Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Eating Omily: Food for the Soul

On Monday I spent my morning on trains and buses, making my way up to LaGuardia Airport to meet my mom-in-law. She's in town visiting for a week to provide moral (and literal) support to my sister-in-law, who broke her hand last week. On our way back through town to the ferry, we stopped at Union Square to pick up supplies at Trader Joe's and the drug store, and for me to make my Monday Farmer's Market run. Monday is predominantly Egg Day for me, so my first stop was to see my friends from the Jersey farm offering cheese, tomato soup and sauce, eggs, of course, farm-fresh butter...mmmm...It was business as usual when three different workers greeted me by name, but my mom-in-law was pleasantly surprised.

"Oh, they know you!" she said. When I introduced my mom-in-law they said, "Oh, you lucked out with Emily!" and we laughed. She proceeded to chat with one of them about her visit, and her daughter, and my regular egg-procurer made his way around the table to joke in my ear about his mom-in-law relationships. You can be sure I pointed out to him that my mom-in-law wasn't the only one who lucked out in this relationship! Taking my carton, we said good-bye, and scurried on up the way, pausing to admire the beautiful tulips, the delicious baked goods...finally choosing a massive head of cabbage, and making our way back onto the train.

Obviously, the fresh, local, nutritious and sustainable products is the primary reason for my Farmer's Market addiction, but it's not just your belly that gets fed when you buy food from the people who grow it, and it's not just food that gets grown out of your transactions. You grow relationships with these people. You get to know them and care about them. When Hurricane Irene cost many of my Farmer's Market friends a lot of their produce: tragically flooded in the fields, we shoppers all pitched in to make donations, and extra purchases. A huge number of people threw dinner parties serving only Farmer's Market products, and accepting donations for those who could have lost their livelihood without the helping hand of someone who knew how vital their continued existence was.

How can we care if we don't know?

And how can we know if we don't care?

It's one thing to pick up the eggs labeled 'cage-free' at the grocery, and entirely another to look at pictures of the chickens who laid your eggs. One thing to look for the antibiotic-free label on your bacon, and quite another to hear the pride in the voice of the person who sees the heritage hogs who furnished your bacon rooting for grubs in open fields.
Nothing can replace a real relationship with the people who provide you with what you put in your body every few hours to stay alive. Not for you, and certainly not for them. How can we let something so vital, so intrinsic to our survival, be so separate from our daily lives? How did we EVER allow this to happen in the name of convenience?
When I talk about the importance of the Farmer's Markets, how every legal restriction in the world can be followed to the letter, but not in the spirit, how only a relationship ensures you know what you're eating, people tell me,

"oh, sure, that's very nice, but do you really think people are going to shop that way, instead of going to their grocery store to get everything at once?"
Maybe I'm naive, but yes, yes, I think they will, when we make it clear enough how much it matters, how much of a difference it makes. More and more people care about the quality of their food, and want to go straight to the source to ensure they're getting something worth eating. That's a huge and positive attitude adjustment that will absolutely change the behavior of slapping the Manager's Special into your cart to fill some unspoken quota about what constitutes a meal.

We can't afford to be lazy. We can't afford to choose the cheapest, and the easiest for much longer. We are costing our bodies, our children, our planet...this stuff matters. And it might matter very much to you in theory, but when you look into the eyes of someone who kicks ass day after day, making do with little, because growing food for the people around them is vital to who he or she is, it takes on a whole new level of urgency.
I'm a huge advocate of small steps. If all you can manage right now is to swing by once a week or just once in a while and pick up an item or two, please, do it! Don't be discouraged, it does make a difference! But while you're there, take the time to talk to these people. Ask questions, offer a smile. Let it change you. Because that's how we'll change the world.

~em

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Most Skillful Order

Exhausted, sore, hooked on coconut water and Downton Abbey..oh, woe is me!

Not really; I am sleepy and sore, but I can go to bed soon, and sleep as long as I like tomorrow, as long as I get the laundry done and the house cleaned in the afternoon. I'm allowing myself the imported-from-quite-far-away coconut water because my aerial training schedule has...quintupled? Five work-outs a week rather than one; I need excessive amounts of potassium to help my muscles recover. You know it's a legit body craving when you throw on rainboots and a coat over your pj's and scurry down to the store five minutes before it closes for a carton. And Downton Abbey is amazing. So hooked.

Something else I'm really enjoying, especially in the midst of injuries in the family and prepping for short-notice visits necessitated by them, is my Month-Long Meditation practice! This week, I'm working with Lovingkindness meditation. The nicest thing about it is that for as long as I need, I can just send lovingkindness to myself. No guilt, no shoulds, no oughts. If I need lovingkindness, then I give it to myself. When I feel ok, I send it along to others in need, in an ever-widening circle from those who I care about, or who have been good to me, to neutral people, to strangers, to those who are difficult for me to be around. I don't have to beat myself up for having uncharitable thoughts, or for feeling frustrated with circumstances outside of my control. I can offer myself love and compassion, so that I feel capable of making the choices and performing the actions in line with the person I want to be, not the foot-dragging, whining person in my brain.

I can feel good about myself, even when I say or do things that aren't in line with who I want to be, because I can remember that I'm not just the unkind things I say, or do. I'm also the generous, kind, thoughtful things I say, or do. Everyone is entitled to being human, and making mistakes, and everyone is just trying to be happy. Meditation suggests that happiness is a skill we can cultivate, like anything else. It's obviously a skill worth cultivating!

Well, you can read my meditation challenge blog posts here, and you can read about the book they're based on, and the teacher who is behind the book, here.

If you'd like to try Lovingkindness meditation, and yes, yes, you should! Sit or lie down, get comfortable, and take a few minutes to just follow your breath.
I set a timer for twenty minutes, so I don't get it into my head that I've been lying there for an hour and a half when it's really only been seven minutes. When you're ready, say to yourself,

"May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease."

You can change these phrases up to be something that feels meaningful and inclusive for you. You may feel like, you don't deserve this, or that it's silly to wish these things upon yourself instead of working toward them, or selfish to not offer them to someone else. Calmly tell those voices to stuff it.

When you're feeling very good, and full of positive feelings, you can turn these blessings onto someone else, someone who you're quite fond of. Maybe someone who's been an inspiration to you, or whose company you really enjoy. You'll branch slowly out to those in special need, neutral people, and people you don't like so much. If you feel a sense of tightening or resistance, then you are suffering, and you need compassion, and you should go back to giving yourself Lovingkindness for a while. You are not a bad person for not yet being skillful at seeing how we are all connected, and wanting the best for others is the same as wanting the best for yourself. You are worthy of love, comfort, and compassion. If you make it this far, and you feel comfortable, then extend your lovingkindness to include all beings, past, present, and future.

Don't worry about feeling an emotion, or if you 'really mean it.' Just focus on these words the same way you would focus on your breath in meditation. Keep it up for a few days, a week...watch what happens!

Have at it! Love, Love Love!
Also watch Downton Abbey!

Live Omily,
~em

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The 2 of Swords

I'm kicking some serious ass on my tarot interpretations: just doing final edits on the pip cards before moving onto the court cards. It's so interesting to lump them by suit and interpret them, and then lump them by number and see what comparisons and contrasts pop up. Fascinating stuff...well, today we're onto the 2 of Swords which is a really neat card visually. It offers up such a rich variety of interpretations and angles to view it from. The swords get a major bum rap in the tarot world. The first tarot book I bought explained the swords as being, and I swear I'm paraphrasing, not exagerating: all of the bad thing, all of human kind's worst impulses. Well, you'll pick up on a pattern with my interpretations: the best cards can have negative interpretations, and the worst cards can have positive ones. It's all about the context, and where the querent is at. There's no denying the swords feature some of the harshest imagery and traditional interpretations in the deck, but swords are associated with the element of air: the mind; the truth. The truth can hurt.

A refresher for those just tuning in: each week I'm featuring a different tarot card, and my interpretation of that card based on the imagery, numerology, and elemental associations. I've just passed the half-way mark of getting the whole deck interpreted (40 out of 78 cards done!), and when it's finished, it will be designed and published into a zine by my designer/animator husband, and available for purchase. Yay!

The Two of Swords
"In the two of swords the idea of 2’s as representing choices becomes much more clear, and that should come as no surprise. The swords are far more adept at pruning the bush than beating around it. The woman sits blind-folded, her back to the ever-changing sea of her emotions. The idea is that she is shutting out all that could sway her from a balanced and objective decision. She clutches two crossed swords to her chest. They're so large, they disapear off the edges of the card, suggesting this is an important decision she's making. Certainly the swords are heavy, but she resolutely holds them both up, appearing to shift uncomfortably on her stone seat.

It doesn’t look like either sword is being lowered. Perhaps we’ve caught her in the moment of deliberation, testing the weight of each, but her closed off arm position (blocking her heart chakra) has led many an interpreter to see here a hesitancy to choose. Perhaps her blind-fold allows her to shut out the necessity of making a choice. Perhaps ignoring the sea of her subconscious is keeping her blocked, unsure of what to do.

Making lists of pros and cons can be very useful, and sometimes an objective viewpoint is exactly what’s needed, but when the objective comparison comes out equal, the time has come to open your eyes and tune into other, more perceptive sources. It has also been suggested that what is necessary as depicted in this card is the ability to hold two paradoxical ideas at once, instead of dismissing one of them.

A search for ultimate truth is inevitably going to lead to moments of recognizing two seemingly contradictory ideas being equally true. So do you just carry around every truth you suss out as being accurate? We'll find out what happens when you take that approach in the cards to come..."

Have you pulled out your deck for a quick draw to play with these ideas yet? We've gone through seven cards so far: not very many, but still an eclectic mix of ideas and focuses. Try separating out those seven, choosing two at random, and then seeing how their various meanings play off of each other to create entirely new ideas and situations. You can do that with your whole deck to great effect, if you have a working knowledge of interpreting them, or a book or other source of interpretations that's working for you. Open your mind to new and fascinating insights! Have fun!

~em

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Eating Omily: Delicious, Delicious Cheese-Consider your Farmer's Market!

Today is really a bad day to blog about Delicious, Delicious Cheese: it's Ash Wednesday. So I'm fasting. Which I'm really bad at.

However, the fine folks at Consider Bardwell Farm deserve a blogpost, if ever a Farmer's Market merchant deserved one, so they're getting one, whether I can eat their cheese today or not!

And no, I'm not encouraging you to consider Bardwell Farm; I'm urging you to patronize Consider Bardwell Farm, named after, Consider Bardwell himself. (He had a grandmother named Experience; go figure!)

Three-hundred acres of beautiful, rolling, pesticide and fertilizer-free grass in Vermont are grazed by Jersey cows, and Oberhasli goats, and their milk is made into truly spectacular cheeses in the finest European traditions. Whether you adore gooey, pungent cheeses for appetizer trays, bright, sharp cheeses for your afternoon sandwich, nutty, hard cheeses for grating over your pasta, tangy goat cheeses for crumbling in your salad, or simply Oh My God[dess]! Good cheeses for slicing with a knife and eating while standing at the counter (and Rupert, I'm looking at you!), Consider Bardwell Farm has a cheese that will have you over the moon, even if those sweet-eyed Jerseys can't quite make that leap...

And the price...you ready? About $5.50 a quarter pound. Can you get cheaper cheese? Oh, sure! Can you get cheaper cheese that you know is good for you, good for your planet, good for the animals that produced it, and good for your economy? I'm thinking, no. And yes, if you aren't lucky enough to live in NYC, you can order from their website and take the price of shipping cheese cross country onto yourself, instead of outsourcing it in the form of lower quality, and a sadder planet.

I could wax poetic about this stuff all day, but sooner or later I'm going to start making myself hungry. Get on out there to the Union Square Farmer's Market, last I saw they were there on Mondays, and have yourself a taste of this stuff! Choose a type, or two, and bring it on home, and feel really good about your saturated fat consumption. Doing the right thing just so happens to be the thing that tastes the best. Hop on the bandwagon! Consider your Farmer's Market...

And please, try the Rupert!
~em

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Working That Shit Out

On Saturday I went to an aerial conditioning workshop where we were given a six-week workout plan to improve our strength, endurance, and flexibility in time for our performance on April 21st. Our coach firmly insisted that we train two days, and then take a day off. "Your muscles actually grow on that day of rest. It's crucial to take that day off."

"No problem!" I thought to myself. "After a grueling interval run, and a fierce attack of push-ups and sit-ups, I'll be thanking God[dess] for a day off!"

Didn't exactly work out that way. My husband and I went on our run on Sunday, and spent the next two days waddling about in terrible pain from muscle groups just not used to such use.

Do I strike you as a sunny, cheerful person? Chipper, even? Don't go on a run with me. It will spoil your positive mental image. Early on in a run, when everything hurts, but mostly my lungs, and I can't imagine who invented this form of medieval torture, there's nothing I enjoy like a good bitch. Every person who runs (or walks as the case may be) or rides by, and God[dess] forbid he or she is on a recumbent bike! Will feel my wrath! If they're sensitive to negative energy directed at the back of their heads they will, anyway. I'm just not a happy or friendly person for the first fifteen minutes or so of run. Somewhere around that mark, I hit my stride. My body realized this activity will be continuing for a while and stops fighting it, and I start to enjoy the effort. Oh, I still swear at strangers under my breath, but with a sense of comradery.

You had better believe I was looking forward to that day off post-run on Sunday. On Monday, we shelved the tougher strength workout of the week for the (slightly) easier one, and kicked some core and shoulder-stabilizer ass. I woke up on Tuesday barely able to get out of bed. And remembered I was work-studying that night, and was annoyed as shit that today was my day off, and I couldn't jump into the yoga class that evening.

Are you noticing an inconvenient pattern? Why can't I be happy to be working hard when I am, and happy to be resting when I'm not? Plunking my cheek onto my fist as I stare out the picture window at the sky deepening to indigo, I'm trying to remember the searing pain that first Warrior I would bring, instead of the peace and release of the Savasana at the end. Tomorrow I have a yoga class, plus our tougher strength workout, and Thursday is aerial class. Maybe I'll be more appreciative of that muscle-building rest come Friday, when I know I have to get out there and run again the next day.

It's slowly dawning on me that a two days on, one day off, training schedule doesn't really allow for three work-out, two aerial classes, and three yoga classes a week, even with some doubling up. Thankfully, it's still the 28-Day meditation challenge, so I'm working hard at three other limbs of yoga while consciously neglecting another.

What I find most empowering and beautiful about this work-out regimen is that it's the first time in my twenty-five years that not only am I not undertaking this effort with the motivation of 'losing weight', or 'having a better body', but I really couldn't care less if my appearance changes as a result of my efforts. The goal is purely to have a more finely-tuned machine, to be better able to do what I want to be able to do. I don't even know if 'healthier' is a word I would use, as I'm quite healthy now: I eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, and don't overindulge in junk foods, I drink lots of water, get lots of quality sleep, and lead an active lifestyle. Being stronger, or having greater endurance, or a greater range of motion certainly wouldn't make me less healthy, but I don't need to improve those measures in order to be healthy. As someone who has despaired she would ever have a truly healthy relationship with her body, and with food, this is huge. It IS possible. You CAN take good care of yourself. You CAN make choices that are motivated by self-love, and not by a desire to look a certain way, be a certain size, or fit into a certain mold.

And you should.

Live Omily,
~em

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Two of Cups

Woo, so my intention of keeping my Omily Tarot post on the same day is sort of down the tubes as it's been all over the map lately, but that's ok! If you've been waiting, here it is! And this is a good one, too!

If you don't know what the Omily Tarot is, each week, I'm sharing my interpretation (based on elements, numerology, and the imagery of the card itself) of the next card in the deck (I'm going from Minor to Major, from Ace to King, and from Staves, to Cups, to Swords, to Coins). I'm working on smoothing all my interpretations, and then I'm handing the bundle over to my blog/website/identity designer, Skip Dolphin Hursh, to work into a beautiful zine that will be for sale. Yay! So, if you want to get all caught up, just click the 'tarot' label on the right hand side, just below the archives.

We've made it into the twos, which I overviewed last week, and today's card is,

The Two of Cups!
"The 2’s have to do with unions (think partnerships), and here, in the suit of emotions, we see a partnership that could be romantic in nature. Though there is some distance between the two, we are still at the beginning; the man has already begun to close the gap, stepping closer and reaching out his hand. In the language of the tarot, these two represent archetypes, not real and complex people. The masculine figure is active, reaching out, the feminine figure is receptive, holding out her cup and waiting.

It appears she has not yet responded, and since the 2’s are also about choice, the question becomes, what choice will she make? The caduceus spiraling between the cups is the staff of Hermies (the Greek) and Mercury (the Roman) messenger god. These gods also were the patrons of merchants, traders, liars and thieves, and as such, the caduceus represents trade and negotiations, and the values of reciprocity and equal exchange. In the early stages of a relationship, the significance of these ideas is clear. As the two hold their cups close together, they are only at the beginning of a lengthy stage of working out their personal negotiations.

What of the lion’s head found between the wings, which are often found at the top of the caduceus? Perhaps the message is that negotiating how you will give away your heart requires greater courage than mere negotiations over objects. When your emotional life is at stake, garnering equal exchange becomes a matter of life and death! This card could also speak of the difficulty of making any type of emotional choice, particularly toward the beginning of a path. Without knowing the outcome, the obstacles and the assistance that will come up later down the road, one dream, one heart’s desire, must be followed, and the other placed by the wayside."

I would feel remiss if I didn't remind you that reading the tarot, and tutoring others to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the tarot for their own knowledge, for gaining more out of future readings, or for reading the tarot for themselves, are services I am proud to offer. Check out my website for basic info on services, rates, etc.

Open yourself to a Universe's worth of wisdom! (and trust that, conversely, you will never be shown what you are not meant to know...)

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This is my life. Seriously.

Ok, the good news is, I'm blogging because it's time to.

The bad news is, all I really have to share is that I'm sick, and Planet Earth (the TV series I got on dvd several Christmases ago) is awesome. Between my birthday and my unexpected bug, I haven't been to the Farmer's Market, and I can't concentrate long enough on my tarot journal to get a lot of fresh insights out of that. Haha, I've just been layering up and taking naps like an extra pathetic hibernating bear...
(Assuming the bear had a bad cough that woke it up every couple hours.)

Oh! I can share with you an amazing experience I had Reiki-ing myself the night of the 13th, when I first started to feel sick. My throat was just getting more and more raw as the day went on, and by the time I met by husband to shop for a birthday present, I could tell I had a fever, so as soon as we got home, I changed into extra cozy pj's and went to bed, and gave myself a marathon Reiki session.

Since I hadn't yet meditated for the day, I decided to try to kill two birds with one stone. Rebecca, my Reiki practitioner and Attuner has always said that during Reiki it's important to focus on the breath, and be prsent to the proccess. I am the queen of letting my mind wander into all kinds of ridiculous tangents. I am NOT good at focusing on one task at a time, and being fully present to it. I've gotten, I hope, slightly better, now that I'm halfway through the meditation challenge, and this time I was choosing to meditate while giving myself Reiki, so being present to my breath and any sensations that came up was part of the package.

I've had a few hazy experiences of animal spirits, or human spirits coming into the space to offer healing and protection or advice during Reiki sessions, but it's never been particularly clear, and I've never been totally certain I wasn't sort of imagining things. I followed Rebecca's advice on that one, and didn't question which was the case, but just trusted my intuition.

Shortly after I started Reiki-ing my throat and crown chakras, I got a very sharp, distinct image of a giraffe wearing a turquoise scarf. I was really excited, and wanted to ask the giraffe why it was there, but that just startled the giraffe off. I went back to patiently breathing, and feeling the Reiki move through my body. The giraffe came back after a few moments, and this time, I felt it suggesting that I use a turquoise scarf to promote healing to my throat. I had my husband fetch a silk turquoise remnant I have from hemming a skirt (yes, he thought I was bonkers when I explained why I needed it...), and layed it gently over my throat. The effects of soothing and comfort were immediate. What a relief!
Later on, I felt a little hermit crab approach. It went right into my throat, and started scratching with its legs at the tender spot in the back of my throat. I told the husband what was happening, and he told me to tell it to go away. "No!" I said, "It's helping!" It took a little time for the message to get through: aside from offering some special hermit crab healing, this little guy wanted me to gargle with salt water, to soothe and moisten my throat, and promote healing. I've been doing that a few times a day ever since, and it is so helpful!
I think it's just as helpful as the creepy numbing throat spray I only use before bed because even though I'm spraying my THROAT with it, the bottle insists that I let it remain on the sore spot for fifteen seconds, and then spit it back out. This is clearly impossible. So I swallow it.

Those two were the only visitors I was aware of, but the whole time, I could really feel the Reiki energy pouring into my body, traveling all the way down from my Crown chakra, and swirling around my swollen, achey throat chakra.

The next morning, I felt so much better, I pronounced myself healed! I took it easy just in case, doing minimal housecleaning, and then threw on my outfit for our Valentine's Day dinner at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Even as I put my coat on, I could feel myself getting worse again, but I didn't want to cancel the reservation so late in the game! After all, it's not too taxing to sit and eat a delicious dinner, right?
Dinner was amazing: the Chef's selection of oysters (The most humane meat source, if you ask me! These guys live nearly their whole lives in their wild ocean home, then are scooped up, kept cold and sleepy until they get to their restaurant, are put back in cold fresh water to allow them to purge out any yuckiness, and then in one swift second, they are killed, and served. Yes, raw, don't be such a baby! Basically 0 suffering.) The husband had a couple of beers, and I ordered a glass of Bailey's to fortify my decaf coffee with, which really helped my throat, as well as lasting me straight through dessert! Our main courses of tuna steak with an espresso-hot pepper sauce, and mahimahi crusted with wild mushrooms, served with truffled mashed potatoes and burr blanc were unbelievable. We choose the chocolate mousse for dessert. Very yummy, and very sexy! It successfully fortified me for further Valentine's Day celebrations at home, before, feeling utterly shitty again, I crashed into bed again.

I woke up this morning with my fever back to the high it hit Monday night, and quickly excused myself from work study and proceeded to do nothing all day. If it weren't for the naps and reading, it would have been unbearably boring.

Oh! One more story! Attached to one of our oysters was a little mussel! Skip pulled it off, and I noticed it was still shut up tight; evidence that it was still alive. Because I am not a normal person, I tucked it in my bag, and transferred it to a glass of cold water in the fridge when we got home. I am hopeful it will hang in there until I feel up to taking it to the ocean!

Oh, what a life I lead! Hopefully in a couple days I'll be back with something more logical??

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me! Here is my Birthday Gift to YOU!

You may wonder where I've been since the...8th I believe it was? I don't blame you! I'm usually such a fiercely disciplined little blogger! I can't stand the thought of a disappointed reader...or worse, a reader who stopped reading because she or he checked back for new content and found none one too many times...

Well, it was quite the weekend! Today is my 25th Birthday, and I spent the weekend going out with my friends and celebrating! I kept meaning to put something up, even just something dumb and funny, like this, but that seemed...cheap and tawdry. And so I waited...and chewed my lip...and hoped your patience wasn't wearing thin!

But I'm back now, and I'm back with something awesome, and, I think, worth the wait! And I should know, as I've been waiting a cool four weeks for it...

I've said it so many times before, but perhaps it was never more true than now: I TOLD you 2012 was going to be a Big Year! Tonight, with one hour left of my 25th Birthday, I launch not only a brand new website, beautifully photographed and designed by Skip Dolphin Hursh (you know him as The Husband...), but also, a brand new Omily! I'm not the same as I was: every day I am new. Come with me on my journey of reinvention; let me help you with yours! Check out Everything New and Awesome I'm Doing For You! I'm so excited to share my new (and old) gifts with every beautiful person who would be served by them...but, before I paste that link, let me tell you a little story. Let's go behind the scenes of Omily...

I've spent years sparring with the question of what I want to be, what career path I want to follow, and I've done a lot more blocking and ducking than I have swinging, but I think, finally, with the Advent of 2012, I've found my path.

The recessions has affected many studios near to my heart, and forced me to take a hiatus from teaching for the most part. This intensely frustrating, and discouraging episode has been (of course) a blessing in disguise, allowing me to reevaluate, explore, find myself, and ultimately trust, and leap.

So, I'm a yoga teacher, as always, but I'm so much more, and I'm finally going to own all that I am professionally: I'm a spiritual counselor. (Wait, what?) Just think of it this way: a lot of people aren't comfortable listening to you talk about your spiritual journey, chronic health issues, emotional challenges, psychological blocks, etc. I'm not a doctor, not certified in any way, but I am willing to listen, and I have the tools to help you help yourself.

Omily.

I offer yoga in studio, private, and work settings,

meditation guidance and instruction,

tarot readings and instruction,

and Reiki healing

and, because I'm a writer, writing services in conjunction with or separate from my other pursuits. I'm diving into my two books, and am beginning to see a timeline for their completion and publication (but of course, the Universe may have other plans...)

I'll also be having my first aerial performance ever in late April, and details as to date and time will definitely be forth-coming!

I can see potential extensions and additions to my services in the future, but time will tell if they'll manifest, or not. Please check out My All-New Website, and it would mean so much to me if you would share it with your friends and family, anyone who you think could be served by my offerings. I'd love to field your questions about what I offer (and what I don't). While these services are new, I am offering deals for new clients, and a super-beneficial referral system! Check back regularly in the coming weeks, as there will be some clean-up and edits to come...

You may also enjoy following my on Pinterest! Unlike facebook and Twitter, where 99.9% of my updates are just informing you of a blog update, I'm curating an amazing universe of All Things Omily, and having tons of fun doing it!

Thank you for your patience, your joy, your eyeballs on my blog long enough to read my epic posts! You are why I love my doing this.

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Omily Tarot: the Two of Staves

Welcome to the Omily Tarot! It's a weekly series I'm offering of my interpretations of the Waite-Smith tarot deck, based on elements, numerology, and the images themselves. In case you're just now tuning in, we've made it through all the aces. Just click on the 'tarot' label on the right side, right under the archives, and you can get all caught up! When I'm finished interpreting the whole deck (I'm almost done with the Minor Arcana now!) it will be published in zine form, and available for purchase.

We're back around to the Staves again! Perhaps you'll recall that the staves, also known as the wands, the staffs, and in modern parlance, the clubs, are about ambition, passion, and spiritual growth. The ace was all about this pure energy, a flame with the potential to spread without limits! When we move onto the 2's, we move beyond the realm of the purely elemental. Two's are about two things coming together, unions, or, conversely, two things coming apart. One way the step between one and two is described is that the one wanted to appreciate itself so it divided itself into two. This reminds me of God[dess] deciding to create the Universe. The Divine was everything onto Itself, but It chose to create, to become, Other. In our world, the two's often signify making a choice: having two things, and selecting one, leaving behind the other option. In the simplest sense, you can't be both one and two at once: you have to choose.

The 2 of Staves
"The sense of ambition and looking ahead that the staves speak of is perhaps never more apparent than in this card. The man dressed in the passionate color of red holds one stave, and a globe. The second stave is fastened to the tower wall, as though its purpose has been served. It now acts only as a trophy; a hash mark, indicating what has been accomplished.

With this successful new venture begun, the staves appear to blunder into their shadow side here: before allowing the enterprise to come to fruition, this man fastens his clever plan to the wall of his imagination, resting on his laurels. Digging into the rest of the journey doesn’t appeal to this fiery, restless suit. A new stave is chosen, and wider horizons are sought: if the staves have long-term goals, they are symbolized in the man’s gaze toward the horizon, and the globe in his hands: he wants to have it all.

This card can also symbolize finishing one step successfully and moving onto the next, all the while keeping one’s eyes fixed on the goal. There can, of course, be a question here. Pursue the simple plan of before, or, spurred on by confidence, widen your focus? Raising the stakes can mean greater rewards, or losses. Think carefully…"

I hope you're enjoying these tasty forays into the Tarot! Use them as a jumping off place for your own exploration of the cards. What do the images say to you?

Live Omily,
~em

P.S. Oh my gosh, yay, it's snowing!!! Everytime I look out the window it's coming down heavier and heavier, and it's so beautiful! I hope it doesn't get warm and snowy the next two days, so this'll stick around until it snows again! We got really shafted this Winter so far...cross your fingers for me!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meditation: Pre-Meditated

Let's talk about Meditation!

Oh, I know, I'll be doing that all month on the 28-Day Meditation Challenge Blog, but I want to take a larger view on the subject than I'm doing there: less personal, more general.

I think a lot of people think they know what meditation is, and judge whether or not meditation is worthwhile and/or compatible with their beliefs based on that faulty definition of meditation.

The example of this phenomenon I hear the most:

"Meditation is where you try to empty your mind and not think about anything. How can you love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul if you're not even thinking of Him?"

Now, as far as my own understanding of the Divine goes, this feels like a straw man argument. God[dess] is everywhere: within, without. You don't have to think of the Divine to summon the Divine. It's just there. But, apparently this view keeps people from giving meditation a shot, so it's really important that I set the record straight.

Meditation is NOT where you try not to think about anything. Have you ever tried that? Good luck. Meditation is where you choose to think about ONE thing, and if you want that one thing to be Jesus' passion, Ganesha riding around on his giant rat craving sweets, Mary's immaculate conception, the unpronounceable name of God, Allah's love for his people, or something a little closer to home, like your BREATH, that's a-ok.

Meditation is often touted as something that's outside of or beyond religion, and that's because it is. Meditation can be practiced by, and will benefit, ANYONE, regardless of their spiritual system or lack thereof. Sort of like drinking water. It's. Just. Good for you.
(Yay, wa!)

The simpler the point of focus, the easier maintaining that focus will be. You don't want to be running off on mental tangents: "Don't people in India throw themselves in front of the Ganesha float and get crushed? Weird!" "What's really the difference between being the perfect, sinless mother of God, and being Divine?" This is why sticking with the breath can be the best way to start. It's always there, and it is all that it is. Any thoughts you run off with will be outside the breath, so you can recognize them for what they are, and let them go.

The Catholic Church is actually hugely pro-meditation in many different forms: The Rosary is a 20-minute meditation on different facets of the life of Jesus, Mary, and Church history. Hundreds of Christian mystics found indescribable moments of union with God through hours of silent contemplation. Many specifically stated that as long as you're consciously aware of thinking or uttering prayers, you had a long way to go.

But to return to the drinking water argument, it doesn't have to have anything specifically to do with your religious faith. Does walking down the street having anything to do with your belief system? It might affect whether or not you toss change into that man's cup, or offer him a prayer. It might be why you're walking instead of driving, but then again it might not. It's not really dependent on what you believe. Everyone can do it, and getting out there and moving is good for everybody. Is it not ok for Christians to drink water because Atheists do it, or because Jesus said that he would give us Living Water so we'd never thirst again? Um...no.
(Yep, still awesome!)

The scientific evidence is really piling up that meditation positively changes how your mind and body functions, leading to greater mental health, and more happiness!

Meditation is really just about training your amazingly powerful mind to devote it's massive abilities to one task at a time, instead of darting all over the place, following every inclination down a new primrose path. Know the feeling? You sit down to a task (say, updating your blog...) and ten minutes later you realize you've opened three different articles off of links on your facebook wall, are mentally composing a reply to a message, which, let's face it, all that's going to accomplish is tricking you into thinking you already replied when you didn't, and what in the hell are you going to wear tonight?? And when did you use the fluoride rinse? Can you eat lunch yet? Maybe you should call the yoga studio and make sure there's room for you in the 6:00 class, because the system won't let you log in online. What's up with that, anyway?? Oh jeeze what are you going to eat for lunch?? Is the marinated asparagus ready? Oh, how about an omelette! Oh, but you can't do the dishes while that cooks...thank goodness for cleaning gloves, your arm are already itchy! Wait, why is Pandora playing this? When are you going to do Reiki today? Whyyyyy don't you have any business cards???

Seriously. That happened in ten minutes. Less. Your brain is incredible! Think how much more useful it would be if it could devote that much energy to one thing you really want done, instead of fifty less important things at once!

How do you teach your brain to do that? Practice makes perfect! Sit your ass down, choose ONE SIMPLE THING to train your brain on, and go for it! Trust me, you'll end up with your own crazy thought tangent in probably less than two minutes. And that's totally ok! Just laugh at yourself, take a few breaths, remind yourself that none of that stuff is real; only this moment that you're in is, and take your mind back to your single point of focus. Do that for twenty minutes a day, and you'll start to see a difference in a surprisingly short amount of time.

You'll also meditate for years and still encounter the same stupid setbacks: losing your focus to think about other things, feeling uncomfortable or twitchy, falling asleep, etc. It's ALWAYS a practice. As you learn to focus your brain, you're also learning to forgive yourself for not being perfect, to be gentle and patient, to start over without judging yourself. Bet you can think of a few times in your daily life that those skills could serve you and those you love well.

If you don't think you have twenty minutes a day to sit still and stop ruminating about your day, then trust me, you need to find those twenty minutes!

Convincde? Intrigued? Not so much? Well, I'm oversimplifying a bit. There are lots of different ways to define meditation, and lots of different meditation techniques. Walking meditation, for example, or how about dish-washing meditation! Use that hot sudsy time to just...focus on doing the dishes. Be present for every second and every sensation of that act. (Are you beginning to see how meditation might improve your sex life?) NOW are you intrigued??

You can still join me for the 28-Day Meditation Challenge!

Live Omily,
~em

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Back on the Schedule, Better than Ever

Today is the fourth day of the Meditation Challenge!

Am I enlightened yet?

I think I'd feel better about this whole thing if I had managed to meditate BEFORE midnight at least once. It feels sort of like cheating to tack it onto the end of an already packed day.

"Ok, we're getting in bed...STOP! Meditation Time..."

Oh, but that makes me smile. The fact is, I'm doing it! This may be the first time ever I've meditated for three days running, and today I can perhaps take the time to meditate before bedtime, just to experience my evening post-meditation, instead of just enjoying how much easier it is to feel good, grateful, and at peace, therefor drifting me off into dreamland much faster than usual. To follow my meditation progress daily, check out my Meditation Challenge blog posts here! 2012 has been such an amazing year. I'm learning so much this February, and I'm beginning to see that, wow, I've grown, and changed already!

My 4:00 class at Jaya was a small one, so we got to really break down Earth Salutations, get playful in our hips, and enjoy some delicious free time at the end. I walked out to put my shoes on glowing and ready to meet my husband and sister-in-law in the city, only to have the work studier on duty ask me if I could wait around for the 5:30 teacher to arrive-she was running late due to a train malfunction, and I might need to get the next class started and hold the space for them until she arrived.

Well, I couldn't say no to an opportunity like that, and anyway, I'm not capable of leaving yoga students in a lurch. I waltzed back in, plugged my iphone back into the dock, and smiled at the (much larger!) class before me. We took a few minutes in meditation, did some spinal warm-up...and still no teacher...so I turned on my bad-ass yoga playlist and away we went into Sun Salutations, me offering alignment suggestions and encouragements all along the way. We got all the way through my Warrior series. The energy was fantastic; I was riding the high that is, I'm convinced, unique to teaching an awesome yoga class, when the sliding door at the back of the room squeaked, and a chagrined teacher crept in. I have to acknowledge the little voice in the back of my brain that almost wished she wouldn't come, so I could take this lovely group all the way to their well-deserved Savasana, for by now I loved every one: cute boy whose hips wouldn't square, sassy teacher trainee with the kick-ass tripod headstand, courteous older man struggling gamely with his knee alignment in the front row.

As it was though, I let them know I'd get them back to Down Dog and leave them with Sammi. She got herself set up while I made a few last adjustments. I grabbed my iphone, and offered my gratitude and farewell on the way out the door. A chorus of thank you's followed me, with a couple shout-outs of "Great Music!" harmonizing beautifully...Oh, Namaste, you 5:30 Flow and Restore Lovelies! I hope we can meet again...

Maybe it was because I had already taught that small class to break the ice...but this was the second class I had taught since November, and I was in THE ZONE in a way I don't think I've ever been before! Keeping track of music volume and style while simultaneously remembering what foot we're on? No problem! Roving my eyes constantly around the room to know what aspects of alignment need to be touched upon? On it! Slipping seamlessly from row to row, getting where I need to be to make the adjustments that need to be made? Piece o' cake. Letting loose, having FUN, and using my voice to keep everyone present and clear? Sheer joy.

And oh, what a sad comedown, going from my perfectly orchestrated little yoga world to the madness of Trader Joe's, Manhattan! It's hard to quite make the adjustment from being benevolent supreme dictator to just another yahoo no one has to listen to...of course, I'm always telling my students, they should listen to their bodies first, and me second. They never ACTUALLY have to do what I tell them, and my very favourite classes are the ones in which students take that advice to heart.

You guys, it's been amazing having extra time and energy to delve into more tarot study, more art, more writing...but it is so so good to be teaching again! Just the most indescribably incredible feeling ever...

Catch my next class two weeks from yesterday: February 17th at Jaya Yoga East (not to be confused with the Park Slope Location!) from 4:00-5:15. It's open-level, and donation-based, so it's perfect for everyone! I promise playful music, playful sequencing, perceptive adjustments, and eye-opening dialogue. Let's yoga!

Love, love, love living Omily,
~em

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Don't Mean to Blag, But...

Lately I've found myself with a big gap in my brain where the endless stream of Blog Material Chatter usually goes. Case in point: I'm a day late with this post, because nothing was occurring to me to write about last night at 12:15, and I opted for meditation and bed instead of agonizing over it, likely my best decision of the day.

So here I am. My English muffin is in the oven because our toaster broke months ago and we're finding we can do just fine without it, and I'm sipping at the silty quarter inch of coffee left in the bottom of the French press (so it's rather an international breakfast, isn't it? I mean the coffee itself is from somewhere else entirely!) And, mmmm, whole wheat English muffin with a smear of peanutbutter and home made rhubarb jam. That's how you start off a morning.

So, what is going on that's arresting all my blogging brain power? I think I just feel like I'm having to do everything lately, and though in general I love being busy and having lots of projects going on, there are inevitably moments of burn-out, and feeling overwhelmed that come along with that territory.

So maybe I could use a break. Even a break from Reiki, meditation, and yoga. Some time to just relax and enjoy myself without there being a higher purpose or sense of piousness attached to it. And now I'm extra excited for the Superbowl party this weekend because it suddenly sounds like just what the doctor ordered...I'm so down for beers, nachos, and epic commercials.

Maybe I'm just channeling this video I saw on the Linkedin Yoga and Meditation discussion board about how when you work with helping people heal and live better lives, you sometimes fall into the trap of pretending like your life is just totally put-together and reflective 24/7. The yogini in that video even confessed to purchasing (and probably consuming(!) CAFO meat! That's pretty scandalous for me! I like to think I'm pretty consistently honest about the fact that I don't have it all together, and each new day is a fresh attempt at Living Omily that's besot with missteps and mistakes all along the way.

And I think that's important. I think there's great value in going, "Listen I don't have shit to talk about so I'm going to tell you about my breakfast!" If only to show (and not tell) that I'm a human, too. Why not breathe a sigh of relief and admit that you spent half the time you invested in that job for work scanning facebook (ok, maybe not to your boss?)? Why not confess that you're passionately in love with bananas and mangos, and local apples can just go eat themselves. Or how about...if you have to post one more petition about saving the (insert vital cause or cute animal here) to facebook, you're going to delete your account and move to the Australian Outback.

Yes! Been there! You wouldn't believe the excuses I make for the stuff I eat for breakfast: "Oh, it's better to eat junk now when I have time to burn off the calories!" "Oh, look, a glass of milk and a piece of fruit! That makes this massive chocolate-chocolate chip muffin a balanced breakfast!" "But it's a MULTIGRAIN waffle!"

Yeah...kudos, guys. I mean, I wake up to an alarm around 10 a.m. and then take like two hours to, you know, start functioning. I don't do an asana practice everyday, and this month is the first time I'll be doing a meditation practice everyday...ever. Yeah, that's right. And I teach this stuff. We're all smeary mirrors, imperfect reflections, of the Divine. Which means the Divine is there. Raise your coffee mug (and I so won't tell if there's Bailey's and/or whiskey in it...) and cheers to that.

Speaking of meditating daily, I've got two posts up on the Meditation Challenge Blog, and there are many other posts by other great bloggers up, too, so you should check them out here. If you click on "Meet the Bloggers" to the right, you can read my posts specifically by clicking on my name: Emily Hursh. (Did you know I had a name? Crazy!) Today is the second, but hey, it's a Leap Year! You've still got four weeks to discover meditation and make it a part of your life. While you're scanning blogs (probably while you're supposed to be doing something else!) why not sign up? Let's do this!
And, reminder: I'll be teaching a playful, uplifting, energizing, and freeing DONATION BASED yoga class at Jaya Yoga East (corner of Fort Hamilton Parkway and East 4th in Windsor Terrace, off the F/G at Fort Hamilton Parkway) tomorrow (Friday the 3rd) at 4:00-5:15! Let's yoga! If you can't make it, mark you calendars for your next opportunity Friday the 17th, same time, same place!

Live Omily,
~em