Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mind-Body Disconnection

I spent 3 hours planting my onion seedlings, and i'm not done yet. Why did i think i could do it in half an hour?

I forgot the groundwork that needs to be done--the cleaning up of the bed.

The mind orders the body around. I want to go plant onions. But our master-mind sees the big picture, and conveniently forgets all the steps the body has to go through to actually carry out this order.

The body tires and needs to take a break from planting onions.
The mind continues to dream up pleasant garden scenes.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sweet Winter Parsnips

My neighbor, Connie, told me to harvest my parsnips. Now. Before they get woody.

So it's all parsnips, at every meal. Sauteed in butter. Added to soup. Mashed parsnip potatoes.

Parsnips become sweeter after they freeze. So they're a sweet early spring vegetable.

My 96-year-old hospice client was a very sweet woman. Perhaps because the only food she ate for the last year of her life was Lorna Doone cookies. She kept surviving the winter of her old, old age. Living well beyond the forecast of leukemia. Living well and happily despite her loss of memory.

Now her daughters have sweet memories of her.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Smiling Pansies

Pansies are trembling in the chill April rain, but they like cool weather. Their adorable little faces look out at each April day, whether sunny or gray, no matter the adversity, and say, I'm happy to be alive. Aren't you?

I have to agree.  This morning, I listened to 2 cancer survivors talk with each other about how darn grateful they are for every single day. The grass is greener, right in their own backyard. Really! They feel more alive now than they did before their cancer diagnosis. Life is a miracle.

Isn't that odd? You stare death in the face and feel more alive than ever.
Contemplate your death today.
While the pansies are smiling at you.

Listen to this song about The Holy Now.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Rabbit Trails of Intentions

I hopped out of bed with the intention to plant 4 dozen onions. I planted a 6-pack of chard instead.

But before i could do that, i had to go down the rabbit trail of cleaning up the little bed i was transplanting the chard into. Which meant i had to dig up the flowers that had sown themselves there--feverfew, lamium, and woodland poppies. In order to pot up those flowers, so i can give them away, i needed to screen my young compost. 45 minutes later, the chard is planted and the onions are still patiently sitting there, looking at me.

Sort of sounds like our meditation practice some days. Perhaps we get out of bed late, and just want to hit the computer to check the weather or send an email. 45 minutes, and many rabbit trails, later, we're not even dressed for work, and our time for meditation has evaporated.

Or our life. We intend a spiritual practice, but life! So much to do. Loved ones to care for and worry about. The mortgage to pay. 45 years later, where are we?

We're still in the present moment. And Life is patiently looking at us, smiling.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lasagna Gardens

Let Lasagna Gardening begin!

8 yards of bark mulch, delivered last week, have been spread on the flower beds. Right over the top of last year's dead leaves. Maybe i should call this the No-Rake method.

If you're starting a garden from scratch, building the lasagna (cardboard, mulch hay, peat moss, compost, etc.) is a lot of fun. But what about your already established gardens?

For the vegetable garden, i pile on the mulch hay in the fall, along with some wood ashes. If i'm really ambitious, i add a truckload of manure. In the spring, i pile on the compost.

For the flowerbeds, the lasagna started last fall with the cutting down of the brown stems and leaves.
If it's brown,
cut it down.
If it's green,
it's clean.    
So i started my "spring clean-up" last fall.

In the spring, the beds are littered with leaves. Leave them in place. They are the first lasagna layer. I used to add a layer of bunny manure, and then a layer of bark mulch. You could add a layer of compost, and then bark mulch. Now i add a special mix of bark mulch that has well-composted manure added to it. Voila! The gardens look great.

Our actions--thoughts, words, and deeds--are constantly being "composted," laying the foundations for our habits (good habits or bad habits). Our habits then harden into character or disposition.

This present moment is a "lasagna garden" of every action we have taken up till now.

Since we don't want weeds--in our garden or our mind--we start by cleaning up our act, cleaning up our actions. Begin with gratitude. Practice kindness--not only random acts of kindness, but a constant stream of kindness. Feel compassion for yourself, first of all. Find forgiveness.

Lay down  the old grudges and resentments, and let them compost into the soil that grows a full and open heart.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Daphne Blooms

Daphne is blooming its tiny sweet blossoms--the earliest blooming shrub. The long, long spring of the Pacific Northwest commences when daphne begins blooming at the end of January.

We all bloom at different times--with beauty or with relationships. And our meditation practice also blooms differently for each person. I still have not had some of the most elementary insights.

Impermanence is one of the very first insights--noticing constant change. Although i know impermanence intellectually, i don't know it in a bone-shaking sort of way. OMG, there's nothing to hang on to.

Daphne will teach me in her own gentle way. She blooms, and soon, very soon, those lovely white blossoms begin to spot and turn brown. Sort of like my own aging skin. Then the flowers fall to earth.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Diamond Frost Euphorbia

I took cuttings of Diamond Frost euphorbia, a tender edging plant that sells for $4.95 at our local nursery. Surprisingly, the cuttings rooted quickly and fully, so i now have 20 pots of Diamond Frost in my solarium, just waiting for the end of the frosty season. Usually i plant them in my white garden, but now i have enough to edge my Flower-Vegetable Medley Garden as well.

How can beautiful qualities take root in our own lives?

What qualities do you aspire to? Generosity. Calm. Patience. Integrity. Kindness. Compassion.

Who do you know who embodies this quality?

Spend more time with this person. If they are a well-known person, read their writings. Visualize yourself acting from this quality. And for the time being, fake it till you make it.

These beautiful qualities of the heart-mind lead us to euphoria.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Aging Tulips

Winter is grasping at the covers, just like some dying people do. We've had 3 night of hard freezes, well down into the 20s. The first night, i thought would be mild, but it wasn't. Next morning, the tulips on the front step were bowed over with the dowager humps of osteoporosis. They didn't straighten up again.

The next two nights, i brought the 10 pots of tulips indoors for hospice care. Since then, i've planted 5 pots in the ground. R.I.P. dear tulips.

Five more pots remain on the front step, looking a little unsteady on their feet, but still blooming beautifully.

And so do we.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Suddenly, spring has arrived. It's time to shed the winter clothes. Beech trees will soon shed their last hanger-on leaves.

This past weekend, i overheard some 40-somethings talk about moving houses, shedding stuff they don't use anymore, and especially the toys their children have outgrown. Young teenagers are shedding childhood.

We've outgrown the winter. We've outgrown some old friends. Hopefully, we haven't outgrown our spring clothes :)

It's time to shed things we don't use any more. Look around. Pick up one thing you haven't used, looked at, or touched in a year. Put it in your garage sale pile. Or put it in a bag to take to the thrift store.

My tulips are shedding their petals.

Start shedding now.

Photo from

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Root-Bound Amaryllis

I've had a steady stream of amaryllis blooming for the past month, often 2 or 3 at a time. I thought i had 3 amaryllis plants, but i seem to have about 8. I'm not sure where they all came from. Well, 2 of them came from a plant sale at a library, but beyond that, i don't know. I feel so delighted to have actual blooming amaryllis.

For years, i tried all sorts of tricks to get my amaryllis to bloom. I did what the garden books said: cut off the foliage in October and don't water them until December. I tried planting them outdoors for the summer.

Meanwhile, my neighbor who did absolutely nothing, other than water his amaryllis every week, had reliable blooms, year after year.

I finally decided to plant the bulbs in small pots, let them get root-bound, and Voila! Flowers! Usually 2 stalks on each plant.

When we practice concentration meditation, we narrow our focus on one spot. By binding our attention to a single point, such as the breath, the mind blooms into joy and even bliss.

My amaryllis bulbs are multiplying, so i'm dividing them, and putting each one in a small pot.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happifying Tulips

I started tulips in pots before Thanksgiving and put them in the garage for their winter vacation--not exactly dark, but dim and in the 30s. I brought them indoors in mid-February, and it took longer than i expected for them to bloom.

When i came home from 3 weeks of retreat, my sweetie had set 10 pots of tulips on the front step. Outdoors, they will last for two or three weeks in the refrigerator weather of spring, while indoors, in the warmth, they would come and go in less than a week.

I love the tulip blast on the front step. Not much is blooming in the gardens just yet, so all those tulips are not only colorful but happifying as well.

What leads to your happiness? Flowers? Birds? Nature? A walk in the woods? Happiness opens the heart and relaxes the mind. We need 5 times as much happiness to balance the negativity that is all around us, beginning in our minds with little bothers and nuisances, frustrations and impatience.

Include some happiness in your day today.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Meditative Gardener Wins Another Book Award!

The Meditative Gardener wins a gold medal from Independent Publishers of New England for being a Perennial Bestseller.

Our 8th Book Award.

Order you blinged copy now.