Monday, June 30, 2014

Eating Omily: It's Official–We Have a Manual

Wow, this year's growing season went from 0 to 60!! One week the market was just hanging in there with root vegetables and baked goods, and the next: BAM!

Fresh greens, asparagus, and, STRAWBERRIES!!! These ruby red beauties are super sweet, and literally melt in your mouth, unlike the rock hard, sour imports that clutter the produce shelves of your grocery store. Get them now while you can, and freeze them for later! Make jam, infuse vodka, or just stuff yourself with them till they're gone.

Which, by the way, they almost are! Cherries are rolling in, and the first of the blueberries are making an appearance, too! Cherries are my absolute favourite fruit, and the dark, sweet bing cherries that grow around here are just to die for.

Summer squash, string beans, and bell peppers are popping up right along side sugar snap peas, and fava beans! It's still early for tomatoes, but don't worry: they're starting to come in off the fields, and there are plenty from green houses if you need to get your fix.

This is all super awesome, of course, but there's something else special at the Farmer's Market these days...something that's never been there before...

Yaaaaaaaay!!! I got mine at the Night Market a few weeks ago, and yes, it is just as incredible and useful as you think it is!

A whole cook book that's not only full of recipes based on the ingredients farmers are bringing to NYC Green Markets every day, but that's divided up SEASONALLY! Flip to the season you're in for unbelievably delicious inspiration: small plates, main courses, desserts, and, COCKTAILS! YEEEEEESSSSS!!!! I'm kind of stupidly excited about this if you couldn't tell.

So far, I've discovered the joy of whipping farm-fresh ricotta cheese with olive oil and salt, and spreading anchovie-herbed butter on sweet baby turnips, and I am beside myself with excitement about wending my way through the Summer section of the book...

Consider this the next addition to my List of Required Reading. You can shelve it right next to Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food, and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. You can get it at a handful of Farmers' Markets:

Manhattan Markets
Brooklyn Markets
Queens Markets

P.S. My dear friends should hold off on buying this for, oh, a week or so...just in case I bought it for you. ;-)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pada Ananda: Foot Love for Happy Feet

On Tuesday I taught a feet-themed yoga class. We spent a lot of time standing, with our eyes closed, while I nattered on trying to help my little chickadees feel their feet. Which is one of those things that sounds really simple, but it's like trying to feel the ring on your finger. Your brain has stopped interpreting that stimulus for you, because your lack of attention has taught your brain that the stimulus is not important.

We also spent some time trying to move our toes independently of each other. From an anatomical standpoint, this is 100% possible. The muscles, bones, and joints are all in place to allow you to do this. BUT, again, years and years of not doing it has taught your brain that those neural connections are a waste of space, and they've been dismantled. My students felt pretty silly making frowny faces at their feet as their toes stubbornly moved as a unit...but they weren't working in vain! They were teaching their brain that those neural connections are WANTED, and if they stick to it, their brain will rebuild them! Amazing, isn't it?

Ok, so being able to feel the floor with your feet can be worthwhile, and moving your toes independently of each other is sort of fun, but, ok, I'll give you something you can use.

Foot stretch! It's fun! It's easy! It's...well, for most of us it's painful. But don't worry; you can handle it. It's very simple.

Kneel on the floor.

Tuck your toes under.

Sit on your heels.

Trust me, the more it hurts, the more you need it! And those of us with a fondness for flip flops really need it, myself included!

Start with just a couple of breaths, a couple times a day. Over time, it may be comfortable to hang out in this position while you read an article or check Facebook. You don't want to torture yourself, but you do want to let your feet open up. As it gets more bearable, try to make a point of staying in this position for a few minutes every day that you wear flip flops.

And that's it! That's all you're getting today! Because I'm crazy busy this month! Ok, fine, one last thing: your feet are awesome. They are so, so important. Love them, honor them, massage them, pamper them. Just pay attention to them! You won't be sorry. They have a lot to teach you.

Live Omily,

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Omily Tarot: Ask Me Another...Nope, That's Enough!

I was listlessly consulting the cards today, and in my ennui, I stumbled upon a tarot spread I've never heard of before! Which is pretty exciting! And don't worry about my ennui; it's worked itself out!

What I like about it, particularly for self-readings, is that it's self-limiting. You can carry on asking questions, and then, quite suddenly, you can't. That's as much as you're going to get.

Here's how it works: you'll want to have the kind of question that leads to lots of other questions. Maybe you aren't quite sure what your ultimate question is...this could be a great spread for working your way down to the heart of the matter. Once you've got your beginning question in mind, you shuffle, and then just lay the deck down in front of you, face down. Cut the deck any old place you like, and lay the part of the deck in your hand face up next to the rest of the deck.
There's your first card. I got Major Arcanum 18, The Moon!

To get more cards, ask another question, and cut the face up part of the deck any old place you like, and set the top section with your first card down on top to the right of the bottom section. The card on top is your second card!

To get the third card, you cut the cards under your second card. You'll have to slide piles featuring cards one and two over to make room for card three, and all subsequent cards, to keep things in order. Eventually, there will only be one card left to look at, and that's it! That's all you get! Of course, the higher up the deck you cut initially, the less additional questions you get to ask, but try not to guess ahead of time how many additional questions you'll need. Just follow your intuition, and let that first cut happen wherever it wants to.

And that's it! Here's what my reading ended up looking like:
I love this deck! That Five of Pentacles really spoke to me.

So, is this a spread you'd like to try? What kinds of questions do you think best suit this format of limited follow-up? Tell me in the comments!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aerial Omily: Useful When You Fly, Useful When You Don't–Lessons from the Skies

Long, long ago, when I was just getting the hang of the basic climb on silks, and experimenting with different shapes on the static trapeze, I had mind-blowing amounts of muscle soreness. I'd wake up the day after a two-hour aerial session (which isn't as intense as you'd think, since I spent a lot of that time waiting for my turn) unable to move...or at least, unable to move without contorting my face into  some impressive grimaces.

Those days are pretty thoroughly behind me now. If I wake up in pain, it's usually because I pulled something.

But now that I'm in the thick of the Muse Summer Performance Intensive, I'm experiencing a resurgence of these days. I tried complaining about it to the husband, but he was quick to remind me that not only is this exactly what I signed up for, vocally hoped for, but it's what I PAID for! If I want to level up, I have to accept feeling like a beginner again, and all that it entails.

It's a small, subtle reminder that you're never done with the hard part. If you're getting better, the things you learned already will be easier, sure, but there will be plenty of hard things to take their place.

An awesome group of women is doing the intensive with me, and as we get to know each other, the classic aerialist small talk question keeps coming out: "So, how long have you been doing this?" This is not a question I feel like I can answer with a straight number. It's complicated. The first time I ever grasped a trapeze bar, or wrapped my lower leg for a basic climb was four years ago. But I didn't start taking dedicated silks lessons every week for several months, and I didn't start working out on my own for over a year, and I didn't get into a solid training schedule for two years, which is also when I performed for the first time. I didn't take my first private lesson for three and a half years! Plenty of people start with private lessons right off the bat, and accordingly, their technique grows much fast than mind did. On the other hand, there are some things I can't rush.

When I inverted with straight legs, hooked my knee, realized I was setting up the trick on the opposite side I wanted to, the unhooked, inverted, and reverted with straight legs to hook the other knee, that was a result of a four year foundation of strength and endurance.

That's not to say that would take everyone four years or three or two, but it's not the part of the practice that comes overnight.

On the other hand, building new vocabulary onto the foundation of strength, stamina, and security I'ver earned after a few years in the air? That can take as little as minutes. If all I spend on it is minutes, it's never going to look refined enough for performance, nor will I be able to access the versatility necessary to choreograph it. That will take days, weeks, in some cases (I'm looking at you, wheel down!), months.

What I'm getting at is, it's not very useful to know how long another aerialist has been training. There are so many variables in play that in terms of setting a time line for you, that just doesn't tell you much. I have a friend who could fan kick her way into a perfect hip key every time within a few weeks of getting on the silks. Four years later, I still can't do that consistently.

On the other hand, I have a long list of drops I'm comfortable with: big, small, locked and unlocked, that I can pull out of my back pocket to inject a little wow into any piece, and I learned the vast majority of them in my second year of training. I loved the thrill of drops, so I just kept asking for more...and I cost myself a lot of time I could have spent refining my technique, and I've been playing major catch-up on that for moths now.

I had been getting pretty down on myself for my short-sightedness, until my coach pointed out that learning tons of vocabulary, building a strong understanding of the wraps that allow you to move safely on the silks, set me up to have a nearly unlimited range of options for refinement and choreography later on. So maybe the path I followed wasn't such a mistake after all.

Maybe, like in all things, there are many ways to travel from novice to professional aerialist, each with its own pros and cons.

Maybe you're not an aspiring aerialist, or even someone who enjoys playing in the air, odds are there's something you can apply these lessons to in your life:

You're always going to be a beginner at something. Get comfortable with it.

Your story is complicated. Don't short change yourself by making it fit a simpler narrative.

Don't compare yourself to others.

Don't beat yourself up for missteps you've taken in the past.

Like yoga, aerial can teach you things that can revitalize your whole life...unlike yoga, the best moments are probably still the ones spent at the practice...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Eating Omily: Getting Green and Juicy

Have you heard? Candice Kumai has a new book out! Of course I had to  buy it, and attend a book signing so I could geek out over her fabulous, healthy recipes! This book is special, though: it's all drinks!
No no, not the boozy kind, that's a different blog post.

These are the HEALTHY kind: the kind that can reasonably substitute for breakfast or lunch, as long as you're paying attention to your hunger cues, and supplementing with nutritious snacks as needed. I know that having a beverage for a meal is an idea that's been co-opted by the fat-shaming weight loss crowd: the common understanding is that it's something that you HAVE to do because you're not thin enough. But it doesn't have to be that way!

Here's why I turn to my blender for breakfast or lunch regularly: I am a BUSY lady! I work as a yoga instructor, which means hustling my ass all over the city to disparate locations. I'm also training to be a proffessional aerialist, which means hustling my ass to whatever space is hosting open workout on that given day. I also shop three days a week at the farmer's market which means, you guessed it, hustling my ass to Union Square in the midst of all this! And then there's the foster work for the ASPCA, my allergy shots, all the errands I run since my husband works regular business hours, keeping the house clean and the laundry done (and that stuff is just not getting done like it used to these days!)...
In the midst of all this, when society suggests I need to stop in the middle of my day to sit down and eat food, I feel INSULTED. Who in the hell has time for that?? Rather than rack up expenses eating out everyday, or living on whole food snack bars, I can take ten minutes to whip up a nutrient-packed smoothie, and drink it on the go! This means I choose what goes into my body, based on my particular needs. Did I have cereal and milk for breakfast? I can use coconut water instead of milk, so as not to overload my system with dairy. Am I feeling a little exhausted? I can throw in some maca root powder! On my way to a serious workout? Throw in some peanut or almond butter, and/or pea protein powder to make sure my muscles can grow. Along with those ingredients, every smoothie also has green vegetables, and usually some fruit, too. I mix and match fruits and veggies to make sure I'm getting a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And, if I feel hungry before my next chance to eat a meal, I keep those whole food snack bars on hand.

Have these pictures got you interested yet? How about this beautiful green juice my husband and I whipped up for a snack: spinach, cucumber, and a little apple for a beverage that was cool, refreshing, and satiating!
Now, I'm not the world's most gung-ho juicer. I'm leery of stripping fruits and veggies of all their fiber, and spiking my blood sugar, to say nothing of all the waisted veggie matter involved. But, if you're juicing primarily veggies, and keeping that glass of juice small (and that part's easy when your juicer is the hand crank variety, trust me!), your sugar content is going to stay pretty reasonable, and there's actually lots of ways to incorporate that juice pulp back into your diet, so you can have your juice, and your fiber too! Along with...

Creamy veggie dip: Take grass-fed yogurt, and stir in your veggie juice pulp. Spinach and cucumber are great, but carrot, beet, and other greens would all be nice, too. Take a few moments to chop, or pull apart the pulp into small pieces, so you don't scoop up a huge wad of greens all at once. Add a little salt, and maybe some garlic powder, cayenne pepper, or other spices. This is great with a crudite platter, or tortilla chips.

Creamy veggie pasta alfredo: Ever read through a spinach alfredo recipe? They all have you blanch your spinach (that is, boil it for a minute, then transfer it to ice water to stop the cooking process), then squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can. You do this so that the juices don't run out of the veggies and into your white sauce, dying it green, and diluting the creamy texture. BUT, this is a step you can skip if you've already squeezed out the juices for your drinking pleasure! It's the ultimate two in one!

Extra nutritious crackers, breads, and muffins: Just google juice pulp recipe to find one that's great for you. You can find just about any kind of baked good, including gluten free and vegan options.

Veggie Burgers: Seriously? Genius. This woman makes almond milk, then uses her juicing veggie pulp and the leftover almond meal to make delicious raw, vegan veggie burgers! I'm sure there are other juice pulp veggie burger recipes out there, too.

If you wind up with any leftover pulp after all that, make sure it finds its way into the compost, not the garbage!

As with all cookbooks out there, some of these recipes do not fit in well with a locavore lifestyle...or at least, they don't seem to at first blush. I mean, look at this shopping basket: it's a locavore nightmare, right??
Weeeell...maybe not! These items are all organic, the coconut water is harvested from old-growth groves at a sustainable rate, instead of plowing under existing jungle to plant coconut trees, and the bananas and the mangos are certified fair trade! Considering that these items come from nations full of people struggling to get by, purchasing these items is contributing some good to their world, instead of feeding a machine designed to export their wealth straight over to our own glutenous nation. Now, the Fair Trade and organic certification are far from perfect. They make certain promises, but they don't have to go nearly as far as we'd like. You can always do more good buying directly from the source at your Farmers' Market, but I say life's too short to never satisfy that hankering for a ripe, buttery mango, and your chocolate protein green smoothies are never going to come out as good without a a banana as with one.

There are easy substitutions to make for some of the non-local ingredients recommended in the book:

If you don't have a problem eating dairy, you can get grass fed cow and goat milk at the Farmers' market, along with yogurt.

Perfectly ripe peaches, the kind you can only get at your Farmers' Market, make a great substitute in flavor and texture for mangos, and you can freeze or can them to keep their sweet, succulent texture available all year 'round.

Cocoa powder too, which I would never ask you to go without, comes in Fair Trade and organic varieties, and should you need a sweetener, you know where to get your honey and maple syrup!

You can get wheat grass at your Farmers' Market, too; it's where I always get it for our kitty, Leia.

This recipe is a fantastic way to get way more fruits and veggies into your diet, and you don't have to have a smoothie instead of breakfast or lunch! It's totally cool to have it along with, or as a snack between meals, too! A last recomendation before you get on out there and buy a copy for yourself (at an independently owned bookstore, of course): if you invest in a juice, make it a masticating style one, instead of a centrifugal one. You'll get more juice out of your produce, you won't heat it up and destroy any of those precious nutrients, AND you'll have a way easier time cleaning up, too. If you opt for the hand-crank variety like mine, you'll also save a bundle, especially over electronic masticating juicers, which are some of the priciest on the market. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Now, get juiced, you smooth-operator, you! ;-D

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

We Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Blog Post to Bring You Stuff You Should Read Because Misogyny, Yo

Ok, so, the madness surrounding the latest mass shooting is winding down, which is good for my sanity because SO many ignorant things have been said...but of course, bad in general, because, if we can't stay pissed about this stuff long enough to effect real change, then there won't be any!

So in the name of keeping the conversation going, and making sure that you have plenty of information to combat that ignorance with, I present to you my roundup of awesome articles that pertain, some directly and some indirectly, to the shooting perpetrated by Elliot Rodger, who, just to be clear, was likely mentally ill, and DEFINITELY a massive, misogynistic, dick.

Here's your basic primer on why saying "Not all men are like that!" is not helpful:

Here's a slightly less patient version of that same point that closes with some super-relevant advice:

Here's an interesting look at how and why we ALL discriminate, just on different levels, and how you can pull yourself up a level or two and start being part of the solution:

Here's a super rad video that neatly wraps up why this is not only an issue of gun violence (and of course it is) but also a serious wake up call about the sexism ingrained in our culture:

Here's a fantastic article written by a self-proclaimed male nerd about how narratives in our culture can make guys who are theoretically less threatening than the so-called 'alphas' just as dangerous, if not more so...and how to make sure you aren't in that boat:

Here is a super rad article about how to be a better male person when you see a female person in a public space and want to start a conversation, and why you need to handle it this way:’s-rapist-or-a-guy’s-guide-to-approaching-strange-women-without-being-maced/

AND, in case you read that article and feel defensive, confused, angry, insulted, etc., these two articles should help to clarify the intent and points made in that article:

That's it. That's all you're getting today. Go do your homework. I'm working on the next blogpost right now, and it'll get posted tomorrow or the next day.