Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Page of Cups

We cruised right through Sandy with electricity, water, internets, and cell phone service in place.  Of course, I'd gladly trade all three for working subways, and the Halloween parade, but since so many people were far less lucky, I can't really complain.  At least blogging gives me a little something to do!  Today I'd like to introduce you to anther special young person of the tarot:

The Page of Cups
The page holds a cup of water before him. He cocks his head at it in curiosity. Though curiosity could be said to fuel all of the pages in their quest for knowledge and skill concerning their elements, it may come to the fore with the page of cups. Of course, I’d be curious about my cup of water too, if a little fish poked his head out of it! If you’ve ever scoffed at someone’s feelings, including your own, the page of cups is quick to point out that there’s more in them than meets the eye. Better have a little more respect. The lotuses on this figure’s tunic suggest the ability to grow above your turbulent emotions, a skill that won’t be mastered until the king and queen. The sea behind the figure points out that there’s a lot more out there than can be examined in a single cup. And if there’s a fish in your cup, just imagine what could be in the whole ocean!
If you’ve ever had a hunch that turned out to be right, then wanted to figure out how you knew, you’ve encountered the page of cups. If you’ve ever explained a phenomenon of nature to a child, watched his or her eyes light up, and then been forced to answer more questions than you can count, you’ve encountered the page of cups. There is an emotional connection to learning or understanding here, a sense of awe, and magic. The page of cups wants knowledge for the love of it.
Of course, the page of cups often speaks of matters of the heart. Perhaps he bears a message along with that cup of water. Love is coming your way; keep a sharp eye! He may also suggest that you know less about your situation than you think you do, so careful scrutiny is required as you move forward.
The page of cups is a powerful ally to channel with you need to connect to your life-long love of learning and discovery.  In even the most painful or challenging situations, approaching your circumstances with curiosity can prove an unexpectedly effective balm.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Eating Omily: This Alternative Message Brought to you by Sandy

I'm afraid there won't be any Farmer's Market Magic in NYC today.  Even they are subject to hurricanes, after all, and are closed until further notice.  I did get some fun pictures of bees hovering excitedly over New York concord grapes on Friday!
If you're afraid of honeybees, hanging out around berries and grapes at the Farmer's Market is a great way to learn they're docile creatures who you have a lot in common with.  Look at these little guys happily buzzing on grape juice!  They will completly ignore you no matter how close you get to them, and if you don't believe me, consider that I didn't use the zoom to take this picture.  The crate in that picture is the one to buy.  Always go for the one the bees like best.  Give it a gentle shake to avoid bringing any stowaways on the train with you.

On Friday we carved our jack-o-lantern at long last!  He came out pretty cute, especially once we lit the candle in him.

There's been a lot of fuss thanks to Sandy about getting to a grocery store to stock up on non-perishable foods and water.  Well, here's a free public service announcement from me to you: water comes out of your tap for free, and you'll only need your food to not perish for a week at most, so buy some hearty greens, some dried beans, and maybe extra bread and milk.  You'll be fine.  In case the power goes out and your tap stops working, turn it on now, and fill up large containers in your home with drinking water, and your tub with toilet-flushing water.  Srsly.

We were in line at the grocery yesterday with some local greens, almond milk (all out of organic cows' milk), and dried beans, and our fellow hurricane-survivers were loaded down with carts full of chips and two liters of pop.  Come on, you guys.  I can get behind the cases of beer.  I mean, we are going to be stuck indoors for a while, but really, your junk food supply is what you're worried about??  Ah well, we'll change the world one Farmer's Market foray at a time!

I was going to have a really sweet post with gorgeous pictures of incredible food...but our Dia del los Muertos Party had to be postponed when the MTA shut down the subway preemptively, so that'll have to wait.  If we find ourselves getting creative in the kitchen after being stuck in the house too long, I will definitely be updating!

UPDATE 5:30: Hot cocoa on a cold, rainy, windy day?  Yes, please!  With a finger of bourbon, and a chipotle cinnamon dark chocolate drop melted in??  Who minds hurricanes??


Friday, October 26, 2012

Yoga to Die for

Unless you're of Mexican and/or native south American descent, you probably don't know much about Halloween's cousin: Dia de los Muertos.  This holiday is considered a chance to honor, and maybe even reconnect with loved ones who have died.  On October 31st, when the veil is thinnest, families leave candles, incense, flowers, and maybe snacks or gifts on altars in their homes, or on the graves of the dearly departed.
These actions provide a positive, and joyful atmosphere in which to remember those who have died.  The word native peoples who celebrate this occassion use is 'xantolo.'  It's closest translation is actually 'all saints,' coming from the Spanish 'santos,' and the Nahuatl word 'olo'.  On the other hand, Barbara Kingsolver describes it as a conept that doesn't have a proper English translation.  You've probably experienced it, though: using an old recipe of your grandma's, moving a knick knack inherited from an uncle, feeling yourself sucked back into a memory, almost more real in its intensity than times spent with this person during their life, and perhaps surprisingly, bring more joy than melancholy, at least until it passes.  Appropriately enough, legend holds that Farmer's Market are rife with xantolo.

Lighting candles, and setting out items that remind you of your loved ones are good ways to bring a little Dia de los Muertos into your holiday.  If you know someone who celebrates this holiday as part of their heritages or customs who can explain it to you in their own words, so much the better!  This is an occasion to make fun of death, and remember your loved ones with joy, so save solemnity for another time.

You can bring a little xantolo into your life, perhaps, with this brief yoga practice I put together, just for you!

Dia De Los Muertos Sequence:

Take a comfortable seat, and spend some time deepening your breath, and stilling your mind.  Take a few rounds of shining skull breath, to energize, open up, and cleanse your mind in preparation for your ancestors. 

As you make your way to all fours to take some cat-cows, start bringing to mind memories of your loved ones.  You can experiment with alternating happy and sad memories, as you move your spine between cat and cow.  Don't allow your focus to move too much to the sad memories, though. 

 Shift into a moving downdog, and as you take any movements you like within the pose, cultivate gratitude for having these individuals in your life.  Pause in your steady down dog for several deep breaths.  Stay there until you've settled on a positive focus for your practice, whether it's one particular individual, or many, or the person you've become because of their influence. 

Jump or step through to a seat, and come to gate pose, imagining the boundary between you and those who have gone before opening.  Take the pose on both sides, then make your way back to plank, and move through a vinyasa.  Begin a few round of Sun Salutations, moving with your breath, and bringing your attention back to your focus as necessary.

Here comes the fun/tricky part: try to let your ancestors guide your practice for a little while.  Choose poses that remind you of your dearly departed, or that represent the gifts they gave you in their lifetimes, or, you can just let your intuition guide you, noticing if you feel any messages from your ancestors coming through, now that you've so fully welcomed them.  Take vinyasas in between poses or sequences as feels appropriate for you.

Whenever you feel ready, you can leave your ancestor-led practice.  Take pigeon pose, to continue encouraging your body to open and release memories and experiences.  Move through a vinyasa.

If you can handle any more opening, move into camel pose, letting your heart open fully to all that life has to offer you, including eventually your own death.

Find an inversion that's right for you, and take any complimentary poses necessary. 

Take a final gate pose, either imaging that gate opening even wider, if you plan on staying with this energy for a while, or gently closing, but not locking, ready for next time.  After each side, find janu-sirsasana, letting your back release from your back bending, and bowing to the wisdom of those who came before.

Take any last poses, such as a reclining twist, that your body is calling for, then move into corpse pose.  Let your thoughts stay with your physical body, its weaknesses and its strengths.  Find joy in your life, and in your memories.

After ten minutes or so, you can enjoy further seated meditation, or go about your day, listening closely for your ancestors to chime in.


Live Omily,

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Page of Staves

I know it's been a crazy couple weeks of catch-up, but we're almost there!  AND, today, we begin our exploration of the court cards.

The court cards are the sixteen cards in the deck most disposed to stand in for an actual person, the querent or someone else, in a reading.  I find that in most of my readings, for whatever reason, they don't stand for a specific person, but many people find the opposite to be true.  The important thing, as always, is to take each card in each reading on a case by case basis and be open to all possible interpretations.

The Page of Staves
The page holds his wand out in front of him, and stares intently up at the top.  He doesn’t want to be stuck at the bottom of the totem pole for any longer than he has to.  The fiery feather climbing out of his third eye chakra confirms that he sees growth and success for himself in the none too distant future.  The salamanders on his coat suggest that he can handle the fire of this high-pressure period of steep learning curves just fine.
            His curiosity gives his passion direction, which may explain why he seems a little steadier than the knight, who has the answers, and is in a big hurry to make use of them.  If you’re feeling like the page of staves, take his advice, and let curiosity be your guide.  The more you can learn about the enterprise you’re beginning, the better off you’ll be!
            In a reading: think of the five-year-old who’s had his or her book bag packed by the door for weeks before the first day of school, the person who researches the business he’ll be starting to work for soon to give him an edge.  The fiery wands can represent spiritual growth, as well as ambition in other quarters.  This card may represent someone preparing to celebrate Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Confirmation, or it may point to something more organic: have you been considering plumbing the spiritual depths of your heart?  Do you feel too inexperienced to contribute to a conversation?  Take a cue from the Stave’s fiery spirit: listen closely, then jump in!

 We all have each of the court cards inside of us.  As we explore each one, take the time to connect with this archetype in your personality.  You may feel proud of the attributes of some cards, and ashamed of others.  It's crucial to work with your shadow side, and find healthy ways to accept and work with these energies.  Good luck!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eating Omily: Apples to Apples (You Think This is a Game?)

This week's farmers' market trips have mostly revolved around the shopping list for our Dia de los Muertos Party this Sunday: two big, butternut squash on Monday (along with eggs and spinach for us), a peck of apples and pears, and a loaf of bread today (and a jar of raspberry jam for us).  The big adventure today was learning about 'saucing' apples, versus 'baking' apples, versus 'eating' apples.  Assuming you don't do a lot of fall baking, you probably thought they were all 'eating' apples. 

They are, really.  Eating apples are simply the ones with the best flavor and texture for eating out of hand.  Baking and saucing apples are distinct, however, and that distinction comes down to what the apple in question does when heat is applied to it.  Some fall apart and go all mushy, and some retain their shape and texture.  The former is bad for a tart or pie, but quite good for apple sauce, or apple butter, and the latter is, of course, a tough character for obtaining sauce with, but perfect to hollow out, stuff with spices and crumbs, and bake, or put into a pie.

Science moment: what an apple does when baked has a lot to do with the amount of pectin therein, and you can tell how much pectin an apple has, relatively speaking, by what happens when you bite into it.  Apples that crunch, and release juice to run down your chin are high in pectin: the pectin holds the cell walls of the apple together so securely that your teeth can't break apart that bond, so instead you rupture lots of apple cells, releasing lots of fluid, with each bite, and you experience a crisp, juicy apple.  Contrariwise, an apple that's low in pectin has cell walls that aren't so firmly bonded, and when you bite into that apple, the cell walls easily cleave under the pressure, and you have a bite of mealiness in your mouth and a clean, if despondent, chin.

Firmly bonded cellwalls result in an apple that can withstand the test of the oven or saucepan, and loosely bonded cellwalls result in an apple that won't seem all that juicy without the application of heat, and will promptly fall apart and puree itself once thus exposed.  Fascinating, yes?

Well, today, I was in the market (literally) for saucing apples.  Some previous research had revealed jonagolds were considered good saucing apples, and as these just happen to be one of my favourite eating apples, I knew they'd be a safe bet.  I asked the farmers at the stand for their recomendations, and they told me they use empire apples for their sauce, and it gives a good pink color, and sweet-tart flavor.  Knowing the balance would be tipped toward sweet with the jonagolds (which is how I like it) I bought two-thirds empires, and one-third jonagolds, with a plan to top off the pot with the galas I had at home for eating out of hand should I have extra room.  The high-pectin galas would hold their shape, giving some chunkiness to the sauce.  I also picked up a loaf of wholewheat organic sourdough bread, eight bosc pears, and that jar of raspberry jam...mmmmm...
Here are my lovely pears, bought firm, and not quite ripe on purpose...

And here are the jonagolds and empires: the jonagolds are the big ones.  They get really huge sometimes!

And here are the sweet little galas, almost tooth-achingly sweet, and perfectly crisp.

Did I mention I didn't have any cash on me today, and used my credit card?  Did you know you can do that??  Any Green Market in NYC that accepts food stamps also accepts credit or debit.  Just take your card to the manager's table, and tell them how much you'd like to spend.  They'll swipe your card for that amount, and give you a matching quantity of wooden tokens worth $5 each.  Spend your tokens just like cash, and get cash back in change, at any vendor at the market.  Easy-peasy!  Don't stress about how many tokens to buy.  They don't ever expire, and can be used at any market that accepts food stamps, and if you underestimate, you can always go back to the manager's tent for a few more!  I got fifteen apples, eight pears, a jar of raspberry jam, and a loaf of bread, all for under $30, and all with my credit card.  Who knew you could charge fresh produce (as well as irresistable baked goods and preserves)?  You are officially out of excuses.
Kitty was interested in the pears at first,
but she soon decided she preferred the galas, which rolled much more readily.
She promptly lost one under the couch, much to her big sister's chagrin.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Who's Who in Local Foods

Ever heard of James Beard?  If you live in America and like food, he's a pretty important guy.  James Beard had the very first cooking show ever, before Julia Child.  He was a strong advocate for 'American cuisine', first and foremost working to uncover precisely what such a thing was.  He's credited with being the first to bring French cuisine to America, though ultimately that was more Julia's forte, as James worked toward building an American cuisine and culinary identity.
 He wrote more than twenty cookbooks, and ran a cooking school out of his townhouse in Greenwich Village, between 6th and 7th on 12th street.  I give you the address because shortly after he died at the age of eighty-one, his home was bought, and refurbished by the James Beard Foundation, which advocates for America's culinary heritage, and food-related professions, and provides scholarships to people entering the culinary arts.  Different workshops and other offerings are regularly held there, most notably the Beard Awards, given  on the first weekend in May, roughly coinciding with his birthday, to various representatives of the food industry: cook book authors, wine critics, restaurant designers, etc.  Founded in 1990, the awards are already considered 'the Oscars of food.' 
  I was just there yesterday, attending a workshop on how to break into the food publishing industry, offered in part by Candice Kumai, which is how I came to learn about James Beard, and woe to my previous ignorance!

James Beard was born May 5th, 1903, in Portland Oregon.  He started college at Reed College in Portland, but was expelled in 1922 for homosexual activity, which, seriously??  I can't believe that wasn't mentioned as part of his bio by the gentleman filling me in at the James Beard House!  In a memoir written later in life, James says, "By the time I was seven, I knew I was gay.  I think it's time to talk about that now."  Which tells us James was willing to talk about his sexuality and how it affected his career.  Perhaps ultimately Reed College had little to offer him, but I can only imagine the pain of expulsion based on something so private, and so completely divorced from academic behavior.  Of course, he isn't the only one.  Oscar Wilde worked seven years of hard labor as sentence after being found guilty of homosexuality.  (I know, seriously??)  It's something that happened. Another blight on our past as a species.

 Edit: In 1976, Reed College presented James with an honorary degree, presumably as a late apology.  During his time at Reed, he was elected treasurer of his freshman class, and won a costume party in full drag.  Interestingly enough, James left the  bulk of his estate to Reed college, and set up a scholarship fund there in his name for students who can't afford the tuition.

After his expulsion, James joined a traveling theater troupe.  He moved to France for several years during the 1920s, and came back to settle in NYC in 1927.  He trained as a singer and actor in New York, and continued pursuing that career for some time, until he opened a catering business with his friend, Bill Rhodes, around 1937.  His first cookbook was a compilation of his catering recipes.

Considering his background as a performer, it's not surprising that he went from being at the front of the classroom, to being in front of the cameras, where he did quite well.

What makes me a newly minted James Beard fan-gurl (aside from his overcoming adversity and prejudice, and staying a positive person throughout it) is this quote about James from David Kamp:

"in 1940—he realized that part of his mission [as a food connoisseur] was to defend the pleasure of real cooking and fresh ingredients against the assault of the Jell-O-mold people and the domestic scientists."

Rock on, man!  Way to fight the good fight, a good sixty years before the term 'locavore' was coined!
James Beard was an advocate of eating locally, and of appreciating the regional cuisines around you.  

In spite of his cooking shows, his cooking school, his many cookbooks, at the time of his death in 1985, the closest thing we had to a unified national cuisine (a state of affairs properly lamented by Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), was fast food restaurants.  Here in 2012, we're making some slow progress.  It's important for us to be mindful of the giants on whose shoulders we stand: each time you step into a Farmer's Market, or savor a delicious meal you made yourself from fresh, local ingredients, think of our patron saint, James Beard.  Why not honor his memory by keeping one finger on the pulse of the James Beard Foundation?

The workshop I attended yesterday was really informative, the James Beard House is beautiful, the food was fantastic (no surprise there; Candice provided it!), and, once I knew who James Beard was, I was proud to participate in his legacy.

Incidentally, you can follow the James Beard Foundation, and Candice Kumai, (and me of course!) on twitter!

I got my information on James Beard mostly from the wikipedia page, but the James Beard Foundation website is the best source of info about that organization (of course).  Check it out!

Live Omily,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Ten of Coins

Is it time for a tarot post again?  For realz??  Wow, today is the very last of the pip card posts!  We've made it all the way from Ace to Ten in all four suits!  Pretty crazy, huh?  Of course, it's not time to start the major arcana yet!  Next week we'll start the court cards, which I'm really looking forward to.  Then I'll have sixteen weeks to get my rear in gear and have the major arcana ready to go!  But for today, let's focus on completion.

The Ten of Coins
"A whole family is present, in the opulence of a grand estate.  The patriarch sits in the corner, draped in a beautiful robe, enjoying the company of a few dogs.  Children, or perhaps a child and a spouse talk or argue in the middle-ground, and a younger sibling or grandchild hides behind the mother, reaching out for one of the family hounds.  What does it suggest that the dogs form a circle between the oldest generation and the youngest? 

            In the tarot canines are generally signs of loyalty or fidelity.  The family that is rich together, stays together.  They may be better off than the solitary lady of means on the last card, but they’re obviously still a bit insular: a walled city beyond the arch in the background suggest they have isolated themselves from the lives of the work-a-day everymen. 

            It’s a simple byproduct of great success in this life: some people will despise you or judge you for it, and those who continue to be kind will likely ask for money.  A significant change in financial status will almost inevitably change your social network significantly as well.  Are you happy to remain loyal to those you got here with, or those within your new class, or does that beautiful carved arch feel like a prison wall?  It actually is an open arch and not a locked door.   You’re free to step outside the confines of your success and start all over, redefining what victory in this case means to you.  Be grateful for this powerful foundation you’ve built for yourself, and don’t burn any bridges with your card-fellows, or those dogs are liable to bite you in the ass.

            In the staves, the victor took his spoils all for himself, meaning he could do with them whatever he pleased.  The cups were all about sharing their joy, but their openness was so great, they were willing to watch their triumph disapate.  The swords accepted defeat with dignity and wisdom.  The coins appear to do the same thing with success.  Can you?

            In a reading, consider who you owe what for where you are today.  Are you paying your dues to those who gave you a leg up when you needed it?  The next time your alma mater asks for money, send them a check.  It’s only right.  If you feel you succeeded in spite of the institution, then at the minimum stop taking perks for being a graduate, and better yet, step out of your perfect life, and demand change for future graduates."

To put this in common parlance, you probably didn't build it alone, and even if you did, is that the way you want to end up?


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Eating Omily: Cooler Weather Warming Up

The growing season is officially closing in NYC.  I picked up my last share of the year a week ago Monday.  That doesn't mean you have to retire to your grocery store, of course!  Apples, pears, potatoes, winter squash, and hearty greens will keeping showing up all Winter long, and grape and garlic season is actually just getting under way!  There's also delicious jams and preserves to enjoy, frozen specimens of the best this summer had to offer, baked goods, pretzels, maple syrup and sugar...mmmmm...

That may sound like quite an abundance, and it is, but if you've seen the Farmer's Market in full July flush, you know this is how it looks when things are winding down to a quieter time.  With a warm enough winter coat, you can linger cozy and content on the coldest of winter days, a cup of hot cider in one hand, and your trusty reusable bag in the other.

I've been experimenting with different winter squash recipes this week in preparation for a Dia De Los Muertos Party I'm hosting on the 28th, starting with two from Candice Kumai's latest cookbook, Cook Yourself Sexy.  Next week I'll be reviewing one of her delectable recipes, though probably not one having to do with winter squash!  I can already tell you her kabocha squash fries are fantastic, especially if you have a spouse to chop up that tough squash for you!

Today I picked up some beautiful Indian corn along with gourds and baby pumpkins to get our apartment into the Fall spirit, all for only $1 each!  So much more beautiful than candy corn, and better for your teeth, though, no, not as tasty.  Did you know that each kernel of corn on a cob is its own genetic entity, with slightly different genes than every other kernel?  They're like brothers and sisters, instead of like parts of a whole.  That's how Indian corn can have so many different colors on a single cob.  How cool is that?

So beautiful!

As the weather gets cooler, you may find yourself craving more hearty fare and comfort foods: more meat, more fat, heavier, gooier textures.  Within reason, this is a normal and healthy impulse.  Your body will be working harder to stay warm all Winter long, especially if you live in NYC where spending time outside each day is not optional!  Use common sense, but don't hesitate to shift your diet away from salads and toward warm, satisfying casseroles.  Winter is the time of year your ancestors ate more meat, a long long long time ago because it was easier to scavenge when the going got tougher each year, and not so long ago because fresh veggies just weren't available.  Buy as much of your meat and other animal products as you can from verifiably humane sources, like your Farmer's Market, or Whole Foods.  Do the verifying yourself by asking questions!  Support the farmers and ranchers who care and respect the creatures in their care, their customers, and the planet!


Monday, October 15, 2012

It Takes One to Ashtanga

Did we all come through the weekend alright?  Have we decorated for Halloween yet?  Chosen your costume??  Eaten candy corn???  (Yes!)  I find that Fall is a great time to try new things.  Last Thursday I took my first ever Ashtanga class!  It was an hour-long class leading us through the first half of the primary series.  With Ashtanga, there's a greater emphasis on the goal of learning to practice by yourself.  You might start in a led class, then progress to a Mysore practice, where the teacher is present to give you adjustments and advice, but isn't leading the class in the traditional sense, or you might go straight into the Mysore situation, and the teacher will introduce you to the poses a few at a time.  This way, it doesn't take long to be able to practice on your own, anywhere, anytime, which is good, because Ashtanga is traditionally practiced six days a week.

Another thing that sets Ashtanga apart is that the only prop you use is your mat.  No blocks, no bolsters, no straps, no blankets.  Just you, and your breath.  I optimistically tucked one little block at the back corner of my mat, but my instructor, Arthur Roldan, was onto me, and back it went.

That's an aspect of Ashtanga that intimidates a lot of people, but Ashtanga is just like any other yoga class in that you aren't there to force your body to do things it's not ready to do.  Arthur offered me modifications when I needed them, and truly amazing adjustments that allowed me to find space in my body I never would have found on my own.  He was very cognizant of my reaction to his adjustments, and constantly checked in that the part of my body the adjustment was applying pressure to wasn't feeling pain.

Ashtanga is like Bikram, sometimes known as hot, yoga in that the exact same series is followed every single class.  When you eventually can do the (entire) primary series completely, and in the fullest expression of each pose, then you move on to the secondary series, a proccess that can take years, or might just never happen.

That's another aspect of Ashtanga that intimates a lot of people, but just like the first intimidating aspect, it's not all that intimidating if you can successfully check your ego at the door.  No one, least of all your teacher, is going to look down on you for needing to modify a shape since blocks aren't an option, and no one is going to down on you, or be surprised for that matter, if it takes you years to master the Primary series.  That's just the nature of the beast.

Ashtanga definitely felt more demanding than the typical hatha-vinyasa classes I frequent.  We had to move quickly to get through half the primary series in an hour, and there was no talk of child's pose, or skipping a chaturanga.  You still could, of course, and by the end I did, but there's a level of expectation that you came to party, and you're really going to put it all out there and do as much of the asanas as you can.

Maybe that sense, too, is just my own ego chatter, and in time I won't feel compelled to take every single jump back...but I did take every single jump back, without bashing my chin on the floor even once, and I'm only going to get stronger, so why not do it again next time?

As I tied my shoes, and shook out my sweaty hair, preparing to leave, Arthur asked me what I thought of the practice.

"It's great," I said, exhilerated.  "It's so different from what I'm used to.  I'll definitely be back!"

"Good!"  Arthur said, then added, almost hesitantly, "As soon as you can, take a hot shower.  You're going to be a little sore."  I nodded and thanked him, knowing there was no room on my schedule for a hot shower till late that night at the earliest, and anyway, I'm an aerialist.  A little yoga is not going to make me sore.  After late that night turned into a promise for the next morning, I rolled over to go back to sleep after kissing the husband good-bye and realized, 'a little sore' was the understatement of the century.

My hamstrings and triceps both were unbelievably stiff, and sore enough to make walking without a severe limp impossible.  When the husband massaged arnica into the backs of my legs, serenaded by my groans and whimpers of pain, he said my muscles felt like bubble wrap under his fingers.

So, yes, take a hot shower, you guys.  As soon as you can.
Also arnica, coconut water, pineapple, a hot water bottle, and a massage partner.

Live Omily,

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Ten of Swords

We've made it all the way to Friday!!!  And Surprise-surprise, it's Tarot Day again!  We're still working out way through the tens.  Today is everyone's favourite:  (What's that?  It's just my favourite?) The Swords!

The Ten of Swords
         "After the contagious joy of the 10 of cups opens your heart, the 10 of swords will either snap it shut again, leave you feeling a little queasy, or maybe both.  A figure lays facedown on the sand, the right hand making a sign of benediction at the querent.  Ten swords pierce the figure’s back from the neck straight down to the thighs.  A red blanket or robe covers the figure’s lower half, but the blood leaking from the wounds is still discernable under the figure’s head.  The ocean is unchanging in the background, the sky just beginning to lighten with the coming dawn.  Maybe going for a late-night walk when you couldn’t sleep in the 9 of swords wasn’t such a good idea.
            This isn’t a very auspicious ending to your quest for ultimate truth, but you had apt warnings along the way to not try to hold on to so many truths at once.  Though the truth was this figure’s downfall, the sign given by the right hand suggests that he bares the world no ill will for his fate.  Perhaps he recognizes it was his own fault, or that it was inevitable.  This subtle detail is the suit’s real triumph.  The figure knew the uselessness of holding onto anger or bitterness, and left this world with positive feelings. 
For all your struggles, and your failures, you can turn what seems like defeat into a tragic triumph by accepting the truths you’ve fought so hard to hold onto.  Truth isn’t meant to be shaken around in other people’s faces.  You have to let it into your heart, scary as that prospect may be.  Yes, the truth will set you free, but probably not in this lifetime, or at least, not in the neat, tidy way that will impress your friends and family.  In this case, it tripped you up, fenced you in, and pinned you down like a butterfly, or at least that’s what it looks like from the outside.  Ok, ok, I’ll say it: “You can’t handle the truth!!!!”
In a reading, consider where in your life you could use this level of gracious acceptance and inner strength.  What are you not allowing to penetrate your understanding out of fear of the ramifications?  Ok.  Fine.  You are allergic to your cat, and it just can’t live with you anymore.  Accept it, and start looking for a good alternative home.  You’re not happy your significant other lost weight and feels amazing; you’re miserable.  Admit it to yourself, and if you want to change your lifestyle, do it."

Sometimes we need to be reminded that this thing we're dealing with is exactly what we wanted all along.  Maybe you need to start all over again on a different path, or maybe you just need a different perspective.  Acupuncture, anyone?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eating Omily: Stop Resisting!

Well guys, Fall is really upon us!  I woke up to my radiator clanking away this morning, and yesterday, I saw watermelons at the Farmer's Market, and turned them down in favor of pears because, it just doesn't feel like watermelon season anymore.  Maybe I'll grab one next week for old time's sake if they're still there...

f you're a big fan of the Autumnal holidays coming up, you probably enjoy decorating for them!  Did you know you can find awesome decorations to carry you right through Thanksgiving at your Farmer's Market?  True story!

See those sweet baby pumpkins in the background? Who doesn't love those??  Some farmers even tie up their corn shocks as they die back, and bring those to market to sell as decoration.  Why buy cheap, hokey plastic at Walgreens when you can get your hands on this stuff for cheap?  And then throw them out at the end of the season, instead of trying to store them in your tiny NYC apartment, guilt free??  If you want to feel really awesome, haul that stuff right back to the Farmer's Market for the compost drop off!

Ok, ok, decorating is cool, but we all know what this time of year is really about...EATING!  Got you covered.  Ever get invited to a dinner party that seems out of your league?  Everyone is just 'throwing together' fabulous, gormet food, and you're wondering if you can get away with an extra bottle of one-step-up-from-two-buck-chuck wine?  Well, if that ever happens, you'll be grateful to have this one in your arsenal.  Easy, cheap, and fancy-schmancy as all get out: winter squash puree.  Impressed yet?

Start with a winter squash of your choice.  One small one will provide one small serving for about five people.  Preheat your oven to 375, cut your squash in half, and rub the inside with olive oil.  Place it cut down on a baking sheet or dish, and slide into the oven for about half an hour to forty-five minutes.  You want to let the squash get really, really tender, but keep an eye on the bottom because you don't want it to brown much at all.

When it's done, let it cool till you can handle it, then scoop out the flesh into a bowl.  Add a pat of butter, salt, pepper, and freshly ground nutmeg, and then just stir!  If it doesn't stir easily together into a smooth puree, it should have been cooked longer, so make a note for next time, and bust out your electric mixer/blender/stick blender/food processor for this time.  Taste, and add more salt if necessary, and you're good to go, and guaranteed to impress.  Bonus points if you toast the squash seeds with pumpkin spices for a garnish.

I had a bit of a milestone this week: I made my first pinterest recipe!  What took me so long?  Well, it seems like a lot of pinterest recipes are either A.) complicated (albiet delicious, I'm sure) desserts, B.) simple unhealthy meals based on processed foods, or C.) unecessarily complicated healthy foods.  I'm not a big fan of complicate recipes.  When you cook with delicious foods, you don't need to do a whole lot to make them amazing.  I'm also a bit scared of "This is SO easy!" suggestions on Pinterest because I check out this website, and this one too, too often.  So what recipe finally tipped the scales for me?  This one.

Easy, minimal ingredients, and it sounded amazing.  As I sliced the potatoes (I made three for two people, because we love potatoes), I got a little scared.  They weren't fanning open, but were sticking together, or falling over in clumps.  How in the world would the air circulate, allowing them to bake through to tender, crisp, deliciousness?  I knew I had to see the saga through, though, so I drizzled (just olive oil), added salt and pepper, and popped into the oven.

I cooked them I think ten minutes longer than the recipe called for, to let them brown a little more, and they came out great!

The thickest potato was not quite as tender as I like at the bottom, where it wasn't cut through all the way, and not every single slice was golden-crisp, but I'd totally make these again.  So fun to eat with your fingers!  (Especially dipped in melted butter...not that we did that...)

Oh!  I promised you yesterday that today I'd tell you how to get FREE fruits and veggies from the Farmer's Market!  Scout's Honor!   Just  go to the Bartel Pritchard Square Farmer's Market in Park Slope, sign up for the frequent shoppers program at the manager's station, and come back three times, checking in each time!  That's it!   You'll get a $2 voucher good for fruits and veggies at any stand in any NYC Green Market.   There's more prizes for weeks six and eight, too, but there's only six weeks more at the Bartel Pritchard Square market, so you'll have to get out there next Wednesday or the Wednesday after to cash in!  There's still plenty to buy.  Maybe I'll see you there!

Eat your veggies!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Learning Not Teaching

My teaching schedule has been pretty abbreviated for a little over a year now.  I'm still teaching here and there, and of course I'm still practicing yoga a couple times a week, but I was teaching three to six times a week for a while last year, and the year before.

I've been keeping busy of course: writing a novel, researching a non-fiction book, interpreting the Tarot, giving tarot readings, Reiki healings, private yoga lessons, working behind the scenes in a couple yoga studios, interning with cook book author and celebrity chef Candice Kumai, studying and performing busy in fact that I can't imagine squeezing three, let alone six, yoga classes to teach into my schedule without a major overhaul.

This is why my eyes flew open in surprise last night when, as I drifted off to sleep, I thought of myself, as naturally as you please, as a yoga teacher.  I shouldn't have been surprised, though.  It's not something that ever goes away, sort of like being Catholic, or I imagine, Jewish.  Every teacher trainer program talks about how you don't have to want to teach to gain a lot from the program: maybe you just want to deepen your own practice.  I don't know about every other teacher trainee out there, but I didn't take that second part too seriously: who would invest this much money, time, and energy in something just for their own sake?

The joke's on me, though, because my practice has deepened, changed, evolved, and exploded in myriad beautiful ways since that teacher training started almost exactly three years ago, and I know beyond a doubt that most of that growth is due to Yoga to the People's program.  If I had any doubts, I'd only have to note the whistfulness with which I read descriptions of other Teacher Training programs.  I'd sign up for another, or three, in a heartbeat, if I had the time and money for it.  I know I inevitably will when the time is right.  Of course, it wasn't just those crazy, bootcamp-style two-hundred hours I spent huddled on creaky wooden floors with more than twenty fellow yoga disciples.  Teaching yoga has allowed me to learn so much more about the practice than just taking it would have, from the students, and from other teachers.  I can see the architecture of the asana flows, and follow the line of thought between extended arm, and esoteric sutra.  In building flows, I built connections that allowed me to climb to broad new vistas.

In fact, I'm beginning to think we need MORE emphasis on yoga teacher training as an opportunity to move deeper into your yoga journey, and less emphasis on going on to teach yoga yourself, particularly with any hope of that entailing income.  If you need a little background on the economy of teaching yoga, particularly in NYC, read this.  It wouldn't be an issue for hundreds, probably thousands, of new Teacher Trainer graduates to be minted every year if the vast majority of them didn't plan on teaching, and those who did harbored no illusions about what that would mean: long hours, and a teeny tiny paycheck.

I'm so grateful for the crazy twists and turns my journey has taken.  Even when this ride has plunged me straight down into darkness, it's always brought me back out to something greater.  I hope to get back into a frequent teaching schedule sooner rather than later...but in the meantime I'm grateful for the time and energy I have to pursue my other passions.

Have you recognized any blessings in disguise lately?  What experiences have you had that have changed you in surprisingly fundamental ways?

Live Omily,

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Ten of Cups

Miss me?  Last week was extra busy with Candice Kumai's incredible book release dinner and after party taking center stage.  I already told you to buy Cook Yourself Sexy, right?  If you love cooking, and using sneaky switches to make extra yummy food better for you, you will not be sorry!  I might have stood a chance at getting another post up, but I was also carving out time to spend with my beautiful inside-and-out friend, Emily, who lives in LA.  We had such a great time eating vegan chocolate and reminiscing, laughing at odd paintings in Union Square dive bars, playing with my kitten...miss her already!

I'm going to kick off this week with an Omily Tarot Post (which you already know since you read the title), and then get back on track with Omily, and Eating Omily posts on Wednesday and Thursday.  That means a post every weekday from now till next Tuesday, so tune in to get all caught up!  Thanks for sticking around and checking out the archives in my absence.  You guys rock!

The Ten of Cups
"Maybe these ten cups belong to this entire family, or perhaps only one has come into this good fortune, but you wouldn’t know it for the signs of joy on display.  The children dance, and the couple open their arms to embrace the beauty before them: ten cups arched overhead in a beautiful rainbow.
In the 9 of cups, we reveled in what we had accomplished, enjoying it even to excess.  There’s a sense of joy, and soaking it all in here, too, but the biggest difference is that in this card, the joy is shared with others. Ultimately, dreamy, emotional cups remind us of what our intuition knew all along: that we are all united, all connected, whether we’re family, lovers, or not.  Success and joy for one are success and joy for all. 
Instead of standing on a lovely tablecloth blocked by the man who owns them, these cups stand in a glowing rainbow, a sign and a gift to all.  If you can dream of what success means to you, why should your dream be selfish, or exclusive?  Triumph in the cups means triumph for all.  If you have enemies, they’ve only excluded themselves from the celebration, and in this moment, they can’t take away what you’ve accomplished.  It’s ethereal and safe in the sky.
Of course, a rainbow is a magical, rare occurrence, and it doesn’t last long.  Joy is a fleeting thing, and clutching onto it is a sure way to lose it to anxiety.  Let this triumph and celebration fill your heart and sustain you for your next journey."

Don't you love a really happy card?  This one reminds me that the best way to enjoy bliss is in the moment, resisting the urge to hold on, or worry about whats coming next.  Maybe kind of like this guy...? Sorry, I know it's really old...but under the circumstances, I couldn't resist!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Omily Tarot: The Ten of Staves

Your tarot post is a day late because yesterday was a very busy day.  And yesterday was a very busy day because today, Cook Yourself Sexy by Candice Kumai is available!  Yay, congrats, Candice!!  Go buy yourself a copy, and a couple extra for Christmas gifts.

Before you contemplate cookery though, lets take a moment to think tarot...we've made it all the way to the tens!  Of  course, there are still the court cards, and then the major arcana to go...but wow!  I've been at this for thirty-seven weeks!!  The tarot zine is not ready yet, but it will be, and in the meantime you can keep checking in here for your weekly interpretation.

The Ten of Staves
"The young man clutches his unwieldy bundle of staves and walks away from the viewer, toward a town in the background. 
To me, this image always reminds me of the kid who isn’t allowed to make all the rules in the game, so he gathers up his toys and stalks home to sulk.  Maybe our hero wasn’t able to get as close to the top of the heap as he thought he deserved to be, and would rather take his accomplishments and start over aiming higher than settle for less.  Having achieved the pinnacle of success, perhaps the only thing left to do is retire to a quieter lifestyle with your accolades in toe.    Maybe the figure finally feels confident enough of his success to stop being so defensive and turn his back, taking what he’s earned back home with him.  The battle is over, and to the victor go the spoils. 
The ten of staves doesn’t look like he’s in a terrible hurry to jump back into the race, but it’s not in his nature to sit in his armchair staring at what he’s achieved for too long without getting excited about a fabulous, new idea.  He’s probably contemplating his next move already.  Even at the ten, the ultimate expression of its path, the staves are looking, and moving, forward.  Can he see around his pride in his accomplishments to attain a clear view of the road ahead?  Too much pride, or resting on his laurels, could hold our hero back when he sets out on a new journey.  Remember, 'In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.  In the expert’s mind, there are few.'"

Let me put it this way: one celebratory night out for drinks when I finished the rough draft of my novel was totally appropes, but wasting weeks in a dreamy haze at my accomplishment wouldn't have gotten me a bit closer to the printing press.  Back to the edits!!