Friday, September 28, 2012

Eating Omily: Teetering Fruit Salad

Slowly but surely, the flavors of summer are fading away: the corn cobs are getting skinnier, the melons are vanishing, this Wednesday was the last day for peaches at Bartel Pritchard!  The tomatoes, tomatillos, and eggplants are still kicking around in delicious abundance though, and the garlic and onions are rolling in, along with lots of tasty apples and pears.

When I was asked to bring fruit salad to a dinner party, I knew I wanted to capture this transitional time, the way we're teetering between the sweet, lusciousness of summer, and the pumpkin spice, warm and cozy flavors of fall.  I bought the aforementioned apples and pears, as well as a few of those last peaches.  I chopped them up into small pieces, and tossed with lemon juice, maple syrup, and a few shakes of cinnamon: a pitch-perfect late September fruit salad, and the only non-local ingredients were the lemon juice and the cinnamon!

While I was picking up the fruit, I noticed a sale on sweet wines at the wine booth, so I picked up three bottles: a more wine-like take on fermented cider, a super-sweet late harvest dessert wine, and a subtler red table wine perfect for mulling, for $11 a bottle.  Have you experimented with New York state wines yet?  They grow a lot of foxy grapes here, and there's also a lot of dry Rieslings, but there's more and more variety every time I check them out.
Cooking has been pretty haphazard around here lately, since we're both so busy, but Skip made an interesting little saute side dish the other day: onions, beets, and cucumbers!  The beets died the flesh of the cucumbers pink, but the skins stayed green, so it was really pretty.  I'm not one to cook cukes, although really, I only like cukes that have been pickled, but this was surprisingly pleasant and refreshing.

He also brought me home flowers on Tuesday, which I was pretty excited about.
What transitional flavors are you getting excited about?  Or have you skipped straight to jeans and pumpkin spice lattes?

~em

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Joining the Body Revolution

What a crazy week!  My performance on Monday went very well; thanks again to everyone who made it out to support us! 
That's me, rocking the silks to a sweet kirtan track!
 And yesterday, we brought home our kitten from the ASPCA!  She's spayed, up to date on her shots, and tested negative for heart worms, FELV, and FEV, all of which are ultimately fatal to cats, though cats with any of the three can still live a happy, and relatively long life.  If you know up front you only want one cat in your life, you might consider giving an animal that has one of these diseases a loving home for the time that it has.  It would be an immeasurable gift.
That's me and our new kitty!
Anyway, lately the issues of body acceptance vs. the health status of the average American (not good, in case you hadn't noticed) have been on my radar.

In response to cruel critics calling her fat, Lady Gaga posted a new section on her social network, littlemonsters.com called "Body Revolution"  She posted pictures of herself in a bra and underwear, and explained that she had struggled with anorexia and bulimia for years, but was committed to being strong and staying healthy for her fans.  She wanted to help give her fans the courage to love and accept their bodies in a culture that only has room for one body type.  As she put it, "But today I join the BODY REVOLUTION.  To Inspire Bravery.  and BREED some m$therf*cking COMPASSION"  You can join Littlemonsters.com to check it out for yourself, or read Jezebel's article about it.

Surprise-surprise, there have been some catty responses.  The main detraction though, is that Gaga isn't fat.  Seriously?  Should Gaga have worked really hard to gain more weight before launching the program?  Is it not ok for Gaga to have body issues because her body fat percentile is outside of a certain range?  People suffering from and recovering from EDs do not see their bodies as they really are.  That's part of the disease, and it's the main difference between someone with a debilitating mental illness, and someone who is willing to use unhealthy methods to reach and maintain a certain size or weight.

Given, Gaga wears skimpy outfits and shows off her body pretty routinely in gorgeous nude photos, the ad for her new fragrance, 'Fame' being only one of the most recent, and it's fair to say that that tells us it didn't take too much bravery for her to pose in a thong, but these photos are not retouched in any way, and what makes them truly courageous is the very public confession of her condition.

Of course, her fans are overwhelmingly supportive, and have added tons of their own pictures and confessions to the body revolution: people of all sizes, and many with disibilities or other physical differences are bravely showing off their bodies and seeking the courage to love and accept themselves and others.

What makes it so interesting though, is the happy coexistance of heavier men and women posing in their undies saying they choose to love and accept their bodies as they are, and the thinner men and women saying they started making healthier lifestyle choices, and have consequently lost weight, and that they are proud of their bodies.

THIS is what I really want: A world where these two things aren't mutually exclusive.  Where one person can say, "I know this is not how my healthy body looks.  I'm not taking good care of it, and I need to."  And that person can recieve support, and encouragement that doesn't revolve around a size or a number, but around embracing a lifestyle that's better for that person.  And another person can say, "I take good care of myself, and this is the body that I have.  I love it, and it is beautiful," and recieve equal support and encouragement, with zero judgement regarding their size or body fat percentile.

I believe that when it comes to health, the proof is NOT in the pudding (no pun intended).  You cannot predict how healthy a person's lifestyle is based on his or her size.  We KNOW this.  We all know people who eat tons of crap all the time and still have a body type that fits the cultural preference.  For some reason, it is way harder to believe in the existence of people who eat a nutritious diet and are active, but still carry more fat than our culture approves of.

This is evolution at work, people.  Back when calories were scarce, humans whose bodies horded fat were more likely to survive than those who burned through it and stayed slender.  These days, when calories are abundant, that formula has been reversed to some degree.

We've assigned moral judgements to size.   Skinny people are good people, and fat people are bad people.  We blame the big person for taking up an extra few inches on the bus seat, and we assume they sit around all night long eating cheesy poofs and icecream.  Maybe they do.  Or maybe the skinny person on the other side of you does.  It isn't actually any of your business.

On the other end of the spectrum, are these ads being shown in Minnesota that focus on parents recognizing the example they set for their children through their food choices.  I'm ok with these ads because I don't see them as attacking a body type or size, in spite of the body type all of the actors in the ads have.  I see the ads as focusing on the choices you make in terms of what you feed your body, and for me, that makes them positive.  On the other hand, I'm inevitably less sensitive to body shaming because I've hardly ever been a victim of it.  Other people might see these ads as shaming the parents for making their kids fat, instead of pointing out that when you make unhealthy choices, you force those choices onto your kids, and can create habits that last a lifetime.

What do you think of Gaga's initiative?  How about the ads in Minnesota?  How do you think we should approach the obesity epidemic?  Personally, I think calling it that is inherently problematic because, as stated earlier, it doesn't matter what size you are, what matters is if you lead a healthy lifestyle.  "Obesity epidemic" makes it all about how a person looks, and, you guys, we've GOT to know that's wrong.  Or do you disagree..?

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Nine of Coins

Happy taroting, kids!  I've begun the the Major Arcana interpretations, but I haven't gotten far because things are really clipping along in other areas of my life.  I promise my Tarot Interpretations Zine will be out before too long, and I promise it will be worth it!!  What's keeping me so busy?  Well, for one thing, The No Holds Barred Variety Show!  Come see amazing acts of art and brilliance in a black box theatre in Soho, including yours truly in a beautiful aerial act.  Buy your tickets in advance and save a couple bucks!  In the meantime, today we have, 

The Nine of Coins

            "A woman tests a coin on the vine for ripeness.   She is dressed richly, and is clearly not worried about the coins: her attention is turned to the flashy pet on her hand.  The bright yellow sky speaks of still better things to come.  Backed up by this kind of wealth, this woman is utterly secure in her position.
Remember the fabulous wealth and comfort promised by the coins if you put in the elbow grease?  The nine lets you know that you’ve done it.  You’ve put the work in, and things will coast along to their natural, wonderful conclusion.  Let yourself relax and enjoy the finer things that come along with the success you’ve earned.  The down to earth and practical coins don’t get hung up on worrying about someone taking their success like the staves, or needing others to appreciate it for them like the cups, and they certainly don’t bite off more than they can chew and get bogged down by getting what they asked for like the swords.  They are in their element enjoying the good things of this life.  Think of a cat stretching out luxuriously in a sunbeam.  You can give it the bad eye all you want, you can’t make that cat feel guilty for not earning its keep.  It’s utterly confident of its place in the world, and the nine of coins points to the same level of self-assuredness. 
On the other hand, this card could be read entirely differently: the woman could be seen as blocked in by her wealth or status.  In this view, she gazes bitterly at her bird, free to fly away at will, unlike herself.  Success and wealth can be stifling: as the new manager, it’s not ok for you to gripe about the boss with your co-workers anymore.  Your excitement about your improved grades may be dampened by the realization that now your parents won’t be satisfied with less.  It comes down to whether you feel worthy of or ready for your success.  And if you don’t, how can you bring yourself up to that level?"

This is the perfect card for me today!  I'm totally ready for my performance this evening, and I'm really looking forward to getting up there, and just enjoying the hell out of it!  Hope to see some new faces there!  Happy Taroting!

~em

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Eating Omily: Getting Corny for Fall

Ok guys, it's official: The First Day of Fall!  And to celebrate, we're adopting a little orange kitten!  That's not true; the kitten is blonde.
 I love this time of year: the nip in the air, breaking out my jackets and jeans, the trees starting to change...mulled wine...mmmmm...there are some meals that are just tailor-made for exploiting the last produce of summer still rolling in while taking that nip in the air out of your bones.  Eggplant parmesan, minestrone, and corn chowder...mmmmm...corn chowder is so easy to make, too!  I provide here a recipe that I adapted from Tyler Florence's version on foodnetwork.com.

Put a tablespoon of butter in a medium soup pot along with a drizzle of olive oil.  While it melts and heats, chop up half an onion, and a garlic clove or two.  Put the garlic and onion in the pot along with dried or fresh thyme, salt, and pepper.  Keep the heat low enough that the aromatics are barely sizzling, and wait for them to get totally soft and sweet.  This can take up to ten minutes, but it just depends.

While they cook, chop up one good-sized potato.  When they're ready, sprinkle two tablespoons flour over the veggies, stirring it in so the flour is absorbed in the fat.  Give it a minute to cook, stirring to prevent sticking, then add three cups of veggie or chicken stock, and bring up to a boil.  Once it boils, add one cup of milk (a little fat is better than none, for flavor and texture's sake, but use what you have), and the chopped potato.  Let the pot keep boiling pretty vigorously until the potatoes start to break down.  This could take between seven and ten minutes.
Meanwhile, carefully slice the kernels off of three ears of corn.  When the potatoes are falling apart, turn the heat back to a simmer, and add the corn.  Hold each cob in one hand over the pot, and with the back of the knife, squeeze any bits of kernels and corn milk out of the cobs, and into the pot.  Scrape the back of the knife on the edge of the pot to get it all.  Let the soup simmer for ten more minutes or so, until it's thick and creamy, and the corn is tender.  Add more salt and pepper as necessary.  I like to add enough of a pepper blend that there's just the subtlest touch of heat on the tongue.
You can serve the soup with grated cheese: cheddar is good, or parmesan.  I also like a drizzle of really good olive oil, and an extra sprinkle of sea salt to compliment the warm, sweet flavors of the soup.  Crusty bread definitely doesn't hurt, either!  If you're going vegan with this recipe, I would use more stock instead of using a milk substitute, and boil the potatoes extra long so they break down and give the soup velvety texture, and obviously substitute more olive oil for the butter.
The Farmer's Markets are open, and there's plenty of corn to be had cheap!  Why not celebrate Fall by adopting a blonde soup?...and some mulled wine...mmmmm...

~em

Friday, September 21, 2012

In Answer to Your Question, Yes

Anyone else join those linkedin groups for members of specific professions, and then find themselves roped into discussions?  Well, don't.  You may think that a discussion full of professionals would be consistently intelligent and civil, but no, all the rules of talking to strangers on the internet apply.  To be fair, I suspect the level of dialog is miles above what you'd find on your average forum.  The trouble is, we all have our own ideas, and we all just restate them in various ways, throwing in snarky comments toward those who disagree with us as the opportunity presents.  Sigh. I'm going to unsubscribe, I really am, just as soon as I throw some snark at this one guy...

The discussion for the last few weeks has been, "Can Christianity and Yoga Practice Inhabit the Same Space??"  Looking back I wish I had just said of course they can, as long as the yogis clear out of the church basement during Sunday mass to make room for the children's liturgy of the word.  I couldn't help myself, though.  As a Catholic yoga instructor, I had a lot to say on this subject.  Plenty of people agreed with me of course, but some people had a bone to pick with the idea of these two separate systems being compatible.  They felt that ignoring the differences between yogic beliefs and Christian beliefs did a disservice to both, and they weren't swayed by a chat room full of people going on about how we're all connected, all the same etc.

I simply did not agree.  Nothing yoga teaches conflicts directly with my Christian beliefs, with the exception of the idea that the ultimate goal is to be absorbed into the oversoul before you die, which doesn't really come up much in a day to day yoga practice.  It seems that the individuals in this discussion though, were referring to Hinduism when they talked about irreconcilable differences, and that I could agree with!  I love Hinduism.  It's a really beautiful faith system, with amazing ideas, and beautiful rituals, but, yes, some Hindu beliefs contradict some Christian beliefs.  This is a fact.

HOWEVER, their argument that yoga and Christianity are incompatible was based on the idea that Hinduism and yoga are indistinguishable from one another, and I think that is the ultimate disservice one can do to Hinduism, yoga, and Christianity, in one fell swoop!

I'm not a historian, or even a dedicated researcher, but a great deal of my information regarding the history of yoga as it relates to Hinduism comes from a certain translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, namely, this one
 It opens with a summary of yoga history, and though that's a far cry from due diligent research into the topic, it confirmed for me an idea I had already read briefly about: that yoga as a philosophical system predates Hinduism.  Yoga philosophy was rampant as Hinduism developed into the complex and systemized religion we know today, and of course, yogic beliefs were part of the base of what became Hindu beliefs.  The easy metaphor is to say it's like Judiasm versus Christianity, but that's a crappy metaphor, because it's not really like that at all.  Hinduism is very very very different from Christianity.  It evolved slowly, and there's no way to actually say when something that we can conclusively call Hinduism began to exist.

Logically enough, yoga fits in very easily with Hinduism, and by being affiliated with Hinduism, it grew and spread, and for quite a while, was considered to be inseparable from Hinduism.

Fast forward quite a bit, and we find that lots of non-Hindus are practicing, and loving yoga: everyone from atheists to Hasids, to Mormons!

Are all of these people closet Hindus, practicing the Hindu faith while depriving it of its proper credit by outwardly practicing other faiths?  No!  They're atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. who practice yoga as a supplement to their own beliefs.  Two important sources support this view:
A.) the history of yoga as we know it, and
B.) the Yoga Sutras themselves, which suggest that if you have a spiritual belief practice, you keep right on practicing it, because devotion to God[dess] is an easier path to the contentment yoga promises than pure yoga techniques on their own.

That doesn't sound like a system that's inseparable from Hinduism to me.

That said, since Hinduism and yoga did form within the same culture, they share similarities in their understanding of the cosmos that differ from the Abrahamic faiths, namely, the idea of reincarnation.  A whole lot of the Yoga Sutras mention or deal with this idea of endlessly reincarnating, being stuck on this wheel of ups and downs, and yoga is viewed as the method for getting off the wheel, remembering who you really are, and finding true happiness.  If you just take out that word, 'reincarnation' though, we can all relate to feeling like we're stuck on a pesky wheel of ups and downs in this one lifetime we're in, right?  How about this idea of losing your consciousness by being absorbed into All That Is?  Well, I tend to view it through the lens of Christian mysticism, right brain anatomy, and the fact that I don't really have the faintest idea what Heaven will be like.  I suspect the reality of it will make me cringe for ever using such a cutesy name for it.  But you can sort that out any which way that does it for you!  There you go.  Irreconcilable differences reconciled.

My point is, yes, you can believe, or not believe, anything at all, and yoga will still be a powerful tool for you to reclaim your true identity as a naturally blissful, peaceful person.  Don't let anyone, Hindu, Christian, or anything else, tell you otherwise.

Live Omily,
~em

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Nine of Swords

Alright guys, you know I'm not one to go doom and gloom on you, and every single card can have both positive and negative interpretations...but this card is traditionally considered the least favorable card in the deck.  Let's get to it, shall we?

The Nine of Swords

               "A person (often identified as a woman) sits up in bed, holding her face in her hands.  Nine swords hang over her, perhaps on the wall, pointed in the same direction she’s facing.  With nine swords at her disposal, why does she seem so discouraged?  Swords are a liability if you haven’t figured out how to use them, and if you’re working with that many, you’d need to be very skilled indeed.
This card is one that’s feared in traditional interpretations: it can mean ruin, death, the destruction of all your plans…it can also mean bad dreams and insomnia, and when you put those ideas together, you get, thinking it’s the end of the world when it’s really not.  That said, no, you are not going to Disney World. 
            In a reading, it may be that your quest to learn it all has left you kept up at night with racing thoughts.  Maybe you thought you could share what you’ve learned with those around you, only to realize you were shortly fresh out of friends.  Maybe your attempts at being brutally honest with yourself for your own good have resulted in an over-active inner-critic who’s quickly robbing you of all hope and confidence.
            Though the ultimate truth may seem like a worthy thing to seek, for many reasons it seems to be the hardest path for us humans.  If you’ve found yourself here, forget blunt honesty, and frank appraisals: have a little compassion for yourself.  Here’s one truth worth remembering: it’s never too late to start over.  Use that sword to cut away all the others that are holding you back."

 People just hate negative messages in tarot readings.  They want sunshine and rainbows: proof that they're right, and all their dreams will come true, or as a friend of mine put it, at least a light at the end of the tunnel.

It's worth remembering that, outside of a confidence boost, you get nothing out of a reading like that.  If you're doing everything exactly right and have nothing to learn, then what's the point?  Of the reading, of your journey...of anything, really?

You guys, nothing worth doing is ever easy.  Fact.

~em

Friday, September 14, 2012

Eating Omily: Signs of the Season

Kids are back in school, our white pants are put away...depending on your stand on that issue, new crops of pears and apples are starting to make an appearance.  People been crying 'Fall' for weeks, but I took one look at the stands overflowing with heirloom tomatoes and begged to differ.  Fat eggplants, sweet corn...I was still reveling in the dreams of summer.  And, happily enough, those things will keep rolling in for another few weeks, but even though it's still a week till the 21st, I'm willing to call it Fall now.

Why?  Well, there's the fact that I wore jeans for the first time since May this week, there's the fact that I've stopped leaving the house without cramming an extra layer into my purse...those sweet, tender bartlett pears are pretty convincing, too, but those things aren't what did it.  This is.
The first Winter Squash of the season, on September 10th.  This pretty little fella is an acorn squash, and I cannot wait to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, roast it till tender, and then fill it up with warm, hearty kidney bean soup...mmmmm...now that it's Fall in Omily Land, I cannot wait to break out the mulled wine, those little candy pumpkins, the tours of New York's haunted hot spots, costumes, parties, changing leaves...Fall is definitely one of my favourite seasons.  I'd say it's in my top four!  (Whatever season it is at the time is always my favourite.  Except summer.  By the end of summer I am nine kinds of over it.)

I could go on about Fall recipes, and cozy sweaters...but why would I do that when I'm just a couple of hours away from Summer's last hoorah with friends on the Jersey Shore?  The acorn squash can wait till I get back.  And hopefully you can, too!

It's just a little over a week till my next aerial performance, entitled: Unconditional Love Party.  You do not want to miss this.  Come to No Holds Barred at Dixon Place!  Here's my personal event page, where attendees will be getting some special advance notice preparation for my piece!  Get in the loop, guys!

Get your hands on some pumpkin spice flavours...and while you're at it, take that latte to the Farmer's Market and get yourself some yummy tomato action while you still can!

~em

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Feeling Light and Being Right

EDIT: this is an old post, so here are some updates: I'm teaching aerial yoga every Thursday (6-7pm at Loom Yoga in Bushwick), and Saturday (2-3:15pm at Jivamukti in Jersey City). Also, the book in question, Cook Yourself Sexy, is out, along with two more Candice Kumai masterpieces, and another on the way!

Sorry for the last blog post!  I spent yesterday working with the lovely Candice Kumai (and enjoying tasty treats, might I add!).  I'm not allowed to share a whole lot with you, but I can confirm that her latest cookbook, debuting in less than a month, is fabulous, and you'll likely want to add it to your collection.

On Tuesday, I took my first aerial yoga class with Seanna Sharp at the Om Factory.  As both a yoga instructor, and an aerial addict (if you're in NYC come see my latest performance!!), I thought I'd be old hat at this stuff.  But truly, when you put the two together, you get a hybrid substantially different from either of its parents.  I know how to do aerial, and I know how to do yoga.  I had trouble standing on a swing in tadasana, instead of swinging on a swing, or standing on the ground.  I had to disable certain automatic neural pathways in my brain, which made for a very fruitful practice.

It's almost always better to go into a new experience assuming you know nothing about it, than trying to pretend you know it all.  You don't want to look totally incompetent, but you want your brain to understand that this is learning time, not running automatic programs time.

Buddhists say it like this: "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities.  In the expert's mind, there are few."

It's true, isn't it?  Once you know 'the right way' to do something, that's the only way your brain wants to do it.  It takes work to forge new connections.  And ok, our socks do have to come before our shoes, and personally, I feel that the cereal has to come before the milk, but there are plenty of areas where we could cultivate some space for surprising options.

A fantastic place for that is in our relationships.  We see it with other couples all the time: from the outside, it's easy to see the destructive patterns, how both parties are responding badly, sending things into a deadly spiral.  From the inside, it's not so easy to thwart that programming.  And it can be really difficult to decide to be the one to do that work.  Why should it be you?  Why can't your partner be the one to stop saying things that piss you off?

There's no good reason why your partner can't do that; he or she certainly could if he or she wanted to, but that's the wrong question.  Why can't you?  Would you rather be happy, or right?

If you're fully present during a discussion, you'll witness these patterns playing out, and you'll have the beautiful opportunity to derail them, to make choices, to act, instead of react.  And guess what, guys: meditation teaches you to be fully present to the moment!

The husband has so had it with the way yoga is the answer for everything.  "Yoga is magic!  Here comes Super Yoga to save the day!"  Ok, full disclosure:  Sigh.  Yoga isn't the only way to cultivate mental space and find your way toward inner peace.  But it is an awesomely accesible one!  And most of them do involve meditation, so you should go ahead and make your peace with that.

Fantastic insights aside, what was aerial yoga like?  Well, tree pose with the aid of a loop around my thigh helping to provide stability was fantastic.  I've never successfully done Dancing Shiva before in my life.  I was frustrated by supported downward dog, because the loop slung around my pelvic points was lifting me up so much, I could barely keep my toes on the ground, but I wouldn't have taken the loop off for all the world!  Toes on the ground or not, DownDog with little to no weight in your arms?  Priceless.

Because of the different ways we used the aerial swing, and the different orientations that called for, there wasn't as much continuous flowing as there is in a more typical Vinyasa class, but taking that into account, there was a lot, actually, and there was time to experiment and play with the aerial swing, which everybody appreciated.  Probably the best part was Savasana all wrapped up in our silk cocoons...
It wasn't long enough for me, but you guys know by now, I'm a Savasana fanatic!  I'm definitely checking out an Aerial Om class, which features a loooong guided meditation.  Yay!

Just to take things full circle, I'll finish up with a link to one of Candice's amazing recipes: Pumpkin Spice Cake.  Nom.

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Nine of Cups

Another week is beginning.  Can you hear it?  A rumble?  A vibration?  The rocket I'm sitting on appears to be firing up.  Further evidence?  I've been up two nights in a row with anxiety in spite of anti-anxiety tinctures, and doses of yin herbs.  Too much fire afoot...

Give yourself a gold star if you thought, "Fire+beginnings...ACE OF STAVES!!!"  if not, don't fret; just go review the rest of my tarot posts!  Or just wait for them all to be published together!  Thankfully we're all about to get doused in some nice, dreamy, watery cups, and the number nine no less.  You'll find out some day just how significant the number nine is.  For now, let's just say that when you're burning with beginnings, the ultimate relief is to dream of endings.


The Nine of Cups

           "Instead of bandages, and beleaguered demeanor, this figure sits in front of his bounty, displayed in a row behind him like trophies on a lovely blue tablecloth.  He’s dressed richly, befitting someone of his status.  He’s got a right to be proud of his accomplishments, and the fact that he seems comfortable relaxing, not even keeping an eye on his beauties is perhaps a relief, but is it just me, or is he enjoying the envy his riches provoke more than his riches themselves?  

In the arenas of dreams, emotions, and love, it can be tricky to really appreciate what you’ve accomplished for yourself.  Watching others react to your status may be the easiest way to enjoy your achievements, but you’re missing out on enjoying what you have for yourself, and making yourself happy based on someone else’s lack is not the nicest way to get happy.  Stop taking your stable relationship for granted and live it, instead of reveling in your single friend’s jealousy.  You don’t need to tell everyone all the time how happy and content you feel lately; you can just enjoy it.
Our hero has earned the right to enjoy the good things his risky journey in the last card has brought him, but if he does it in a way that will alienate others, he’s not likely to achieve the cup’s final happy ending, or be in a good position for his new beginning."

So gloating excessively is a big no-no...but the story changes entirely if he'd just turn his chair around enjoy his cups for his own sake!  There's no need to downplay or self-depricate.  Just be happy without needing anyone else to validate it.

~em

Friday, September 7, 2012

Eating Omily: Good News!

What a Summer it's been, and it's not over yet!  I'm still hoping to make blueberry jam, and dill pickles before the produce avalanche flees for another year, but I won't be heart-broken if I don't manage.  I spent Labor Day laboring with my husband, and our good friend Rebecca, of Sapientia Oscen hauling home fifty pounds of San Marzano tomatoes from Central Valley Farms at the Farmer's Market, and then canning all but a single layer at the bottom of the second case.  We ended the day with eighteen quart jars, and we would have had twenty-one if a couple of older ones hadn't broken in the canner!
The boxes of tamotoes smelled amazing on the train ride home!
The tomatoes have to be boiled for a minute, then plunged into icewater, so the skins can easily be peeled off.
One case down, and one to go!  That's my weird kitty.
We filled the jars as we went, which saved a little time over last year!
Duel canners!  It still took us five hours or so to finish up.
Foster kitty Oola playing in the box tent Rebecca arranged.
You might think that's quite enough adventure for one week, but no, it gets better.  On Wednesday I discovered a new Farmer's Market!  That's right, Park Slope/Windsor Terrace Crowd, on Wednesdays, you can pick up farm-fresh goodies at Bartel Pritchard Square, just outside the 15th St./Prospect Park stop on the F/G.  I picked up a big, beautiful watermelon that day, along with a loaf of wholewheat sourdough, the husband's favourite.
Finding a new conveniently located Farmer's Market is just like Christmas!
Aside from a huge variety of fruits and veggies, and my favourite baked-good purveyer, Bread Alone, look what else you can find there!
Fresh, local seafood.  I'm so excited to not have to carry this all the way home from Union Square!
Looking to compliment your brunch mimosa?  Just don't forget to actually buy a bottle once in a while!  You and your guests will appreciate it as much as the vendors!

I'm convinced programs like these will fix our broken food system, and have far-reaching consequences for public health, healthcare costs, the local economy, and the cycle of poverty: for every $5 of welfare or foodstamps a person spends on fresh fruits and veggies at the Farmer's Market, they get a $2 voucher for MORE Farmer's Market Produce!
After all that fun Wednesday, I took the last of the San Marzanos out of the box, and gave them a good rinse in preperation for drying.  I just love these little tomatoes.  Look at those beautiful shapes!
Here they are all cut in half.  They get tossed with oil, and dried on baking trays cut-side up for 6-8 hours at 250 degrees.  They taste so much better than store-bought dried tomatoes!
 And last thing: I couldn't resist sharing a picture of my delicious Summer breakfast yesterday: peaches and cream oatmeal.  The peaches were left-over blanched and halved peaches that wouldn't fit into the jars of brandied peaches I made, and the cream is 1% organic milk.  Such a yummy breakfast, especially after I stirred it all up and sprinkled brown sugar on top!  Peaches are great chopped up into pancakes, too.
Maybe I'll see you at Bartel Pritchard next Wednesday!  I'll be the girl with the euphoric expression, crazy hair, and Trader Joe's insulated bag.

~em

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are You in Your Right Mind?

Are you enjoying the summer rain?  Why not?  I know of someone who enjoys summer rain very much.  her name is Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

When Jill was thirty-seven, she suffered a massive hemmorage in her brain, that over the course of a few hours, drowned most of her left hemisphere in blood.  She lost her ability to speak and understand speech, to grasp the concept of time, to perceive the physical borders of her body, and most of her memories of who she was and her life up to that point.

She also lost: her brain chatter, her ego, her selfishness, her competitiveness, her sense of isolation, her fear, and her pain.

When her left brain shut up, she was left with peace.  When she no longer knew where her body ended, she felt at one with the universe.  When she no longer knew who she was or what she wanted, she was filled with love, and compassion for herself and all other beings.  When she lost track of linear thinking, she experienced each moment fully, with no connection to the past or the future.

Sound familiar?

Turns out Nirvana is as close as our right hemisphere.

And no, I'm not advocating everyone have a stroke.  Our left hemisphere, and even all that brain chatter that comes from our language center, is very useful.  I couldn't write this blog without my left hemisphere.  We wouldn't know  that our jeans have to go on before our underwear without our left hemispheres.  True story: the right hemisphere has no grasp of linear thinking or chronological relationships.

I am pointing out that in this culture we tend to be very left hemisphere dominant.  We're so concerned with who we are, and where we are on hundreds of different continuums.  We think logically, we put things in order, we plan for the future, and we remember the past.

All too often we care only about ourselves, not daring to reach out to others because we fear failure, we worry about the future, and ruminate about the past, we rerun old loops and memories, obsessively checking for patterns, trying to prevent bad things from happening in the future...

and surprise, surprise: it doesn't work.  Bad things happen anyway.

You don't have to do those things all the time.  You can choose to disengage your left hemisphere, and engage your right hemisphere.  You can choose to be present, you can choose to perceive how we are all connected, just a bunch of atoms loosely configured in different shapes.

Having a stroke that obliterates your left hemisphere is one way to cultivate a shift in how you think and function.  Meditation is another.  When we choose to stop focusing all our attention on our brain chatter in our left hemisphere, we open ourselves up to the softer perceptions of our right hemisphere.

There are other ways to affect this shift, too, and you can purposefully retrain your left hemisphere to not run negative loops ad naseum, too.  It's all in Jill's book:
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
Seriously.  This is not a test.  Read it now.  The Brooklyn Public Library has copies, and probably most other libraries, too, it's for sale at Jaya Yoga Center (East Location), and of course, it's on Amazon.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert: over the course of years, Jill made a full recovery.  She wrote this book to share what she learned during and after her stroke with others.  Most compelling of all, she shares how tempting it was to NOT choose to recover, how beautiful and blissful it was to be only right-brained, experiencing only peace, joy, and love.  But how much cooler is it that she has access to those feelings all the time, and is still a freakin' brain scientist?  In fact, that might be the coolest part of the book: the fact that it's anatomically accounted for.  This isn't a spiritual book, it's just science, and these feelings of bliss are already inside your brain, just waiting to be tapped into, whether you believe in God, angels, Vishnu, Buddha, or just the brilliant world we've had the good fortune to evolve into.

Get it.  Read it.  Love how awesome you are.

Live Omily,
~em


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Nine of Staves

Can you believe it??  In two months we'll be into the court cards!  In one month (roughly) I'll have been doing this tarot post for a whole year already!  The time really does fly.  I've finished the court cards, and I'm working on the framework, introduction, etc. for the tarot zine...I have to get a jump on the major arcana now, which will be a whole other can of worms!  I'm going to keep this short and sweet, because I have to rush off to the Farmer's Market quite soon to pick up a friend and two cases of tomatoes for a Canning Party!!!  Can't wait to share the pictures with you Friday!  Maybe I'll cheat and put up a couple this week....happy taroting!

The Nine of Staves
9 of Staves

"Head bandaged, and weapon in hand, our hero looks warily over his shoulder at the eight staves he appears to be protecting.  Maybe corralling them was a challenge, and he took one to the head when they flew onto the scene on the last card.  The staves have fought hard to achieve the growth and success that is evident here.  Does looking that defensive suggest real triumph, though?   Who, exactly, is threatening to take away what this man has accomplished? 
The fiery ambition of the staves may argue, “There’s only room for one at the top!”  That’s your affair, but you won’t be able to enjoy the top if it’s to be one long game of King of the Mountain (remember how locked up and stuck the figure on the seven card looked?).  In the future, perhaps you should reconsider those lessons of cooperation the staves were suggesting at an earlier point.  You may be proud of having reached such progress down your spiritual path, but if bringing it up brings judgment raining down on you, it’s a bittersweet victory.
Now that you’ve got what you wanted in such close proximity, take a moment and examine it.   Is it what you thought it would be?  Maybe a more concrete idea of what you hoped to accomplish would have served you well.  Maybe you just had to fight hard to achieve what you believed you deserved.  Well, take a rest soldier.  Your work is done.  It’s nearly time to relax.  Nothing worthwhile comes easy."

We've all been there at least once: Remember being a kid, and seeing a toy on TV and knowing it was the most amazing thing in the world and it would make your life complete?  Remember begging for it for months?  Lining up in the dark outside of the store before it opened to snag yours, overcome with excitement?  Remember firing the damn thing up to realize it was just a toy?  Yeah.  Screw you, furbee.  That sums up perfectly the shadow side of this card.  On the brighter side, you kicked ass and sacrificed to make this achievement.  You really earned it.  Congratulations!

~em