i expect it to last for just 2 more weeks, so i try to harvest some every day. Yesterday i cooked Tuscan kale-white bean-miso soup. Today kale quiche in a skillet (without the crust) with 3 kinds of goat cheese.

When we know one of our friends doesn't have much time left, we want to spend as much time as we can with them. We want to enjoy their company.

My lacinato kale has chunks of icy snow caught between the leaves and the stems. It's getting cold out there. Time to enjoy kale's company before it goes quiet.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Meditative Gardener is on Retreat

I'm at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.

I'll return to this blog on Monday, November 17.