Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trash Diary

I'm keeping a Trash Diary this week as an assignment for a class on Earth Sila--acting ethically toward the earth. The Trash Diary is a way to become more mindful of just how much trash i'm creating here.

My sweetie is the recycler. (Thank goodness!) We line up our bags and bins--2 feedbags for recycled paper, a box for the newspaper, 1 feedbag for glass, cans, and plastic, 1 bin for the returnable bottles (in Vermont, most bottles have a 5-cent return).

I have one bag for which i am entirely responsible--all the plastic and paper containers that can be re-used to pot up plants. For example, hummus containers, yogurt containers, take-away containers. Right now, that bag is filled to overflowing. It's time for me to sort through it, stack up the containers, and then store them in the potting shed until spring.

It's time for me to take a look at how much packaging comes into this house under the disguise of food and leaves in its ugly form as trash.



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tears of Joy

I took one of my almost-blooming hyacinths to the receptionist in a windowless office yesterday. She was so grateful that tears sprang to her eyes.

Tears like that are tears of joy.

Gift given--from the heart.
Gift received--in the heart.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Resistance: Another Name for Stress

A friend said she bought an amaryllis bulb for Christmas. Its leaves grew, but no flower appeared. So she threw it out.

I cringe when i hear a story like that. I offer her some covert advice. "Last year, my amaryllis all bloomed in March and early April." In other words, Don't give up on the non-blooming amaryllis.

But she has already given up; she's already thrown it away. If the amaryllis doesn't bloom at Christmas, like it's "supposed to," then what's the use of keeping it?

A lot of us don't bloom like we're "supposed to." One friend is still single at 38; her 14-year-old niece has had a boyfriend for longer than the 38-year-old has ever had a boyfriend. We can fight against reality. (And then we lose. But only 100% of the time.) We can want something we don't have.

Fighting against reality is called stress. Or some people call it "control" (another disguise of stress).

My friend was solving her stress (of no blooms) by getting rid of the offender.
I was trying to solve my stress (But, but, but....... Things could be different.) by offering advice.

Stress has a million difference disguises, but we can trace them all back to resisting the present moment.  Resistance: another name for stress.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Air Space

Our little fishpond has a circulating pump that we turn on every day in order to create an airhole in the ice. Otherwise, the water becomes anerobic. The fish need their oxygen too!

Every couple of months the little pump, which is slightly larger than a printer cartridge, gets jammed up with algae, even in the winter. The fish may be hibernating (well, not "true" hibernation), but the algae is not. Algae is growing even when ice covers the pond, and thus algae requires oxygen too.

Cheryl at a swimming pool in Greece in October.
There are a lot of demands on the "air" space in that little fishpond--fish need oxygen, frogs buried in the mud need some oxygen, algae need oxygen, and all the decaying leaves and fish poop use oxygen.

I know, all too well, what happens when ice covers the pond, and there's no airhole. Pee-yew! Everything is dead.

The breath may not be that interesting to us as a meditation object, but if we didn't have oxygen, we'd suddenly find the breath very interesting. Stop. Watch your breath. Look around you at the people who are sharing your air space. Look out the window and notice trees that are sharing your air space.

We all need oxygen--even the algae.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dried Up Houseplants

When i return from vacation, it takes me several days to re-bond with my houseplants. Sometimes, it's a week or more before i get back into the routine of regular watering. Meanwhile, the houseplants suffer. A visitor reminds me, "Your houseplants are really dry." Since my houseplants can't speak for themselves, it's good that someone is voicing their concern.


Sometimes, our meditation practice dries up, dries out. We lose our commitment. Perhaps a friend reminds us, "I think you should pick up your meditation practice again." Or perhaps, we just let our meditation practice drift away. Letting go, it's hard to pick it up again. Yet, my houseplants deserve better care. And our meditation practice deserves better care as well.

Mindfulness simply reminds us to come back to the present moment.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Beautiful Roots

I'm giving away the hyacinths I've been growing in the basement, even before they have bloomed. The swirling roots growing in the glass vase are beautiful all by themselves. We don't often see the roots of the flowers we're growing, but the hyacinth, suspended in its glass vase, shows us its white tresses of roots, all neatly "combed" into a whorl.

We don't often see the roots of our own actions. Once in a while it will suddenly dawn on us, I sound just like my mother or Oh, darn. I didn't want to do that again.

Yet the roots of our actions are right here in the present moment. Right now, we are laying down the habit patterns, the neural networks for future actions. This is just one more reason to act ethically right now.  The mind will want to cheat. Oh, it doesn't matter if I keep the change or I don't care what they think, I'm giving them a piece of my mind right now.

Watch your actions. watch your words. See the roots of future actions and future thoughts. See your future habits. Right now.

May your thoughts and actions be beautiful. Right now.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Right and Wrong Recycling

My sweetie goes dumpster diving every time he takes the trash to our neighborhood dumpster, which serves 10 households. Earlier this week, he found several cardboard boxes, and since someone's name was on them, he knew who was not recycling. He pulled out the cardboard and stopped at the recycling bins on his way into town.

This morning he's "compost-diving" into the little bucket beside the kitchen sink. "What's this doing in here?" He pulls out the paper wrapper of a burrito i bought yesterday, melted cheese attached. "Ooh. Icky." He wrinkles his nose.

"It's going into the compost," i say. "I'll take it outdoors right now." (I don't. I write this blog instead.)

He's the neighborhood recycling police, though his warnings are usually in the form of "I'm going to the recycling bins. Can i take something for you?"

He tries to be the household compost police, but i flash my Master Composter badge and try to get the upper hand. (Well, okay, cheese is not supposed to go into the compost, but i'm not entirely P.C.)

I'm right. You're wrong. As soon as we find ourselves in this internal dialog, we are in Stress City. Just notice that. It's stressful to think I'm right. It feels so gratifying; it feels so right. But look again. We are not the sheriff--of anything.

As if the world is black and white, instead of gray--which today is.