Lessons From My Garden #1

March 26, 2010

Lessons From My Garden

Hauling Out the Old Dirt

I am a container gardener in San Francisco. Last year was a really difficult year for me in many ways. I was stressed, unhappy, and dealing with an unexpected divorce. So last year I didn’t garden. It was the first time in almost 20 years that I didn’t plant.

I’m back this year. If you are a container gardener, you know that every year or two you need to throw out your old dirt and replace it. This is because the nutrients in the soil don’t have a natural way to be replenished. Also, it will eventually become full of roots. For me on top of all of that, I had a years worth of weeds and grass invading every bit of dirt.

Last week I began the process of throwing out old dirt. On Sunday my generous neighbor dragged it out to the front for me so it wasn’t‘ a project that I did completely on my own.

This is a project that will takes a few weeks and I’m not making myself do all of the work without any fun so as I throw out the old dirt I’m replacing it and planting flowers in it right away. This makes the project much more fun!

And so it is also in my life. I’m throwing out the old dirt and replacing it with new. Recently I’ve thrown out a couple of old clients that were clogging up my life and not very fun to work with anymore. I’ve planted some new seeds to get different clients that invigorate and enrich my life. I’ve also given up some old friendships that didn’t serve me. Just like those old roots in my old dirt would not allow new things to grow, some of my old friendships wouldn’t let me grow in the direction that I need to take now.

I am also throwing out a lot of old hurts and resentments. These negative thoughts are the worst — like weeds they take over everything. So I had a few people who didn’t live up to my expectations. This is how life works out sometimes.

I am looking forward to the progress of my garden.


Vandalism or Art?

July 6, 2009

I have been frustrated with myself for years because it seems that sometimes I am vandalizing my own life. This is in specific reference to romantic relationships. I get into the relationship, do everything as correctly as possible, and yet at some point it always falls apart – leaving me feeling inadequate, unloved, and yet again a failure.
So I start over. I try to do it better. I love more unconditionally. I develop more depth of soul and character. And yet it always ends.
I began to think of the whole thing as vandalism. I had this beautiful house (representing me) that I kept destroying by coloring on the walls. And I didn’t want my walls to have crayon marks on them. I wanted my walls to be pristine so that when my one true love moved in, everything would be just perfect for them.
So into another relationship I would go – trying so hard to do it correctly. “Now let’s see, usually in the relationship X is what goes wrong, so I must avoid X.” X can be not having good boundaries, gaining 10 pounds, being too uptight about work, spending money on my children, etc, etc.
So I would focus on not doing X – avoiding X at all costs. Sort of like avoiding the blue crayon. Don’t touch the blue crayon. Get it right, don’t look at the blue crayon!
So I avoided all of X, the relationship still ended. It wasn’t the blue crayon at all – turns out that it was the purple crayon – otherwise known as Y. Y is opps I forgot to tell you I am married.
So I start out again. Don’t touch the blue crayon, don’t touch the purple crayon either. I’m in my 40’s so you can only imagine how many colors I am now trained to avoid. I freak out as I see myself failing as time runs out and I still haven’t found “happily ever after.”
I can actually have a major crisis if I realize that I have actually touched the blue crayon YET AGAIN.
I almost fell into that crisis this weekend. It was a holiday and I wanted to spend a traditional family oriented time and it just didn’t work out that way. I was feeling very unsuccessful. I gave myself the label of “unhappy, unfulfilled SINGLE woman” and I wallowed around in I am so stupid, I can’t stop coloring on my walls.
And then the epiphany. These crayon marks are not vandalism. They are art. And I like it.
As you stroll through the hallways of my house, you can see a picture of what I was like when I was 30 – hot, lots of red and oranges, spiky lines. Back in the teens, I was pink and I colored all inside the lines. Now in my 40s I am more like a Jackson Pollack painting – or Gordon Onslow Ford.
This isn’t what I had planned on. I thought I would be a traditional, representational work. My sister has been happily married to the same man and living in the same house her entire adult life. I thought that would be me.
But it’s not. I live in San Francisco. My friends are artists, and scientists, and kiwis. Both of my adult children have moved home. I mix my own teas, garden, and love my meditation class. My favorite restaurants are The Boulevard and the taco stand on 16th and Mission.
And there is a lot of crayon on my walls. And I am glad. In fact, I am upgrading. The next person will get a big pot of paint.


April 1, 2009

Some days it takes all the courage I have just to stay in the world. Yesterday was one of those days. Who knows how it got started – I mean it all started OK enough. I did all the “right” things – meditation, good breakfast, etc.

I think it started with a bad hair day and then declined into
I’m getting old
I’m feeling fat

Yesterday was an average sort of a day where lots of little things went slightly awry. The oil change guys messed up my dashboard, every computer I tried to use was slightly broken – all fixable and in the grand scheme of things really trivial and yet my thoughts deteriorated into

I am all alone. I wish I had someone to help me.
Was there a better way to do this and I am too dumb to see it?
I am freaked out by the possibility that this is what I am in for the next 50 years.
I want to go home and climb into bed and never get out again!

I actually did go home and contemplate crawling into bed at 6pm. Instead I kept my plans and met friends and had a good time. But when I got home there were the thoughts

I could end up going to bed alone the rest of my life.
This is really hard and I don’t know what to do.

This morning I woke up refreshed and with a much better attitude about life in general. I actually do love my life and I think that most people if given the chance would trade lives with me. I have great friends, a career I love, a happily connected family, and good health. I have a passion for living.

But still it takes courage some days just to get dressed and go out that door. Today I salute everyone who is brave enough to go out and do it again today. I reach out my hand to you – not to pull you along – no, just to hold your hand so you know that you are not alone.

We are connected.
I love you.
I see that you are beautiful
Your heart is safe here.

Love D

Do you ever get enamored of an ass?

March 27, 2009

I read the Shakespeare poem this morning in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  In Act III Oberon plays a trick on Titania while she sleeps, employing Puck to anoint her with a potion that will cause her to fall in love with the first creature she sees on waking. As it happens, she opens her eyes to the sight of Bottom, the weaver, adorned by Puck with an ass’s head. This is the comic episode of the Queen of the Fairies “enamored of an ass.”


Do you ever get enamored of an ass?  I do.  In fact there are times when I would swear that Puck had slipped up on me in my sleep.  I wake up in love with an idea or a thought that I just cannot seem to release.


Then the battle rages on in my head.  I am trying to meditate, but my brain is sure that I should be thinking about


How I was right in that argument and she was wrong

I’m so crazy about him, how can I get him to like me back?

I’ll never get out of the hole that I got myself into when I did ________

How could she have done this to me?

If only I could __________ then I would be happy


And there I go for the day – in love with an ass instead of in love with my life and working on making the joy of my life more complete.


So I came up with this simple plan which works (sometimes) for me.


  1. Congratulate yourself that you have at least realized what is happening.
  2. Stay lighthearted about it.  Admit it!  It is funny that you are in love with an ass.  Instead of using the energy to do something great, you are wasting life energy.  Once I start laughing about it, the battle is half over.
  3. Pick a thought to “hook” to the ass.  For example, every time I get obsessive about thinking “how can I get him to like me back?” I will also think, “Here are the 5 ways I am showing myself love today.” – and by the way, don’t make the hook something negative like “I am so stupid for thinking this again.” 
  4. Practice, practice, practice the discipline of using life energy on something important.


Love D


O Treacherous Oberon!


In maiden mediation, fancy-free.

Yet mark’d where the bolt of Cupid fell:

It fell upon a little western flower,

Before milk-white, now purple with love’s wound,

And maidens call it love-in-idleness.

Fetch me that flower; the herb I shew’d thee once:

The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid

Will make or man or woman madly dote

Upon the next live creature that it sees.


Having once this juice

I’ll watch Titania when she is asleep,

And drop the liquor of it in her eyes,

The next thing the she waking looks upon,

Be it on lion, bear, or wolf, or bull,

On meddling monkey, or on busy ape,

She shall pursue it with the soul of love.

              – Shakespeare


It Doesn’t Interest Me

March 21, 2009

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of

meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon.

I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and

let ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being a human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you’re telling me is true.

I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself;

if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I

want to know if you can see beauty even if it’s not pretty every day,

and if you can source your life from God’s presence. I want to know if you can live

with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a

lake and shout to the silver moon, ‘Yes!’

It doesn’t interest me where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,

weary, bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Inspired by Oriah Mountain Dreamer,

Native American Elder, May 1994

6 Ways to keep the Depression out of the Recession

March 18, 2009

1. Stop listening to the news. Unless your profession requires that you listen to the news all day, just quit. Fifteen minutes in the morning with a newspaper or online and/or another 15 at night is the maximum daily dosage if you are feeling depressed.
2. Get out of the house. Especially if you are now unemployed, this is vital. Reinvent game night. Meet friends to go walking. Be proactive about keeping your schedule interesting.
3. Sing! This raises the endorphins in your body and doesn’t cost a thing.
4. Lay off the alcohol, which is a depressant.
5. Volunteer. Too often we get put off by the formality of volunteer work so try something easier like offering to build a website for your child’s teacher or household chores for that single girlfriend.
6. Ask for help. You wouldn’t try to “tough it out” if you had a broken leg. Tell a friend or go to the doctor.

It’s not about getting what you want. It’s about loving what you have.

March 17, 2009

Many, many years ago, I decided that I wanted to be “rich” because – well everyone wants to be rich, right? But what is it about being rich that we all want?

For some people it is power.
For others it is security.
Some people just want to win.

For myself, I figured out that being rich meant that I could
Do the things that I wanted to do
With the people that I wanted to be with
When I wanted to do them

And then I had the epiphany that being “rich” had very little to do with money and a lot to do with loving what I have.

I think we get into trouble when we start sacrificing the core values that make us happy in order to earn money so we can buy something that will make us happy. Does that make sense?

Love D

Where you put your attention is how you use your worship energy

March 12, 2009
I have been having a lot of fun with this idea this week!  If  aliens studying the earth right now chose me or you to learn about the human condition what would they decide?

Report One

Humans worship a small device they call a cell phone.  They take the holy talisman everywhere and will interrupt anything – dinner, time with family—to keep their little god happy.  They also have shrines called computers where most of their worship attention is spent.

Or Report Two

Humans worship mirrors and bathroom scales.  If either of these gods are displeased with them, they are miserably unhappy and cannot do anything of value – fall in love, wear pretty clothes, have fun – because the god has deemed it so.

Or Humans worship


Bank balances

Their romantic partner

I have been watching how we all use our worship energy. 

My own personal worship energy is a struggle for me, too.  I tend to move from thing to thing, but my attention is sometimes focused just on my body.  I think about it in the morning when I wake up and my body rules my day or my week.  I am thinking, thinking, thinking just about what it looks like, if it is functioning correctly, etc.  

At other times it is relationships.  Often it is work.This week I have been thinking about those aliens.  If they followed me around, I would hope that the report would say:Humans get up every morning and meditate immediately.  They then spend some time reading or contemplating love.  This seems to be very important.  Then they work, and eat, and laugh, and work some more.  Even on the worst of days, at least it ends and they can start the next day over — with their attention on love.Imagine what the world would be like if we gave as much energy to love every day as we give to our schedule!



Who in the world is Leo?????

March 6, 2009

Recently I was cleaning out an office space and found some old journals that I had written in 10 years ago. I flipped through the pages and had fun reading what I had been thinking about so long ago.

I also found an entry that was written all about someone named Leo. There were about 4 pages of utter angst about something Leo had done and I was so very upset and powerless in the situation.

Who in the world is Leo?????

I cannot remember. I cannot tell from what I wrote if this is an old boyfriend, a colleague at work, someone in a social group. I have absolutely no memory of Leo. And yet look at all of that emotional energy I wasted on someone I cannot remember.
So my theme this week has been “WHO IN THE WORLD IS LEO???” And it can be your theme too. What person are you giving up your life – in time, money, energy – that you won’t even remember in 10 years? I say spend the energy on yourself!!

This week when someone has upset me, my response in my head has been “Who in the world is Leo?”

When I feel ignored, “Who is the world is Leo?” — And then I pay attention to myself.

When I wonder if I measure up to the world’s definition of beauty, “Who is the world is Leo?” — And then I hug myself and blow a kiss to the mirror.

And then I laugh and laugh and laugh. Because without all the Leo’s of the world hounding me I feel pretty spectacular.

I bet you will too.

How I do one thing in the universe is how I do all things in the universe

January 15, 2009

c Cavemen and women certainly ate, loved, worked, had agreements with the same pe0plein the same space.  All the way to even the early to mid 1900’s most people worked and socialized and loved within the same group without a lot of travel away, etc.  I suppose back then it was easier to see how all things work the same.  Now with internet, travel, etc., it is easy to socialize with peoplethat I never work with, work with people that I never eat with, etc.

More and more I come to realize that how I do one thing in the universe is how I do all things in the universe.  If I would cheat on my love partner, I would cheat on my business partner.  If I am respectful of your time and am prompt to our meeting, I am also respectful of your money and will not sell you something that you do not need.

As I have dicipline in my spiritual practice, it also shows up in my business.  I suddenly have more money because the dicipline organically flows into my financial practices.  My health improves because the discipline shows up in what I eat and how I manage my body. 

I wonder how we ever thought that these things were seperate?