Sunday, December 30, 2012

Clogged Openness

Our 3-week-old Christmas tree hasn't lost any needles yet. My sweetie has been watering the tree with boiling water. The other day, the tree drank almost all the tea kettle. Supposedly, boiling water melts the resin that clogs the pores in the stump.

The 91-year-old neighbor who taught us this trick said her tree sprouts new growth in February.

What clogs up our own openness?

We try to protect our feelings, our hearts, and our sense of self. We each have our own methods--irritation, anxiety, denial, or many others.

We can warm up our heart, perhaps simply by placing our hand on our heart. "Yes, yes. There, there now."

Our heart melts, and we too can have the resilience of new (personal) growth.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Local Salad

Company's coming, and i know they have a salad with every dinner. But when i peruse the vegetable section at the food co-op, i see that all the lettuces come from California. The cabbage, however, comes from 10 miles away. In my spotty attempt to be a localvore, i buy the cabbage and leave the petroleum-driven lettuce alone.

Fortunately, my 12-year-old granddaughter is game for the challenge of cabbage salad. She chops and dices, and makes her own salad dressing. Yes, there's a yellow pepper from Holland in the mix. What can i say?

The voluntary simplicity of localvoring can feel like insufficiency or it can feel like a challenge to our curiosity and creativity.

"I don't have enough" vs. "I wonder how we can make this work."

The cabbage salad is beautiful and tasty.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Seeds--for Good or for Ill

I love collecting seeds. Yes, it's a bit time-consuming, but i feel like i'm on a treasure hunt. Then in the spring i plant free seeds! Or i can give free seeds away.

I have a bottle full of poppy seeds, so i'm doling them out into little glassine envelopes. Glassine is translucent, a sort of thin waxed paper. This is a good project for snowy days.

Our minds have the seeds for irritation and peace, desire and letting-go. Which seeds shall we pass along?

I'd be happy to send you annual pink poppy seeds (Papaver somniflorum) or seeds for birdhouse gourds. Send me your snail-mail address at cheryl.wilfong (at)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The End of Bulb Planting

Three inches of snow this morning means bulb-planting season is officially over. The opportunity for planting flowers that will bloom in the new year is gone. Gone. The ground may not be (too) frozen, but how could i see where to plant the bulbs?

What are the wholesome intentions you'd like to plant in your life before the snow falls on your head?

Sometimes we get snowed-in by our bodies before we're ready. Wait! Wait! There was something important i wanted to do! Every winter the snow delivers its silent message to us--the winter of life is coming.

What's most important to you? Family (a slowly changing collection of dear ones. Notice the changeability.) Career? Money (ever-fluctuating)? Your spiritual path?

Now, in these between days, when busy-ness has abated and the new year hasn't yet revved up, breathe. And notice you are breathing.

Photo from

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ivy Desire

Last week i couldn't resist buying a very cute Christmas ivy plant. The ivy twines around a circle of shiny balls and gifts. I rationalized that i would give the ivy as a present to someone, but now Christmas is over, and the ivy is still sitting on the window sill.

Maybe i am giving it as a present to myself?

Apparently 1/3 of our Christmas shopping is for ourselves. "I just want to treat myself," we say, as if we needed more treats. We know how we feel about the Halloween bag of treats: Too much sugar! Too many Christmas gift-treats leads us to the same slightly ill feeling when we review our credit card bill in the new year.

Desire is a strong feeling, and it clings like Velcro. Notice the ceasing of desire; notice how it slides away like Teflon. Desire ceases once we have the object of our desire in our grasp. Notice the end of desire. Notice the lack of desire a moment or a day or a week after you've made your purchase. Every desire ends.

Desire wraps its tendrils around us like ivy, and we feel powerless. Notice that.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Cactus Blooming

My Christmas cactus is blooming for Christmas :) Wouldn't we like to bloom at just the right time?

Last week i did a solo trapeze performance for Rotary Club. It all went perfectly because i had practiced my routine every day. My concert pianist sweetie keeps telling me the secret to performing is the "daily diet." In other words, practice every day.

In order for our meditation to bloom, we need to practice every day. That way, we'll be able to bloom, no matter the circumstances. Even if it's snowing outdoors this white Christmas, even if we're snowed in with busy-ness, we can bloom with joy and peace.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gazing Globe Reflections

The landlady of our meditation center has a flair for flowerboxes and flowerpots. Now that it's winter, she fills a big empty pot with greenery, some contrasting foliage, a few berries, and a big shiny red gazing globe. I gaze at it from 50 feet away as i walk toward the door.

These decorative pots at the entrance to the meditation center inspired me to try my own. I went to the farm & garden center and chose a blue gazing globe. I had one big empty blue pot which i filled with the bottom branches of the Christmas tree and easy-to-obtain hemlock. Looking around the gardens for color, i chose gray sage, which contrasts nicely with the blue gazing ball.

When our body ages into late fall and winter, what will people "see" in us? Kindness or complaining? Gratitude or grumbling? Now is the time to practice beneficial qualities of generosity, joy, and wise speech. Let's reflect our inner light into the world around us.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Birdhouse Gourds

Last summer, the birdhouse gourd vines covered everything in their path. These vines crawled over nearby shrubs and continued into the lawn for 30 feet.

I harvested a couple dozen gourds and gave many away. The remaining dozen i stored in the basement. I thought it would take 6 months for them to dry out, but already you can hear the seeds rattling inside if you shake them.

Some friends came over yesterday and with a drill and 3 sizes of drill bits, we made our individual birdhouses. The 1-inch-wide drill bit makes an opening just big enough for a wren (but not a house sparrow).

In this season, busy-ness is running amok in our lives. What can we harvest from this tangle?

The Divine Abodes--loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity-- are the homes where our hearts can dwell and sing songs of joy, just as sweetly as a wren who sings its heart out.

Let's make space in our lives for these heavenly houses of kindness, compassion, joy, and peace. This protected space we can dwell in.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Poinsettia Re-blooms

My poinsettia has been blooming for a month now. What fun to watch the resurrection of last year's plant.

I repotted the poinsettia last spring. Just as i suspected, the roots were bound into a very small peat pot, used for starting seedlings, that had not quite biodegraded. I broke the peat pot open and spread the roots into potting soil in a slightly larger plastic pot than the one i was taking it out of.

From previous experience of trying to keep poinsettias over the summer, there would come a time in April or May when the plant would wilt and look beyond help. Eventually, i discovered the roots were constrained into a 2-inch ball, even though the plastic pot was much larger.

How do we constrain ourselves? What keeps us knotted tightly and prevents us from living our authentic life?

Self-judgement, self-pity, self-isolation, self-absorption are some of the familiar ways of getting locked into the small world of our own thoughts.

Let's tend and befriend ourselves by applying some loving-kindness and compassion to ourselves. Starting with ourselves is not selfish; we need to put our own oxygen masks on first, so that we are better able to express kindness and compassion toward others.

Spread out your roots in your own life, so that you can bloom--even in the winter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Birthday Bouquets

My sweetie gave me a birthday party this past weekend. I had requested "No Gifts Please," so some people brought me flowers. Flowers delight the eye and the heart and make me smile as i pass by the bouquet on the kitchen table, on the dining table, on the coffee table.

My birthday flowers are beautiful. And they are impermanent.

My sweetie's birthday bouquet of 4 weeks ago has browned and withered (sort of like me), but retains sufficient beauty and interest that he is still keeping it in his music studio. I even borrowed the eucalyptus from it to add to one of my bouquets.

In a few days, i will toss away the bouquet. And as our own beauty fades, what then?