Monday, January 30, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Ace of Coins

It's Monday! My husband caught my healing crisis virus, and is now soliloquizing about poisonous limbs in bed...don't worry, he's not hallucinating! His fever's only 101. I brought him home some summer juice from the Farmer's Market: lemon and apple for a sweet-tart, lemonade inspired flavor (with enough vitamin C to kick this virus's ass, I hope!) without any added sweetener! Sweeeeet! I had some of it myself, and it is mighty tasty. I picked up some blue Adirondack potatoes, too, and apples, and carrots.

Today is a Tarot Day for you guys. It's the Ace of Coins! It's a good day to take the first step down the Coins path, because coins are about the here and now. The coins have had it up to here with psycho-spiritual mumbo jumbo, and would like to know where their next meal is coming from, thank you. It's a pretty vital suit to consider when you're working with the tarot, which can leave your head in the clouds: spiritual journeys, new loves, debating what is truth...you can walk around without a hat on all day in the rain pondering those things, only to find you've got a wicked cold! That's the coins jumping up and down and shouting. You should have paid more attention to their gentler calls: a rumbly tummy, a beautiful flower growing beside a perfect, sunny seat...

It's not that the coins are demanding, impatient, or dismissive of all things spiritual. It's just that the spiritual can be all around you right here on earth! Being associated with earth makes the coins practical, yes, but also solid, dependable, and incredibly boutiful, just like the harvest! The Farmer's Market is an awesome place for coins energy...and so is bed with lots of fluids, tissues, and a thermometer if you aren't feeling so hot.

Yep, it's been a coins kind of day around here, and speaking of which, I've been losing myself in research for my book all afternoon, and am suddenly starving...time to lay my sword aside in favor of something a little more down to earth...

Here's the Waite-Smith Ace of Pentacles (pentacles are just another name for that five-pointed star. Mr. Waite felt 'pentacles' sounded way more occult and creepy than 'coins.'), and my interpretation of it. Happy taroting!
A great, yellow coin with a pentacle drawn inside rests in the palm of the great hand, almost as though it’s being offered. The scene below is a beautifully cultivated garden, with an archway in the back, leading out. Mountains can be glimpsed down that yellow path.

Pentacles are also known as coins. What is more practical and less esoteric than cold, hard cash? That’s the lesson of pentacles, associated with the element of earth. After living so much in our spiritual and mental fronts, they remind us to come back down to earth and connect to our bodies. Day to day concerns, practical matters, our health, our livelihood—these are the matters of which pentacles speak.

The Earth is our ultimate mother and provider. The wealth and luxury the pentacles deal in descends from the wealth of the earth—an abundant harvest. Just as the earth gives of its bounty completely freely, there is much overflow of the good things the coins offer us. Just like a garden takes a lot of work though, the pentacles are not about resting on your laurels. You’ve come up with the idea and pruned it down to a sharp, clean plan. Now is the time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty! If you work hard, the pentacles promise rich rewards.

The ace of coins represents the beginning of a practical enterprise. This new plan to eat better, or get a raise is a solid one. Maybe you’re being reminded to come down to earth and take better care of yourself, or maybe you’re being pinned down as a down-to-earth person, unconcerned with spiritual journeys, torrid love affairs, or knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Yours is a simple path, but likely to be a rich one.

Live Omily,
~em

Friday, January 27, 2012

Eating Omily: Popcorn Meditation (where you keep popping up to see how much time has gone by?)

Still feeling stuffy and sluggish...but hanging in there with warm baths, gentle yoga, and LOTS of hot tea and tissues! I dressed extra warm today, and ran out to the Farmer's Market, where I was seduced by some lovely leeks, fresh spinach, and locally grown super-fresh popcorn. Wow. I'm way into popcorn. And here's the thing: I don't own a microwave. It's not that I think they're going to nuke my thyroid or anything; there just isn't room for one. It's not useful enough to take up my precious counter space.

So, how do I make popcorn? Everyone should know how to do this, because it tastes so much better, and microwave popcorn has creepy things in it.

Buy popcorn. You've seen it, and 'wondered what the hell'. It's in a bag, or a plastic bottle, or a tube that pops open sort of like a tube of tennis balls? If you live near a Farmer's Market, feck all that, and try to get your hands on some locally grown, recently-harvested popcorn. But trust me, you'll be mesmerized by the difference even if you buy the mass-produced variety.

So, get out a sauce-pan, two quarts or so, a medium one. Put oil in it, enough to coat the bottom. Use an oil that has a high smoke point: canola, corn, 'vegetable', grapeseed, or coconut oil all work. Olive oil will work if that's all you have, but it'll smoke and burn a bit, which is less than ideal. Turn the heat up to medium, and put two kernels in the oil. Put the lid on the pan, and wait.

When those two kernels pop, pour in enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan, and put the lid on. Wait until the popping slows down, keeping a close eye for burning, take the pan off the heat, salt, and eat euphorically.

To up the euphoria experience: add a teaspoon of sugar or so to the oil back at the very beginning. It will caramelize and coat each popped kernel. No kidding! Sweet, salty, whole-grain, high-fiber...the Ultimate Snack.

Try this. You'll thank me. You'll likely have to refine your technique, after making a few batches with a layer of burnt popcorn at the bottom. No worries, it's worth it.

And that's not all!

Starting in five days, I'll be embarking on a 28-day Meditation challenge. Those of you who are regular readers will recognize that this is something I've considered before but not actually done. I struggle with meditating daily, even though every time I meditate I recognize how awesome I feel, and attempt to do it every day... Well, Sharon Salzberg sensed that many people were in a similar boat: interested in meditation, knowing it would be a good thing, but not sure how to get started, or keep going, as the case may be. So, she wrote this:
(This is my copy of the book, and that's the awesome mug I found on the Free Shelf the other day. My favourite part is the grammatical ambiguity!)

Yes, a 4-week plan for getting on track to meditate daily! It even comes with a cd of guided meditations! This isn't just a big book of "why you shoulds", either. It's divided up into the four weeks of the program, offering concrete advice, and a plan to follow to get you onto your seat every day for 28-days, long enough to create a habit! Every February (since February is usually 28 days long, of course this year February is 29 days long, but that's alright) There's a meditation challenge based on the book, and a number of people blog about their experiences over the course of the challenge. So, yes, of course, I'll be blogging! How awesome is that? My meditation challenge posts have to go on the communal Meditation Challenge Blog, but I promise to link to them, maybe even copy/paste them if they're short, so you can follow along in addition to my regular blogging schedule. And, of course, this might be the perfect opportunity to learn to meditate with me! You can sign up for the challenge and follow along with all of the bloggers here. I'm on the list under my given name: Emily Hursh.

What are you waiting for? Find a copy of the book, make yourself some popcorn, and get ready to meditate Omily!

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Eating Omily: The Way to Your Chakras is Through Your Stomach

Woo, so, who knows what a healing crisis is? That's ok, I didn't either, until I was staring down the barrel of one, and now I'm in the middle of one, and oh my, just...so much fun...

But let me explain: as I mentioned in my last post, after the Reiki Attunement, there's a 21-day self-healing and cleansing process where you sort of really get to know the Reiki by reiki-ing yourself everyday. During this time, the Reiki works its way through all of your chakras, one each day, three times through all seven, opening, cleansing, and helping them spin to the tune of Reiki.

So, energetic healing feels really nice, but it can also be suuuper intense, because you're breaking out all this stuff that's sort of stuck, and toxic, and for it to be eliminated from the body, it has to go back into circulation. You might feel, a little tired, a little nauseous, you might have to pee a lot, or you might have a lot of mucus. That experience of being hit with the symptoms of a disease as the disease-causing matter makes its way out of you is called a Healing Crisis. Once it's out, you can experience true, vibrant health, instead of going halvesies by suppressing your symptoms.

Now, imagine a 21-day super-intense energy healing boot camp in which healing energy flow unrestrained throughout your whole body, kicking into circulation everything you've accumulated over the course of your entire life. Imagine the healing crisis that comes along with that. Oh my goodness, you guys, So. Much. Snot. So, that's how my day has been.

ANYWAY, I thought, in light of my chakra experiences, I would share with you a very special Eating Omily Post:

Eating for your Chakras
If you don't know what chakras are, please take a moment and read this. You can skim it, actually, because it talks about a lot of chakra systems, and I'm concerning myself with the typical western one of seven chakras moving down the spine: Crown, 3rd Eye, Throat, Heart, Belly, Hips, Root. Just review those parts.

One way to work toward vibrant health is to try to get your chakras spinning a little better, and one way to do that is by what you eat (there are TONS of other ways, but for me this one feels really accessible and natural, that and wearing the color of the chakra I'm working with. So, I've listed the chakras in order from bottom to top, and some suggestions for what you can eat to bring attention and healing to that chakra.

Root Chakra: The root chakra is the color red, and of course, root vegetables are very helpful for opening and nourishing this chakra. Beets might be Mascot of the Root Chakra! Carrots are nice, too, of course, and tubers count in my book. Some warm, hearty mashes potatoes could totally be on the menu. To move in a different direction, consider eating your favourite foods from childhood, to connect you to a time and place where you felt rooted and secure.

Sacral Chakra: The sacral chakra is the color orange, is associated with water, your bladder, kidneys, lower back, sexual organs, and creativity. It's very busy! So take good care of it! Of course, lots of water is great for the sacral chakra. Soup is a nourishing way to give it some love. Maybe just close your cookbooks and get creative! Free-style yourself a delicious, nutritious meal that will get your second chakra singing.

Manipura Chakra: "Manipura" means "jeweled place." This chakra, located in your upper belly, shines bright yellow like your own little sun. It is associated with your stomach, liver, intestines, and your will. This is the day to say no to booze, unnecessary medications, anything your liver has to work hard to deal with. Take care not to eat too little, or to stuff yourself. Revel in how awesome eating is! You can strengthen your will by saying no to dessert or coffee, or make a choice to consciously indulge, letting your sun relax for a minute. Consider honestly which you may need right now.

Heart Chakra: Obviously eating foods that are heart-healthy is one way of drawing awareness to and giving some love to this chakra. This would be a great day to be extra careful to choose humanely raised meat and animal products, or to forgo animal products all together. For me, I chose to eat really socially: snacky foods with a good friend I haven't seen in a while for lunch, and to tap into some heart-warming comfort food for dinner: wholewheat pasta with home-made marinara! Mmmm...

Throat Chakra: Your turquoise throat chakra is all about communication, both expressing yourself, and listening to others. Turning off the Netflix and having a conversation over your meals might be the best way to honor this chakra. Hot tea with soothing honey wouldn't be amiss, either. Maybe make that one recipe everyone knows you for, or, shut up and let someone else take the lead, directing your every move as you prepare dinner together.

Third Eye: The indigo third eye is the seat of our imagination and intuition. Some carrots for good eyesight might show that extra eye a little love. Instead of pulling out that same old cereal box, it might be a great day to take ten or twenty minutes in meditation. Center yourself, open up to your divine wisdom, then ask yourself what your body wants to eat today. The answer may surprise you!

Crown Chakra: the crown chakra is our connection to all other beings, and the Divine. Feeding this one is a tall order, but foods of personal religious significance definitely come to mind (Communion is at the top of my list!). You could eat foods that allow you to be in solidarity with others on our planet. Rice and some veggies might not fill up your stomach, but by opening up to the experience of another human being you share this life with, you're filling yourself up with something much better.

Happy Eating!
~em

Monday, January 23, 2012

Reki! And, The Omily Tarot: The Ace of Swords

Wow! Yesterday from 10-5 I got my Reiki Attunement from the Sapientia Oscen Reiki College. I thought I'd wait till today to post about it to give me some time to process, but I still can't really wrap my brain around it in a way that translates it into snappy paragraphs...

What I CAN tell you is, Reiki is the Wind Horse: powerful, healing energy you ride where it needs to go. Reiki works on the energetic body, and the physical body, but always the energetic body first. It balances the chakras, breaks through blockages, and brings healing and peace.

Yeah, yeah, but what does it FEEL like? Not much of anything sometimes. Sometimes it feels like all the molecules in my hands are vibrating. Sometimes my hands feel warm. Really, unnaturally warm. If the part of my body that I'm Reiki-ing feels cold, then it's a really strange sensation: like my hands are the inside of my mouth right after I brushed my teeth with really minty toothpaste...if I've been doing it for a while, I can feel how open my Crown Chakra is, and the energy flowing into it. I have to take a few minutes to enfold the petals back around it once I'm done when it gets like that, because it feels too open and vulnerable for comfort.

When I'm receiving Reiki it's a lot of the same stuff, tingling, warmth...when the top of my head is Reiki'd that's the best; I can feel the energy flowing down my whole body along my spine.

But it's different for everybody. It doesn't really matter if you feel warm and tingly or just relaxed and tempted to giggle, if you see bright colors, your dead Grandma, or just the back of your eyelids. The proof is in the pudding. How do you feel afterwards?

Well, my staunchly skeptical husband told me this morning that his back felt better. My eczema looks better, and the place on my leg where I accidentally scratched all the skin off and it was weepy, blistery, red, and stinging like a bitch for days doesn't hurt anymore this morning!

I'm on day 2 of a 21-Day process toward self-healing and full attunement. At the end of those three weeks, my Chakras will all be singing the tune of Reiki, vibrating at a higher, healing frequency, and I'll be ready to share Reiki healing with everyone. Can't wait!
Siamese Kitty loves Reki kitty!

Oh yes, also, you're due another Tarot Interpretation today! As I continue to work with my tarot journal, and offer professional readings, I suspect I'll be treated to incredible insights that will necessitate revisions to my interpretations, but enjoy these previews of the finished product. Let them make you think, feel, question, and act! This just happens to be my favourite suit at the moment. I've been way into it for, oh, maybe a year now...It only makes sense. I was all about cups when I was younger, and as I grow, literally and spiritually, I'm progressing to the next suit...which is not to say I won't cycle back through and go all out of order, too...my phone/camera is charging, so I'm just image-searching a picture of the card in question. It's the same deck I always use for this purpose: Waite-Smith, just not specifically my personal deck. Which is fine. It's just an image, you guys. I was just journaling about the Ace of Swords in my tarot journal yesterday, so I'm really excited to break out this interpretation and share it with you, new insights included!

Another interesting synchronicity is that Today is the beginning of a roughly two-month astrological event that only happens every two years: Mars is going Retrograde. Instead of charging ahead, all yang and action (it rules men, war, action...masculine concepts like that), it slips slowly backward, urging us to reassess our plans and dreams, pare away those not serving us or not really our own, and lay a firm foundation for forward motion at the end of this cycle. This process follows the process through the tarot suits that I've discussed briefly in each interpretation. Go back to Staves and Cups if you don't remember, or just tuned in. Read on about swords to see the connection between Mars Retrograde, and my Suit of the Moment:
Ace of Swords:

This is the aerialist in me talking, but the first thing I notice about this card is the firm, thumb-under grip the hand has on the sword: it’s far more secure than the gentle thumb-up grasp on the stave, and far more effective if you intend to swing that thing around. A crown encircles the point of the sword, and greenery is draped on either side of it. The jagged mountain range below suggests this is a particularly challenging path.

Staves can be seen as a weapon, but more often they appear as walking sticks or wands. There is no such ambiguity with swords: they are designed for destruction. Swords represent the element of air though, so if your plan was to avoid them you’ve only got as long as you can hold your breath! Air deals with our intellect-our thoughts spoken and unspoken, as well as written (The pen is mightier than the sword!). The Biblical proverb about the tongue being a restless beast full of deadly poison is about this overt shadow aspect of swords. The crown at the top is hints at this, too: it shows us the nobility of this path, but that nobility can easily tip into self-righteousness. The two branches hanging off the crown are, an olive branch for peace, and a palm branch, which can mean holiness, or suffering. The warning may be that you may have to suffer to stick up for something you really believe in, the equal wait of peace reminds us not to be too quick to stick our sword down anyone else’s throat.

A sword in the hands of a professional is a powerful tool, cutting through our bullshit and getting down to the truth, the highest good of this element. The single sword in this card represents the single highest truth, the pure knowing and understanding we all aspire to. That doesn’t only apply to academics: after being inspired by fire, and nurtured by water, the swords cut away what isn’t useful, leaving us with the knowledge that we are on the right path, so we can put in the hard work necessary and make those dreams a reality. After being fired up with passion, and taking the time to dream of where that passion may take us, the time has come to cut away all the pipe dreams--the options that aren’t useful to us. It may seem harsh, but this pruning process is essential to true success. We can’t run down every road, or chase every dream. Sometimes letting go is easy and immediate; sometimes it is painful and takes many attempts. At such times, the swords’ air-lesson is plain. Don’t forget to breathe!

In a reading, the ace of swords suggests the beginning of an intellectual pursuit. Have you been toying with an idea for a book? Tempted to try blogging? Dying to sign up for that college course? It can also refer to a desire to know the truth: about someone’s feelings for you, about the JFK assassination, about the universe and everything! Pretty stories are just not going to cut it. Perhaps you’re the one holding the sword of truth, proud of your knowledge and your acceptance of reality. Just be careful where you swing that thing!

Live Omily,
~em

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Manifesto of Sorts

So, it will probably be healthy for me to get this out:

I'm an addict. I serious, unrepentant, not recovering, addict. When exposed to my triggers, it's completely beyond my control. I just can't say, 'no' to books.

I can't let myself step into a library more than once a week, at the absolute most, because it doesn't matter why I went in, or how strong my resolve, I will crumble, and I will embark on a shameless reading binge.

It's been that way since I was a child: reading interfered with my social life, and kept me from participating in school.

Just today, I got a call that a tarot book I'm inordinately fond of had been put on the hold shelf for me. Taking the ONE book I had gotten from the hold shelf a couple weeks ago, I promised myself I would return this book, and check out that book, and that would be that. I had two more on their way to the hold shelf already, an issue of Yoga Journal, a copy of The Tablet (Brooklyn's finest Catholic newspaper...), and half an issue of the L to get through. I did not need any more. I dropped the old book in the book return, I found my tarot book waiting for me, I turned around toward the self check-out, and a little voice, one I know so well, whispered, "You could just take a peek at the Staff's Picks. You don't have to check any of them out! But you know, what's the harm if you pick up just one?"

Overcome by the urge to touch those laminated book jackets, to read those clever summaries, I made a beeline for the shelf...and hauled five books over to the self-check-out. I checked out every one. Clutching them in a lopsided armful to my chest, I hunched forward, and ducked out the door, sure someone was going to tell me I'd had enough. Wild-eyed with the high that only comes from that old book smell, I scurried down East 5th street, berating myself for my lack of will-power.

Yes,I know, it's pathetic. I'm a grown woman. I should know better. I could at least maintain a higher level of functionality by restricting my reading habit to bedtime, or making better use of my Nook, but the truth is, I don't want to. I live for reading.

Call me crazy, call it wrong...I'll never give it up. For my life, after all, is about Stories. I'm a writer, teasing twenty-six letters to give me meaning, beauty, and an unimaginable depth. My career, my mission in life, is to divine the stories waiting in my heart, and put them on paper, and to divine the stories of other people, to empower and equip them with the tools to write, and live, their own story. The books that teach us about yoga? Most of them are stories. The tarot is itself a single great story, the story of the human race, with smaller arcs of consciousness, single lives, embroidered within it. Meditation allows us to quiet the stories our minds constantly make up, stories we too often thoughtlessly live by, so we can tap into that greater story, written by the universe, in which we aren't the main character any more than the nice man that runs the laundromat down the street is. In that story, we write our own role, our own ending. The stories of our minds can leave scars, can lead to illness and damage. Reiki is a way to heal that damage, to balance a body and spirit thrown out of whack by a story that didn't serve. To become whole and healthy, tracking down that wrong story, and rewriting in the correct one is essential.

My voracious hunger for books, for stories, allows me to be innately familiar with them, with the ones we tell ourselves. It allows me to recognize a story, no matter how deeply buried it may be by rationality or reason. It allows me to assist in the incredible act of another person's birthing a new story in which they succeed, instead of fail, and more importantly, in which her or his victory is not at the cost of another's.

Tell me a story. Help yourself heal. And all together, we'll heal the universe...

live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eating Omily: A Chip on my Shoulder

So, I've been drinking lemon water because the de-toxing and vitamin C qualities are really helpful for my skin. I go to the dentist for my 6-month cleaning today, and she informs me I have four pre-cavities in my front lower teeth from acid burn. No more lemon water!

Getting different well-being suggestions from different practitioners has got to rank up there as one of the most frustrating experiences, especially for my personality type. I tend to take that kind of thing as gospel, and pride myself for having the discipline for consistently following through with instructions. I'm left wondering if I messed up by drinking so much lemon water in the first place (Why didn't I use a straw??), or if I'm asking for my skin to get worse by backing off of it.

The same technique that I use (over and over and over...) in the dentist's chair to get my muscles to relax can serve me when my mind is chasing itself round in circles with these conflicting stories: deep breaths, let it go, and trust the Universe. Everything happens for a reason: thin enamel, eczema, amazing Farmer's Market Potato Chips...

Which does remind me of what I REALLY wanted to blog about, but let me wrap this up first: I told my tale of woe to Ramit, the co-director of Jaya, and the instructor teaching the class I workstudy around. She laughed with me at the absurdity, and even added her own (teasing) addition. When I wondered aloud if I could just drink lemon water through a straw to keep it away from my teeth, she pointed out the number of plastic straws that would contribute to the landfill. Ok, you just have to laugh.

I can accept that the universe is telling me I've had enough lemon water, at least for the next six months. In the meantime, I can keep up the probiotics, flaxseed oil, seaweed, meditation, and calamine, all of which seem to be making a positive difference.

So, INSANELY DELICIOUS POTATO CHIPS!!!! First off, I haven't eaten a potato chip in...a hot minute. Tortilla chips? I wolf those puppies down like there's no tomorrow! But potato chips? The closest I've come is TJ's popped chips, which are made from potatoes, and are salted, so they taste pretty similar, which is to say, like a salty, crunchy thing.

Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with Salty Crunchy Things. I adore Salty Crunchy Things.

So, I picked up some apples (winesaps for aromatic amazingness, and galas for tooth-achingly sweet, crispness), a pound of navy beans, and a pound of another funky grain to try...frankly I've forgotten the name...but it's a type of spelt, and then I spotted a booth with truly amazing unsprayed potatoes of every type. Crates of brown paper bags with white labels took up one whole end after the crates of adorable fingerlings. Sitting in front of the crates of bags were bowls full of brown, mis-shapen potato chips. I was skeptical: these looked a little...burned. But one taste and I realized: of course! Real potatoes yield chips with a little color! And golden brown wasn't the only option: the Andes Blend variety (and yes, there were multiple varities!) was made up of purple peruvians, and a lovely red fingerling. The flavor was subtly nutty...my heart went to the browned butter (I know, seriously??) variety, made from German butterball potatoes (and yes, the flavor was BUTTERY!) and the Indian Crunchy variety, which had the most perfect chip texture you can imagine, and a backbone of flavor to match: the high mineral content of the Indian potatoes used give them that well-spiced (with only salt!) taste.

At $4 for a two-ounce bag, these chips aren't cheap, but why should something absolutely delicious, but not really super-nutritious be cheap? What I love about the Farmer's Market (among many things) is that it turns that Supermarket Paradigm on its head! Instead of paying pennies for giant bags of chips, cases of pop, and animal flesh of horrifying origin, you pay pennies for delicious, uber-healthy seasonal ingredients that yield incredible results with the simplest preparation.

If you've got a little extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, you can treat yourself to fresh pressed juices, pure maple syrup, homemade potato chips, incredible jams and baked goods, and all your typical varieties of meat, along with some not-so-typical. Try the rabbit, it's great! Ostrich is even better!

It's just so much easier to think clearly about what you want to feed yourself and the ones you love under those conditions, and all that fresh air doesn't hurt either! Don't be afraid of the cold weather; layer up and get out there! Our farming community needs you more than ever this time of year, when sales inevitably drop, right when heating costs shoot up, and the abundant offerings of the Fall harvest are a distant memory.

As long as I can to snack on a few incredibly flavorful and satisfying chips with my husband at the end of a long day, I can't get too worried about the Great Lemon Water Debate of 2012...

Oh jeeze, I have to drink some flaxseed oil and brush my teeth (veeery gently!).

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, January 16, 2012

Window (to your Subconscious) Shopping, and Sleeping on the Mat

We had a late night last night, and got off to a slow start today, but by 4:00 we were out the door for a leisurely walk through Windsor Terrace, all the way to Bartel Pritchard Square for a bagel, or a muffin as it turned out, and then we caught the F up to 14th street. We picked up a dozen eggs, two bunches of organic carrots (for $5!), and a hunk of farm-fresh gouda cheese...mmmmm...and then spent the next half hour choking on incense while I exclaimed over every other tarot deck I picked up. I am just so super-excited about some of these decks. If you're in the market for one, and you're not particularly superstitious about it needing to be a gift from someone else, I really encourage you to check out some of these, and if you're in the area, you can pick them up from a small, locally owned shop on 14th Street, just west of 5th Avenue.

So first, there's the tarot deck designed by Salvador Dali (Swoon!!!)
Click here to check it out!

The Paulina tarot, which, just, this artwork really speaks to me. It's very...Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland...but sweeter...
And click here...

And then there's the Aquarian Tarot, which caught my eye because I'm an Aquarius. These images are, clean, boldly and darkly colored, and very in-your-face...also a bit geometric perhaps...
And here...

Fantastical Creatures Tarot caught my eye because I'm deeply in love with a folklore book of mine called, Dragons, Unicorns, and Other Magical Beasts, which includes an encyclopedia of just about every mythical creature humans from all over the world have ever conjured. Love it.
And here, too...

Cat's Eye Tarot has kitties! Cute kitty cats yay!!! I'm into this one because I'm a little cat-obsessed...P.S. this website is for giving your cat three-card tarot readings. Yes.
OMG Kitties!!!

And last but not least, The Gay Tarot! I was just really excited to see this one because I believe, and I love the idea that other people do, too, that the tarot is for everybody, and there is, or at least should be, a tarot deck for everybody: one that speaks to your story. Kooky cats and pastel linework for me...racially-mixed gay lovers for the (awesomely) radically inclusive!
And get radical here!

And yes, I know, the blog's been really tarot-heavy lately. I promise there's a good (awesome) reason for that, and I'm so so hopeful that my next blog post will be aaaaall about it! In the meantime, I want to give you a bit of a break, if you can tear your eyes away from those incredible images...and stop giving your cat tarot readings for oooone minute...

Please raise your hand if you've fallen asleep during Savasana. I'm guessing over half of you are mentally keeping an arm in the air, and the rest of you are confused as hell because, a.) you've next experienced Savasana, or b.) savasana is the bane of your existence because you're so keyed up after an awesome yoga class that being told to relax, hold still, and slow your thoughts strikes you as just absolutely ass-backward and stupid.

I'd have a hand raised for sure, if both weren't employed typing. I love grown-up nap time at the end of a powerful Assana experience. Let my body grow heavy? Yes, please! Let go of my thoughts? Ok, I'm really trying, I promise, but if I'm even a little bit sleepy, three minutes in I'm following an imaginary creature down a primrose path to some really trippy dreams.

Falling asleep during Savasana, that final relaxation at the end of most yoga classes, can feel like an accomplishment. I mean, hell yeah, you are one relaxed yogi, and can you get a high five for that Om-like snore?? To some extent, yes, it's a step in the right direction. Having my husband in my yoga classes is a great exercise in self-discipline for me because I am just dying to walk over there and Hold. His. Twitchy. Feet. STILL for the entire ten minutes. Learning to release or re-channel the energy you created through your practice so you can reach a state of deep relaxation during Savasana is a lot tougher for some people than it is for others. Your best tool to get there is to use your breath. Try to let each inhale and each exhale be just a little deeper, and just a little slower, till your heart rate, and your mind, slow down, too.

If you've made it over that hurdle though, and you find yourself drifting into dreamland, then it's time for challenge number two: DON'T fall asleep. Be at such a level of comfort and peace you COULD fall asleep, but be so aware of, and present to, your body in these moments, that you can't. Feel every sensation, every air current, every pressure point, every creak of the floorboards, ever settling bone and tendon. Feel the air moving into your nostrils, feel the shape of your curled fingers, feel supremely AWAKE at your most restful.

Does that sound like a bad joke, or possibly one of those crazy Taoist riddles? That's why Savasana, beautiful, peaceful, nothing-required-of-your-body Savasana, is the hardest pose we do.

Next time you find yourself there, give yourself a moment to just relish being there, and then, work on your alignment. Get heavier. Get slower. Get. More. Present and Aware.

Good luck!

live Omily,
~em

P.S. So, I read this fun fashion blog called Style, She Wrote, and I happened to mention in a comment that I would so love to see a post on affordable, beautiful yoga styles, and you can only imagine my thrill when they wrote the post, mentioned me by name in the TITLE, and even linked to my blog! And yes, it gets better: the clothes are beautiful, and after you buy them, you'll have money left over for a raw vegan lunch and a donation to the charity of your choice. Sweeeeeet!!! Check them out here! If you're lucky enough to have a chance to ditch the sweats every once in a while, you'll be glad you did!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Omily Tarot: Ace of Cups

It's a few days early, but close enough! I have for you the next interpretation: the Ace of Cups. In case you're just now tuning in, I'm writing a zine, interpenetrating my Waite-Smith tarot deck based on the journey through the numbers, the significance of the elements, and how the images themselves speak to me and each other. When it's finished, my designer/animator husband will be producing it into a book available for purchase! In the meantime, I'm sharing one interpretation per week, along with other interesting tarot tidbits...

The Ace of Cups is hands down one of my favourite cards in any deck, in terms of simply beauty. The archetypal symbolism used shoots straight through to my core every time. Where do these symbols come from, anyway? There's a lot of legends and myths floating around about the tarot being from Egypt, brought to Europe by gypsy tribes, the deck being based on an ancient book about the underworld, on the Jewish mystic system, the Kabbalah, on the zodiac, it goes on and on.

While all of these things have come to be affiliated with the tarot to some extent in the collective conscious, and these days plenty of decks reflect some or all of those connections, the history of the tarot is a lot more straight-forward, a lot less awe-inducing, and, I find, a lot more conducive to it's actual use:

The tarot is a game. It's similar to, and possibly an ancestor of, Bridge, and it originated in Italy somewhere in the 1400's, during the Renaissance. The minor arcana equates to our modern day playing cards, with the jack equating to the page, and the knight dropped from the system. The only major arcana card we still have around is The Fool, as that pesky joker you have to shuffle through and get out of the way before every game. The staves turned into clubs, the cups into hearts, the swords into spaces, and the coins into diamonds.

The major arcana were the 'trump' cards, each trumping the one before in the order they were numbered. The fool was not numbered historically, and was a wild card. By following the trumps, we can learn a great deal about common philosophical views during the Renaissance, especially if we view them through the lens of classical Greek and Roman periods, since that is what the Renaissance did with everything. I'll take some time to go through the major arcana and discuss it when I get to those interpretations. For now, your take-away is, don't take the tarot so damn seriously; it's only a game! But like Kokology, ink blots, and 'Would you rather...', it's a game that can teach you a whoooooole lot, so best to enter with your mind open...

Ace of Cups:
In every deck I’ve encountered, the ace of cups is beautiful in way that makes me arrest my shuffling for a second, longer look. What, after all, is more beautiful than the beginning of love, one of the things this card can herald? In the Waite-Smith deck, the hand is turned palm-up, and the cup, a golden chalice, rests in it, instead of being grasped. An upside-down ‘M’ is emblazoned on the chalice, and five streams of water jet up and over the sides of the cup, tumbling down into the lake or ocean below, where lotuses float. A dove dives into the cup, holding a communion host marked with the cross in its beak.
The element of cups is, slightly more obviously, water, that fluid, flowing, unstoppable force of our imagination, intuition, and emotions. In most decks, the single large cup on the card is overflowing, literally, with this precious elixir of life. A force that comes from the heart is unstoppable, and infinite! We may think the passion of fire is all we need to see a project through, but without a rich dream life to help show us where to direct that fire, as water is wont to do, we may well burn down everything in our path, whether it be obstacle or useful tool. Like fire’s tendency to take a scorched-earth policy, water does have its shadow-side. Ever been told you had your head in the clouds? Those clouds were full of rain. Getting caught up in our dreams to the detriment of ever taking action is to be trapped in Maya-the Hindu word for illusion. Richly envisioning the potential of the staves is very powerful, but without following through, you still have nothing.
In a reading, this card is traditionally said to herald a new relationship: perhaps an equitable partnership, perhaps a passionate love-affair. It could also refer to the need to incorporate more water into your life, listening to your intuition, allowing yourself to dream, and feel things out with your heart.

live Omily,
~em

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Eating Omily: Freekehn' Good

I love my local veggies, local cheese, local maple syrup, local honey, local meat, local eggs, even local popcorn. It's a way of life for me. There are, of course, some things that I can't buy from small local businesses or farms yet. Frozen meals, of course, dried pasta, and grains. Grains is a big one. I love brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, oatmeal, etc. I had pretty much resigned myself to getting my basmati from the foothills of the Himilayas for only a couple bucks a pound (really, Trader Joe's?) for lack of a local option, but those days are over, Baby! Say hello to freekeh!

Well, I should say, say hello to the Cayuga Pure Organics! I take this quote from their facebook page to make it clear to you just how awesome these people are, and how very very much you want to support them:

"Cayuga Pure Organics, based in the Finger Lakes region of central New York, is an Organic farm with a mission: To re-build our local food systems in harmony with the earth, and in the spirit of community."

Yay! They'll be at the Union Square market this Saturday. You can find them there every Wednesday, and most Fridays as well. But if you're not quite close enough for that to be an option, say 'Hello!' and place an order here! I also recommend liking them on facebook to keep a bead on which market they're at when, and which awesome beans and grains are in the harvest.

So...what the freekeh?

Freekeh is actually made from wheat. When the wheat plants are still immature, and the wheat seeds are soft and still have a lot of water, they're harvested and roasted. Here are some pictures (after cooking).



The immature seeds have a lot more protein, vitamins, and minerals than do fully mature wheat seeds or other grains, which have more starch. You cook freekeh similarly to brown rice: 2:1 water to grain, simmer for 45 minutes. I recommend throwing in an extra quarter to half cup of water per two cups of water, and letting it go a little longer than that, depending on how al dente you like your grains. Ironically enough, here is a picture before cooking!
The flavor was described to me as smokey, but upon tasting, I'd have to describe it as ridiculously delicious. The epitome of savory flavors, sort of like the best parts of mushrooms and bacon rolled into one. Seriously, I keep nibbling on the cold leftover freekeh in the fridge like some kind of healthy crack fiend.

As you may have noticed, the price, at $6 a pound, is certainly higher than my TJ's brown rice, but it's not like you tear through a pound of grain all that fast...ok, this stuff is so good we're definitely eating it faster than we ever did rice...all the same, I think we can swing it, and maybe you can, too, at least some of the time! That extra money is your contribution toward sustainable farming practices, human rights, supporting your community, and working our way back toward a sustainable way of life. Quite a bargain when you look at it that way!

Freekeh's not the only grain you probably haven't heard of that they're offering. Next week I'll have to try the quinoa alternative they suggested and let you know how it goes. If it's half as good as freekeh, TJ's grain days are over!

Trying new things is one of the great pleasures of local eating in general, and farmer's market shopping in particular. Not only was the lady selling me my beans and grains friendly and knowledgable, but plenty of die-hard fans waiting their turn for their weekly fix jumped in, giving me cooking tips (add extra water!) and more info on taste and texture (it's chewier than brown rice...). You can make more friends in ten minutes at a Farmer's Market than you can in an hour at the grocery, and that is a guarantee I'm willing to stand behind.

Shop local, eat local, love local. Because it's freekehn' awesome!
~em

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Omily Tarot: Ace of Staves

Something that I always tell myself I'm going to do in Winter, but rarely do, is use all those cold, dark evenings to work on the projects my fiery side is always starting. This Winter, inspired by 2012, I'm actually keeping that promise to myself! I'm taking the time to choose a card, and write about it in my tarot journal everyday (this is in some respects just a crafty way to get me to journal; I'm awful at writing when there's no one else to read it.) The insights I'm finding as a result of comparing cards to daily events, and considering how one card can change the meaning of another have been incredible. I'm really enjoying doing the little sketches of the cards in question in colored pencil, too. I'm getting up close and personal with the imagery, and I'm optimistic that forcing myself to draw a little everyday will develop that skill a bit, too.

I've also been taking time to contemplate, free-associate, sketch, and plan the compositions for the first few cards in the tarot deck I'm making for myself. That's a project I'm really excited about, and I can't let myself even consider how long it'll take me to finish it, what with 78 cards in the deck, and 1 definitively designed. I'm eating this whale one bite at a time.

I'm doing a little bit of stretching everyday, since flexibility is definitely a greater challenge for me than strength in both yoga and aerial, and I'm working on building my meditation practice as well.

I've got a pile of magazine, newsletters, catalogs, etc. near my vanity that I'm making my way through, and yes, in the midst of all this, I'm working on the table of contents for my non-fiction book, and getting back into drafting my novel.

It's a crazy process, trying to keep the passionate fire of my ambitions balanced, with watery intuition and dreams. I may need to go roll in the snow once in a while, assuming we ever get any...

Anyway, last but not least, I'm also writing out a book of interpretations based on the Waite-Smith (formerly known as the Rider-Waite) deck. I'm almost done drafting the pip card interpretations, and am editing them madly now. When all 78 are done, my husband, a graphic and motion designer who works at Nick Jr., will be taking my text and designing a zine-style book (book-style zine?) which I will be offering for sale...I'm super-excited about that. In the meantime, to give you a taste, I'm going to put one of my interpretations into my blog each week...but I'll get to that in a minute.

What's got me so fired up about 2012 anyway?? Well, this year is the first year I took a moment, around 2 a.m. on January 1st, to draw a tarot card for the year. I shuffled the deck up good, and came up with...
This card is, as far as I'm concerned, the ultimate beginning of the deck. And because of its portents of beginnings destined to be huge, passions and spiritual paths, I've shorthanded it, "The Edge of Glory Card" (and I do cite Lady Gaga as the source of that phrase, and a huge inspiration in all parts of my life). I've felt like I'm on the edge of something huge, The Rest of My Life huge, for months, so while it was maybe a teeny bit frustrating to see that I'm still just at the beginning, it was a huge affirmation from the universe that I'm not just suffering from delusions of grandeur. This is the year in which I'll do great things, in which my dreams will come true...or at least start to.

So, because it's my 2012 Year Card, and because the best place to start is the beginning, here's my full interpretation of this card. It is still subject to edits until it appears in hard copy, but this is pretty much it.

"A hand coming forth from a swirling cloud holds wooden wand or staff. Little green leaves flutter down around it, over a verdant landscape, with a castle in the background.
Staves, basically wooden sticks, may seem like an odd choice to represent the vibrant, ever-changing element of fire, but the greenery growing from the stave starts to bridges the gap between symbol and symbolized: this inert-looking branch is full of new, passionate, growing life! It’s also relevant that wood (especially dried out sticks) burn so well. The suit of staves are about a fiery passion that is contagious, grand ambitions in a constant state of flux, being passed on to different ideas, projects, and individuals, and spiritual growth, the ultimate quest.
The ace of staves is traditionally said to represent the greatest potential: think about a tiny acorn’s potential to grow into a massive, beautiful oak tree, providing food, homes, and oxygen for so many, and seeing so far from the crown of its swaying branches!
In a reading, this card may suggest the element of fire is important to the matter at hand, a new beginning of an ambitious project, your spiritual journey, or something with the potential to sweepingly change the face of your life, like fire itself."

In case you're curious, I also got this card for today:
This is just what this card is saying to me today, not my carefully crafted interpretation: Passionate staves can definitely find themselves on the defensive a wee bit often. Ever met someone with a fiery temper? The question is, is this a battle worth fighting? You don't have to conquer this mountain all by yourself. In fact, it'd be easier with a bit of help. This card encourages you to open yourself up to others, and allow them to help you. What if they don't have your best interests at heart? You can still catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The stave is a tool to help you climb higher, not a weapon to help you hold others down.

Well, I'll leave you at that. I still have to work in my tarot journal today! How are you making the most of this time of year, when the trees take a long nap, and being outside is a great deal tougher? This is the perfect time to find a warm (not hot) studio and practice! Choose your tarot card for the year, doesn't matter if it's late, and let it inspire you to renew, create, transform, reflect, and grow this Winter...

Live Omily,
~em

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Epiphany! and Eating Omily: Bechamagic

Today is the Feast of Epiphany in the Catholic Church: the day the Magi found the infant Jesus (actually, he was about two years old at the time) and paid him homage with gifts symbolizing his kingship, his divinity, and his ultimate destiny as a sacrifice. In most faiths and spiritual path, the Feast of Epiphany is more than a once-a-year recognition of wise men; it is a daily quest to be in the presence of and offer our gifts to the Divine. Are we living as wise, and benevolent leaders, in touch with the Divine, and ready to give of ourselves for others?

An epiphany is a light-bulb moment, when things suddenly fall into place and make sense, bringing forth a startling new revelation. It may feel divinely inspired to you, or just awe-inspiring in itself. The frequency with which we experience such beautiful moments of understanding is surely related to the frequency with which we open ourselves to them, and invite our many observations, lessons, experiences, and intuitions to mingle and mix, allowing for fresh perspectives and insights. Today I drew the 4 of Cups as my Tarot Card for the day. It is a card that suggests meditation, checking in with your feelings and intuition, considering your next step very carefully, instead of jumping right in, or grabbing for what you think you want. Such an approach may indeed lead to an epiphany...
With that in mind, please take a moment (perhaps after you finish this blog post...) to read my dear friend and healer Rebecca's, tumblr post for the day. It is both inspiring and practical, with a great recipe for a meditation practice! She offers many beautiful services, and to check those out, click the third link down on the left.

I'm switching gears now, to a little Eating Omily lovin', because I have been inspired by one of my favourite cooking magic tricks the last few days, and feel I absolutely must share it with you, even if it does throw my lovely delineation between "Eating Omily" and "rambling, navel-gazy, reflective" posts all to pants.

So, in the last few weeks of my farm share, I was receiving, of course, a lot of root vegetables. I love me some potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes, but get me much beyond that and I'm just not sure what to do. So the celery root and turnips sat around my crisper looking sadder and sadder until my hatred for food waste finally outweighed my ambivalence toward these unusual visitors. I sliced and peeled, steamed, and pureed them with butter, milk, and salt. I have never had this go wrong, but I underestimated the willfulness of turnips to be bitter and watery. Perhaps if they weren't quite so old, they wouldn't have been quite so stubborn. The husband and I made a valiant effort at eating them with our dinner, but there were plenty left over when the plates were cleared. I put it in a Tupperware in the fridge, and resolved not to think about it. After Thanksgiving (yes, the saga goes back that far) I had a baked sweet potato left over, so I stirred it into the puree, thinking it would help to disguise the turnip taste and texture. It did, but not enough. It sat in the fridge even longer. After the fourth attempt at talking the husband into bringing the mush back out for a second round, I threw it, in desperation, into the freezer, thinking time might somehow intervene positively. We went away for the holidays, and returned to a nearly empty fridge and pantry. Hunger is the best spice, or so they say. I put the puree into the fridge to thaw, determined that it would get eaten. It occurred to me that forming the fridge-firmed puree into patties and frying them in butter would inevitably up their desirability quotient...but ultimately they would still taste like turnips...how to mask that? Of course! GRAVY! A rich, creamy sauce is just the thing for turning an "eh..." into an "Mmmmmm..."! In this case my gravy would not be the thickened pan drippings of cooked meat, because I wasn't cooking any meat, but would instead be a bechamel sauce. Unfamiliar with bechamel? Prepare for a culinary epiphany...this will rock your world!

Bechamel is not related to chameleons, or camels, but rather, to French mothers.
Sorry, couldn't resist!

I mean, it is one of the French mother sauces. In the school of French cooking, there are five 'mother sauces' which form the basis for the hundreds of sauces out there used in French recipes, and likely the basis for just about any sauce you could possible make. In case you're wondering, they are: bechamel, veloute, espagnole, hollandaise or mayonnaise, and vinagrette. If you'd like to learn more about the rest of them, this may be a good place to start. I may get back to the others later myself, but bechamel is far and away the one I turn to the most, and represents, I think, the greatest ratio of ease of use to impact of use. So...

Bechamel is commonly referred to as a "white sauce", and is, basically, roux-thickened dairy.

You start with fat, oil or butter, and usually garlic and/or onions for flavor, and some dried herbs. When those are softened and delicious, you add flour, carefully sprinkling and stirring, so it is evenly dispersed in the fat, and no dry lumps of it are left. You cook this mixture, the roux, for a bit to remove the raw flour taste, and then you add milk, and likely more salt and pepper to flavor the quantity of milk. The heat is turned up, and the sauce is stirred until it begins to boil. The instant it begins to bubble, the sauce will begin to transform from milk to rich, creamy, thick delicious bechamel sauce. Honest! Works every time!

Basic rules of thumb:

for a result too thick to be a soup base, but too thin to spread (Think gravy; just perfect for pouring over meat, potatoes, veggies, anything!) use just a bit more than one tablespoon flour (and at least that much fat) per cup of milk.

Adjust from there for a thicker or thinner result: the more flour, the thicker, the less flour, the thinner.

Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken considerably more as it cools. If after dipping a spoon in it, you can wipe your finger across, and the sauce doesn't run down to fill in the empty space, it will be fine. Another test I like to use is a test traditionally used for testing jellies and jams: dip the spoon into the sauce, and hold it up. Watch the drips falling off the bottom edge. If two drips run into each other to form one big drip before falling off, I turn the heat off immediately.

It's easy to get paranoid that the sauce won't be thick enough, especially the first few times you make bechamel. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ADD MORE FLOUR AFTER YOU'VE ADDED THE MILK! It will lump up in all that liquid, instead of dispersing nicely for even thickening, and it will taste like raw flour, even if you can get it dispersed. It will also have too much thickening power since it is raw, and you'll have a mess on your hands. Trust that using the correct ratio, and those two tests for thickening, you'll get the result you want. Keep in mind that no thickening whatsoever will occur until the sauce reaches the boiling temperature.

This does bring up another good point: the longer you cook the roux, the more flavor it will contribute to the final sauce, but the less thickening power it has. I tend to only cook it for maybe a minute, and trust the aromatics, herbs and spices I add to provide the flavor. In a classic New Orleans's gumbo, the flavor of a roux that is, literally, cooked for hours until it is brick-red in color, and basically no good as a thickener is quintessential to the final product.

Keep in mind, also, that if you're mixing the sauce with something very starchy, like potatoes, or pasta, that starch will also additionally thicken the sauce. The starch in the flour is what is thickening the sauce in the first place, by popping just like popcorn (another starch!) once it reaches a certain temperature, tangling up with its fellow starches to ensnare liquid, resulting in a thicker mixture.

Some uses for this master recipe:

to-die-for mushroom sauce: Cook the mushrooms until they release all their juices, and start to suck them back in, with garlic, onions, salt and pepper, then continue with your sauce according to the master recipe.

Mac and cheese: Once your basic sauce is thickened, turn off the heat, and stir to allow it to cool a bit. After a minute or two, add between a half and a whole cup of grated cheese per cup of sauce, depending on how thick and cheesy you like your sauce, and how strongly flavored the cheese is. Toss with cooked short-cut pasta. I like to eat it right away, but you can put it in a casserole, and bake with breadcrumbs in a hot oven if you like.

Sausage gravy: Brown the crumbled sausage first, remove it and reserve to the side, and use that fat to cook your roux. Proceed with master bechamel recipe, and after it's thickened, add the cooked sausage back in. Please serve with biscuits, and die happy.

Vegan Bechamel: some brief internet research suggests that you can make this recipe substituting soy or rice milk for the dairy, and a vegan fat choice to make the sauce vegan. Follow the same recipe, but be extra aware of what's going on with your milk substitute. It will likely be a bit more temperamental as it gets hotter. If you use a vegan cheese substitute that melts and disperses similarly to dairy cheese, the mac and cheese version may work, and the sausage gravy may work with veggie-sausage. The mushroom sauce, obviously, is a great way to get that savory, satisfying flavor without meat, and with these substitutes, no animal products at all!

Basic delicious sauce you can pour on anything to make it compulsively edible, even your own arm: Follow the basic recipe, with garlic, onions, and dried thyme, and at the very end, grate in some fresh nutmeg. Pour. On. Everything.

Including fried patties of sad pureed root vegetables.
Full disclosure: after this glamour shot was taken, I added about twice that much sauce. Actually, browning the patties in butter helped to transform the turnip's bitterness into a pleasant and smooth nuttiness, and the gravy made it...well, compulsively edible. Also, the greenbeans look odd because they are still frozen. It was one of those days.

Give this a shot, and don't hesitate to troubleshoot with me if it doesn't seem to make the magic it's supposed to. Who knows? After a rich, and satisfying meal like this, and some time spent in quiet meditation, an epiphany seems almost inevitable...

Live Omily
~em

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Positively, Gloriously, Miraculously, 2012

So I promised I'd be back today, so here I am: between munching on home-made dill pickles, and refueling my muse with Gaga songs...

Let's talk Resolutions. My resolution for the world is that it not end, but be reborn better. More love, more compassion, more passion, more acceptance (including acceptance of those who struggle with accepting others), more honesty, more beauty, more strangeness, more justice, more nature, more reality, more yoga, MORE LIVING OMILY!

Who's with me?

My personal resolutions are:

1. Eat two different vegetables each day (to help ensure I meet my standing order of five servings of fruits and/or veggies a day)

2. Center Floor Handstand! LET'S DO THIS! (On another note, I mentioned this to Ramit, my regular teacher over at Jaya, and she described this resolution as brave. I looked at her blankly. I don't have a normal fear response...I think the world should cultivate that state, too.)

3. Be a better wife. (Not that I think I'm bad one, but the better a wife I am, the better our marriage will be; the more we as a unit can grow, love, and positively change the world.)

4. Finish the first draft of my novel (No fear of climbing thirty feet up, twisting up in silks, and letting go...no fear of standing on my hands center floor...lots of fear that my novel won't be as good as I want it to be...2012 IS THE YEAR TO KICK FEAR IN THE TEETH!)

5. Start drafting chapter summaries of my non-fiction book (I've been at this for a year, and I'm still gleaning research from...this is shameful, the second book I picked up. 2012 IS THE YEAR TO SAY, NO MORE EXCUSES!)

6. Get my Reiki atunement (the world needs more healers)

7. Start marketing myself as a tarot reader (simultaneously kicking fear in the teeth, saying, no more excuses, and offering healing to the world! E-mail, or facebook me now for New Year promo specials!)

8. Grow as a yoga instructor

9. Grow as a person

10. Do more.

12. Get better.

13. Keep asking the Hard Questions, and start looking for Answers

So, in Great Britain at least, and I'm confident here, too, the #1 New Year's Resolution, for Heaven only knows how many years running is, "To Lose Weight."

This is very important. So listen carefully.

Feck. That. Shit.

The research is out there, and to find it just search "body acceptance" or "fat acceptance" and bone up on some other blogs. We are laboring under the pathetic myth that excess fat=bad health and premature death.

The reason why this issue is so important to me is that I labored under that same delusion for years, and I was furious to find out I had been had. All the major studies doctors point to as proof that being overweight is bad for you were funded by weight-loss companies. Sound a little fishy?

The fact is, people are built how they are built, and some of us are built to store more fat than others. Back when regular famines occured, the fat storers lived and the skinny people died. Now that excess calories are available, the fat storers at risk for vast over-consumption. Is there a point where the amount of fat is sufficient that it's not healthy? What about morbidly obese people? There are voices on both sides. I can't help but consider the absurd amount of calories being sold to us on the cheap, and the fact that statistically, we are fatter than before that happened.

Even if you do feel that excess fat is making you less healthy, focusing on the fat is setting yourself up for failure, and a faulty value system. Get some baseline info from your doctor: blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol. Also get some numbers for yourself. How do you feel? Tired? Under the weather? Do you get sick often? Feel shitty when you try to walk around the block? Check out this blog post, which links to the government's current recommendations for healthy eating, and see how well you stack up, regardless of where you are in the BMI. How active are you? If you live in a car culture, being as active as is good for our bodies is tricky, but not impossible. Park far away from your destination, even a few blocks if possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, take your bagged lunch for a walk to a park if weather allows. If you're lucky enough to live in a culture that favors mass transit and walking, as long as you're leaving your house each day, you're probably doing pretty ok. If you take your train to your desk job, then home for a lazy evening, try taking the train one stop further away from home and work and walking the rest. Consider the possibility of riding your bike to work, or just take a stroll each night after dinner to savor your neighborhood and the changing seasons. Romantic, no?

Those are the two obvious things that pop up when we talk about health because all too often when we talk about 'health' or 'fitness' we really mean 'being skinny enough to be admired in our crappy narrow-minded culture.' That is NOT what I mean. Other really important aspects of being healthy: drinking enough water. It is worth the trouble to teach yourself to like water, and not hard, either. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge so it's cold and ready. Use a filtration system if it makes a noticeable difference to you. Do not trash the environment with single-use water bottles, please. The other biggie that gets overlooked in our work-aholic culture is Sleep. We all have different sleep needs. Most of us need between seven and nine hours each night. If you can give yourself four days or so to sleep as much as you need, see how long you sleep on that fourth night, and use that as your baseline. It IS worth taking those extra hours out of your day. Not doing so is taking YEARS off your life.

In terms of physical activity, we often overlook the importance of stretching. Watch this video, and take some time to do basic stretches every day, or at least every couple of days. Short, tight muscles cause pain. Building up those muscles so they're strong and can support you is just as important. If you're naturally super-stretchy, focus on building up those muscles so they can safely support your wide range of motion, preventing injury or strain.

And of course, stress relief. This is a big one. Take advantage of your religious beliefs: meditation? A weekly day of rest? Time in silent prayer daily? Those are all excellent ways to let your body and mind rest and recharge. If you don't have any religious or spiritual beliefs whatsoever, google the benefits of meditation, and sit the hell down.

Whew. So that was a fun diatribe...take away: It is not about how much you weigh, or how much of your body jiggles. Seriously. If you are taking care of your body properly, you can trust that however it looks is fine: big, small, squishy, firm, doesn't matter. Your body may change if you change your health habits. Probably a little, possibly a lot. Your body may equalize and go back to looking more like it's old self after a while. If your habits are the same, that's fine, too. Love yourself. You're awesome.

So, happy 2012. Happy New Year. Let's do this.
"My new years resolution: Never be afraid to be kicked in the teeth. Let the blood and the bruises define your legacy." - Lady Gaga 2012

I'm on the edge of glory. This year I'm going over.

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties. Please Stand By.

We're four days into 2012 and the world hasn't ended yet...not that I think it will, mind you, but I'm a little less than my usual optimistic self because it's just been one of those days.

Overslept.
Mystery stain on the just-washed couch slipcover.
Inability to get out the door on time.
Couldn't find the damn cotton swabs.
Wrote up a whole blog post...which was eaten by the evil internet gods.

It doesn't sound so bad when you write it down like that...maybe I should keep that trick in mind. I don't really have it in me to write up another proper blogpost tonight, but I did want to wish you and yours a Happy New Year, and let you know that the husband and I had a lovely time with the fam in Ohio and Houston over our Christmas vacation. We're safely back in NYC (welcomed by a cat with diarrhea, whoopie-ding), and I'm back on my regular posting schedule this week. Well, roughly speaking, I suppose.

Tomorrow I'll be back with reflections on the nature of families, New Year's Resolutions, and, oh, who knows what else. In the meantime, I offer you this. Because it makes me laugh so hard.

Also this.

Live Omily,
~em