Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Eating Omily: Or Just Trying To!

Sorry for the long delay, guys!  My week in Ohio was jam-packed with pre-wedding adventures, catch-up dinners, too many drinks, and illicit activities!  So, yes, I had fun.

It's hard to feel inspired to write an Eating Omily post after spending a week dancing through hoops of proccessed foods, tortured meats, and imported veggies, but ultimately a woman's got to eat!  What do you do when you find yourself in that same situation?  I'm hoping I can give you some useful tips.  Whether you're visiting family, or absolutely starving in a virtual restaurant-free zone, there are going to be times when following your own ethical/nutritional guidelines is just not possible.  Here's how I handle it:

Most important thing: Do your best, then let go of guilt.  The fact is, pineapple is not the problem: the ubiquitous availability and cheap price are!  The same goes for beef, cheese, etc.

Know the priority ranking of your values:

Not torturing animals for my food is way up there for me, so if there's a vegan option, I'll always take it, even if it means not quite filling up my tummy, or a slightly less healthy choice (in small town Ohio, that's far more common than it would seem).

If you're planning on eating out, suggest Mexican!  Since beans are such a big part of the cuisine, it's a pretty reliable choice for finding a vegetarian option, and asking them to hold the cheese and sour cream makes it vegan!
And besides, who doesn't want to have a margarita with this guy??  Yes, for real, in a Mansfield, Ohio Mexican restaurant.

Another option that can get overlooked is seafood: I'm pretty confident shellfish don't do much suffering; their brains are just not complex enough, so for me, they're kind of a loophole.  And it doesn't hurt that I love mussels, clams, shrimp, all of it! I try to avoid farmed salmon, but I'd rather eat that than pork, which is raised so grievously commercially.

On the other hand, respect and compassion for the human beings in front of me is a really important value, too.  So if I look around and realize there are no veggie options at a family cook-out (and, no, Kroger's does not stock 100% pastured beef), I'll express my gratitude, and eat the burger.  If the conversation works around toward meat quality, etc., I can take the opportunity to mention how much tastier and healthier burgers made from cows who live outside and eat grass all their lives are. 

In our effort to change the world, never forget that good will is more powerful than guilt, and love is more powerful than fear.

Don't slip into the "Well none of this is healthy so it doesn't matter trap!":

That's how I wound up eating oatmeal creme pies for breakfast twice.  GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, the whole nine yards.  The highly sugary instant oatmeal with growth hormone milk was a better choice, though at the time the whole situation felt hopeless.

Hot Tip:  You can almost always find an apple and peanutbutter!

Offer to help shop and cook!  If you buy it yourself, you can makes choices in line with your values, and if it's your money and effort, no one else can complain. Even if you're shopping yourself, you may find limited selections of local or torture-free products.  Don't panic: just do your best.  Choose organic, look for fair trade, choose wild-caught shellfish over red meat or chicken, and when you bring your bounty home, talk about your choices and why you made them.  Don't miss a teachable moment!

How do you handle situations where none of the edibles around you are in your daily diet?  I've focused mostly on ethical concerns, the same can go for nutritional ones.  If I ever have to eat another iceberg lettuce salad with deep-fried clam strips it will be too soon...

Well, ok, truthfully I kind of love deep-fried clam strips...


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Omily Tarot: When to Omily UnTarot

 I feel like we've covered some great ground in tarot study in the last few weeks: we've talked about how to handle disapproving family or friends, reversed cards, tarot spreads, applying the major arcana to your daily life...Today maybe we should talk about when NOT to read the tarot.  Because, yes, there are those times. 

And it's an easy trap for a new tarot enthusiast to fall into: here's this amazing new tool for self-reflection, this beautiful pack of cards, each one a work of art all on its own, this incredible new skill you're so proud of and ready to share...pretty soon you and your favourite deck are attached at the hip and a couple of your cards have beer on them from whipping them out at your local watering hole one time too many.  (Ok, truthfully, the tarot readings that happen several rounds deep into a drinking session tend to be the best.  Bring a deck you know you can replace cheaply and easily, and get in on this.)

It's great to be excited; it's normal to see every twist and turn of life as an opportunity to lay out the cards. It's also bad.  Because the tarot should never be a crutch.  And when we do something all the time, without considering whether or not we should, we get dependent on it.  While the Tarot is a tool to help us lead more successful, purposeful lives, it shouldn't become something you can't live your life without.  It's a good idea to leave that tarot deck in its place while you deal with day to day turmoils. 

After all, if the Tarot only helps you when you're using it, it's not really all that useful.  By using it regularly, you learn to detach and see your situation from a bird's eye view.  You learn to recognize archetypes at work in the people around you, without your deck having to spell it out for you.  Over time, you internalize the wisdom of the Tarot so that you can handle more and more complex problems on your own.  It's sort of like how you internalize the advice of your parents, so over time, you need to ask for their help less and less.  That's growing up.  In the case of the Tarot, needing it less and less with time is waking up: becoming enlightened.

Someone who can't handle life's ups and downs or big decisions without calling Mom past a certain age is considered a little...stunted.  Someone who can't decide which movie to see or which job to choose without consulting their deck after a certain point is a poster child for why people think the Tarot is bad.  Don't be that person!  We need all the good press we can get!

You have to decide for yourself the best way to put limits on your own Tarot use: maybe you only do a full spread on yourself once a week, and you only draw a card for a little extra insight after sitting with the issue yourself for twenty-four hours.  Maybe you just keep a loose eye on what situations you feel the need to use the tarot for, and continuously work to 'level up', not letting yourself use the Tarot for the same type of problem after a couple months of study have elapsed.  It's a really personal journey, but it's important to be cognizant of how often you're using the Tarot, and why.

As you get better and better, you're going to hit a point in your Tarot study where you stop having to beg your friends to let you read for them, and they start begging you.  Again, this is really cool!  You deserve to give yourself a pat on the back.  You've acquired a skill that allows you to help others on their personal journey.  That's awesome!  But just like reading for yourself, you have a responsibility to make sure doing ANOTHER reading on ANOTHER failed relationship for your friend is actually helping him or her.

At least once in your Tarot career, you're going to have to cut someone off.  This is a really sensitive situation, so it's important that you lay it out for this person as gently and clearly as you have for yourself: the Tarot should over time be teaching you to make better decisions on your own.  You have enough information and perspective about this issue to make the right choice without help.  It's time to spread your wings!

When your friend (or client) is paying you fair market price for your readings, it can be tempting to keep laying out the cards every few days, and parroting the same things over and over (because if you haven't figured out this has gone far enough, the Tarot will.  If the same messages keep coming up, that's your cue), but when you're dealing with the kind of energy-sharing, healing, growing craft that Tarot is, you can't throw up your hands and blame the free market: you have to take responsibility for caring for your clients as best you can.  They may well go find another source for their readings if they aren't ready to hear it from you, but they'll get the same second opinion sooner or later, and it'll sink in.

What if this frequent customer doesn't seem overwhelmed by her or his life and desperate for advice?  What if he or she just really loves the Tarot, and is using your readings as a way to learn more about working with the cards?  If that's the case, it's time to suggest your client change tactics.  Tutoring sessions on learning how to read the Tarot are available, and your client will learn a lot more in this setting than just gleaning what they can from personal readings over and over.  You might not feel prepared to teach someone else the Tarot, and you may hesitate to hand your client over to someone who does, but remember: ethics are everything, and so is building customer loyalty.  Doing the right thing is paramount, and by doing so, you're letting your client know you care more about him or her than making a quick buck.  He or she will still need readings from time to time, and you can bet she or he will come to you.  It's nice if you can refer them to another reader you know, someone you're happy to be helping out, as well.

If you or a friend feel like you're in a place where it's time for some tarot tutoring sessions,  e-mail me (see my website) or message me on Facebook, and we'll meet up and discuss.  The informational meeting is free.

Any other times when you should turn a client down?  Absolutely!  If they want you to do a reading on a subject you can't be objective about, you have a responsibility to back away from the cards.  Whether it's spousal fidelity, animal cruelty, or something as small as a client who just seems whiny, we all have hot button issues and pet peeves that are potent enough to keep us from being clear channels for wisdom.  Hopefully, with time, we can learn to put aside our personal feelings, and just give this person the wisdom the universe is offering at this time, but that's not something to rush or try to force.  If you don't think you're the right reader for a client, just say so, and if you can, recommend someone else.  You don't have to go into detail.  Client-reader confidentiality is a big thing, but so is your role as a healer and protector.  If the situation warrants it, don't hesitate to contact the police or other proper authorities to keep you, the client, or a third party safe.  If it's possible to do so without compromising safety, let your client know you're passing this information along to professionals before you do it, as a gesture of respect.

There are certainly other situations where a Tarot reading isn't what's called for, so perhaps we'll revisit this topic another time.  For now, I think you've got enough to chew on! Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Open Letter from a Catholic Hipster

Quick confession: I read The Tablet, the Catholic newspaper of Brooklyn and Queens, just about every week.  You might be surprised how interesting it can be.  Each week there's an article written by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.  Now, The Bishop and I definitely disagree in some notable areas, but generally I still find his articles to be thought-provoking and interesting.  This week he talked about the responses he's been getting to a new add campaign launched to try to bring more people back to weekly mass, and I found myself agreeing with him quite a bit.  Here's the ad.
Here's the article. Interesting, no?  Ok, maybe cheesy, but anything that provokes a reaction is a step in the right direction, and apparently the Old Guard of the BK Catholic Church was out in full force, informing the Bishop of how disrespectful and dare I say innapropes this portrayal of, we assume, Jesus is.  Hipsters, apparently, are dirty, shallow, narcissistic white kids who smoke weed.  Ok, fine you got me.  I do fit more of those categories than I don't.  But those complainers are obviously shallow, too, since they're complaining about us being dirty, and white, two things that shouldn't actually matter.  I mean, ok, so Jesus wasn't white.  I didn't ask me to be born of western European lineage!  And Jesus was totally dirty!  Comeon, those dusty streets?  No indoor plumbing?  People were all the time washing his feet for heaven's sake!  They had to be pretty gnarly.  I'm being a little tongue in cheek, but it's all true regardless. 

I'm getting pretty sick of people hating on hipsters.  First of all, it seems like the definition is as nebulous as air: pretty much the kind of people you don't like are the people you call hipsters.  The only firm perimeters seem to have to do with being fairly young, and living in Brooklyn.  For the sake of simplification, I'm going to say that a hipster:

-is twenty-something

-is not obsessive about personal grooming

-prefers locally grown/made/designed/crafted/found products and services than imported ones

-wants to know exactly where the things he or she is spending money on come from and how they came into existence

-expresses concern for the environment and social justice issues

-prefers walking, biking, and public transit to car culture

Now, inevitably, some young people are tapping into the style and buying habits of hipsters without embracing the underlying reasons for them, and if you really want to be a big judger and call them shallow then you can.  But putting those instances aside for now, how are any of the above mentioned items bad?

Being young?  Um, you used to be twenty-something, battle axe.  Calm the feck down.

Not feeling the need to own a blowdryer?  Hell, I don't own a hairbrush.  Scientists have been telling us forever that daily showers are actually unhealthy and open us up to infection.

Prefers local shit?  NEWSFLASH!  So did your grandma!  We're trying to return to a more sustainable lifestyle by shifting our dollars toward people who are taking care of the planet, and not causing human rights issues across the planet so we can have cheaper fashion and watermelons in January.  This goes hand in hand with wanting to know where and how things are made.  I don't want my new floor to be the result of chopping down the rain forest and slave labor.  Wow, I'm such a dirty, shallow asshole.  Jesus would never ask questions at the Home Depot. 

This also goes hand in hand with expressing concern for environmental and social justice issues. And guess what guys. It's a lot easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk. You really think those kids down in Zuccotti Park were having the time of their lives sleeping in the rain to make sure their voices were heard?  I'd like to see you sacrifice your comfort for a larger cause. Wow, what a bunch of bums.  Bet they were stoned the whole time, too.  And God forbid.  I mean, what's worse than smoking a non-addictive, non-carcinogenic, impossible-to-overdose-on plant?  I know you old school types neeeeever use chemicals to alter your state of mind in social situations.  Jesus turned water into wine, and after conferring with other hipsters, we're pretty sure that whole loaves and fishes business was the munchies.

Guess what the world would be if everyone sold their cars for bikes, feet, and buses?  That's right!  A better place!

Game.  Set.  Match.

On the other hand, plenty of hipsters (by various definitions) have responded to this poster by claiming that they are "open, inclusive, counter-cultural, and opposed to virtually everything the Church represents."

Well, that's pretty funny guys, since the founder of the Church was ALL OF THOSE SAME THINGS save the last one.  I'll be the first to admit that we get hung up on details and miss out on Jesus' message of love and acceptance for all beings, but do we really think throwing shade and clearing out in droves is the way to change that?  If you're so 'open, inclusive, and counter-cultural', you should be totally accepting of the Church, which is pretty counter-cultural these days, especially in these parts.

My point is, we're better together.  Always.  Jesus wouldn't want us throwing judgement in both directions, arguing over who's holier and who Jesus would have been besties with.  We know who he would have been having dinner with.  Hint: local, artisanal treats are sure to be on the table.  And then the next night he may stop by your place for the latest from Costco. None of us is perfect.  We are all called to work each day at living a more authentically human life, whether that means meditating on a cushion in our bedroom, saying a rosary, apologizing to someone we've hurt, or choosing local apples over imported ones.  For me it means all those things, and a whole lot more, and I suspect I'm not the only one who would benefit from a more holistic approach.

Just open up, and give the people you're tempted to condemn another chance.  Walk into a Catholic church sometime.  Or a Farmers' Market, or an artisanal bike shop. I promise you won't get struck by lightning.  And just maybe, you'll find something there worth keeping.

Live Omily,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Eating Omily: Special Spring Treats

My friend at the Central Valley Farm stand has been leading me on for weeks with promises of spinach and asparagus, but something tells me today could really be the day...
Spring is such a beautiful time!  It feels like Christmas: all the fresh green flavors I've missed over the Winter are coming back, and to celebrate, we get once-a-year special green treats!
If you love garlic, onions, and leeks, you need to get in on the rampage before it's too late!  I wrote about ramps: wild leek relatives last year.  They are so delicious, and easy to freeze to have for later!
There are plenty of your favorite cooking greens coming up, too: collards, kales, broccoli rabe, mustards, lettuces, spinach...and some funky and adventuresome flavors if you want to, quite literally, step outside your comfort zone!
My stinging nettles are still chilling the fridge. I'm more than a little intimidated! I'll do some research and be sure to update you once I cook with them.  Now that it's Spring you may be doing a little planting of your own, even if it's just a few potted herbs on a window sill.  The compost station at the Farmer's Market is a wonderful resource to take advantage of.  For a dollar a pound if you bring your food waste to add to the compost, you can purchase potting soil that's half high quality compost, or the compost itself to amend your plant pots with.
And speaking of pot...I saw these displays at Fishes Eddie on Friday, and they cracked me up!  Do you think we'll be seeing this special plant sustainably grown at the Farmers' Market anytime soon??
Stranger things have happened...


Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Omily Tarot: Archetype-Casting

I had a lovely job interview yesterday, and when I was asked to tell the interviewer about myself, no surprise, tarot came up in the first sentence! Since I wasn't applying for a position as a tarot reader, I had to take the time to explain how the tarot informs my other pursuits in life. And it does. A lot. Fortunately, my interviewer was pro-tarot and very interested, so it was ok that it took me some time to articulate the way the tarot has provided a powerful lens for viewing people and the world. By the time I was done, I knew I had to share my insights with you guys. If you're on the fence about exploring the tarot, this post may be the one to tip you over! It's not just about telling your friend's fortunes, or enjoying gorgeous artwork, though these things are definitely fun.  It's about an ancient art/science working for you to help you handle life's complicated twists and turns.

You see, the whole Tarot, and the Major Arcana in particular, is made up of archetypes.  'But what ARE archetypes??' You may ask.  Well, google defines them as:
  1. A very typical example of a certain person or thing.
  2. An original that has been imitated.
Wikipedia talks about them as a generic version of a personality.

And then there's Jungian archetypes. Carl Jung didn't believe that we are born into this world blank slates.  We have instincts already present in our minds, and we also have archetypes. As Jung defined them, it's really dificult to talk about archetypes. We can talk about archetypal images, though, and strictly speaking, that's what the images of the Tarot are. Archetypes themselves are vague, nebulous ideas in our minds. When we find an example of an archetype in mythology, history, or are daily lives, we're recognizing this vague idea as having crystallized into a concrete image: the archetypal image. Yes?

So, the idea is that the archetypes (technically archetypal images but archetypes is a convenient shorthand) are present in all of us as part of the collective consciousness: we are born knowing who these figures are, and when we see a Tarot deck, we may not consciously recognize these figures, but if we sit down and write our observations and what we think the cards might mean based just on the images, we often find our insights are shockingly similar to the complex interpretations attributed to the cards.

This makes the Tarot a fabulous tool for connecting to these pre-existing archetypes, and getting to know them on a deeper level. When we do this, we become ready to use this knowledge in our daily lives.  We encounter real live archetypes all the time. We all contain all of them, and at different times, they come out.

Thanks to studying the Tarot, I understand that my ex-Marine father (The Emperor) craves order, and believes in the rules for the sake of the rules.  No wonder we butted heads so frequently as I was growing up!  Of course, my dad's not only the Emperor (he can't resist petting an animal whose enclosure bears the sign, "Don't pet me; I bite!" he has a goofy sense of humor, and he can be moved to tears by one of his children giving him a drawing), but when his Emperor archetype comes out, I understand what's motivating him, and I can do my best to give him what he needs to feel secure, or at least to assure him that I understand where he's coming from and am sorry I'm causing him discomfort.
 When my fourteen-year-old sister expresses dissatisfaction with, well, everything, and retires to her room to cry over what seems like nothing, I know she's struggling to make peace with the Hermit inside of herself: to find spiritual order in an imperfect world, and to somehow negotiate the high principles she's developing into complex human social interactions. I can cut her some slack, and offer reassurance that she's right to want the world to be a kinder place, but such change takes place slowly, and only if we all work at it. Isolating ourselves can only take us so far.
When my husband announces his work has been featured on another prominent blog, or he's been contacted about another exciting freelance opportunity, and to my surprise, rage bubbles up inside of me instead of pride and happiness, I understand that that's the Devil, my shadow side, coming out. Feelings of insecurity are making my ego lash out, wanting to see him do less well so I can feel better about myself. I can acknowledge and make space for these feelings without needing to share them, reminding myself that I'm only human and having some selfish feelings is natural, but I also have limitless wellsprings of grace and love, and it's that place I want to act from. It wasn't until I stopped feeling ashamed of these feelings and stuffing them down that I was able to stop occasionally acting on them, and saying things I very quickly regretted.

In some yoga classes I've had students speak out of turn, announcing their displeasure with a pose I'm teaching or a song that's playing. It's easy to get flustered in those moments, but now I can remind myself that this student is the Magician, a figure who has only just mastered controlling his or her own world.  He or she knows he or she has control over his or her situation, and as such, this person doesn't see any  reason to remain in less than ideal circumstances. I can make space for this person, offering modifications or other options for the pose in question, or turning down the music or changing the song (or politely refuse, if that's the appropriate response), without losing my place in my sequence or losing my hold on the space for the other students because I can immediately understand that the motivation for this outburst isn't anything wrong that I've done, but the opinion of one person who isn't in a place to appreciate how all things, even uncomfortable ones, are here to serve us, at this particular instant.

Has knowledge of archetypes served you in your life?  Do you think this knowledge will serve you now that you've seen these examples?  You can learn more about archetypes easily enough on the internet, and if you're interested in Carl Jung's views on archetypes, his books, The Red Book, and Man and His Symbols are available from the Brooklyn Public Library, and from other libraries and book stores as well.