Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Craving

So I gave up sugar for Lent.
The most salient difference this has made in my life so far is that Lent is going by reeeaaally slow.  Some days it's remarkably easy.  Other days there doesn't seem to be a single moment that my brain isn't asking for something sweet.  I give it carrots, apples, yogurt with a little maple syrup.

"Noooooo," it says.  "I want cookie butter.  I want chocolate.  I want ice cream.  I want buttercream frosting."

There are so many sugary things to want...and so many marginally sweet things that have sugar in them, dammit!  The mozerella sticks at Trader Joe's, for example

There are some seemingly random things that can satisfy my sugar craving: roasted plantain chips, an apple sometimes.  When I'm really feeling the pinch, I let myself have a honey mint: creamed honey with peppermint oil dipped in unsweetened chocolate.

You might wonder why I would put myself through such a thing.  I'd say the proof is in the pudding. "I want pudding."

You don't really grasp the nature of a craving until you choose not to satisfy it.  You don't feel the emptiness underneath the urge until you just sit with it for a while.  It becomes obvious this is not an emptiness a spoonful of cookie butter can fill.  You can try to fill it with half the jar of cookie butter, but no, that won't work either, and sooner or later you'll figure that out and feel a bit foolish for being tricked into filling your belly with something that's not serving your body, or your soul.

Satisfying a craving leads to feeling satisfied...for a matter of seconds.  Then you want more.  Or else you start craving something else.  Yoga is really all about seeing that rollercoaster for what it is, and choosing to step off. 

If you make that choice, sooner or later you're going to have cravings, and you're going to have a choice: get back on the roller coaster, or just sit with it.  Turn it around in your hands.  See it for what it is.  Then have an apple with peanut butter.  A little cheese and prosciutto.  A big class of cool water, or a mug of herbal tea.

Meditate, read an article on line, try something new, go for a walk/run/swim/bike/dance/yoga.  Maybe take a nap.  My cravings are strongest when I'm sleepy because the rational part of me isn't functioning so well, and my ego is super quick to pick up the slack.  I've had two lapses so far, both connected to a recent partaking of certain substances that can lower inhibitions.  I don't have a solid plan in place for handling that temptation in the future, and intend to steer clear of substances until I do.

This practice isn't meshing so well with Meditation Challenge Month.  I know meditation would help matters, and I'm going to keep right on challenging myself to do it through the end of Lent and beyond, but it's extra hard to remember to schedule in meditation everyday when I'm doing battle with the whiny sugar-craving voice all day long.

Whether Lent is a meaningful season for you or not, late winter/early spring is a great time of year to make changes to your diet to give your vital organs a break.  You can cut out processed foods, alcohol, and cut down on dairy and meat to great effect.  The key to making this really helpful is not to go crazy and binge on all the stuff you said no for a time.  Reintroduce slowly, and thoughtfully.  I'm really hopeful that sugar will remain well in the backseat of my diet.  I'm learning that I don't need a serving of junk food everyday to feel happy.  That doesn't mean I can't have a serving of junk food if I really want one, but it should always be a carefully considered choice, not an automatic one.

Are you struggling to step away from something that isn't serving you?   Would you like to give up something for forty days and see where it leads?

Live Omily,
~em


Monday, February 25, 2013

Eating Omily: Exploring New Dishes

I just had the yummiest lunch, based on a recipe from Cook Yourself Sexy by Candice Kumai, and modified to fit what I had in my kitchen.  I toasted a piece of bread, and spread it with cream cheese, and a little honey.  Then I topped it with pickled chili peppers, and sardines.  Mmmmm, spicy-sweet omega-3 awesomeness.  I know, it sounds really weird, but it was so so good, especially with lettuce on the side.  I always discover the best flavor combinations when I'm forced to kind of wing it.

I did start with a recipe, though.  Now that I'm meal planning (albiet still a little haphazardly!), I find it's easier to choose new recipes I've never made before based on what's around, and what I can get at the Farmer's Market.  That means we're trying something new at least once a week, which is fun.  This week we made fish cakes (you know, just like crab cakes, but less crabby) with some frozen 'dover sole' that had been taking up freezer space for months.  I got this recipe from Nourishing Traditions.  Flaked up and mixed with egg, breadcrumb, and spices, then browned in oil and butter, the fish was a good deal more inspiring than it had been even under a browned butter sauce.
By using between two-thirds and three-fourths a pound of fish, one egg, one small onion, half a cup of bread crumbs, and some spices (salt, pepper, cayenne), I got four good-sized fish cakes, enough for dinner that night, and lunch for hte husband tomorrow.  I served them over winter squash puree with thawed frozen green beans, and home-made garlic aioli.  That recipe was definitely a winner!

Tonight we're improvising out of Cook Yourself Sexy again!  I'm planning on doing a vegetarian chili with the half-jar of tomatoes in the fridge, and the beans in the freezer.  We'll serve that over buttery polenta.  There will be pizza night, of course.  I'm thinking hotdogs are on the menu, too.  I haven't worked out Friday yet.  I have to go see what all our options are.

Do you like to try new things in the kitchen, or do you stick to trusty dishes you know you can turn out reliably?  I have a terrible habit of only trying new recipes when I'm cooking for guests!  That is basically the worst idea ever.  Hopefully working a new recipe in each week will help me curb that tendency.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Omily Tarot: The King of Cups

Welcome back to the Omily Tarot!  This series won't be going on for much longer.  I only have one yes, ONE tarot card left to interpret out of the whole deck!!  Of course then, comes the editing, the formatting, the illustrating, etc. etc. etc...I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to cut you off after the minor arcana, or keep going until the book's available for sale, as I originally planned.

Today we're on the King of Cups: that supreme doer of emotions, imagination, and other watery worlds.

The King of Cups

"Like the Queen, the King knows the full value of emotions, but he has a greater tendency to control or mask his own for the good of handling the emotions of another.  Like the knight, he has a strong sense of duty.  The queen has a greater sense of spontaneity.  She revels in her feelings; the king is more concerned with useful functions his feelings serve.  He sits on the rolling sea, apparently unperturbed, but the fish in the background reminds us of the page: he has not forgotten the intensity of feelings that comes with youth; he’s still capable of understanding and relating to that intensity, as well as feeling it for himself. 
            The red ship on his right suggests a strong urge to act on his feelings, rather than just communicate them, as is often enough for the queen.  If there is no useful action that can be taken, the king is more likely to relegate his feelings to the background.  The simpler cup the king holds also points to how he holds feelings to be more utilitarian than his queen.  The lotus on his scepter suggests his ability to find a sense of peace and contentment inside, in spite of challenging outer circumstances, the ultimate control of one’s emotions.
            In a reading, the king may stand in for the friend you can always go to who will keep a level head and lend you perspective.  The king can also be suggesting that you keep your emotions to yourself for a time, to give another more freedom to express him or herself.  If you are this king, consider: are you really so mature and in control of your emotions that you can choose which ones to share and which are better to withhold?  Or are you perhaps bottling up emotions that are better expressed?  That red ship won’t stay in the background forever."

Hope you're enjoying your tarot journey with me!  Are doing readings for yourself or anyone else?  Has my perspective on the cards helped you to shape your own? Remember, everyone interpretation is only a jumping off point.

~em

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Billion Rising: It's Time to Break the Chain

It's been nearly a week after the fact, but the repercussions are still going around the internet, and I hope, the world.  Did you participate in One Billion Rising on Valentine's Day?  There were events all over New York City, starting with a dance/march across the Brooklyn Bridge shortly after 8:00 am.  The windows of ABC Carpet and Home were occupied by dancers of various ethnic styles from 2:00 pm on, and Times Square was filled with MTV employees and others at 2:14, walking out of their jobs to rise as one with others world wide to end the epidemic of violence against women.

Oh, yes, that's what One Billion Rising is about.  1 in 3 women worldwide will be beaten, or raped in her lifetime.  That doesn't include being intimidated on the street, harassed in the work place (or not being promoted when you're the best candidate), a boyfriend saying you need to shave your legs or lose weight, etc. etc. etc.  One in three, one third of all women, which amounts to one billion women, will be beaten, or raped within their lifetimes.  It's long past time that all one-billion of us, and the billions of others who don't want this horror, rise, and say, 'Enough.'

So we did.  In Washington Square Park, a huge crowd danced not once but twice to the anthem written for the day, "Break the Chains".  Check it out here, and if you can listen to the whole thing without dancing, singing along, or crying, I'll give you a dollar. Women in other countries with less progressive governments risked imprisonment and death by standing with the rest of us.  You might have missed this V-Day's flashmob, but you didn't miss the movement.  Go to www.onebillionrising.org, and sign up.  The routine violence perpetrated against women by a few, and accepted by many, is the most heinous sign of the sexist world we live in, and it's a great place to start fighting it.

I got some amazing pictures and a video of the Washington Square Flashmob, but there were so many other beautiful things going on that day that I couldn't attend.  I know they were well-documented as well, so if you're looking for inspiration it shouldn't be hard to find!
Before the dance we got some pictures of the signs different women and groups had made.
With Love from NYC!
Love that there were women of all ages, and men, too!
Also loved that everyone was having such a great time!
One Billion Rising...will you be joining us?
That sign on the left is a cause dear to my heart.  Stop teaching women how to not live their lives as they see fit so they can avoid rape, and start teaching men not to rape!
Last group picture!
 The video I took isn't wanting to upload, I assume because it's too big.  The tech-savvy husband can probably get it saved in a smaller format so check back tonight and tomorrow to see if it's up.  I seriously could not stop crying the whole time I was there.  Witnessing the power and passion of my sisters was so moving.  But, of course, dancing may raise awareness, and get us pumped, but it's only the beginning.   If it ends here, there won't have been much point.  Let's keep going!

Live Omily,
~em

Friday, February 15, 2013

Eating Omily: Yummy Things

Meal-planning wrapped up just fine last week, but this week was a little anticlamactic because my Birthday  was Wednesday, and Valentine's Day was Thursday, which both necessitated eating out.  Not that I'm complaining; we stumbled across this little French place in Williamsburg yesterday (ok, we were trying to make a reservation at like, 3:00 in the afternoon the day of).  The house-made gnocchi served with LOTS of cream and cheese, and topped with bacon was pretty ridiculous, along with the carrot soup, the escargot topped with puff pastry, and the rare herb-crusted tuna.  And the cocktails!  Awesome, awesome, awesome.  So much butter.  We were very happy.  It was called La Comptoir, in case you wondered.

Anyway, we did have omelets with leftover enchilada filling for dinner Monday, and we're having pizza tonight.

I wanted to tell you about my blood orange marmalade today!  It's a really manageable canning project, since the effort is spread out over a couple days, and all the pectin in the orange peels pretty much guarantees a good gel.   You don't have to use blood oranges; whatever oranges you like are fine, but we just love the color and flavor of marmalade made with blood oranges, and with a couple cloves added to the final boil.  It's the husband's hands-down favourite spread.

Some people are intimidated by marmalade, not even by making it, just tasting it, since the orange peels are in it.  The thing is, the sliced oranges sit in water for forty-eight hours before the final boil, and after twenty-four hours, they're simmered for about half an hour, which softens the peels, and also takes out a lot of the bitterness.  On top of that, before the final volume, you add as much sugar as you have orange mixture.  This stuff is HALF SUGAR!  How bitter can it possibly be?  You do get a subtle pucker in the final spread, but just enough to act as the perfect foil to the sweet, gooey, spreadable awesomeness.
Here's the jam simmering away in the final boil.   You have to let it boil (not simmer) for about half an hour, until the sugar and heat activates the natural pectin in the orange peels.
I've got most of the jars filled here, and dribbled a fair amount across the counter, as you can see.  Old towels (or cut up t-shirts) are essential for keeping the sticky mess under control!
Isn't that scarlet color beautiful?  Last year the marmalade was more of a deep ruby: almost the exact color of the orange's namesake.  Different fruit is going to look and taste slightly different, which is part of the fun!  After this the jars are put in the canner full of boiling water for ten minutes, to sterilize them inside and out, and heat them up enough to form the vacuum seal.  Those two things (along with the high acid content that won't allow botulism to survive) are what make canned goods shelf-stable.
I love the way the peels look in the jars, and for some reason, I've never gotten fruit float (when the solid pieces of fruit float at the top of the jar, leaving clearish jelly at the bottom) with marmalade.  They're always nicely distributed and really pretty.  This marmalade would make a great gift, if I could get the husband to part with any!

Canning forces you to slow down, be in the season you are in, and do things exactly right.  It adds beauty and amazing flavor to our lives.  You should give it a shot!

~em

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Omily Tarot: The King of Staves

Last week we said fairwell to the Queens.  This week, we get into the Kings!  Hard to believe we've made it this far, huh?  It's been nearly a year since we started!  Today is also a special day because it's my Birthday!  I'm 26 years old.  (That's still mid-twenties, you guys!)  What does the King of Staves have to say about that?

The King of Staves
            "The king of staves may look less intense than the knight, but he is far more potent.  He has harnessed the fiery energies of the knight, and united them with discipline, and forethought.  He not only gets all fired up and works hard for a cause; he thinks it through and makes it successful before moving on to the next thing.  While the queen lets her positive energy radiate to the person she supports, the king gets up and does something concrete to nudge his chosen toward success.  This can be a very good thing, but it can also leave you wishing you had done more to achieve your own goals.
            The King of Staves may stand in for your friend who dazzles you with his go-getter attitude, and constant success, or he may point to the area of your life where you have both the means and the confidence to achieve great growth and success.  If the king represents someone else in your life, he’s definitely someone you want on your side.  His connections, and knowledge on how to use them, will get you far.
            When he pops up, consider where all you need is maturity and staying power to achieve success.  Are there areas of your life where you can be your own King of Staves example?  If others are acting immature, don’t sink to their level.  If you’re asking about a relationship, this card may be suggesting that passion may gain this person’s interest, but it will take discipline and staying power for him or her to stick around.  If your question is whether or not you should apply for a position, consider how much you really want it, and how long you’ll be willing to stick with it should you get it."

In my card, this card may be saying that it's not too late to achieve my goals, and I shouldn't feel discouraged because I'm not there yet.  It takes more than passion and fire to succeed.  It takes patience and discipline as well.  That's reassuring!   Do you know someone who's like the King of Staves (or Wands, as the Waite-Smith deck specifies)?  Would you like to be like him yourself?

~em

Monday, February 11, 2013

Snow Fun and Things to Come

In case you're wondering how we fared with the snow, we are mostly wondering why there wasn't more of it.  We made the best of it, though, with an awesome sledding-trip to Central Park on Saturday.  I haven't seen that many people sledding in one place in my entire life!  And I'm pretty sure we smacked into, or were smacked into by, at least half of them.  The smart parents had their little ones in bike helmets, and the smarter parents took their little ones either to smaller, less crowded areas, or home for some nice, safe hot cocoa!  Is it just me or do people in other cities decide they have to stop having fun once they get out of college until they have kids of their own as an excuse?  We say, screw that!  Commandeer a sled, and if you run into a small child, just try to scoop him or her up for the ride, instead of going right over him or her!  I have a very defined line of bruising right around my sacro-iliac joint.  That's the 'ass area' for you lay people.
Here's a great picture the husband got of the insanity!  Proof it wasn't our fault we clobbered a couple of kids!
Only the best equipment for us professionals!
Exhilarated, and more than a little disheveled!  You should have seen my hair an hour later!
I really do love the way snow can bring out the kid in us!  It's a toy that falls from the sky, freely given, and that's such a great metaphor for life in general, and the good things in it in particular.  Bad things happen, too of course, sometimes because other people aren't very skilled in their interactions with you, sometimes because of bad weather, bad luck, or bad decisions, but there are always useful lessons in the midst of that suffering, and it's never a bad thing to work on looking at the positive in the midst of tough times.  Maybe you're not a snow fan, but Spring will come again, whether you ask for it or not, because that's the cyclical nature of the universe.  Good things are coming!!

Speaking of good things coming, I had a thought the other day that it would be fun to collaborate with other people in Brooklyn doing similar awesome things to what I'm doing.  That might be tricky to to via blogpost, so I thought I might possibly do it via podcast.  Sort of an, "Omily, And..." thing, with the 'And' always changing!  New perspectives, new ideas, new techniques...why not?  Such things wouldn't be very frequent: once a month at most, I would think.  Do you think that sounds fun?  Do you know someone who'd like to collaborate with me?  We can talk about yoga, tarot, Reiki, meditation, dream interpretation, aerial, writing, local food, cats, being a spiritual person in a materialistic world, being a Catholic who does all of the above, or, you get the idea, just about anything that would be a good fit with one or all of those things!  Once you've liked my facebook page by clicking the button in the upper right quadrant of the screen, you can send me a message, and maybe, just maybe, we can do something cool together for the good of the order!

I'll see you guys Wednesday.  I have to get the laundry started, or I'll be stuck wearing these levi flares all day!  Definitely a sign it's time to manifest some clean clothes...

Live Omily,
~em

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Eating Omily: Planning to Eat Better

So you guys may know by now that I suffer from certain insecurities regarding my feminist status: i.e. I married at 22, my husband is the primary breadwinner, I took his last name, I freak out if the house isn't clean, and I do most of the cooking.  I shudder in horror at the blogs by 'Wife and Mom!!!!!' types, but still take note of their tips for running a household (cringe!).  One would think I would be desperately searching for a way to make myself a little more feminist bad-ass, right?  Well, that search is not going well because this week I started meal-planning.  Does it get any more Sally Homemaker than that?  Oh yeah, I'm also making jam.

But, seriously, I am majorly geeking out over this meal-planning thing!  Lots of people (no one in my age bracket, or DINK status) swear by it, but I've never understood what the big deal was.  I finally read about it on one too many blogs and decided to give it a shot.

A lot of people do this by scanning their favourite websites for recipes that sound good, compiling a grocery list for that week based on those recipes, doing one shopping trip, and then cooking.

Since I eat seasonally and locally, I need a more flexible system than that.  Plus, I can only imagine how much food gets thrown away using that method.  So instead, I started by compiling a rough list of what was already in my kitchen, chose four meals I'm already comfortable making, and one exciting new dish all of which I can make mostly by pulling what I already have in my kitchen, and wrote up my (short) Farmer's Market and grocery list.

This week we're having:

Pizza!

Veggie Currie!
Which looks like this when you cook it!
Those are the blood oranges I'm prepping for marmalade between steps.  You'll hear more about them next week!
You guys, please.  You can't get a curry this good at a restaurant.
 Slow Cooker Beans over Mashed Potatoes!
This is what beans look like cooking.  Good work, guys, keep it up!
 Turkey Enchiladas!
Here's the enchilada sauce I made.  So easy-peasy, and so so good!
 and Bean and Barley Veggie Soup!

Yum.

So, how is cooking all that stuff easier than resorting to Trader Joe's portobello mushroom ravioli and fish nuggets half the time?

Let's be honest: half the battle of making dinner is figuring out what to make that you have the damn ingredients for.  It's way easier to make veggie curry if as soon as I walk in the door, I can put the coconut oil in the pan and start chopping onions, sweet potatoes, etc.

I can also do a lot more making ahead, since I already know what we'll be having: I made the pizza crust and the enchilada sauce Monday morning, and started the beans soaking and took corn tortillas and turkey meat out of the freezer last night.

Even better, I can strategically plan to re-use ingredients in creative ways, so less food goes to waste, and I'm cooking less overall.  Slow-cooker beans turn into bean and barley soup, and the mushrooms I bought Monday at the Farmer's Market topped our pizza that night, and added flavor and heartiness to our veggie curry last night.

Of course, I'm still working the kinks out: a meeting came up for this Friday night that might necessitate resorting to ravioli after all, and saving the soup for Monday night, and I'm going to need to look for local/organic onions at the grocery tonight or tomorrow because I didn't have enough of them for all of this week's recipes.(Note to Self: Check facebook events during planning process).

Did I mention I could never do this without the internet?  There are lots of meal planning websites.  Right now I'm using saymmm.com because it's free, and simple, but it doesn't have an app, and the mobile website doesn't save my login info, so I may end up switching.  I love the way I can update my shopping list anytime, anywhere, and specify which store I want the item bought from.  That makes it much easier for the husband to do the shopping, and to keep track of the cooking tasks left to him.  He's making mashed potatoes tonight to serve with the beans.

Have you ever tried meal planning?  What system works for you?  Will you try it now, or are you still not convinced?  (Hello, did you see this week's menu???)

Mmmmm...

How about I convince you by sharing my veggie curry recipe?  That's what I thought.

Step One: Start your brown rice, because your curry will be done at just about the same time.

Step Two: chop an onion, slice a handful of mushrooms, and chop two carrots.  Saute onions, mushrooms, and carrots in coconut oil, or olive oil with salt.

Step Three: While the veggies saute, chop up three smallish sweet potatoes into small cubes, and halve any larger Brussels' sprouts.  I used about half a stalk's worth (or didn't you know Brussels' sprouts come on stalks?).  Add them to the pan to let them mingle with the other veggies for a couple minutes.

Step Four: Add a cup or a little less of chicken, veggie, or other light stock.  You can use water, but you'll lose out on a little flavor.  Put a lid on the pan, and let the carrots and sweet potatoes braise until tender, about five or ten minutes.

Step Five: When the veggies are tender, remove the lid, and if there's a lot of liquid (more than barely covers the bottom of the pan) turn the heat up and let it cook off a bit. 
,
 Step Six: Stir in really good curry sauce.  I use Brooklyn Salsa Company's because there's just no reason not to.
Hell yeah.
Serve over rice with plain yogurt on the side.  Nom.  Of course, feel free to mix up the veggies in the recipe based on what you have, and what's in season.  This recipe should serve four people, or two people+lunch for two people the next day.  Which looks like this.

Nom.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Omily Tarot: The Queen of Coins

It's Omily Tarot Day again!  Shuffle your decks, guys, we're coming into the home stretch of the Minor Arcanum, and I'm two-thirds done interpreting the Major Arcanum!!!  I'm so excited to get this puppy all done and share it with you.  We're onto our last Queen today: the beautiful, the practical, the material girl...The Queen of Coins.

The Queen of Coins

"The queen of coins is first cousin to the Empress: she may be the earth goddess, but the queen of pentacles is Mother Nature: the expression of that goddess whose lap we can crawl into.  She sits in the midst of her beloved realm, surrounded by growth and life.  The rabbit running by in the lower right corner reminds us of the sensual aspects of the fertile earth that she also represents.  The empress appears to be pregnant; the queen of coins cradles her symbol like a baby in her lap, knowing that practical hard work is necessary to nurture and care for her gifts. 
            The page is curious, the knight is dedicated, but for the queen, it is a labor of love.  Her feminine sense of deep contentment to just be present to nature can represent in a reading a suggestion to spend more time at home instead of going out with friends, or to be more appreciative of what you have.  Count your blessings, and don’t take them for granted!  This card may suggest that you are in need of some nurturing now, or that the proper course of action may be for you to nurture those around you. 
            The queen may be suggesting that you cultivate her sense of ease in her surroundings, and trust that what you need is all around you.  She may be saying that you are this nurturer, in control of your surroundings, and able to give.  Keep in mind that you can't be a nurturing giving person without being thoroughly rooted and cared for yourself, and the queen would ask that you go back and look after yourself before expending your energy outward."

It's beautiful to me to see how intertwined love of others is with love of self: you just can't do one right without the other.  Being able to unashamedly pamper and luxuriate in yourself is your training ground for being able to do that for others, with no resentment, no expectation of anything in return, and no martyrdom.  It's a beautiful thing!  Our society tends to set up selfishness and generosity as polarized forces, one repelling the other.  But like so many things the tarot wants to teach us, that's an unhelpful way to think about it.  The urge to care for and to give is equally valid whether it's self, or other directed.  They only come into conflict if there aren't enough resources to go around and you have to choose whether to take for yourself, or give to another.  If you regularly practice self-directed love and generosity, then you don't have to worry: when those moments come up, you'll have a healthy place from which to decide if this is a moment to advocated for yourself, or a moment to revel in somebody else's satisfaction.  Something else our society tries to tell us is that life is a zero sum game: that it's always us or them, but that's not true, either.  The Universe is just as abundant as this beautiful queen.  Ask for what you want without reservation, and you'll get it.

In honor of these four awesome-sauce queens, here's some more (drag)queenly advice.  Take it away, RuPaul!

~em

Friday, February 1, 2013

Things I'm Going to do More of Dammit Or, It's Meditation Challenge Month Again!

Lately I've been challenging myself to write more.  If I don't have a project I'm working on, I scribble a line here or there on scraps of paper, but I don't do any real writing until an idea comes along and bites me on the nose.  The trouble with this, and most creatives know, is that when you're not exercising those writing/painting/designing/sewing/what have you muscles, those nose-biting ideas can be few and far between.  Perhaps you're happy to have a less sore nose; nevertheless, you start to feel a little silly calling yourself a writer/painter/designer/seamstress when you don't actually spend much time on that activity.
So, I challenged myself to start a short story every day.  Finishing one is hopeless.  I'm lucky if I have time to do more than plunk out an opening paragraph.  Naturally most of these efforts are truly awful and will never see the light of the day.  But having to write something, ANYTHING, is in fact getting that pump primed and sending more ideas down the pike, and wouldn't you know it?  Four days later a really good idea bit me on the nose.  I spent the next couple days fleshing it out, and really, I'm quite happy with it.  I may even let it be one of many under a similar theme.

The trouble is, once I got that nose biter down on paper, I sort of felt, vindicated, and lost my steam for the project.  I guess it just feels much better to write a good story that might have a shot at appearing some place than to write a crummy one just to be writing something.  And the point of this blog is to make sure I'm writing something on a very regular basis, but a blog post is not like a story, and Ernest Hemingway (he was a real douche bag, but a great writer nonetheless.  Sometimes those things seem to go hand in hand.) would wake up and stand at his writing desk and just write, write, write till lunch time.  I'm sure most of that was crap, too, at least by Hemingway standards.

So, I have to get back into that habit, and I have to stick with it, whether it's just pages of drivel day after day, or whether something really good comes out of it.

Which is (why oh why does this keep coming up in my life??) non-attachment: my focus has to be on doing the work, not on the consequences.  To put it another way, my writing should be like my yoga practice: just something that I do, and if I look up every now and then in pleasant surprise because I'm in a shape I couldn't achieve six months ago, so be it.  That's beside the point.

Along those same lines is my sad and lonely meditation practice.  Meditation isn't sad and lonely, but my practice is, because on a nearly daily basis I give it a gentle pat on the head and assure it I'm going to do that.  Soon.  Maybe tomorrow!  And then I don't.  Sigh.  You may recall last year's February Meditation Challenge, when I successfully meditated for a full day, and felt amazing and much more like the person I want to be because of it.

Why are we such self-thwarting creatures?  We know what's good for us, and then we go and not do it anyway.

ANYWAY, it's February again, and I'm going to meditate EVERY DAMN DAY again, and THEN I WILL DO IT AGAIN IN MARCH COME HELL OR HIGH WATER.  Hopefully.  So if you want to follow along on my meditation journey (and you can now picture it as a cocker spaniel whose owner has just arrived home after being gone on vacation for a damned year), you can do so at Sharon Salzberg's website.  Just go to sharonsalzberg.com/realhappiness/blog.  Me, and lots of other people and groups will be taking part in the meditation challenge again this year, and blogging about our experiences at that website.  I may copy/paste some material between that post and this one (because why bother just regurgitating the same material in a slightly different way?  I'm going to be meditation-obsessed all month.  AND NEXT MONTH TOO, DAMMIT!), but I will keep up with original content on this blog: my tarot and Eating Omily posts, and probably a few other topics, too.

You can join the challenge yourself, officially or unofficially.  Sharon's book, Real Happiness, is truly a wonderful way to introduce yourself to a meditation practice, but of course, the great thing about meditation is that no trappings are required.  You can read about meditation for free online (start here), and just go for it!  If you do take the plunge, please keep me posted in the comments.  I could really use the support!

It will be interesting to see how my daily writing changes as my meditation practice progresses.  I'll keep you informed!

Live Omily,
~em