Tag Archives: Dharma

Worrying, taking time, & kitties.

Yesterday’s work day began later than usual

For one thing, I had an appointment to keep in the morning.  

And when I see things like this, I feel compelled to pause & laugh & take a photo to send to a loved one

You know, Share the delight 


I’m a fan of moving slower

& not a fan of rushing

(Though zippy-doodle will at times occur…)


By the time I arrived at the farm

The weekly seeding was nearly done

– Attended to by four capable hands.

As their workday soon ended, mine just began.

So I set to transplanting two flats of broccoli & early cabbage


As I worked, I began to notice myself in a state of worry.

familiar weather, worry.

The worry du jour was about the amount of time I take to do things.

In particular, at the farm


I try to be efficient, and find that I do get into a groove once I get going & practice the method necessary for the task at hand.

A system that works for this body is found & my movements become more effortless


Granted, when I pause to get more soil or more pots or go to pee, a photo might be taken…

– Like this early Spring view from just outside the greenhouse.

(Aaaaand all the following photos…)

Although I’ve received a blessing & go-ahead to take photos here at the farm through the day, a habitual groove of thinking gets going…


So I paid attention to the broken record spin of worry that was playing in my mind, 

and by paying attention, 

could see/feel that consequently, 

my breathing became shallow & I stopped seeing what was in front of my eyes

Like being blinded by an internal sandstorm of worry  So to remedy this, here was the practice du jour:

Whenever my mind went from an awareness of things at hand 

to the thinking & spinning mind of worry, 

I would keep taking deep breaths, and really turn my attention to what I was doing & feeling, 

Instead of the loud thoughts in my head

Returning, returning, returning.

Being able to distinguish between awareness & thinking feels like a big step for me.  

Take notice of the slightly yellowing seed leaves (or cotyledons) on the cabbage seedlings (below & above)

“Pleeeease pot me up!!!”

When roots find their way to the far edges of their potting soil world, it’s either time to pot up (transplant into a larger container) or transplant into soil out in the bigger world.


Since two seeds germinated in this cell, & both plants are healthy, they are gently pried apart


And set into larger pots which have some fresh potting soil in the bottom


Then more fresh potting soil is added up to where the cotyledons attach to the stem

And gently pressed down to settle in the plant a bit, but not so much that it compacts the soil


Once a tray is filled, it is watered under a fine spray of water

Which further settles the soil around the roots – and allows for the contact roots and soil want together.

75 Broccoli plants & 80 Early Cabbage plants were potted up.

155 plants in all.

It took me 3 hours to do that.


Izzy was intrigued by my hands after coming (housesitting) home from work

And she didn’t mind that it took me three hours to transplant 155 plants.

Bob seems to be patient & tolerant of my pace, but I still sometimes question if I really “fit” at the farm.

*Plagued by Doubt*

– no doubt, triggered by a mere (yet impactful) comparing thought.


A friend said to me today, “cats are unapologetically themselves”.

Even plants grow at the pace that they grow.

At the farm, moving at such a slower pace than all the others, it takes an amount of mind-effort to not apologize for myself.

To honor the animal that I am & just do my work.

A part of me thinks: o there’s something wrong, maybe I should leave, try to find a place where I fit in better.


But maybe the lesson is right here, to practice “standing inside myself”, and to learn something from just this.

Not become caught up in my own tangle of comparing my relative snailing pace, to just let that wild-bird-thought fly through.

I guess if I trust the wisdom of the unfolding of my life, & attempt to keep my eyes open to what is right here, I’ll get the opportunity to learn whatever it is I’m supposed to learn.


These are the steps where I slipped as I rushed down them one snow-covered-icy morning in February 2012 which shifted my life

This being one of the numerous incidents where I’ve thought privately or said out loud “but it wasn’t supposed to be like this”

But really, who am I to argue reality or try to control such things…?

I’m trying to integrate the unfolding of things, trying to relax…

I’ll finish this post with a poem by Marie Howe

The Gate

I had no idea that the gate I would step through 
to finally enter this world 

would be the space my brother’s body made. He was 
a little taller than me: a young man 

but grown, himself by then, 
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet, 

rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold 
and running water. 

This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me. 
And I’d say, What? 

And he’d say, This—holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich. 
And I’d say, What? 

And he’d say, This, sort of looking around. 
Maybe this will be the memorized poem for 2015…
Wishing you all a good night
& a happy Spring

Remembering reminders after forgetting.

I forgot to relate to my suffering with curiosity.

I don’t even think it was a matter of forgetting, because to forget, one has to remember, or have some sense of mind-awareness of it in the first place.

So I guess I wasn’t forgetting, but merely embroiled in a cloud of an internal swirling mix of thoughts, projections, worrying, misperceptions, feelings, & emotions.

Sounds like fun, no?

(Raise your hand if anyone out there feels things really deeply)

O hiiiiiiii!

Stop, & pause & breathe.

I forget to stop. To stop & breathe & just feel, notice, be curious about what is happening inside & outside.

Curiosity out the window

I need to invite curiosity to be my pocket roommate & constant intimate companion.

There is a kind of gentleness which comes automatically when I turn towards the critters & the wild things of this world

Even the weather outside receives the open attention & wonder

This mind sometimes not so different from a box of potatoes gone growing…


Interesting, lovely, amazing even – the will & intelligence of the potato

(Hello Compost)

This quality of attention rarely gets turned around

But that needs to change.

Meditation practice has helped yes

And I need to continue with sitting practice, & to not only read the Dharma –

(Thank you Pema for your practice & writing. thank you Margie for reminding me to re-read When Things Fall Apart, & thank you Mielle for sending me the book in 2009)

– but I seem to require listening to the Dharma as well.


It’s like a returning, a remembering, a face-palm “o yes, THIS! I forgot!”

I’ve been avoiding listening to Dharma talks, because for a while the talks just triggered the thinking about someone who (relatively) recently broke up with me & so I just stopped listening to avoid that trigger.

But it’s my medicine.

My medicine.

And since I’m not in a Dharma community, it’s up to me to surround myself with whatever medicine helps tend to this mind.

Seeding helps, working with plants helps 

Listening to the Dharma helps…

Making art…

Taking photos, noticing beauty in & of the world

Today is a new day

To practice, to remind myself, to remember when I forget

& to practice the kinder attention.

Gratuitous photo of Genuine, enjoying her grass

(Thank you, Jean, for the photo!)

May you remember the feeling of kindness as your experience of this day unfolds.

Got reminders?

Not enough, apparently.

I heard a Dharma talk online recently,
Given by Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche
Who explained that even in the folding of the monk’s robes, there are concrete reminders of the Dharma.

She went on
To say that in order to remember to practice ongoingly throughout one’s day,
One needs to put into place

How many reminders?
She continued on with the logical answer to that personal question:

As many times as one forgets in a day, one needs more reminders than that.


And I can even recall hearing a teaching by Pema Chodron where she says: we need a lot of supports.


I forget
A lot

Identifying with my thoughts & feelings
And sometimes it takes nearly a day to see through this.

(Who am I kidding… This is nearly a lifelong habit, and has sometimes gone on for days…
This mind tipping into story as one falls into gravity)

Of this, I am not proud.
it is often where I am.

And that’s the only place I can start from.

Again and again.

I keep hoping, that if I continue practicing, eventually, a crack will form in the seemingly solid sense of self

And that something will take hold.

Now, this is not a complaint, nor do I mean for it to be an excuse:
I do not really “have” a Sangha.

It’s just what is at the moment.

I am grateful for internet access to talks, for retreats, and teachers who share the Dharma so generously, and for the disparate friends who are on the path that are willing to be in communication with me, helping me remember.
Especially when I’m in what seems like a deep place of forgetting.

There’s a lotta distraction “out there” and “in here”
It’s good to stick close to the middle of the path

One of “my Dharma friends” (who has since moved away) and I would recite this practice he introduced me to
A sort of prayer for the ancient Sangha… Praising and venerating Buddha’s main disciples- one of which I could identify with wholeheartedly.

He was the one who forgot.

His name was something like:
And because he could not seem to remember, his practice was incorporated into his chores, a movement practice – of sweeping the temple…
(Of course, I’m not remembering the two-line mantras he would roll in his mind throughout the day…)
Eventually, through his dedication and practice, he woke up.

It took about 4 hours to recite the entire, um, prayer (I’m not sure if that’s even the correct word to describe the practice…)
And it was great to focus like that, sustained through a portion of the day

Because, WHOA habits can be deeply grooved

After work today, I went to the woods for a walk
Which seems to offer something of great benefit

And seeing, with the support of a Dharma friend with her practice so grounded, that given I have yet to become grounded in dis-identifying with the thoughts and feelings which can come so strong

– and so seemingly solid, it is abundantly clear that I do not have my life set up in such a way where there are more reminders than the times I forget.

This has to change.

Though I’m not yet sure what life will look like in order to support the “remindings” I seem to need.

I get that things take time

And though there is that sense of urgency present

Again, I can hear Pema Chodron’s voice, from all the times I’ve listened to those cassette tapes in the car, that it’s best to not rush it or push it.

At one of the homes where I work on occasion, there is a sticker posted in the kitchen
“Everything in its own time”

One step forward, two steps back…
Dharma boogie.

Hiking, mushrooms, & practice.

I drove up to Moravia, NY to Fillmore Glen State Park.


It was a beautiful day
And the first time visiting there, so I didn’t know which one of the three trails to follow so I chose the North Rim Trail

(The above image is from a “wrong turn” taking me onto the South Rim trail. I seem to get lost easily…)

Simply because it was the longest
And by the sounds of things, the gorge trail seemed loud with voices

So up I went
Taking my shoes off during softer, duffy stretches, and putting them back on when the rocks were too much for the soles of these feet

I was delighted to find mushrooms along the way

Though this turned out NOT to be a mushroom after all – but Monotropa uniflora

Or Indian Pipe.
Or Corpse plant – as it can grow without photosynthesis.

(For the record, from here on out I have a question mark as to which species of mushrooms I happened upon- my mushroom identification skills are uber-beginner, and my field guide book is limited)

With that, here are the guesses:

These cuties are (question mark) Lycoperdon pyriforme
Or Pear-shaped Puffball

Then further along and up the trail

This short, squat beauty remains a mystery.
And I wonder if it’s The King Bolete
Or Boletus editors
But I really have no idea.

Here is one of many Gray Corals or Clavulina cineraria
They are quite lovely and fancy.

I was thrilled to find this little (???) Two-Color Bolete or Boletus bicolor

Then another mystery mushroom

Shiny, pale greyish white cap with medium grey veining…
No idea

It was around this time during the hike that I came to notice that I had gotten into this sort of “greedy mind” state
Like hunting for mushrooms
And the field of awareness had gotten narrow and small
I could feel my mind tighter
And so I tried to expand my awareness again, as It had been before coming upon the mushrooms
So from then on it became a practice of noticing when I’d get tight, and bringing a wider field of awareness through the sense-gates.
It’s tricky – the mind seeks to name to notice the types of trees and where they shift from one sort to another- which is a fun game, but another kind of tightening…

I felt that I was exercising a different sort of inhaling and exhaling
A different sort of binary muscle which opened and closed.

Practice practice practice.

I think this is Xerompalina Campanella or Golden Trumpets, but maybe it’s Golden Mycena or Mycena leaiana

Did I mention that there are many many many photos of mushrooms on the internet and trying to ID them while sleepy is eyeball twirling?

This sturdy beauty was tucked in the center of a rotting stump.
Drum roll guess is Lactarius deceptivus or Cottony-margined Milky Cap
But again
I don’t know.

And yet another mystery.
There are lots if little brown mushroom images on the internet
(One of which turns out to be fatally poisonous *eep*)
The wild guess for these critters is Laccaria bicolor
Or The Omnipresent Laccaria


(Any mushroom people out there wanna weigh in??)

Then finally, Clavulinopsis fusiformis or Spindle Coral


At which point I decided to put the phone away & simply walk.

There’s a dam at the end of the North Rim trail where geese flock and there’s a low wall to sit upon.
It’s quite serene and lovely.

Walking back I took the Gorge Trail which has a series of bridges to cross.
Grippy shoes are recommended as most of the trail is damp and slippery.


It’s a lovely place

And there’s even a place to swim and camp and a pavilion (which hosted a family reunion yesterday…)
I hope to return again
To walk the South Rim trail


Driving home I got lost, which happens often, but fortunately, it turned out to be a beautiful way home


Hooray & gratitude for paper maps!

Migraines are unpleasant.

Migraines suck.


bones in the head hurt, teeth hurt, jaw hurts, dizziness comes, nausea, upset digestions, feels like spoons are being forced into my skull.

migraines are unpleasant.

yesterday was a migraine day

so i just went slow at work, focused.

drank salted concord grape juice cut with water.

tried to eat a little lunch.


then met with my person i meet with every week to talk with.

(nice sentence there, Marn…)


i’m trying to be a bit more loose with words.

because sometimes there are no exact words for things


being with the migraine, it just shoves all “autobiographical fiction” out of the way.

that’s kinda pleasant.

it’s all focus on body. sensation.

for better or for worse.

it’s an interesting opportunity, to really really be with what is.

small-d dharma practice.

after work, and after talking with my talk/listen/witness person, i went home & laid down with a weighted little bag over my eyes.

a phrase came:  don’t miss this moment.

eventually, i fell asleep.

woke up, early in the night, still with a lesser headache, but thankfully with an appetite

so i fixed up a little bowl of salted mango.



he loaned me a Dharma book to read – a lovely book by John Tarrant

called “bring me the rhinoceros – and other zen koans that will save your life”

so i read the chapter he suggested, then i went back to sleep.

woke up early, the migraine had thankfully passed by 2:45


drew & painted for the first time in a long time.

even some rain came early this morning

i’ll try to practice coming back to presence, returning to my feet on the Earth.




don’t miss this moment

blessings on the day.

Reminders, starting here, & working with the mind.


something about the days before the New and Full moons


i get to see the mind, this mind

so unwholesome, so identified with unwholesome states.

it can be quite painful.


listening to Dharma is, and has been so helpful.

very, very nourishing to me

lately it seems like the only good food


that and connecting with others

and tending to the plants

and being with cats.


(this is Artemis – from 2011)

sometimes, i think, maybe this isn’t enough.

but that, perhaps, is simply another unwholesome groove.


listening to Winnie’s talk this morning

clarifies things

offers good direction

& shines light on what i must do.

i don’t know why i forget, but i do seem to forget

over & over…


the work, the effort of training the mind is just that

work. effort.

aversion doesn’t help


as i write this, i can at least begin to see when aversion arises

like some great flag has been raised


today i wrote the words “Wise attention” on my wrist


because while i can certainly pay attention, it isn’t necessarily wise to pay attention to certain things, or thoughts

so, i used the reminder to apply wise attention

i had to re-write it a few times in the day…

sometimes, just this sort of reminder is all that it takes

to guide my attention, which often wanders around like some rabid, tortuous story-teller of misery & meanness.


we have to start where we are


and this mind can be quite unruly & wild,

(STILL) so undisciplined.

i think i thought somehow it would just happen

a calm, settled mind.

ahhh, nope.


this mind needs training.

wild horse training.

and i’m the one to do it.


with gratitude there are Dharma teachers & teachings as my guide.

no point in trying to hide or shaming myself for where i’m at, in this stage of evolution.


i have to admit

a part of me was hoping i’d be “further along”

not get ruffled, not get caught up, not spin…

nothing unsavory… or if so, then at least, short, light.

you know, like, puffy clouds…

or meringue…



i suppose it’s enough

enough to simply be a part of the living river of Dharma practitioners


i’m trying.

and i really do hope that’s enough.


a bow to all who are working with their minds

a bow to wherever you are in your evolution

a bow for your efforts

for your one step forward and two steps back

i bow to you and your efforts.


may all beings be happy.


one of the things i love about this retreat #1

there is much to love about this retreat.

something that keeps returning is the teaching about rice

“it’s all rice.  you can eat all of it.”

meaning that no matter what occurs, no matter what comes up, it’s all food for practice.


i get to watch

with as much kindness as possible

(and i get to watch when there’s the opposite of kindness, too)

this mind

these emotions

this body

no matter what is going on or coming up or unfolding.

all of the weathers.


take the person i mentioned before leaving

someone i met last year

where the feeling of love arises in me

naturally, easily.

not the Eros sort of love, (okay, maybe a little) but closer to what feels like Philia or Pragma


so, i get to watch all of the stories

the multitude of ways i try to control in my mind…

there’s the t.v. channel of future – drama edition (lots of twists and turns)

the t.v. channel of future – comedy edition (wacky mishaps & mayhem)

the t.v. channel of future – romance edition (yeah, baby)

and then, if i’m paying attention, i get to drop the story.

just like that.


and over

and over…

this mind – holy crap it’s busy.


one day while washing the dishes

i saw that even the stories i tell myself, the ones where “i don’t get what i want”, you know, the tragedies (full of sadness & disappointment)

even those are a sort of attempt to control an outcome –

(not to mention missing each moment with the pot…)

this mind telling stories is an attempt at trying to control my feelings

which, for whatever reason, i try to manage or avoid, as much as possible.

it’s such an old habit

(stuff a dragon in a small box, anyone?)

the thing is

turns out, i’ve just come to know that i don’t really want to control the outcome of things.

my view is limited.

and omigosh it would be boring.

my stories are so predictable now.

like some tragic sitcom writer in a rut.


an image came

of two great gods

napping in some gorgeous sky-meadow

and here on earth, squeaking my little story (whichever edition…)

one of them snorts, still half-asleep

“did you hear something?”

the other, rolling over, and letting out a fart

“naaaah, go back to sleep”