Saturday, November 29, 2014

Eating Omily: There's Always More to be Thankful For!

Thanksgiving happened already!!! Did you get to feast on your favorites? Do you go uber traditional? Give those beloved dishes a twist? Or throw the turkey and cranberries out the window in favor of more exotic fair?

Either way, the Farmers' Market can stock your Thanksgiving table from cocktail hour, to second piece of pie!

Speaking of which, I just bought a bottle of vodka at the Farmers' Market! How's that for a win?? Distilled from sugar beets, this booze retains a hint of that earthy veg, making it delicate and delicious all by itself over ice. Even if you wrinkle your nose at the smell of vodka, trust me: try this one! I've never enjoyed vodka! It's my least favorite spirit even in a mixed drink, but this stuff is good! Orange Country Distillery also has a white un-aged whiskey, and a bourbon is on its way! It'll be ready in time for the holidays, and you'd better believe a bottle will be under my Christmas tree! Mmmm...bourbon...every ingredient is grown on their own farm, and every step of the distillation process is done by hand for a truly crafted, and love-infused product.

The weather in NYC has taken a turn: it's been raining and sleeting all day! If you're worried about staying warm on your way to your holiday
destinations, you can look no further than...you guessed it!! Alpaca wool mittens, gloves, hats, headbands, tote bags, and insoles to keep your tootsies toasty, are all available at Union Square Farmers' Market!

If you don't think you can make yourself shop out in the open once Winter weather descends, don't forget you can always warm up mid-shop with a hot apple cider, or if you prefer, a creamy hot chocolate, made with grass-fed local milk! Yum!!

You can also add some nutrition to your table, and wow your family and friends with a veggie they've probably never seen before: kale sprouts! You buy these on a big stalk, just like Brussels sprouts, but they're little purple kales instead of cabbages! Amazing!! I couldn't resist picking up a bunch for myself. Don't forget: cole crops get sweeter and crisper after a frost! Pull on your new alpaca hat and get your hands on some super-food goodness!

So how about that dessert I promised you? Well, if you're in a hurry, you can grab a ready-made pie at Bread Alone, or brownies, tarts, cookies, and other treats at a variety of Farmers' Market vendors. If you're feeling more ambitious, and want to prove your pie skills, you'll definitely want to swing by Flying Pigs Farm. What are you doing at a pork stand looking for pie? Well, I heard it straight from Alton Brown himself: lard makes the best pie crust! Theirs is a blend of lard and butter of course, since butter gives such perfect pie flavor. With their ready-made pie crust in hand, you don't even have to be ambitious to make your own pie!

Ok, so it's too late to deck your Thanksgiving table with all this Farmers' Market goodness, but those leftovers can't last forever, and the cold weather is here to stay! It's easier than ever to buy local and support farmers working hard to hang on to a job that is so much more than a paycheck: it's a passion and a vocation, and it's up to all of us to keep this vocation alive on our land.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for people who are actually interested in reading what I write...and I'm even more thankful for the people who take those small steps in the right direction, slowly aligning their lifestyle with their principles...or maybe just slowly learning and reprograming your principles! What YOU do, even if it's just buying an apple from a farmer on your way home, even if it's just thinking about this stuff, reading about it in other sources, talking to your friends about it, makes a difference! Put that energy out in the universe, and keep going!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Teaching Others; Learning About Myself

I'm back in New York! And it's the best thing ever! Never mind that the jet lag is making me average seven hours of sleep a night!

I did a lot of teaching over the past month. It was an interesting practice in Svatyaya: Sanskrit for, more or less, self-study.

The way that you teach the fiftyth front hip lean, versus the first, says a lot about you. So does the way you handle the third person in one day putting herself into a dangerous position by deliberately disobeying your instructions.

Yoga has helped me to grow into a much more patient and compassionate person than I used to be...but I've discovered that my patience still has an expiration date, and my compassion is not unconditional. I can teach the same thing over and over and over and see the subtle nuances that make each time unique, and have fun doing it...but if I feel like I'm wasting my breath, eventually I can't hide my frustration anymore.

Even though I know it's not THIS student who has earned my frustration. It's the whole long line of them, and the fact that I'm seeing them as all connected, all allied on some level against me, when in fact the only thing they have in common is a survival instinct for keeping close to the earth that had served them well up until they found themselves in the peculiar set of circumstances that is an aerial yoga class.

Having reached this conclusion, I now know the outside limit of yoga classes I can handle on a daily and weekly basis without losing my zen, and failing to be the teacher I want to be.

It'd be easy to be hard on myself, and in the name of those poor students, push myself to teach more and keep my mouth shut...but that would be as bad for my students as it would be for me. You can't force growth. And, if you're seeking to be more compassionate with others, you have to start by being more compassionate with yourself.

Over, and over, and over again.

I feel certain that there's such a thing as too much self-compassion...but I haven't hit that point yet, and maybe I'm wrong about that anyway. Maybe thinking that just goes to show how much more compassionate I need to be with myself.

It's tough when self-study turns up stuff we might not be so keen to know about ourselves. Even if you can reach for that compassionate response, you still need that compassionate response because it's a bit of a downer to find out you're not as kind, or patient, or humble, or whatever it might be as you had thought you were. But in a way, it's tough when it turns up the good stuff, too, because you want to have about the same reaction to both: something along the lines of, "Huh...interesting."I tell my students that we're trying to cultivate the attitude of a scientist observing an experiment. Objective, and equally interested in whatever outcome she or he sees.

Don't be afraid to observe yourself in action. You never know what you'll find, but that's the point! The only way to truly know yourself, and to slowly but surely grow into the person you want to be, is to pay attention to who you are right now, instead of assuming you already know. You can try it in a yoga class at first: observing how you react to each pose, and each sensation in your body. You'll want to bring this practice off the mat, too though. And get meta! How do you respond to the things that you're discovering through your svatyaya?

It's a study that never gets old. There's always more to learn! Will you be getting started at your next yoga class? Have you already worked with svatyaya? What discoveries did you make about yourself that surprised you?

Live Omily,
~em