Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Omily Tarot: Seeing Patterns

 Patterns: we all have them.  We're creatures of habit from the order we get dressed in to the way we approach new romantic entanglements to the subway car we get onto (you know, if you're into that sort of thing).  Some of those patters are harmless.  Sure, it can be an interesting experiment to mix it up, but your life probably won't be changed by putting your pants on before your shirt.

Those big patterns though, can sometimes really hold you back because it's hard to zoom out far enough to trace the whole thing, and assess its results.  We might recognize that the same un-fun things keep happening to us, but we can't figure out what we're doing that's causing it, assuming we're prepared to consider that we're causing it.

This is exactly the kind of issue that the tarot is so good at: think of it as a magical zoom lens that lets you zoom out, and out, and out, till you can perceive the whole arc of your life in a two square foot space.  Um, awesome!

If you're frustrated with the results you're getting in any area of your life, a tarot reading might be just the ticket to give you the full perspective.  Once you can see the whole pattern you're reliving, you can probably see a way to defuse it, and you can walk away with the tools you need to consciously create the life of your dreams!

Does it sound too good to be true?  No worries, it's not.  The tarot can't, and won't, do the work for you.  Finding out you're self-sabotaging your business efforts because you're just not convinced you're really worth what you're asking people to pay won't make you stop sabotaging yourself.  You either have to pin point what skills you're still lacking...or recognize that you have all the skills you need, and re-adjust your thought patterns to reflect that fact.  No easy task!  But so, so worth it, and until you know what the problem is, you can't apply your energy to solving it.

Since exposing these long-term patterns is something the tarot is good at that can also really help others, it's an important skill to focus on while you work on reading the tarot.  It can be a tough one to develop though, because searching for your own patterns is only going to work if you can be truly clear and objective about your own flaws.  It can help to start small, with low-stakes issues.  Why do you always end up at that same bar, even though you know there are tons of amazing places you haven't tried yet?  If that proves enlightening, you can move a little closer to home: Why do you feel so awkward getting your picture taken, even though you know you look pretty good?

It's almost like you're focusing that tarot zoom lens into a really specific place: close up for a basic portrait, further out for a group shot of people's interactions, and then all the way out to the whole landscape you're functioning in!  (Does that make sense?  I'm so not a photographer).  Since you're playing with focusing that lens in a really specific way, these exercises will be making you a sharper tarot reader in more ways than one: pattern reading, and zeroing in on specific issues or areas.   Go you!

Get out a deck and give it a shot, and if you want, share what you learned with me in the comments!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Meet Your Energy


 I think one of the things people who are new to yoga have a hard time wrapping their heads around is the idea of the chakras: not so much even the chakras, but the theory of the energetic body that the chakras are a part of.  The chakras aren't a physical presence in the body, but an energetic one.  I totally get how this  can sound like new age fantasy to people who aren't familiar with it, and like all parts of yoga, you take what works for you and you leave what doesn't, but I will say that there's a lot more evidence for the energy body than there may at first appear to be.

No matter what words you use to describe it, you know what I mean: sometimes we just click with people easily, and sometimes no amount of patience and understanding can make us get along.    Sometimes there are logical reasons for this: differences in life style, or beliefs that make us clearly incompatible, for example.  Most of the time though, the factors that make us compatible with others are not seem to be a complete mystery.   And even stranger, sometimes, we can tell right away if we're going to gel with someone else or not, before we've even spoken two words to them.  They approach us  and we just...get a feeling. For whatever reason, in the search for romantic partners, we tend to respect those gut responses more unquestionably than when we're just looking for friends or business connections, but we notice them either way.  What is this mysterious force that draws us to some people and away from others?  Their energy!

More specifically, you can probably make a list of friends right now who you can call if you're having an off day, feeling exhausted or overwhelmed who would perk you right up: they have great energy that easily feeds your own energy.

Interesting, right?

You might still be skeptical, but I'll bet none of you skeptics has the kind of job where you have to stand in the front of a room and lead a group of people to do or understand specific things.  Why?  Because it's impossible to miss the significance of energy, your own, a groups, and specific individuals, in a situation like that. 

It's why I have to put together my own crazy playlist instead of letting my husband craft a lyrics-free one for me: I need the energy I get from hearing the music I love to carry a room-ful of yogis through an hour of inner and outer work.  If I have good energy, teaching yoga is the most fun thing I do.  If I'm having a low-energy day, it's tough to get psyched enough for my classes to feel the same to my students.  It makes a big difference if I have a class of good-energy-rich people who are ready to share.  If I can get sucked into their positive energy cycle, I can use it to fuel myself, and then give it back magnified.

On the other hand, if a student's energy is off for whatever reason, it can really throw me off, especially in the beginning of class, when I'm still building that energy loop.  Part of my job as a yoga instructor, and probably the hardest part, is to field that bad energy, ground it, and send back good energy, as well as addressing any concrete issues that may be causing the bad energy in the first place: did we start late?  Am I not cueing clearly enough?  Does the student need more props, more adjustments, or just to be left alone to sort it out for her or himself?

If I can hang on through those first few bumpy moments, the good energy of the rest of the students will usually start to spread to the student having a tough time, and the blockage in that area will clear, till the energy loop is running smoothly, and I'm back on top of my game, too.  Cool, right?

You can feel energy  from anyone no matter where you are, but of course, the most important energy to be tuned into is your own, and if you're having trouble identifying it, then a yoga class is the perfect place for you.  Come tune in and learn more about yourself with me!  You can follow my yoga teaching schedule on my facebook page.

Live Omily,
~em

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eating Omily: Not my Favourite; Just Favas

Ever since reading Alice Waters' description of fava beans as 'more than worth the effort!', I've bought them.  Once a year.  Yes, they're delicious, and yes, they have such a short season that they're a special Summer treat that helps to root me into the year...but more than worth the effort?  I'm not sure I'm convinced.

This is what fava beans look like in the pod.  At Union Square, they go for close to $5 a pound, which is more than I pay for heirloom tomatoes, though less than I pay for cherries some of the time
Of course, you can't eat them like this: the fava beans are inside these pods...which are weird and fuzzy inside.  If someone had told me a fava spider spins each individual pod full of webs and that's how they got that way, I'd believe them.  It takes a bit of effort to get each bean out of each pod: the pods are tough, and don't easily split all the way down the middle.  Sometimes there are only one or two beans in a pod.  It's rare that it's totally full, but it happens sometimes
Eventually, your fingernails feel defiled with fava bean pod juice, and you have a neat pile of fava beans far smaller than the pile of fava bean pods.
Ok, that was a bit of work, but NOW you can eat them, and they'll be fabulous, right?  WRONG!

Each bean is still inside of a thick, bitter skin.  Apparently they're sometimes left on in meditaranian cooking, but Alice Waters says to remove them, and I always do.  So now you boil water, dump the beans in, wait a few second, pull out a hot bean, cut a slit in it with a knife, and squeeze. If the bean slides out of the skin, you drain all the beans, and let them cool.  If not, you try another bean in a few more seconds.
Each bean must be slit, and squeezed to remove it from its bitter skin, leaving behind a pile of bitter skins, yes, bigger, than the pile of gleaming spring green-yellow beans.  Yes, now, you can eat them.  But wait!  You have to cook them first.  Alice Waters suggests a puree:
A few tablespoons of olive oil, a rosemary branch, a sliced clove of garlic, and the fava beans go into the pot.  Keep an eye on things: if the beans look dry, add water.  Keep the lid on, and be patient.  It takes a while for them to get tender enough.  You should be able to mash one into a smooth puree with the back of your spoon.

When that happens, drain them (again), and puree them with a spoon, adding really good olive oil, and a little cooking liquid if necessary to thin out the puree. Enjoy with toast.

No, really, really, enjoy them.  You earned it!

Will you try fava bean puree this year, or does this sound like just too much?   You'll never know until you taste it!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Omily Tarot: Go (See Black)fish!

Happy Friday, little Omilers!  Is anyone else super excite about the release of BlackfishThe documentary about orcas in captivity that was huge at Sundance?  Ok, maybe this is just me, but it's totally been getting a lot of buzz, alright?  I thought it'd be interesting to pull a few cards about it, and see what the Tarot says about the response to its release.  It's been out in LA for a couple weeks I think, and the first showing here in NYC is in less than two hours (I'll be missing that one, sadly, but I'm totally going to the 7:15 one tonight!).

This is the kind of predictive reading I like to do best, ie a low-stakes one.  Now don't get all, "ooooh, that's witch craft!!!" on me.  We humans do predictions all the time: if you leave ten minutes later than usual, you predict that you'll arrive at your destination ten minutes later than usual.  Maybe you'll get a lucky break and make it on time, and maybe the trains will hate you and you'll be twenty minutes late.  Your prediction isn't iron-clad, and you wouldn't trust your predictive powers to something high-stakes.  Like, you meet a guy and you really hit it off and you develop really strong feelings really fast.  You may predict that this relationship will go the distance...but you probably won't move in together or get married for another couple of years just the same.  The stakes are too high: if it turns out you're right, you haven't lost anything, but if you're wrong, the ensuing complications are going to really suck.

Predicting with the tarot is the same thing: you're using information that you have to make educated guesses about the future.  The tarot can often be more specifically correct, because the tarot allows you to access your subconscious, and arguably, the whole planet earth collective conscious, too, and that's a lot of info to be working with (you can review how the tarot works here).  BUT, tarot predictions can absolutely be wrong, because after the reading has been done, it's quite easy for you to change your behavior in unpredictable ways, hence changing the outcome.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

So, on to Blackfish.  I'm using my Goddess tarot for this reading, because the dreamy illustrations feel right for a predictive reading, and the feminine energy also feels very watery to me, which is relevant to our subject.  You don't have to have real reasons for using a particular deck.  Maybe you've just been meaning to use it lately, or it was the only one you could find right then.  Or it's the only one you have. No problem.  Just roll with it.  I'm going to ask my question, and then flip over one card at a time, maxing at four, just for the sake of time, to get my answer.  The question is: "What will the nationwide response, both in terms of opinion and action, be to the movie Blackfish?"

So, the first thing that happened was that, most of the way through shuffling, the deck slipped out of my hands as I tried to slide it back together, and cascaded across the desk in a way that looked a lot like ocean waves, especially since this deck is blue on the back, with a white border.  Very cool!  I finished shuffling, asked the quesetion out loud, cut the deck, and turned over one card.
The King of Staves is associated with the element of fire, which can mean ambition, passion, spiritual matters, great potential and growth.  These are all things that pertain to Blackfish: a movie that wasn't expected to reach a very broad audience made it to Sundance, sold out at Sundance, and has sparked coversations all across the internet already.  It's a movie that asks us to confront the morality of what we're doing to these whales, and to confront the spirit of these whales, and what their own ambitions and passions might be, ourselves.  The fact that this card is the King may suggest that the movie is a fully developed and mature exploration of these ideas.  People won't be able to avoid answering the questions the movie is asking by pointing to flaws within it: there aren't any, at least none big enough to question its credibility.  The King of Staves is a benevolent figure, someone you want on your side.  This card could suggest that someone powerful, with the ability to enact real change will be moved to inspire that change because of the film.  It may speak of the fully matured, acting fiery spirit in us all.  If this card had been the queen, the suggestion would be that while this film would force us to really feel and to question all these ideas, we may not yet be prepared to act on them.  We may need to sit with those feelings a while first.  Fire being so very different from water, this card may also speak to us being forced to see just how foreign and unfathomable these creatures are to us, no matter how long we study them in tanks.
XII: Sacrifice (The Hanged Man in a more traditional deck) This card is about the story of the goddess Kuan Yin, who achieved divinity through her great kindness on earth, but before crossing into heaven, she heard a cry of sorrow on earth, and asked to be sent back.  She wanted to remain on earth to help until all suffering was alleviated: her great sacrifice.  This card makes me think of the great sacrifices these whales are making for us, through no choice of their own.  In the wild, orcas will swim up to one-hundred miles a day.  They remain in large, complex family groups, and males remain with their mothers for life.  In captivity, of course, these conditions cannot be replicated: not even close.  It's also clear to me what this incredibly compassionate goddess would have to say about what we are doing to these whales.  She would give no credence to the money they make, or even the chance these parks give to children to see orcas, perhaps for the only time in our lives.  She would ask us to make this sacrifice to let these whales go.  Can the United States truly access this level of compassion as we make decisions about these whales moving forward, or will the whales continue to be asked to sacrifice?  Will we, on some level, recognize their suffering, and elevate them to a kind of secular sainthood...but not improve the conditions of their lives?
Wow!  Another King!  This one is the King of Cups, dealing with the suit of water.  I thought I would pull at least one cups card before this reading was done.  The cups deal with emotions, intuitions, dreams, all other fluid, watery matters.  The King is one who is in touch with his own emotions, is comfortable with the emotions of others, and when appropriate can subvert his own emotions to allow the emotions of his subjects to be expressed and satisfied.  He is a figure of great self-control, and great love.  Looking at all three of these cards, I am struck by how much is demanded of us in response to this movie: few people are capable of reaching the maturity of the Kings, and who among us would be compassionate enough to refuse heaven to help those on earth?  Can we be mature enough to use our power for good?  Can we give up the beauty and splendor of seeing these creatures close up on our own terms? This card represents the transcendent handling of emotion: it suggests that while some may be moved to great sorrow, or even anger at the plight of the whales, we will remain peaceful, and grounded moving forward, instead of reacting with violence or extremism to try to reach our goals.
The final card: Another cup!  I love the ace of cups in this deck.  It is so, so beautiful.  The ace of cups is about the beginning of something beautiful, and rooted in love.  I think in many ways that's what we need to hope for: that this movie is the beginning of a new relationship to these magestic creatures, that we can begin to see them for what they really are: brutal predators, intelligent souls, beautiful animals, and fellow beings.  Maybe big changes won't happen right away, but when an idea's time has come, change is unstoppable.  This card gives me the most hope of any of the cards I've pulled thus far, because it seems truly attainable.
Looking at the reading as a whole, I see for real change to happen, a lot of maturity in terms of emotional, spiritual, and ambitious matters is needed.  While we work toward that point, the whales will need to sacrifice more years living with the way things are, and we'll be sacrificing, too: living with another being's suffering, and quite possibly losing more lives along the way.  This movie won't be an end: it will be a beginning.  Our consciousness will be awakened to this situation, and though it will need time to grow up before change can happen, it won't go back to sleep.  We can all work to access our inner compassionate gods and goddesses, and find an appropriate way to deal with the anger and saddness we feel as the plight of the whales continues until we're ready to take action and change it, a little at a time.

So there you have it: my predictions for Blackfish.  Did you do your own?  Will you now?  Are you going to see the movie?  You should totally go see the movie!!!  Tell me what you think!

~em

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

'Satya' Water Bottle Down and Listen Up

 So, I teach yoga.  And as inevitably happens, I've noticed certain generalities that I frequently see in my practice spaces: the kind of thing people of the same profession will get together and commiserate and share a chuckle over, like the 'hovering art director' of graphic designer infamy, for example.  Of course, because of the sensitive nature of the work we yoga teachers do, we don't do all that much sharing and chuckling, and when we do it's only the vaguest of terms.  Along those lines, today, I'm going to level with a certain broad swath of the yoga class-taking public:

Your water bottle isn't fooling anyone.

Oh yes, you know who you are: some of you are rocking the lululemon and others are in whatever knock off sweats you could find that day.  Some of you are in seated meditation fifteen minutes before class starts, and some of you are sprinting in five minutes after, but you've all got that water bottle in hand when you come in, and when you unroll your mat, that water bottle gets plunked right down, usually at the upper right corner of the mat, and it doesn't stay there.

I start class, and usually we make it through sun salutations and maybe one Warrior sequence before it happens: I'm telling you to breathe, and you're going for another physical necessity: a quick chug from that water bottle.

Now, let me be clear: I do not know what your state of hydration is, and it is not my place to tell you whether or not you should be taking a drink in the middle of class, but...

if you come to class hydrated, and you drink your water bottle after class, you will be quite safe and healthy.  Those extra gulps are utterly unecessary to your well being.  True fact.

So, why are you taking those drinks?

Maybe your mouth feels dry.  I rarely teach without a glass of water nearby, because after twenty minutes of straight talk, you've got to moisten your mouth in order to keep going.  However, you guys are saying very little.

Or maybe, just maybe, you don't want to hold down dog for five breaths, or move through that chaturanga, or try crow pose again.  Maybe, just maybe, you're using the water bottle as a shield between you, and the shit that's coming up when you work hard.

I know all about this first hand: I've been doing zumba lately, and between every song, everybody wanders away like wounded warriors for their towels and their water bottles, and a couple times a class, I'm among them.  We want that break. We want to feel like we NEED that break, and that's why we're taking it. Not because we WANT it, or worse, because our bodies are asking for it. I don't think it's that big a deal to grab water in between songs in a zumba class, though.  Walking to your water bottle and back  keeps you moving after all, and that's what you're there for: to get your body moving and your heart rate up.

Now, in my yoga classes, the point is to deal with your shit.  That's just the most honest, blunt wa of putting it.  Here's a nicer way:

We're here to do yoga, and by yoga I don't mean earn your hot yoga butt, or tone up the flab on your arms, or even find a release from stress after work, although yes, those are things that will likely happen. The point is to dig deeper than that: to find the real you on the inside, and confront this person that you probably don't know nearly as well as you think you do, and to make peace with the tension that comes up between your ego and this state of outrageous honesty.  Yes:

On the mat, we are cultivating, among other things, outrageous honesty, and dealing with the frequently uncomfortable, sometimes very painful consequences of that honesty, because when we do that, THEN we find a real peace that lasts way longer than even the best Savasana.

So get brave, and get honest: Notice when you want to do something, hit the pause button, and ask yourself why.

So that's all I'm asking you to do.  Come to class, bring your water bottle, and when that first urge to take a sip hits...ask yourself why.

And be honest with your answer.

Do you genuinely need some hydration?  You'd better finish off the whole bottle, and then take a long break in a seated position to let your body recalibrate.

Does your mouth just feel dry and uncomfortable?  Could you possible just sit with that for a while, as we keep moving?  What would happen if you had to live with that feeling for another half an hour? Does the state of your oral interior affect who you really are deep down, past your ego?  Hmmm...

Do you really just want to disengage from class and stop for a minute?  Then do that, and don't tell yourself that's not whats going on, because that's not honest.  Take child's pose, and breathe, and don't disengage from yourself.

Maybe your muscles aren't tired, but you're feeling resistance to something I'm saying in class (or, you know, something I'm saying right now...).  That's ok.  A.) you don't have to agree with everything I say, and B.) often, we just need time to sit with less than comfortable truths before we're ready to acknowledge how they apply to us. Keep breathing. Give yourself that time.

This is your golden opportunity to practice outrageous honesty, known in Sanskrit as, 'Satya': truth-telling, the second of the yamas, or ethical precepts in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.  Like most things worth doing, this isn't always easy, and it doesn't always feel good.

But that's ok.  We're in this together.

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, July 15, 2013

Eating Omily: Stocking Your Pantry, and Your Playlist

 Nom noms at the Farmer's Market!  The bad news is, after an unusually long season (I know, didn't seem that way to me, either...) cherries are on their way out!  The good news is, blueberries are IN IN IN!  Today I grabbed some for just $3.75 a pint!  I'm seeing raspberries, too, but still for a pretty penny, and no blackberries yet.  But don't worry, they'll be along.  If you want to enjoy blueberries all year and not just for a few fleeting weeks, you'd better start buying them up now while they're in full flush.  They freeze really well: just spread them out in one layer on a baking sheet!

I'm seeing peaches, too, and tomatoes are right around the corner, with squash and green beans already rolling in.  Garlic is popping out of the ground, and into markets everywhere, so get it while the gettin's good!

Extra interesting treats I spotted today: fava beans (yes, THOSE fava beans, but don't worry, they're just as delicious with crusty bread as with liver!), and fresh chick peas (these only need to cook for five minutes, and will probably give you the best hummus of your life.) 

You can still get sugar snap peas, and shelling peas, which are my favourite spring treat, steamed and served with butter and salt.  Garlic scapes are still out, too, and you don't want to miss those grassy-garlicky treats.

Today, I thought it'd be interesting to list all the items needed for a well-stocked stocked pantry, and then I wanted to show you just how much of that stuff can be found throughout the week at the Union Square Farmer's Market.  If you don't live in NYC, you still probably live near a Farmer's Market, but may not be so lucky as to have such a huge selection.  That's ok.  Just do the best you can, and don't make assumptions about what 'definitely' won't be there.  I saw freeze-dried salted veggies (the perfect snack) for sale at a four hours, once a week Farmer's Market in a tiny town off the Hudson in upstate New York this season, along with Belgian waffles, fruits and veggies, goat cheeses, honey, and more!

Now, everyone's well-stocked pantry is going to differ somewhat based on personal preferences and dietary restrictions, but if you give some of these items a shot, I'll bet you'll be surprised to find you can't live without them anymore!  My list is based off of the one in The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters, a cookbook I can't recommend highly enough.

Pantry Supplies (dry goods):

whole wheat flour
cornmeal
sugar
honey
baking soda
baking powder
cocoa powder
olive oil for cooking
olive oil for eating (you can cook with olive oil that's good enough to eat raw, but odds are you'll want to stock a cheaper option for that since the wonderful flavors will be lost)
coconut oil (you can use this in lieu of cooking olive oil, but again, you may find it price-prohibitive to do so)
sardines (just try them!)
oatmeal
canned tomatoes
nuts
dried fruit
dried beans
dried herbs and spices
salt

Refrigerator Supplies (fresh goods; these need used up regularly, so be judicious about the amounts you buy. Some of them don't need refrigerated depending on how long they hang around)

milk (cow, goat, coconut, almond, soy, whatever floats your boat)
butter
yogurt
cheese
jam or preserves
seltzer water
fresh fruit when in season
fresh herbs
meats (fish, pork, beef, chicken, shellfish, ostrich, bison, rabbit...whatever!  Freeze as necessary to keep fresh)
eggs
pickles and/or capers
mustard
maple syrup
soy sauce
dark sesame oil
bread
tofu

I can't promise I've thought of every little thing, but if you have this stuff, you can pull together a meal any day of the week.

So, which of these things CAN'T be found at the Union Square Farmers' Market?

Dried Goods:

oatmeal
olive oil for cooking
olive oil for eating
coconut oil
sugar
cocoa powder
baking soda
baking powder
dried fruit
nuts
dried herbs and spices

Fresh Goods:

soy sauce
dark sesame oil
mustard
seltzer water

So out of thirty-five items total, sixteen can't be found at the Union Square Farmer's Market.  Realistically, there are other items we might like to have around: ravioli in the freezer for the night when we just can't even think about dinner, cereal for breakfast (though actually that stuff is is nutritionally void and should be avoided at all costs), tortilla chips (there's the one I can't resist), etc.
AND, I'm kind of giving you nuts as a freebee.  You can get peanuts, and sunflower seeds at the Farmer's Market, but I don't like to live without occasional walnuts and pecans, so I won't ask you to.

So now I ask you, could you be doing more of your shopping at your Farmers' Market?

And don't worry: I'm being asked the hard questions lately, too, thanks to a program on the Heritage Radio Network called Lets Get Real.  The Heritage Radio Network is a progressive food radio network that broadcasts out of a re-purposed shipping container in the backyard of Roberta's in Bushwick, Brooklyn which makes it, yes, the nexus of the hipster universe, but if that's not your thing, don't let it deter you!  If you're into food, you'll be hooked.  You can tune in live via www.heritageradionetwork.org, or you can take your pick from thousands of programs: every episode of every program that has ever aired is archived on their website.  I won't be using my rdio subscription this month...which is a shame since I'm paying for it.

In the particular program I'm currently obsessed with, Erica Wides explores the relationship between real food, and what she calls 'foodiness': the creepy processed crap that we're told is food, and that even tastes like food (in a creepy way), but has been so altered from its origins that it's not food.  She's funny, and a smart ass, and affirms stuff I already believe while teaching me new stuff about it, so I can't get enough.  You should check it out, and find your own favourite from Heritage Radio's impressive stable of programming.  You can subscribe to programs via podcasts, so you can have them downloaded and ready to go when you are, or you can be lazy like me and just go through the browser on your phone to listen.  Listening to Lets Get Real will definitely help you sift through the madness at your grocery store as you try to stock your pantry with the best options available.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Omily Tarot: Getting Real

It's (past–sorry!–) time to write about the tarot again!  Lately I've been putting in some time doing basic research on the history of the tarot, just a refresher course to prepare me to tutor some private clients in how to read it for themselves.  I corrected a couple dates I had wrong in my head (by about fifty years, oops!) Found the guy to point the finger at for thousands of people's misconceptions about the tarot (that bastard!), and just in general got a quick reminder of just how mundane the history of the tarot is.

And that's just how I like it.  I don't really want to play with something that's an ancient Egyption Book of the Dead, or an arcane Kabala system.  I just want to play with a deck of cards that helps me get to know myself better, and provide counseling to others.  I want to live this life better, and help others do the same, not try to separate myself from it using esoteric rituals.

A lot of people don't necessarily  feel the same, though.  They're disapointed to learn the tarot is just a card game that originated in Italy in the fifteen hundreds that's still played today in Spain, when they embraced the tarot in all its occult spookiness.  I often wodner how much overlap there is between these people, and the ones I really don't like reading for: the people whose eyes glaze over when I start the reading with some history and context, refuse to ask a question, and try to hurry me along as I thoroughly explain the meaning behind each card before I explain it in the context of the other cards or the situation...and all too often, they interupt my explanation to ask something like, "But what does it MEAN?" And even better, they'll just start pointing at random cards and asking things like, "Does this mean I'll meet a new lover soon??"

Don't get me wrong: querent participation is crucial to the style of reading I do.  I definitely want to know which cards stand out to you, which speak to you, what feelings or ideas you get from them...but please say these things at the beginning of the reading, when I ask you, not when I'm in the middle of explaining a rather complex association between two cards drawing from Ayurvedic medicine.

AND, after I finish working my way through a ten-card spread that you asked for, carefully tying together all the points I made, don't ask me the question you didn't want to ask the first time because you wanted to see if I was 'psychic' enough to figure it out on my own.  And if you do, hoping against hope I don't know that's exactly what you did (versus being inspired to ask a more direct question based on the information we gleaned from the first reading.  Yes, there is a HUGE difference), then DON'T turn around and ask it again in a slightly reworded version when the tarot doesn't tell you what you want to hear.  Don't do it.

I'm a down to earth kind of a tarot reader: I want to help you access the information you need to move forward.  I can't change the wisdom the universe is handing me to make it more palatable for you, and I can't change the way I read the cards to suit your Miss-cleo-ceptions of what I do.  There's nothing wrong with looking for that kind of reading; it's just not my dharma.

Be prepared to listen, to talk, to share, to listen, talk, and share some more, and ultimately to tell me more than you probably thought you would.  Be prepared to contribute to the proccess of the reading in meaningful ways, if you want a meaningful reading.  The more you want out of it, the more you have to put into it, and if your first concern is that I can't get all that information from the cards themselves, then you're looking for a different reader than me, and that's fine.  There's plenty of us out there!  I'm not worried about you; you'll find your perfect match if you keep looking, and meanwhile, you're leaving an appointment open for someone who is ready to go deep, get honest, work with his or her shadow side, and move forward in meaningful ways.

THAT'S my client.  You've been warned. :-)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Where a Star is a Heart

Getting closer!!!

We drove straight out to the beach to enjoy the full moon after dark!

I think this one is from the husband's long bike ride around Chincoteague...

This one, too.

Finally!!!  Loooong days on the beach, reading books, digging for sand fleas, boogie boarding, and just swimming through the salty surf.  Beautiful!

I think this was the first ghost crab we caught.  My little sister is holding it!

This one was a feisty one, as you can tell!
Here's the whole crazy crew, even my baby nephew, getting ready to go crabbing with rotten chicken necks, and these special crabbing nets...

We didn't have as much luck crabbing off the peer as we did running around the beach with a flashlight, but we did catch this little guy!  We let him scuttle right off the deck after this picture was taken.
There are so many funky houses to be found around the island!
This actually appeared to be an abandoned store front...

I'm not sure where this one was taken...but how gorgeous is it??

A beautiful sunset behind the marsh plants...
I got such a kick out of this sweet, fuzzy, little jumping spider I found while we waited for our lunch at the Sea Star Cafe!  He would perk up and look up into your face just like a little kitten...except with more eyes!
Here I am returning my rental bike, and I was not happy about it!  Most comfortable seat EVER!  I named it the Sitting Duck.
Last day at the beach, and I'm still rocking my Chincoteague Police tattoo from Tattoo Tuesday!  Family tradition: everybody gets rub-on tattoos on Tuesdays in Chincoteague!  We have so much fun!
We're all but on our way out of town in this one...but we had to stop to feed the last of our bread to the laughing gulls!  I love these guys.  If you stand still long enough, they'll take it right out of your hand!  Can you spot which one did just that a split second after the husband took this picture??


I love this place so, so much!  I already can't wait to get back...
 I promised you pictures!  There are some, and there's more to come if you keep reading!

Whew!  After a whirlwind of a week I am back with one hell of a tan, and a hankering for more long afternoons spent on the beach...I just wanted to share some of my adventures with you.

In Chincoteague, there's a place we call, The Sea Junk Store.  It's been there, way down Ridge Road, past Baldy's Restaurant, since we started going when I was just two years old.  The real name of the place is Payne's Sea Treasures.  It was run by a man who went by Captain Bob (Bob Captain Bob if you pushed him for a full name) for years and years.  Captain Bob would be considered pretty off his rocker by most people, but he had carved out the perfect nitch for himsef, roving the beaches of Assateague, and collecting all the strange things that washed up there over the years.  He kept all this stuff, everything from pretty little seashells, water-logged books, and old keys, to pony skulls, massive shark teeth, and a twenty-foot plaster viking statue, in a shack he'd built in his front yard, and in the yard surrounding it.  It was a crazy maze, and you never knew what'd you find, but inevitably, there'd be at least one or two things that you had to have.

A few years back, Captain Bob passed away, but his incredibly magical girlfriend, Star, kept the place going.  Now she lives in the little house, which has since been painted rainbow.  She organized the crazy quantity of stuff, giving her a front yard for probably the first time since she took up with Captain Bob!  It's a little less insane now...but even more magical!  The viking statue is stood up and fastened to a pole across the street, and we take a picture with him every year.  The rest of the treasure is organized into neat piles and stacks on tables throughout the shack, and around the side yard.

Each individual type of shell is in a pile by itself, broken bits of shells, and beautiful crystals are spread out over another table.  Two dolphin skulls keep watch over drift wood, weather-worn end tables, tangled lengths of fishing nets, and all kinds of other stuff like dishes, toys, whale bones, and whole bookshelves full of old, empty bottles.

Inside the shack, t-shirts, faded posters, dishes of shark teeth, and a whole back room of books, all decorated with paintings, drawings, Dali Lama quotes, and other beautiful happy hippy thoughts, courtesy of Star, are spread out over a barely bricked in wobbly dirt floor.
You can see part of Star's home in the background of this one!
This whole front area used to be a maze of the craziest stuff.  It's more navigable now!
Oh man, super cute, or super creepy??
We're pretty sure this is the insides of a grand piano!
Here's the pile of conch shells.  Have you ever seen so many in one place??
A Chincoteague-style backyard, tucked away behind all the sea junk...
 Wandering around these surroundings, it doesn't take long to fall in love with an odd item or two, especially when you wonder how it could have possible found its way to this little hovel and into your hand.  You'll carry it over to Star (if it's small enough!), and ask how much it is.  There's a fifty/fifty chance she'll wince and say, "Oh, sorry.  That's not for sale."  You just never can tell what's a museum piece, and what has an invisible price tag.  If you're in luck, Star will tilt her head one way and the other, perhaps take the object into her hands, cradling it as though giving it a final blessing, and murmur something about how she's forgotten how much it costs.  Give her a moment, and she'll give you a number, and odds are you'll sprint for your wallet before she changes her mind because how can she let go of a coaster made of labradorite for $8???

If you've been there more than once, she'll remember you, too, and probably offer a print-out of something she's written, just a token.

Chincoteague has changed a lot since my family started going: from a sleepy fishing village without even an ATM to its name, to a summer hotspot where teens and twenty-somethings race by on rented mopeds, and a new $70 million bridge just opened its gates.  It's comforting to know that, somehow, there's still only one bar, in the upstairs of a restaurant on Main Street, and there is still Star, presiding over the sea junk store.  This year I finally realized that no matter what else happens: stores closing their doors on Main Street, more condos going up in place of ramshackle rental homes, Star is the beautiful beating heart of this island.  Not even she can keep going forever...but I trust her to find a steward of Chincoteague's spirit, just as Captain Bob found her.

If you ever find yourself on the east coast somewhere between Virginia and Maryland, test out that new bridge, keep going straight  down Maddox road, take a right at Chicken City, and follow it out, past where it turns into Ridge Road, past Baldy's restaurant, to a little rainbow house on the left with a plaster pony, and a sign painted in shells: nothing is more important than love.

Thank you, Star.

Live Omily,
~em

P.S.  I promised you ponies, didn't I??  The wild ones didn't get close enough for decent pictures this trip, but lucky for us, our neighbor had bought a Genuine Chincoteague Pony at the annual auction (auctioning off the colts and fillies young enough to be socialized and old enough to leave their mothers keeps the population of ponies stable, AND provides income for the volunteer fire company)!  We spend some time chatting with him, and he proved to be pretty photogenic...
What a cutie!!!  He had such a nice set-up, too: trees to scratch on, a stable, and a grassy yard to run around...and snack in!