Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Omily Tarot: The Gift of Wisdom

Well, this is it! One week left to go until Christmas, and Hanukkah has already begun! Have you got all your gift shopping taken care of? Still swooping up some last minute items? Haven't even started yet (husband, I'm looking at you)?

Ok, well, don't panic. A few solid shopping trips should get you squared away. You have your list, right? Of what you're getting who?

Oh. You haven't...

Ok, well, this is a tarot post, after all! Why not ask the cards?

No, seriously, why not? Your trusty tarot deck has seen you through bigger challenges than this! Now,  I know, no matter how good of a reader you are, your deck isn't going to tell you what size sweater to get your sister in law, or whether the kids-these-days on your list would prefer the Fault in Our Stars dvd or that trendy sweatshirt. (Seriously? A trendy sweatshirt? Feck it, she's getting the dvd) BUT, your deck can jump start the free association process and point you in the direction of where your loved ones' interests and needs lie. That intersection is pretty crucial for successful gift buying.

Now, in general, I'm not a fan of cosmic peeping. Tarot readings should be about yourself. If you have a question about a relationship, it's about you in the relationship, not your partner...but in this case, I'm happy to make the exception, and trust my desk to protect my family and friends' privacy.

If your people have shown any interest at all, a beautiful new tarot deck is an awesome gift choice! I don't believe that nonsense that your first tarot deck MUST be a gift, but that doesn't mean it isn't nice to receive one, whether it's your first one or not, and if it is, it may be just the push you need to ignite a life long love.

Do you have that one family member who is just a sucker for Christmas? Who literally counts down all year long, and decorates the tree the day after Thanksgiving? The Tarot's got you covered.
Yes, seriously, this is a thing. And I kind of want it...
Have you ever asked your deck for gift-giving advice? Think you'll try it this year? Hmmm...maybe I'll give it a shot for that last hard-to-shop-for person, too!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Eating Omily: Sometimes Love Means Shutting Up

Ok, we all love the magic of the Holiday season...and we all get stressed out with how busy it is, and how much is expected of us. Add in our fat-shaming culture, and a patriarchal society that only values women as decor and baby-makers, and this food-centric season can be especially rough for ladies.

But if you're a person suffering from and/or in recovery from an eating disorder, those issues get compounded in big ways. Food is EVERYWHERE, and it's not just food: think about how you would hesitate to take a slice of your aunt's pie after she made a big fuss about making it. Think about how you like to bring an extra tray of cookies to your workplace to share.

We use food to show our love, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we have to be sensitive to the fact that for some people, navigating these caloric social interactions is a nightmare!

Here are some articles to get you thinking about how you can make the holidays easier for those around you dealing with this all too common mental illness...and remember, that's all it is. An illness. Like chicken pox. Like cancer. Your friend or family member didn't choose to have it, and willpower or other people thinking they're thin or pretty has nothing to do with it.

This article is specifically about Thanksgiving, but it's totally relevant for the end-of-year Holiday Avalanche: a simple list of do's and don't's for the loved ones of eating disorder sufferers. I wish I had this resource a long time ago!

This article also talks about Thanksgiving, but again, it's good for any meal you're sharing with other people, and what I love about it is that it's not specifically for people who know they'll be eating with someone living with an Eating Disorder. Many of us are around people struggling with this issue, and don't even know it. Many people may not be diagnosable with an eating disorder, but still struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food. Our whole society basically has an unhealthy relationship with food! Aside from sparing your loved ones, you'll be a mentally healthier person, too, if you ban  these ways of speaking, and thinking, from your table.

This article particularly deals with men who suffer from eating disorders.

Up to now, these articles have been mostly directed at people who aren't personally struggling with eating disorders, but statistics being what they are, odds are, more than one person reading this is struggling with this disease. Here is an article from the National Eating Disorder Association offering twelve ideas to help you navigate this difficult time. Know that you are worth it, and you are strong enough to recover. If you haven't already, please reach out to someone you love and trust, and if you have, keep reaching out. Stay connected. You can do this.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seasonal Work

Winter is coming.

Sorry, I've been reading A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as the Game of Thrones series.

But it is, obviously, and coming fast! I love every season with the exception of those 90 degree Summer days when going outside feels like dying, but I know, I know. Most of you would take that anyday over the onslaught of ice, snow, deceptively deep slush puddles, and freezing temperatures that make up an NYC Winter. Unfortunately for all of us, we don't get a choice in the matter. The planet moves, and the seasons change. Magic!

A very wise friend of mine once pointed out that Spring and Summer are the time for exploring our world, moving outward from ourselves, and Fall and Winter are the time for exploring ourselves: the vast world we contain.

Perhaps that's why I find myself more interested in the contortion side of my aerial training as the weather chills. I have more patience with sitting on the floor, and putting my body in positions ranging from downright pleasant, to mildly uncomfortable, to a combination of pain and panic that is basically a high speed form of therapy: let go and let gravity, or break.

Once I was explaining my nightly stretching routine to a friend and fellow yogini. She stopped me to ask, "Wait, why are you calling it stretching and not yoga?" That was easy to answer: it wasn't yoga. Yoga is about cultivating acceptance of your body, and by extension, of the present moment. Contortion is about changing your body's connective points from the inside out so that you can make beautiful lines and shapes. In spite of certain physical similarities, the goals of the two couldn't be more different. Or so I thought.

Over the course of long years I've watched my hamstrings lengthen, my quads release, my straddle widen, and my splits deepen. My shoulders are slowly but surely yielding to my continual demands for greater range of motion, but for many a moon my spine seemed to yield what it's always yielded and not an inch more.

I've had teachers tell me I have a bendy spine, but I'm accessing flexibility in my thoracic spine, that I have a pretty good back bend, but whatever it is they were seeing, I still felt stuck, miserable, and unable to breathe in back bends.

And then I went to a contortion class at the Muse, with a teacher I've worked with before I was fond of...and I felt my toes rub across my skull for the first time...quite possibly in my life.

And then we did the same pose in a yoga class, and slowly, carefully...there it was again, almost, a brush of hair on the skin of my feet!

And then I went to open workout and pulled, and yanked and pulled in half no avail. Another friend and yoga teacher put me in wheel pose and pressed, firmly and lovingly, the way you might press on the hip of a large horse to move it out of your way, on my thoracic spine, reminding the vertebra there to play their part.

And then I went to another open workout. I rehearsed, and then went in for a couple more tries of back bending. I stretched, I pulled, I wished, I wanted...and there it was! A small miracle more earth shattering maybe than the original time, since there was no instructor guiding, coaxing, and lifting me deeper into the shape: toe met skull.

So why tell you this? Because maybe contortion is more similar to yoga than I thought. I spent years accepting the spine I had, but dreaming (literally. I've put my feet on my head in my dreams more times than I can count) of a bendier one. Working slowly, not forcing the issue, not getting frustrated, and happened. In a way that seemed some how utterly disconnected from any effort I made to get there.

Which is a whole lot like the way yoga changes my life: I learn to love and accept myself right where I am, and I just keep practicing, and suddenly I realize I'm living with greater compassion, greater generosity, and greater joy.

These changes happen when we focus our energy inward, and what better time to commit to this inner work than when we aren't so keen on going outside anyway? Don't have a goal in mind. Don't expect to get to a certain point. Just do the work. Starting with the hardest part of all: accepting where you are before the work has commenced. And someday, you'll surprise yourself with a miracle as magical and precious as the one many celebrate on December the 25th.

I''ll be working right along with you. I still have a long way to go, starting with loving and accepting the self that I am right now, but that acceptance will blossom into greater growth. I know it.

And maybe someday I'll nail that chest stand and pull my feet down on the floor in front of my face. A woman can dream!
Here's a picture of my half monty pre-foot-on-head days. And here's a very important call to action. This particular miracle happened for the very first time at the Muse, the same place this performance happened, at the last class that took place at their old space. They've secured an awesome new space, but they desperately need to fund their kickstarter to outfit that space to be a safe and comfortable place to train. Please donate whatever you can, and spread the word far and wide! Remember that some of those rewards can make great gifts, and the Muse will gladly provide you with a beautiful gift certificate if the reward won't be ready in time for the holidays. Just e-mail them. Even if you don't train there, even if you don't do circus at all, even if you live far away, please contribute to keeping independent arts alive in Brooklyn! Thank you so much.

Live Omily,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Omily Tarot: Are We Looking at the Same Spread?

You know that moment when you lay out the cards, not for a professional, or even a semi-serious reading, but more just playing around, with a friend who enjoys the tarot as well, and who you trust...and then they start talking complete nonsense about the innocent spread you just revealed??


Sooner later it will probably happen. You find yourself face to face with just how little of the tarot is about the cards themselves, no matter how much has been written about what each one means, and how much the tarot is about the reader.

Of course, that's why we love the tarot! That's why it's awesome! But sometimes, that very aspect of it can also be confusing.

Like when you suddenly want to defend the Page of Coins from an accusation of gazing lewdly at the High Priestess. The feck? He would never!

Or like when you're giving a reading to someone you care about and you know what the cards are saying, and they're blithely absorbing a message from them that you fear, or even know, is more what they want to hear than what they need to hear.

What do you say?

Well, it's always worthwhile and interesting to suggest alternative interpretations. It's quite possible, and in fact quite common, for a single card in a spread to have two contradicting meanings at the same time.

But, it's never good, or helpful, or ethical to tell your querent, or your friend, that he or she is wrong. Each person absorbs from the tarot the wisdom she or he ready to receive at that given time. You may think you know what wisdom this person should be receiving, and maybe you aren't entirely wrong: maybe the alternative message you're seeing is another shade of the truth, but it's not the one this person is ready to receive.

If you throw those seeds down on frozen, or even unplowed ground, they may germinate, but they won't take root and grow.
So, you may be tempted to put your hand to the till, and rip right on in there so the tarot can get through!

Bad idea. This is not a process that can be rushed. And, it's not your job as a querent, or even in this case as a loved one or friend. To assume that you know what message this person needs, and when this person needs it is to misuse the gift the tarot has given you. You'll almost certainly do damage to your relationship with this person, and you may make her or his journey to enlightenment that much longer when he or she quite reasonably, resists your meddling, and moves away from where you're shoving her or him.

You may also be wrong! I know, sounds crazy, but it's true! Even with the tarot at your disposal, you don't know everything! Join me, won't you, in one of my favourite, and most useful mantras for personal growth: "I don't know."

Practice biting your tongue, nodding your head, and saying something along the lines of, "That's an interesting interpretation!"

Trust me, you'll be a better, more ethical tarot reader for it.