Saturday, December 19, 2015

Eating Omily: The Gift of Living La Vida Local

I love presents! I love giving them, and I love getting them! But, sometimes BOTH of those activities can be rather fraught. You might not know what to get someone. You may feel like they have so much STUFF, there's just not another object out there worth the amount of space it would take up in your loved one's home. To say nothing of all the stuff in your home! And all the ill chosen gifts you find yourself stuck with...and all that stuff that ends up in a landfill, sooner or later.

That's why, especially for those less well-known giftees in your life, food makes such a spectacular gift. Everyone loves food! And you eat the food, and then its gone! Guilt free! Of course, you don't want to just show up with a bag of organic kale, or a jar of peanut butter. You want something special!

How about exotic flavors of homemade jam? Creative sweet maple treats? Unexpected honey applications? To-die-for baked goods? Sparkling wines? Small-batch spirits?

But maybe you can't put your finger on that perfect gift for your NYC-area-based recipient.

Or maybe you've been nudging your buddy to check out the farmer's market for months, and they just haven't gotten there yet.

Presenting, The Perfect Gift:
Yep. Gift tokens. That are accepted by nearly every single Greenmarket vendor. Let them eat stolen! And chocolate-coconut vegan, gluten-free snowballs! And maple cotton candy! And Caramel-covered pretzels! And yes, kale, sweet potatoes, apples, the whole nine yards!

I saw this sign today, and just couldn't believe what a great deal it was! It made me wish I did more gift-exchanging with my friends here in NYC. Most of the people I give gifts to live near my hometown in Ohio.

But you don't have to live in NYC to take advantage of this gift idea! Every area on the planet has its regional specialties. Figure out yours and get gifting! Maybe even try your hand at making them yourself, if they're more of a dish than an ingredient.

Have fun! Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Evolving on a Revolving Apparatus

I love the lyra. I love that its a circle, I love that it spins, I love that it allows for three levels of play (below the circle, in the circle, and above the circle), tippy lyras, with their ability to rotate in two different directions, blow my mind...I just really get the lyra, you know?

But up till now, though we've had a few rendezvous, I've loved the lyra from afar. I haven't been able to get past its bruising, steel exterior to the graceful, flowing nature within.

The damn thing just hurts too much! Sitting on it? Hurts. Knee hangs? Hurts. Don't even get me started on single knee hangs, and then of course, to do all the beautiful flowing choreography, you don't just pick a pose and grit your teeth. You MOVE. You flow over the steel, up, down and all around, so that every tender inch of flesh gets a chance to be scraped, bruised, banged, and crushed.

Now, I know, for many people, that would be the end of it. I mean, we can't do everything, right? I'm never going to ride massive roller coasters, or join one of those community dodgeball leagues, for example.

But LOTS of people lyra, lots of people I KNOW, people who don't seem to have a higher pain tolerance than I do! So I've kept holding out hope that one day a switch would flip and I would love being on the lyra...

And Sunday was that day.

What was it that flipped the switch? It was SHARING the lyra! I took Megan Hornaday's amazing Aerial Partnering 101 workshop in which she and her partner taught some basic moves, transitions, and sequences for aerial partnering on silks, and on lyra. Silks were fine. I flew, I based, I hit the mat a few times...tons of fun! Then she moved over to the lyra, and I visibly winced. I knew what was coming.

But when Colleen and I inverted and hooked opposite knees on the same spinning hoop, my attention was entirely taken up with maintaining visual symmetry, and staying out of my partner's way. I couldn't spare a thought for my knee, gripping the curved bar at an awkward angle. We shifted and rolled through the whole sequence, and if it was painful, I was completely unaware of it. I was too busy communicating with my partner to notice, or care!

The next day I noticed it: a bruise under my knee, abraded skin around my ankles, but who cares about that? I couldn't wait to get back up on the lyra and try the second side, and start exploring other shapes and transitions!

I think there's a lesson in this. Something about focusing on others instead of on ourselves making tough times easier...and that's a great take-away, obviously, but I think there's something else, too: something I learned from yoga (P.S. just took another class; high five for me!!).

I've been looking with longing at the lyra for years, and I've taken a few workshops and classes from time to time, but when it wasn't working for me, I didn't force it. I didn't make myself take a class every week, or spend half an hour on the lyra at open workout. I just left it alone. And then one day the planets aligned, and now I WANT to take a class every week and spend time on the lyra in every open workout.

All the pushing and the forcing in the world will all too often not lead to the change you seek. You won't get more patient, eat better, listen more, be more assertive at work, or whatever it may be, if you're fighting with yourself to get there. It takes time to be ready to change, and that inner work is just as important, and as noble, as the obvious outer change.

Let yourself evolve gradually, from the inside out. As I like to say to my students, be prepared to surprise yourself. You never know what could shift.

Live Omily,
~em

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Yoga Experiment Part II

You can read Part I here.

It took a while. Over a month, in fact. But I once I made it a priority, it was bound to happen. I finally went to my first hatha-vinyasa yoga class in months. Since I was signing in that class, and the one after it, I had to start fifteen minutes late, and sneak out five minutes early, but it was enough.

As I shifted between cat and cow, and luxuriated in a foot-peddling down dog, I was pleasantly surprised at how instantaneously my ujjayi breath switched on. My body remembered this. It remembered all of it: not a single transition felt rusty, and not only that, I found myself stronger and more limber, making deeper connections in binds, shifting more fluidly through chaturanga, and reaching for my deepest back bend in upward dog. This state of affairs I credit entirely to my continued aerial training. It does suggest that I wasn't crazy to think that yoga wasn't doing much for me from a strength/flexibility standpoint.

But it was doing something.

My brain felt different within minutes of joining class, and by the time I scurried out to sign in the next class, I was buzzing with that tranquil euphoria the insiders call, 'yoga brain.'

And even assuming that's all there was, that was enough. I made it back into the studio two days later for another class.

But that wasn't all there was.

Days later I strolled through Manhattan between my home base aerial studio and Trader Joe's, enraptured by the sound of my breath, the architectural trim, the people hovering on and off the curb while waiting for the light to change. It felt like meeting an old friend, this simple experience of being present to a walk through a familiar area of my home city. How in the world had I not missed this when it had faded? What an incredible gift!

They say there's no zeal like that of the convert, and maybe that's doubly true for the re-convert. Maybe that's why it's almost inevitable for us to drift from our yogic path from time to time, so that we can experience it all anew when we come back, and remember why we do this in the first place.

I still don't know how yoga does what it does. Maybe being such a kinesthetic person, the asana practice is just an easier gateway for me toward a meditative state than the seated practice. Maybe it has to do with how the asana practice tricks you into practicing pranayama for an hour or more straight. More experiments need to be done...mostly those involve taking more yoga classes...I'll see you on the mat.

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, November 23, 2015

Eating Omily: Thanking the Chain


All you last minute Thanksgiving shopping New Yorkers are in luck this year! The Union Square Farmers Market will be open Tuesday as well as Wednesday this week! They won't be around on Friday, not that you'll need any food then!!

If you're wondering what all you can get for your feast at farmer's market, well, the answer is basically everything! I just picked up cranberries today, and heavy cream, butter, sweet potatoes, turkeys, flour, popcorn, etc. etc. etc. were all there as well. You can read all about it here, and here, in my previous Thanksgiving posts.

This year, I want to focus a little bit on what Thanksgiving is about: being thankful! One of the coolest parts about shopping at farmers' markets is that I have the opportunity to express my gratitude to the people who grow the food I eat.

I have such admiration for farmers: their livelihood is a dance with Mother Earth, and Father Sky. They take huge risks every year, and they work so hard, getting up early in the morning and getting their hands dirty, driving their produce into the city and standing in the freezing cold all winter long to see that I get my cheese curds and kale, to say nothing of all the administrative work of farming and marketing the produce: managing investments, marketing, tracking spending and earning...I'm truly in awe of all the hats they wear!

It's awesome to thank the people working the registers at grocery stores as well of course: they form part of the chain of people keeping you fed, along with farmers, farm workers, truck drivers, chefs, line cooks, waiters, inventors, crafters, alchemists (raw chocolate magicians, Laura and Cayce, I'm so looking at you!) whoever cooks in your family, whoever buys the groceries in your family, etc. etc. etc...it's a long list!

When we started industrializing farming with petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides after World War II, we thought we were going to change that. We thought we could cheat Mother Earth and get more food per acre, allowing less people to work in food production. We did manage to cut way down on the number of farmers...but I don't have to tell you what a deal with the devil that turned out to be. On top of that, centralizing our food system necessitated people to get that food out to everyone else. Instead of one farming family and some hired hands growing a diverse harvest of foods for local communities, and handling most of the steps in that process of getting the food to the community, we now have few farmers growing monoculture crops, and a vast army of people getting that food to us, including lots of factory workers making creepy processed products, and of course, people making poverty wages doing the incredible dehumanizing work of the massive slaughterhouses.

I'm not a proponent of vegetarianism or veganism, as you should know by now...especially if you read the posts I linked to above! But I do believe that killing animals for food is sacred and powerful work and needs to be treated as such. It's just one of many reasons why we need to cut waaaay back on how much meat we eat...and eat actual animals. No more buying massive packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. What is that, even?? But I digress.

My point is, we can change HOW we work to feed ourselves, but we can't change that we NEED to work to feed ourselves, and we can't even change roughly what percentage of the population needs to work to get us all fed! We can only make their jobs more or less holistic and gratifying. Truck driver, or farmer? Factory worker, or farmer? Well, to each his her or their own, of course, but my money's on farmer for more people than get the chance to do it.

If you don't have access to a farmer's market, be sure to take a moment to consider the farmers who grew your feast, and maybe look into the possibility of mailing a thank you card to farmers in your area! You can even mention how much you'd love to buy their awesome produce straight from them, however possible! You never know...you could start a revolution in your community!

I'm also thankful for my readers. You guys who click the link and plow through the paragraphs, in spite of my sometimes inconsistent schedule. You. Are. Rad.

Happy Thanksgiving, guys!

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Omily Tarot: Practice Makes a Better Practice

I had so much fun doing my first ambient aerial act/first aerial tarot act! But, it was also a greater challenge than I thought it would be. Was it the aerial hammock: an apparatus I've done little performing or training on? Was it the nature of the ambient act: half an hour of staying in the air, and in view of the audience? No! That stuff was easy-peasy, and super fun!

It was the TAROT! I had to talk to someone about a tarot card without having any background, or any time to ask questions or get feedback. More than once, I just drew a blank. Wheel of fortune? What did that mean again?? Augh!!! Quick, make a pretty shape!

Recognizing that I needed to spend some time polishing this specific skill set, and the need to practice makeup application, AND the ease of reusing the same costume (minus lingerie, plus a fun winged mini dress and over-the-knee boots), I quickly devised a plan of using everyone I encountered over the course of the Halloween festive season as guinea pigs to practice my on-the-spot, single-card-pull tarot readings on.

It went brilliantly! While there were still one or two querents I didn't seem to connect with, I had a solid majority of amazed participants, scurrying off to find their friends and make them pull a card, too! Over the course of a few dozen pulls, I stopped worrying about being right, and started following my gut. I just talked about the first aspect of the card that came to mind. Sometimes I only had a few lines to say, and sometimes I found myself getting more specific than the card itself would warrant, or offering advice.

I can only hope that this success translates to the next time I'm in the air with my sequined fanny pack. In the meantime, I've been reminded of a crucial skill for the tarot reader: trust your instincts. Don't worry about being wrong. You can only offer the wisdom thats in front of you. As we yogis like to say, you aren't entitled to the results, only your efforts.

Here are some more pictures from my performance, and the subsequent Halloween tom-foolery.


Happy Day of the Dead! Think of your departed loved ones today, and remember, they're very close!

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Yoga Experiment

my home yoga studio
I've been on a mission to bring Asana back into my life lately. Because this is how things frequently go in the version of reality I frequent, the very week in which I hoped to realize this goal turned into the craziest week ever, in which getting home by 9 without having eaten dinner yet was considered a triumph. So, no asana happened that week. Now, you may be thinking, 'but you're a yoga teacher! But this is (sometimes) a yoga blog! How could asana have slipped out of your life?? Because I'm a really busy human, and specifically, I'm very busy moving. I train on silks and sometimes aerial hammock five days a week, doubles trapeze once a week, and take a ballet class about once a week as well. I also do physical therapy exercises for my shoulders, arm, shoulder, and core conditioning moves on my pull-up bar, and stretching routines for my shoulders, hips, legs, and spine pretty close to daily. Yoga classes felt not challenging enough, and not stretchy enough, to be worth the investment in time, especially once I cut back on my volunteering schedule, which meant I just wasn't hanging around the studio as much.

Moving with intention is great, but the longer I go without a good old fashioned vinyasa yoga class on my weekly schedule, the more I suspect there's something to those specific shapes and movements...I don't know what it is. But I think its something.

I'm looking forward to having a new perspective on the asana practice. I haven't taught a regularly scheduled floor yoga class in over a year now, and I don't have any plans to do so in the near future, so I won't be taking notes of interesting transitions, helpful verbal adjustments, or effective sequencing. I'll just be a student, doing my practice, after a significant absence. Like so many other yoga students.

Stepping away from the practice was initially just a product of changing my routine, but then it because an experiment. What does yoga do for me? Will I miss it? Do I need it if I'm still meditating? Is it harder to still meditate without that practice? Yes, yes, and yes. At least, I think so. The experiment won't be complete until I come back to the practice for a while and evaluate what shifts.

In its own weird way, my stepping away from the asana practice was part of my larger yoga practice. Yoga is the science of happiness, and you aren't expected to take anything on faith. Exploring what yoga brings to your life by stepping away from one or more components of it can be very much part of the journey. In fact, intended or not, it is for just about everybody who ever steps on a mat. Yep, even teachers. And now its my turn.

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, October 19, 2015

Eating Omily: A Seafood Classic Debuts at the Farmers Market

So I know we're not quite due for an Eating Omily post yet, but I was so excited by this latest development at the Farmers' Market that I'm interrupting the usual schedule! I mean, who's really keeping track of the pattern, anyway?

Quick question: when you think seafood, what's the first thing that pops into your head? Ok, seafood appetizers? Shellfish? I'm looking for shrimp! That cocktail classic, that scrumptious scampi, that deep-fried munchy...

After years of enjoying local seafood from the Farmers' Market, including scallops, oysters, mackerel, porgies, calamarie, and more, I suddenly realized I had never seen a single shrimp. I thought perhaps shrimp just weren't common in these waters, but I wasn't sure.

Then, last Friday, I did. A brand new vendor to the market offering only shrimp. Great big, buttery, jumbo beauties no less! I scurried over for a closer look, and found myself reading a laminated article about this new business: eco-friendly shrimp farming!
Now, I've always tended to look askance at farmed fish, preferring its wild brethren, and for good reason: fish are often farmed via unsustainable methods involving habitat destruction, chemicals and antibiotics, and a not-tasty, not-healthy final product. But overfishing is a real problem, and shrimp are an important component of many food chains. Breeding them for our own appetites could be a solid alternative, if it can be done without chopping down mangrove forests, or dumping antibiotics into our oceans. And it turns out, it can!

Eco Shrimp Garden farms shrimp completely indoors, in upstate New York using a process that recycles 100% of the water used, and is completely free of antibiotics and other creepy additives. These shrimp are sold fresh, never frozen, and are at the market within hours of being harvested. You can order online and have fresh head-on, tail-on shrimp at your door for dinner the same day!
I am super psyched to prepare these guys this week, and I'll be sure to take some pictures when I do. In the meantime, you can go to www.ecoshrimpgarden.com to learn more, and maybe even place your own order.
Seriously, guys? If you have access to this, why would you waste your money on any other shrimp?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Omily Tarot: A Fortunate Clarification

Pop Quiz: whats the difference between a tarot reader, and a fortune teller?

If you answered, fortune tellers are quacks, swindlers, or Scooby-Doo characters, well, I can't say that I blame you for that impression

In an effort to be taken seriously, and to impress on people how much everyone can benefit from tarot readings, I, too, have sometimes skewed into a judgey attitude toward 'fortune telling'.

But, what's so bad about telling fortunes? What's so bad about amping up the fun and the mystery, and skipping the in-depth analysis? Especially at a place like a carnival, or a party, where people go for, you know, FUN, rather than talk therapy?

I mean, really? When did we sign up for the Fun Police? Feck that. Tarot is FUN! And the best way to connect to the tarot and get something out of it is to be enjoying the process! Of COURSE you have to take fortune telling with a grain of salt, but that's true of ANY tarot reading, and you can also take the grains of truth that are there, and discover a powerful new insight into your self! Because that's how the tarot works!

Of course, plenty of people have been turned off of the tarot because of a shoddy fortune telling style reading, but I'll bet tons of other people have been inspired to pick up some cards and dig deeper on their own because they could sense that behind the faux gypsy trappings, there was something there. The reader was really onto something! And, honestly? No doubt plenty of people have been turned off of the tarot by a shoddy analysis-style reading, too. Maybe even more, because they were bored as well as unimpressed!

They are different, and they call upon somewhat different skills, but they're much more similar. You still have to understand the cards, trust your intuition, and be realistic about what a client can absorb in that moment. You might couch it in more flowery or exciting language, but you aren't making things up, unless you really are a total hack. Please don't read for people if you're a total hack. I don't care what you're calling it. Ok, unless maybe you're calling it Discount Dahlia's Completely Crap Fortunes...no seriously, I'd pay for one of those. That sounds hilarious.

Moral of the story? Don't hesitate to pull out the chair (or more likely get on the wait list!) in that tent at the Ren Fair, or let somebody at a halloween party pull a card for you. There's magic everywhere, and the universe will use any channel to get a message though. But perhaps most importantly, have fun!

I was inspired to write this post by my first fortune teller style gig, happening this coming Sunday the 18th at the Muse in Brooklyn at 7:00pm. I'll be offering single card pulls as the beautiful and seductive Lady Death from my aerial hammock. If you're in the area, you are not going to want to miss this one. Tickets are $15 at the door, or $10 presale at this link. Come on out, and let me tell you your fortune! We'll both be learning a lot.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Eating Omily: Changing Seasons, Changing Menus

I can't believe how quickly this Summer flew by! The Farmers' Market is still overflowing with delicious produce, but some of those treats are on the wane...stock up on tomatoes and berries right now! We usually get our first frost around mid-October, which will be the death knell for many of those summer treats. We can still enjoy watermelon, along with winter squash, apples, and grapes, though, and I'm seeing more kinds of pears this year than ever before! I'm loving the bright red pears I'm seeing, as sweet and tender as Bartlett's, but so visually striking!!

Other Autumn specialties to avail yourselves of? Whiskey! Ok, you can get whiskey at the Farmers' Market ANY time of year (which is amazing!!!), but isn't this just the perfect time of year to bring it back onto the bar?? Ok, so I drink whiskey any time of year...but seriously, Manhattans? In the Fall? Yes. All of them.
And how about, lima beans! Not kidding! These universally hated veggies have a season, and it is now, AND, trust me, if you've only ever had the canned, or even frozen variety that have the texture (and roughly the flavor) of sawdust, you're going to want to try fresh lima beans! Simmer in salted water till tender, then sauté in butter with onions, garlics, late season tomatoes, whatever sounds good to you. You'll thank me.
Autumn is also a great season for baking: apple crisps and pies, sweet potato pie...mmmmmm...and your treats will taste even better and be better for you if you opt for local grass-fed butter, and locally grown flour! 

I also find myself drawn to eat more meat as the weather cools. I love making hearty strews in my slow cooker that only taste better when I reheat the leftovers later. Try goat, bison, duck, and rabbit from the Farmers' Market, or stick to the tried and true classics like beef. They've got that, too. Ask the farmer what cut they recommend, and what herbs, spices, and veggies they like to add in. I promise you'll leave with a mouth-watering recipe!
No matter how your tastes shift with the weather, you'll be able to put together spectacular meals with the Farmers' Market harvest. Get out there and see for yourself!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Changing Seasons, Changing Mind

Happy Autumn Equinox Super Blood Moon!!! I know the total lunar eclipse didn't actually happen on the Equinox, but it was pretty close! I think it bodes well for a creepy Halloween...

A lot of people start to feel down when the weather turns. They're no strangers to the cold, dark days ahead. Every season has its special joys, and purpose, though!

AND, there's no point in feeling sad that Winter is coming before it actually gets here, right? We have at least another few weeks of comfortable weather in our neck of the woods, and probably a lot more than that!

Make a baked apple, or a caramel one, or even order a pumpkin spice latte. I won't tell! Stock up your home with good books, put some rad documentaries or tv shows on your Netflix list, buy scented candles and cozy sweaters, and gear up to go inward!

And while you're waiting for it to actually get cold, don't forget to enjoy those things you're going to miss! There's likely to be at least one more day of beach weather this year, so seize it! Sip an iced coffee while you go for a walk and watch the leaves change.

I always find the seasonal changes to be powerful times, full of magic, and potential for exponential growth. If you find yourself feeling bummed about the cold weather coming, delve into that. Ask yourself why. Ask yourself what's happening right now that's upsetting you. Ask yourself if maybe you could find something to appreciate about the micro season that you're in. Keep doing it. It's amazing what can shift when we stop operating on autopilot and start digging into our impulses and thought patterns.

Winter may never be your favorite season. You may never feel childlike joy when you look out the window and see snow (or at least, when you have to go out in it), but you may be surprised just how content you can be about the whole thing. Give it a shot! And be prepared to surprise yourself.

Enjoy your Fall!

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Omily Tarot: You Can do it in a Sling, You Can do it Before Listening to People Sing...

Just when you think some of the things you love are on perfectly parallel paths, and never the twain shall meet, the universe masterminds a perfect collaboration...

Wishing you could get a tarot reading from me?

Longing to be inspired by my high-flying aerial feats?

How about both at once?

It's not a pipe dream anymore! The amazing manager and producer at the Muse, Rebecca Collins has enlisted me to provide beautifully eerie (eerily beautiful?) ambience and fortune telling mystery at the Halloween edition of the Muse Cabaret, coming up late next month!

I am pretty stupidly excited, and have been left asking myself over and over again, how did I not think of this dream combination before?? Aerial bar tending is a thing...why not aerial fortune telling? Why not indeed, and, why not no longer!

Details are being added and updated as I get them over on my new 'upcoming performances' page on my website. Check it!

While you wait, why not put it out into the universe...shouldn't every club in the city offer gorgeous aerial dancers offering tarot card readings? Ok, not every club can because there's only one of me, but still.

What insights into the cards will I gain by contemplating them while posing in the skies? Good question! Maybe rehearsals will reveal something...I'm so excited to explore the tarot in this new way, and to get a chance to chat with so many querents in one evening! I'll update with pictures of my rehearsing attempts, and fascinating insights...as well as all the relevant details for those of you itching to participate!

Update:
 I told you there'd be pictures, didn't I?
 And that this would be a can't-miss performance?
 AND, a ground-breaking debut in more ways than one?
 And believe me, if you think these stills are something, this set is going to blow you away!
 I'm pretty excited.
Just sayin'. ;-)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Eating Omily: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I love food! I have I said that lately? I also have a mega sweet tooth. You may have picked up on it. While Farmers' Market sweets are my favourite for obvious reasons, there's no way I'll ever give up chocolate, among other things...

But just because not every ingredient in every dessert I make can't be local doesn't mean I can't do the best I can! Enter, these delectable bites:
Chocolate peanut butter popcorn bars!! (Eeeeeee!!!) They're something like a cross between rice crispy treats, and no bake cookies, with popcorn standing in for the puffed rice/oats. And yes, they are every bit as mouth-watering as they sound: chewy, salty, sweet, and of course, chocolatey. #Winning.

So, what's not local? The peanut butter (although I could try purchasing peanuts at the Farmers' Market when they're around, roasting them, and grinding them into peanut butter at home...for our every day peanut butter needs, we wouldn't be able to make enough, but for that brief season, I'll bet it would taste amazing...). The marshmallows (although I'm wondering if I could buy enough maple marshmallows to make a small batch of these...). And the chocolate. But the popcorn and the butter ARE local! And I'm a huge fan of taking small steps in the right direction!

So how do you make them? Read on...

If you don't own an air popper, first of all, you should get one. It's a solid investment in munchy management. But if you can't do that immediately, and you need one of these in your belly as soon as possible, you can pop popcorn on the stove; it's just messier and more involved. If you're stove-popping, refer to this recipe, don't forget this edit, and don't sweeten or salt your popcorn, and do that step first. If you're air popping, you can start the step below first. You'll need to start with approximately a quarter cup plus one tablespoon of unpopped kernels to end up with the ten cups of popped popcorn you'll want for this batch.

Melt three tablespoons butter, half a cup of peanut butter, and 10 oz. of mini marshmallows over medium low heat, stirring constantly.

Put the popcorn in your air popper, and turn it on. It'll do the work for you while you melt and stir.

Pour the melted deliciousness over your big bowl of popped, unsalted, unsweetened popcorn. Toss to coat thoroughly. If you add the 1/2-2/3s cup chocolate chips, they'll melt, and it'll mingle together. If you want the chocolate chips to stay separate, wait a bit to add them, but if you want too long, your syrup will harden up too much, and you won't be able to mix them in. You can always save them to press into the top instead.

Press the whole shebang into a pan: 9x9, 9x13, 9" round...whatever you have will be fine. If it's not nonstick, coat it in butter first! Put it in the fridge for ten or twenty minutes to firm up, but don't store it there, or it will be too hard to cut into pieces and eat!

Nom nom nom...

I wanted to start with this cheery recipe I have to have a little rant. About this.
 Which might seem like an odd thing for me to rant about...isn't this what eating Omily is all about?? Well...yes. And no. I choose to focus on the positive, on taking small steps, on encouraging change without shame. That said, the situation is dire. My candy sweet encouraging approach might fail to convert people where a little shock value will, and we certainly need people tackling this problem from every conceivable angle, so the negativity isn't the issue. The conclusion is. And there's a good chance you can already guess what that is.
So lets talk about that first tip for eating in a more sustainable way: YES! 100%;  I can so get behind that!!!

Now lets look at the second one: What. The. Feck. I can't even. Would anyone like to attempt to explain what is wrong with this picture using nice language? Because I don't think I can. Ok, I'll try. ALL OF THAT PROCESSED SHIT THAT NO ONE SHOULD BE EATING TAKES UP WAAAAAAAAY MORE RESOURCES TO PRODUCE AND MARKET THAN EVEN THE WORST FACTORY FARMS!!!!!!

Ok, that wasn't so bad. I'm giving myself a pat on the back for my self restraint. Moving on.

Lets look at number three. If we can stand it: Ding ding ding! Is anyone surprised? This is where they were going all along. Suggestions one and two were just warm-ups to get you to the main point.

Ok, two things: first of all, if you conclude that going vegan is the right choice for you from a health, or ethical point of view, please don't eat any of that disgusting animal product replacement stuff. Eat all of the real food that does not come from animals. Get as much of it as you can locally. Please and thank you.

Second of all, the idea that going vegan is the way we're going to stop global warming and save the world is incredibly short-sighted, illogical, AND privileged. Do you have any idea how absurd it is to talk to anyone who doesn't live in a VERY developed nation about going vegan? Do you have any concept of how absurdly over-simplified the statement, "surprisingly, free-range animal products take up even more land and resources" is? First of all, NO, it's not surprising! Giving the animals SPACE to move does in fact take up more SPACE. HOWEVER. It does NOT mean greater habitat destruction when it's done right! Because when it's done right, we are using space that is not good for growing crops to grow animals on by letting them turn existing biomass (grass) into food that we can eat. It's actually an incredibly efficient system! Our grazers fit right into existing ecosystems, allowing all kinds of animals that would be KILLED and/or driven out of their homes by plowing up that land for planting to thrive right where they are! What a novel idea!

Now, to be fair, it is true that buying 'free range' labeled meat at your grocery store is doing far less good than you think that it is. The legal requirements to carry that label don't go nearly far enough. To get sustainable meat, you need to seek out farmers and ranchers using sustainable practices. Go to a farmers' market! Do it!!!

Do we get this? Does this all make sense? Any lingering doubts? Please let me know. I would love to clear them up. And I promise not to bite your head off. Good faith ignorance seeking knowledge is one thing...purposefully only telling a sliver of the story in order to advocate your absurd lifestyle on the other hand, is quite another.

But it's not all bad. There's one thing this brochure is good for. Here's a handy depiction of all the harm factory farming does. I KNOW that's not something you want to participate in. Get courageous. Get strong. Follow your heart. You can do it! And you do NOT have to go vegan!
Sorry it's sideways; I'm experiencing technical difficulties. You get the picture. A whole hell of a lot is going to be sideways if we don't stop turning a blind eye to how destructive our lifestyle is.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Public Service Announcement

Dear White People is on Netflix.

Nope, that's all I want to say.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Omily Tarot: You Can Do it in with a Beer, You Can Do it with a Peer...

I just gave my favorite kind of tarot reading! It was for an awesome person, it was in a bar after tasty beers and snacks, and we didn't use a stiff pre-ordained spread for the cards.

Specifically, my wonderful friend Jessica asked me to do her yearly Birthday tarot reading for her, and I was all too happy to oblige!

Since she reads tarot as well, we had a rich discussion, comparing notes of our own personal significances and patterns in the cards, and noticing patterns within the reading itself. A few main ideas popped up over and over, and I was able to see several rich examples of Jessica's personal archetypal imagery and mythology leading to different ideas and insights than what I found in familiar cards.

She was really into my miniature Waite-Smith tarot deck: the one I use most frequently. While I wasn't initially drawn to the imagery of this deck, it was given to me as a gift by my best friend, which was a clear enough sign that this was a good deck for me. Now that I've explored it more thoroughly, I've really grown to appreciate the beauty and clarity of this deck.

Spoiler alert: I'm paying the magic forward by giving Jessica her own miniature Waite-Smith deck as a late birthday gift tomorrow!! :-D

If you've been reading my tarot posts for a while, you may recall that I don't believe there's anything wrong with buying tarot decks for yourself, whether it's your first deck or your fiftieth, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the extra level of significance that comes with a deck that's a gift. Maybe I'm flattering myself by thinking that receiving the deck from me will make it a richer source of symbolism and meaning for Jessica, but it can't hurt...and it will likely mean she'll get it into her hands sooner. I know I take forever to buy things for myself.

I think that when we're new to reading the tarot, we might gravitate toward reading for people who know nothing about the tarot. We may feel nervous, or embarrassed to read for other tarot readers, especially if we perceive them to be be better at it than us. I find that, inevitably, you learn so much from reading for another tarot reader, of doing a reading together, so you can compare notes. I think the biggest lesson you'll learn is that your own insights, no matter how new to the tarot you are, no matter if you have to check the book for every single card, add to the conversation, and provoke the interest of your more experienced partner. This can be a great confidence boost for the beginner, but it's an equally worthwhile experience for the more experienced reader. As the Buddhist saying goes:

"In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind, there are few."

Two experienced tarot readers can also read for each other, or do a reading of a character, or famous person, and interpret the spread together.

And if these activities take place at a bar with tasty beers, wines, or cocktails and snacks, so much the  better!

Might I recommend 61 Local (pictured above)? Right off the Bergen stop on the F/G, the expansive space is full of big, shared tables, with lots of real estate for readings, the menu features only local beers and wines, and a couple simple beer/wine cocktails, including a tasty treat made with local vermouth, and local chardonay, lemon juice, and juniper syrup, and seriously delicious food. Again, there's a strong emphasis on local flavors, and you can take your pick from small plates to big meals, both hearty humane meat dishes, and awesome vegetarian options. Can you see why I love this place so much?

What better way to suggest doing a reading together with your pro reader friend than after a few glasses of liquid courage? The Victorians all drank during seances! Why not you??

I mean, it's not like booze is essential for tarot reading...I've just found that it usually enhances the experience. Give it a try, if that's your thing!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Eating Omily: Hot, Sweet Summer

After an incredibly easy summer of highs of 79-82, we finally got properly blasted with that first real heat wave: nothing like trying to make intelligent choices about produce when you're baking in full sun on a 95 degree day.

Just keep breathing! And maybe buy gelato from Mother Hubbord's milk stand...

Another solution for handling the heat? Imagine how much worse off you could be! You could, for example, have just popped one of these into your mouth.
I'd like you to take a moment, and notice, not only the deeply absurd warning (don't touch this pepper? Holy shit!), but the scoville units it has to its name: 2,009,231. That's two MILLION, folks.

For a bit of comparison, consider the habanero: the hottest pepper any of us mere mortals are ever likely to consume. It's got quite a fiery reputation, and for good reason. I don't know anyone who just pops one of these into their mouths, even on a dare.
The scoville units are a bit less clear, having been written in marker, but you can still make them out. That's 300,000. Three-hundred-thousand. Not to be confused with over TWO MILLION.

What in the world does one do with one of those crazy hot peppers? You can't touch them. You SURELY can't eat them! I think they solely exist because some people like to watch the world burn. And knowing there's a pepper out there that can burn your bare flesh that you aren't currently touching can make a day with a heat index of 100 degrees feel just a tad more bearable.

On the other hand, that whole ploy of 'Hey, it could be worse!' has always sort of annoyed me. Of COURSE it could be worse. Does that mean I'm not allowed to ever be unhappy with my situation? Jeeze, lay off! So, maybe you'd prefer a different method for dealing with the heat. It may seem equally unorthodox as exploring your local hot pepper options, but this one is actually very common in other parts of the world: have some tea!

And no, dudes, I am not talking about iced tea. Grow a pair, and get yourself a HOT tea, coffee, whatever floats your boat.

Whaaaaaat???

I was first introduced to this seemingly wack solution back in Summer 2010 when I started taking classes at Namaste Yoga and Tranquility Center: the guiding light of my practice to this day, despite the fact that they exist now only in the collective hearts and memories of some very special people, and a handful of baby wolf howling at the full moon t-shirts.

One of the very many things that made Namaste such a special place is that post class, everyone would sit down in the corner and enjoy cups of herbal tea together. There were many elements of this ritual that made it feel sacred and special: the wicker basket of assorted, mismatched cups, the electric kettle hissing away as you got settled at the beginning of class, the fact that the tea was blended by the head teacher, measured out using a sea shell, and brewed in a thermos for the whole length of class, the fact that tea took place in the corner of the studio, preserving the sacred space and energy we had just created together...it was a great opportunity for students to talk about aspects of their practice they were struggling with, and to talk about other things going on at the studio. It was awesome. I would not have missed it for the world. So, in spite of that hot Brooklyn summer, in spite of the lack of A/C, I sat down for my cup of hot tea after every single class.

Some students would opt out, unable to even consider drinking a hot beverage after a sweaty yoga sesh, but one of the teachers, and I wish I could remember which one, pointed out that in some eastern cultures, people drink hot beverages when its hot out on purpose, to cool off. By making your insides hotter, you balance your internal and external temperature, making that hot weather feel less extreme, and more normal. You also stimulate your body to activate all its cooling down mechanisms, making you feel cooler. It may sound a little crazy, but I'm telling you, it works!
If you need a little extra incentive, then keep in mind that whatever kind of pastry your heart desires...you need to forget that shit and get this one. Oops, that's totally not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is that there are no less than four vendors offering pastries and treats on any given Farmer's Market day, and you are guaranteed to find one of your favorites...but yes, you do need to try this one. It's crazy. And if you've got a pastry, and you've got a nice cup of tea with milk and sugar...then you've got afternoon tea! And afternoon tea is awesome!!!

But why is this particular pastry the one you should choose? Because, the best description I have of this edible is that it's like a croissant, and a brioche had a love child, and that love child fell in love with you, and did everything in its power to be irresistible to you. That is what this pastry is like. It is all the things. And I can't remember the name of it because it's words I'm not familiar with. BUT ITS AT THE FARMERS MARKET!!! Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, from the amazing bakers with the black tent, the off the hizzle lemon tarts, and the incredible gluten free options. Of which this is not one. Sorriez. I'm not sorry it looks a little explicit in this picture, though. That is exactly what this pastry should look like.

So, that's it: the hot, the sweet, the summer! Enjoy it while you can! The seasons just keep rolling on...and in all seriousness, do pick yourself up some, maybe slightly less intense hot peppers. I love to pickle them for throwing on pizza, in eggs, or anywhere else you need a little something-something.

Nom!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Maybe We'll Remember What Happened to August!

This happened in the mad whirl before August: I explored Greenwood Cemetery with my family! But you shouldn't need photographic evidence to remember your life, right?
Happy August! I have no idea how that happened so fast, do you? I find myself saying things like that, and hearing them from the people around me, a lot! Why are we so disconnected from the passage of time? Probably because we spend so little of it actually being in the present moment.

It's not practical, or wise, to live in the present moment 100% of the time. Taking a vacation, savoring sweet memories, learning from past mistakes, avoiding problems in the future...it all involves taking a trip to a time and place different from the one we're in, and we'd have a really tough time being humans if we didn't do those things!

But, in our culture, the pendulum is swung pretty hard to rehashing the past and planning the future, to the exclusion of experiencing the present, more often than not!

Don't believe me? How many times have you posted a picture of your perfect brunch to instagram, super psyched for those likes and comments, but five minutes after leaving the table, you can barely remember what you ordered, let along how it tasted? How about the last time you had an important conversation in your future: how many times did you go over what you would say and how it would go before the big moment actually arrived? If you remember your last embarrassing moment, do you then spend at least several minutes berating yourself for whatever part you played in its occurring?

I'm not saying it's inherently bad to share that perfect frittata with your friends, or to consider in advance how you'll answer questions or share important information, but if you're getting a bigger pleasure surge out of your friend's approval of your order than the taste of it in your mouth, your wiring could use some tweaking, and those extra five-hundred mental dry runs of your meeting are just a big fast waste of your time!

To put it simply, if you have to do something unpleasant in the future, you're only extending the unpleasantness by focusing on it before it happens, and if you look for pleasure in a place where your'e not, you're missing out on actually experiencing it!

But there's a good chance you already knew that. The fact is, it's easier said than done. And, it's not helpful to beat yourself up for your lack of presence. So, what do you do?

Here's an idea: pick an experience: a weekly class you love to take part in, a phone chat with a friend you don't touch base with enough, your favorite pastry and coffee on a slow morning. Keep it to an hour or less, and make it something you LOVE. Schedule it. Let yourself look forward to it all you want to. When it arrives, turn off your push notifications, set aside your to do list, and just experience it. When you notice your attention is on something else, invite yourself to enjoy this amazing thing you're doing! If you realize it's not really that amazing...maybe you just thought it was, chalk it up to a lesson in the difference between anticipation and reality, and try something new next week.

Whatever your chosen experience for next week, when you find yourself fantasizing about it before hand, invite yourself to check into the now instead. Even if you're doing something you're way less than thrilled about, challenge yourself to just sit with it and experience every facet of it for just one minute. You may find you want to try for five, or even longer, but if not, no worries. A minute is just fine.

Along the way, take the time to really observe your reactions. This is an experiment, and you are the scientist. This is your chance to learn about your own tendencies, and whether your current way of functioning is serving you, or whether a new way of doing things is in order.

If you're enjoying the experiment, you can take it even further. Pick something you do regularly that you feel pretty meh about: you don't dread it, but you're not excited about it. Does your experience shift if you're present for that experience? Maybe it's actually more boring to pay attention than it is to let your imagination run wild. That's ok! Being present isn't always the answer, but you won't know when it is and when it isn't if you don't give it a shot. You can go really hard, and choose something you do dread doing. How does being present, even for just little short bursts, shift your experience?

If you really struggle to be present long enough to even get a bead on how you feel about that experience, it would probably behoove you to get some practice in. There are moments when we all want to pay super close attention, and lacking that skill can hold us back. There are lots of apps, websites, and books to help you sort out meditation, and there are lots of posts on this very blog, too! Just click the meditation tag to the right to get started!

If you find that being present is a great alternative to your usual mode, meditation can help you get better at it, so you can do it as long as you want, whenever you want...not overnight of course, and it's crucial to remember that a huge perk of the practice is the self compassion it encourages you to cultivate as you peel back the layers and learn more and more about yourself and your mindfulness skills (or for more of us, our lack thereof!).

Remember, it's possible to get trapped in the same old out of the present mode even with meditation: looking forward to when you can FINALLY sit down on your cushion, and totally spacing on that e-mail you've been meaning to send for days, getting so frustrated with yourself for mentally checking out of your spin class that you suck down you don't really hear the conversation you're having with your mom...and when those moments happen, being able to laugh at yourself is the difference between a downward spiral of frustration, and committing to giving it another shot next time and moving on.

No one has to meditate, ever. Lots of people go their whole lives barely ever being in the present moment. They're not bad people, and for the most part, they aren't miserable, either. But, I'm just saying, it's your life. Wouldn't you like to be there for it?

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Omily Tarot: Ladies' Night with the Tarot

My younger sister has a passing interest in the tarot that is always revitalized when we spend time together (which isn't much, since she lives at home with the fam in Ohio, and I live in Brooklyn). At every visit, she requests a tarot reading...usually pronounced so that it rhymes with 'carrot', which invariably makes me picture a sage staring at a row of carrots spread out on the floor...but as soon as I get through laughing, and correcting her for the upteenth time, I pull out a tarot deck, and we get down to business.

It can be almost more complex reading for a family member than it is reading for yourself, especially a younger family member, because you have a lot of ideas about who they are and who they're going to be, based on their similarities and differences to you, and plenty of advice for them along the way...which is great, and if they ask for it, you should share it, but a tarot reading is absolutely the wrong time to push your own agenda, which can be easier said than done.

I find myself gravitating toward short, simple spreads when I read for my sister, and I tend to keep my explanations short, simple, and strongly based in my existing ideas on card interpretation.

By contrast, I used the exact same spread for my sister's boyfriend, but I felt much more comfortable following my instincts, and elaborating on those basic interpretations of the cards to tell a more thorough narrative.

I don't know if my sister noticed the discrepancy or not. Maybe she was curious enough to know what his reading would be about to just enjoy the extra information and not compare the two readings. If she did notice anything, she kept it to herself.

But I noticed something about her reading that was exactly the kind of seemingly impossible syncronisity that reinforces my belief that there is something to this tarot stuff...
I chose the Princess of Cups (we were using the Goddess Tarot by Kris Waldherr) for her syndicate, based simply on her stage of life, and her appearance/personality. It's the same one I chose for myself when I was her age. I spread all the other cards on the floor, and swam my hands through, them thoroughly shuffling them up. My usual method at this point is to gather them all back up into a stack, offer the stack to the person I'm reading for to cut, then I choose the cards right off the top in order.

I started to do that, but then I stopped, and left the cards just as they were. I chose my three cards for the spread (a simple past/present/future spread) just based on the one that kind of sat up and waved at me from among the sea of cards. I laid the three cards out below the syndicate, and then I flipped them over. And then I stared.

 I had drawn the Princess of Staves, the Queen of Pentacles, and the Queen of Swords.

All feminine court cards, and including the syndicate, every suit in the deck was represented. After spending several days (an extension of a mission of a few years) educating her about feminism! It felt more like a reading for ME about her than a reading for her!

Or even a reading about me. A reminder that the journey really is the same...and that it repeats, over and over and over...as my own exploration of feminist issues sparked passion and fury over my oppression, and my attempts to discuss it with those without a thorough understanding were quickly clouded with dark thunderheads of frustration...not so dissimilar from the passion and brightness of girlhood shifting to those emotional and all too often treacherous times of being a teen-ager.

The queen of coins stood sentinel in the middle, a card of achievement, and having it all...and it may seem that way to her, with her wonderful supportive family, good friends, and kind, slightly older boyfriend of nearly a year...and to me, too, because it's easy to think you have it all figured out when you're surrounded by people who think the same way you do, but the queen of swords in the future told me that she would learn the same lesson we all must: we never have it all, anymore than we ever know it all...and the more we learn, the more we realize we don't know, and don't have, and maybe will never have, and don't really want anyway.

I'm being forced to rethink, and carefully hone my thoughts on gender theory, goaded by such disparate challenges as whether or not my husband would let me do heroin (after all, it's your body, right?), and a threat by my sister to remain topless in my apartment for the rest of my visit. My mother might be rethinking the whole idea of bringing the two of them with her! Questing slowly but surely closer to the truth...whatever that means!

If I ever figure that one out, I know it will be with the help of the tarot.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Eating Omily: The Best Kind of Problem to Have

Ok, so it may not feel like it everywhere (not that I'm complaining, trust me!!), Summer is here! I'm blessed to live at a cross section of a few different growing zones, which means different farmers coming from different parts of the region have slightly shifted growing seasons: I get short-season treats like strawberries, asparagus, fava beans, and garlic scapes for months instead of weeks!

Strawberries stand shoulder to shoulder with dark, sweet cherries, and the first of the blueberries! Cucumbers are begging to be sliced, sugar snap peas are the perfect cool, sweet no-cook veggie, and I'm just having way too much fun with cocktails, which you would know, if you were following my instagram! Easy to remember over here: @emily.hursh

You'll also get treated to pictures and videos of my adorable cats, aerial stunts, and of course, Farmers' Market finds!

All that goodness is enough to leave me feeling a little overwhelmed: should I relinquish the strawberries for the year in favor of those blueberries? Am I really ready for cucumbers? English shelling peas, or fava beans? Young garlic cloves, or scapes?

It may not be a problem you thought a locavore would have. The dilemma of choice is usually thought of as the domain as the mega mart shopper.

So, how do I choose? Well, ideally, I don't. I make a plan that makes a space for each of these exquisite flavors while I have them: strawberries Monday and Tuesday, freezing anything that's left Tuesday evening. Cherries Wednesday...lots and lots of cherries, eaten out of hand with wild abandon, and maybe cooked with sugar and cocoa powder, or preserved with bourbon and syrup...mmmmm...and blueberries next week. Don't even think about preserving them. There won't be any left.

Last week I grate up one of those extra flavorful funny-looking cukes and stored it in the fridge in a jar of sake over night. Strained, and served over ice, it was perfect refreshing!

Tonight I'm sautéing up broccoli rabe with garlic scapes, and pairing it with pre-made crab cakes from the fishmonger.

Tomorrow maybe I'll have breakfast for dinner, and make fava bean puree to spread on the toast. This is a perfect plan because fava beans require time and attention, and breakfasts are the domain of the husband, freeing me up for the perfect, smooth, grassy puree.

The rule of thumb is: eat so much of each thing when its around, that by the time it's not around, you don't even miss it. If the strawberries are sitting untouched for more than twelve hours, stop buying them. It's over. If those garlic scapes are reproaching you from the fridge nearly a week later, go back to buying cloves.

Eating locally and seasonally can never succeed if its based on what you can't have. But it can if it's based on a wildly decadent hedonism: this year, we ate a quart of strawberries. Each. In one sitting.

We also pounded them into strawberry mint juleps that were too perfect for words, and drowned them in vodka for weeks at a time, resulting in a ruby-red elixir that's as sweet and summery as it is potent. We also packed our freezer with them, waiting patiently for the free day to make jam, and I cooked down the few, pouty, sad ones into a simple sauce, perfect with pancakes.

I pound cherries like I'm going for some sort of world record, and I freeze blueberries like this is the last year we'll ever see them. We eat asparagus daily for weeks while we can, and I sneak into the kitchen at all hours of the day or night for a few slices of cucumber, or nibbled sugar snap peas. My wooden spoons are stained pink from rhubarb concoctions.

In another month tomatoes will have stained our cutting board, and bell peppers, roasted and raw, will flavor everything. I'll serve nothing but raw sweet corn cut from the cob and tossed with halved cherry tomatoes for dinner, and we'll eat in silence, too busy feeling each kernel burst in our teeth to talk.

I guess my lifestyle sounds high maintenance: food shopping three or four times a week, meal planning, cooking, preserving...but to me, to give it up would mean a way bigger loss in quality of life than I would gain in time, to say nothing of of the loss of living out of integrity with my principles.

If you've never been to a Farmer's Market, now's the time to go! And if you stop by every now and then for one or two things, now's the time to challenge yourself to see if you can let the grocery supplement the market, instead of the other way around.

Let me know how it goes! I'll save a cocktail for you. ;-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from God[dess]

This isn't the sparrow I found. I didn't take any pictures. At first I wished I had. But then I was glad I hadn't.
Several weeks ago, I was walking down 17th street from 5th avenue, toward Union Square, planning to swing by the Pret at the corner of 17th and Broadway for a large English breakfast with lots of milk and sugar before my doubles trapeze class at Om Factory when I heard the sound of something hitting the ground. Not a crack, not a crash...a soft, but solid thunk...I didn't think about what made me turn so suddenly to see what it was at the time, but I think my animal brain had already recognized that particular sound: a body hitting pavement.

A very small body.

A fledgling sparrow.

I hurried over to it, knelt down for a closer look, then looked up. A chattering bluejay hopped back and forth on the awning, triumphant. "You bastard!" I hissed. It's my go-to insult for parties that won't/can't hear me...dating to when I was a little kid...but I'll save that story for another time.

The sparrow wasn't moving much, and it it was bleeding. I could see its tiny heart beating through its skin. I picked it up and cradled it gently in my hand. It didn't struggle.

"It's too late," said a middle-aged man, who must have seen the whole thing as well.

"I know." I said. And I knew that it was. Even if the bird's injury's weren't fatal, I couldn't get it back to its nest, and though it looked close to old enough to survive on its own, it was too injured to avoid predators or look for food.

But I couldn't just leave it there.

I stood up and started walking, wrapping my arms gently around the little bird, trying to send it reiki, love, comfort, anything. Just to let it know it didn't have to be afraid. I had a vague idea that I would take it to the park, somewhere green, maybe I could hide it well enough so that no predators would bother it until it had died. When I stopped for the light at the corner, I checked on it again. Its beak had stopped moving.  I concentrated on my fingers, willing there to be a pulse there. There wasn't.

The little sparrow had died. "I'm sorry." I whispered.

The light changed. I crossed the street. I ducked my head a little, not wanting to share the tears leaking from my eyes with the ocean of strangers in Union Square Park. I went up the first staircase, past the cafe tables, climbed over a low fence, tromped through the mulch, knelt down by a dense bush with big leaves.

For a moment I hesitated, afraid I was wrong, and the bird was still alive, but its body was already cooling. I gently lay it down under the bush. I paused. 

I thanked the universe for the life of this sparrow, and I asked that its energy come back into the earth as more love for all of us. 

I prayed the prayer my grandparents had always said, at the end of grace before meals:

"Eternal rest grant unto them, oh Lord, and let the perpetual light shine on them. Amen."

I covered the sparrow with a leaf. I noticed the blood on my hand for the first time. 

"I'm sorry." I said. I swallowed my tears. I walked back to Pret. I got my tea. I went to class.

And because it's Om Factory, Syl asked me how I was, and told her I was said, and she asked me why, and then, to my surprise, I started crying. Hard.

There are two distinct truths at work here:

One: sparrows are plentiful, and jays are known to raid nests and kill the young there, to protect and expand their territories. Mother Nature played out a familiar chain of events, a chain of events that hurt no species, and perhaps even long-term helped the species by ensuring the survival of only the fittest sparrow young.

Two: a tiny, innocent life was ended in a violent way. There was nothing I could do to save that life. All I could do was be there, to try to offer comfort to ease the passage, to honor this life.

I've been challenging my heart to be open to both of these truths, to live both of these truths, ever since.

I choked out the story to Syl, blew my nose, splashed water on my face, took a deep, shuddery breath, and said,

"You don't usually get confronted with death in your daily life."

She told me I did a good thing, that I was there for bird in its last moments.

I believe that. I want to believe that.

You don't usually get confronted with death in your daily life. But without death, there is no life.

Live Omily,
~em

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Omily Tarot: What Was the Answer Again?

Last time we did a tarot blogpost, you may remember this spread...
This blogpost, FINALLY, we're going to interpret this business! That means this is your last chance to draw your own conclusions about what these cards mean in these positions before I spill the beans. If you don't remember, or missed the post on the question behind this spread, then click here to read my previous Omily Tarot post: "What Was the Question Again?" Go ahead; I'll wait.

Ready?

Good!
So, at first glance, all I could see in that three of swords was how I was feeling: disappointed, hurt, and, irrationally, even a little bit betrayed. I thought maybe reflecting such uncomfortable feelings back at me was the tarot's way of telling me it was time to let ago and try something else...but then I zoomed out a little. Um...a tarot card depicting a hard being stabbed by swords? About whether I should continue my work with the broken hearted? Suddenly the three of swords started to sound like a resounding, YES! Like, yes, it's tough, you don't have to deny that. But this is NOT the time to give up! This is the Goddess Tarot, so naturally, I took a peek in the book it comes with to see if there are any particular insights for me. I was intrigued by the explanation for the eye in the center of the heart: 'an eye-opening experience that can bring tears or insight...sorrow that can enlighten, or debilitate'. I have a choice, here: I can let myself get discouraged and give up all together, or I can seek to learn from my lack of success so far, and keep moving forward.

Next, I turned my attention to the Six of Staves. This card is a card about victory, about successfully moving past a big challenge, and celebrating that fact. This was a little confusing at first. I should focus my goals and energies on...celebrating what I had already succeeded at? It didn't take long for the light bulb to go off, though. The message is, I can learn a lot more from my successes than from my failures in this case. I need to focus my energy on what's working, try to discern why it's working so I can apply those principles to the areas where I'm stalled. I need to turn off my negative mindset that's making me feel so discouraged, and focus on where I'm finally seeing success. I also took note of the fact that this card immediately follows the Five of Staves: a card about learning to collaborate, and share resources for everyone's greater good. That was my card of the year for 2015, so any reference to it, no matter how oblique, usually turns out to be relevant. I'm going to keep my eyes open for chances to collaborate with others to further the reach of my program, and just for ways to help others succeed, remembering that it's not a zero sum game.

Next up, the Ten of Cups: a beautiful, blissful card of completion and new beginnings. Somehow, this joyful card didn't immediately make me feel good like it usually does. What was it doing in the position of 'What's missing in my current approach?'? Um, success? Way to rub it in, Subconscious!! But what I was really seeing was an echo of the message from the previous card: I need to keep a positive attitude. I need to believe that just by putting together this program, I've accomplished something big. I've found my rainbow, and all I need to do is keep my eyes looking up at those bright colors until I get to the pot of gold at its end. More specifically, I need to believe in this program, and I need to believe in how it can help others. If I approach others from a place of service, they'll respond positively. If I approach them from a place of uncertainty, like I'm selling them a car I haven't tried to start yet, they won't.
We've made it to the bottom row! Next card up is the Ten of Pentacles! Wow, two tens in a single reading?? There's a strong message of abundance and success here. It's great to see such a positive coins card, too, since I'm concerned about the practical, financial viability of offering this program. In a way, this card seems to be reminding me that it takes money to make money. I need to conquer my fears of making carefully considered wise investments as needed to help my business grow. Perhaps even more so, I need to conquer my fear of making a lot of money! I frequently run up against the idea that there's a dichotomy between people who have lots of money, and people who care about others, and the planet. I know it's not true rationally, but I need to feel its true in my heart as well. The Goddess Tarot booklet also talks about the completion of business plans, and expansion. Maybe I need to sit down and spend time working on the more practical, day-to-day portions of my business before the clients will start rolling in. Maybe the universe is doing me a favor by keeping them at bay because I'm less ready for them than I think I am!

The last card in the reading throws this pretty picture for a bit of a loop, though: it's a major arcana card, and it's reversed, and...it's number 13...Death, or in this particular deck, Transformation. Could I be in my own way because I'm in too big a hurry to make changes and try different things? Am I looking for too sudden and dramatic a change in my lifestyle as a healer and facilitator, rather than trusting the universe that I'm on a steady, upward slope? This being a Major Arcanum indicates that this is an important aspect of the reading. The Goddess Tarot booklet suggests that the issue is a big change that has to occur. The reading seems to have made it clear that I should not change my program at this time...so whats this big change that I may or may not be resisting? Or is my urge to MAKE a big change, and abandon this program for something more fruitful though I don't know what that could be the very thing that's holding me back? Transformation is exactly what I promise for my clients. Maybe it's the last thing I need in my own life right now. After spending years putting myself out there as a healer,  and training HARD as an aerialist, I definitely sometimes feel entitled to lightning strike success, like things should just WORK already. But that's not a super helpful attitude. I'm not entitled to anything but my own efforts, but if I trust in the divine, and follow my intuition to stay on the right path, I will receive all that I need, including material affluence. It's time to take deep breaths, and trust the process. 

For any number of reasons, my program didn't immediately take off into the stratosphere, but it's still important work, and if I keep my attitude where it should be, and devote time and energy to my program being the best it can be, and being ready for my clients, they will come, slowly but surely.

So, how did this compare to your interpretation of the cards? Did this reading have any relevance or advice for you on your own journey? Think you'll be able to use this spread for yourself? I hope that it was interesting for you to observe how I make use of traditional tarot interpretation, the interpretations suggested for a particular deck, and my own understanding of the cards to find the most relevant and resonant message for me in any giving reading.

Happy Taroting!


Monday, June 8, 2015

Eating Omily: Confessions of a Kitchen Witch

Ah, these precious early days of the growing season are so fleeting...a friend of mine's daughter recently turned two, and in her mix of nostalgia, awe, and bittersweetness, I detected a reflection of what I felt today when I a friend asked me if I was still seeing ramps anywhere in the market, I couldn't find any asparagus, and my farmer friend Ed warned me that he thought there would only be two more weeks of strawberries.

No more asparagus and strawberries?? How can it be?! Oh, it can. And it's a big part of what makes strawberries so sweet, and asparagus so scrumptious. And, it's why preserving is such a big part of the lifestyle if you're living la vida local!

Frozen asparagus, pickled ramps, and strawberry jam...they're all deals with the devil. Magical alchemy that turns vinegar and/or sugar, heat and/or cold into time capsules of a specific time of year.

If you do much preserving, you just might believe in witchcraft...or take the title for yourself. I mean, it's pretty though to think of it as a metaphor when you're stirring a bubbling caldron!

Participating in the cycles of nature feels incredibly empowering, and preserving foods in season isn't the only way to do it.

Composting feels great, too, and doesn't have to entail a heap in your backyard, or a bin of worms in your kitchen. I keep a gallon bag in my freezer, and put all my kitchen scraps in there. Once it's full, I take it to the Farmer's Market, where there's a compost drop-off. I buy compost and compost-enriched potting soil back for $1/pound! You might be surprised to learn that a compost drop-off program, or even a compost pick-up program, exists where you live. Do some googling!

Doing a little foraging can be a fun exercise in connecting to nature, too. There's a certain patch of raspberries I spotted a few years ago in Prospect Park, and each year I try to time it just right to pick a ripe basket-full before birds and other Brooklynites scoop them all up. Thankfully, raspberries being the tenacious plants they are, that little patch is getting bigger and more fruitful every year!

This coming Saturday, I'll be doing some witchcraft/kitchen alchemy/preserving myself: making a couple different kinds of strawberry jam, and some rhubarb chutney!! I'll have lots of fun pictures for you in my next Eating Omily Post, but if you can't wait that long, you should start following my on instagram: @Emily.Hursh, and vine: Emily Hursh. You'll get to see the magic by Saturday afternoon!

Of course, making jam and pickles from scratch, and then canning those things for shelf-stabilization is a somewhat complicated process requiring very specific techniques and tools. Freezing is more accessible, and a great way to start!

You'll want to freeze your produce individually, spread out in a single layer on baking sheets, so that you can take a little or a lot, as you need it, any time. Give your produce at least twelve hours to freeze all the way through. You can let it hang out on the cookie sheets in the freezer for up to forty-eight hours. Don't leave it much longer, or it will start to dehydrate, and absorb flavors from the air in there, both of which do not make for tasty alchemy. Move the produce to an air-tight container, and remove as much air as possible from the container. Zip-top bags are the easiest way to do this. I reuse them for compost until the zipper wears out, then rinse them out thoroughly, and drop them off at Whole Foods, where there's a recycling container especially for plastic bags and other stretch plastics.

Got specific questions about preserving the magic? Speak now, or forever hold your peace! Or, just ask about preserving cherries, and peas! Those are what's next on the horizon!! :-D