Archive for May, 2010
Today was a big day. It was the day I planned this experiment around so that I could do it. Today was Folklife! Folklife is a festival full of music, vendors, hippies and the like. It is a place where you can dress like a crazy person and get “free hugs” from people.
I thought it would be perfect for my experiment, but as I walked through the hordes of people I began to realize it was more for hippies than New Agers, and there is a difference. You can tell simply by the style of dress: New Age has flowy brightly colored clothes while hippie has more earth tones and focuses more on different types of fabric (I saw hemp, bamboo, and soy fabrics at Folklife). I definitely saw a sea of earth tones and my bright red coat (though heading for an earthy look via filthiness) stuck out like a sore thumb.
Or maybe not…at all
Being so surrounded by these people, these hippies, beatniks, and the like made me feel ashamed. I didn’t fit in. I kept thinking to myself “God, I am so mainstream!” as if I was a Stepford Wife stepping out into the real world.
Still, it made me realize how much love is becoming incorporated into our culture. Love seems to generally be the way to go regarding almost any spirituality, and many people allude to a new movement where society will understand this universal principle. So many teens were walking around with “free hugs” signs it made me understand that this tacky trend was somehow still catching wind.
The whole “free hugs” trend always has irritated me. I usually have a problem with people who attempt to be funny or original by riding the coattails of something that was once funny and original. It’s like hearing someone say “Come to the dark side, we have cookies” and expecting a laugh.
I know it’s probably not these people’s intent to be original but I don’t find it remotely clever or fun to be hugged by a sweaty 15 year old boy. Perhaps I’m just a total douchebag, but the idea of “Free hugs” doesn’t have the feeling of love behind it like Amma.
Perhaps though it’s more fun for the people giving out free hugs than the people seeing them. I bet it’s a lot of fun in fact, I’m sure it gives people a sense of goodness about themselves. I should try doing it someday and then see what I think of it.
Photo credit: pictoscribe
Oh but on the way home I saw 2 birds. I couldn’t tell if they were hawks or large crows even though they were flying pretty low. Thinking back on it I’m leaning toward hawks but I’ll never truly know. It felt like this was a symbol that I wouldn’t be receiving guidance much longer.
Folklife wasn’t really the focal point of my New Age day. It was later that night.
While I was in my workspace trying to catch up on my blogs, I noticed a beetle on the floor. I was sitting in a chair facing the foot of the bed that was in the middle of the room and I usually took to propping my feet up on the foot of the bed. Then later, it was right at the foot of the bed, even closer to me. I flicked it off not wanting a beetle to crawl on me.
Completely different beetle but if that thing were crawling towards me it would have been a different story.
(photo credit: douglasspics)
I was feeling pretty lonely because Noah had gone camping for the weekend so he wasn’t there with me so I decided to get on Facebook and talk to some friends. It was a learning experience. I talked to so many people I hadn’t had an honest conversation with in a while.
One of them was a man I met on Chatroulette. If you want to know more contexts about me friending random strangers from Chatroulette then click here.
Anyway, this guy really had nothing to do with New Age or so I thought. We initially got to talking about old friendships, then the conversation turned towards my experiment and I told him about my eagle/hawk sightings. He suggested the book “Animal Speaks”, which was suggested to me at the bookstore the last time. I asked him what it said about beetles because I had been seeing the one just recently.
He told me the beetle represented “rebirth, resurrection”. That meant a lot to me as I’d been feeling a reconnection with my own identity recently. It was as if there was an acknowledgment that who I really am must emerge and who I really am had been buried under this personality. While we were talking about this, I had moved onto the bed to get more comfortable. To my left was a windowsill and I saw the beetle crawling up on it. The beetle stopped, spread its wings, and flew within inches of my face!
I couldn’t deny it, this was a sign, even if this was a bogus book, and the idea of rebirth was still a sign for me.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Today the great and famous Amma came into town! This was the brochure that weird guy from Day __ gave to me and told me to go to. Well I went, and it was pretty interesting. I’d never heard of Amma but apparently she’s a really big deal. I think she could be compared to today’s Mother Teresa.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this and when Noah and I showed up we knew this was definitely a big deal in certain circles. Mostly women in long flowing colorful dresses were crowding the area. Noah was greatly intimidated by this and decided to leave. The energy of the place was overwhelming and tangible. There was a line for receiving hugs from Amma, who is called the “hugging saint” at times.
While we waited for her to show up a video played talking about her charitable endeavors. It showed her hugging countless people and the way she hugged every one of them as if they were her own children was amazing! This woman had been everywhere! I was beginning to get really excited about this. There was a meditation session before Amma began her “Darshan” (hugs), the man who guided us was fine and all, but the speakers were much too loud and whenever he spoke I almost jumped.
The event was taking place in a grand ballroom with half of the ballroom being filled with vendors. The vendors were for charities, selling lots of New Age stuff like jewelry, clothing, crystals, herbs, incense, soaps, massages and the like. The prices were incredibly outrageous. I ended up spending $30 on some Tulasi (sacred herbs), a pendulum thing, and a massage.
The pendulum is supposed to give me answers about my chakras and life. It’s made out of agate which apparently acts as “A gate” to the spirit realm. The vendor told me to either bury it foot deep in earth for a week or soak it in salt for a day or 2 (he suggested I bury it but I don’t really have enough time for that).
The herbs have been blessed by Amma herself. According to the vendor there tulasi adapts to your body and heals it accordingly. Sounded pretty good to me, and at only $3 for 8 grams didn’t seem like an unreasonable price (compared to the $20 t-shirts that just had the Om symbol on them!) so I got them. I think I’ll put some leaves in my medicine bag.
What? It’s not like I’m smoking them!
Noah had to leave me there so I was wandering alone for hours before my turn to see Amma. It made me really depressed walking alone the whole time with nothing to do except read brochures and buy stuff. When it finally came time to see Amma I was really nervous. I initially imagined I would get to talk to her, but as I got closer I began to see that the process was much more formal than I thought it would be. There was a crowd of people surrounding her and they were there to keep things moving.
As I got closer I got to see Amma hug others. I was looking forward to the hug; her face seemed so sincerely loving. Sometimes while she hugged people the helpers/entourage would talk to her and they would hold a conversation which was the only thing that put me off a bit.
It was finally my turn, the people surrounding Amma had their hands all over me; guiding me through absolutely everything. They pushed me towards her, pushed my head in her lap, Amma chanted something, then as the pulled me to my feet I was handed this:
That’s right. 2 flower petals and a Hersey’s kiss while be forcefully and mercilessly pushed out of the way for the next number. The hug felt brief and… not special. After all the hype I was incredibly disappointed. I mean a Hershey’s Kiss?? Why not something meaningful and relevant to the theme of giving or something. I’ve never felt so heavily disregarded, so easily pushed away to be forgotten! The experience overall was a negative one, one that enforced my belief that I didn’t belong here, that New Age wasn’t who I was.
I can’t have faith in something like that; I can’t believe a hug will make me better and then when it doesn’t do anything I definitely can’t make myself believe it did. I felt this terrible frustration and bitterness. The whole day seemed to conspire against me!
When Noah came to pick me up and I told him of my experience he made a great point about the whole thing: what if all the hype was to get people to donate more money to Amma’s numerous charities? What if that was how she raised her money? Remembering the 20 dollar bills in the donation jar and all the hype around it made me see his point. I didn’t know whether or not I should feel proud of their genius or outraged by the scam.
we went home and watched Firefly, a show all of our friends told us years ago we needed to watch. It was cheating but I needed it and I’m glad I did it. It lightened my crappy mood plus I got to spend time with Noah.
I also had some tofu BBQ, my mom made it so I don’t have the recipe
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-Day 5: we were on the freeway heading towards school when we saw a bald eagle swooping out of the road. It was holding an orange cat (Noah tried to say it was a rat, then a rabbit, but we finally had to accept what we had seen 😦
-Day 7: morning we were turning out of my street and in front of us some crows started flying from the left out of the bushes, and then came a large hawk! It was enormous and it seemed really strange that it was in such close proximity to other crows as I thought they generally fought each other when they were in each other’s presence.
-Day 7: we were driving to my house and we saw a shooting star. It actually gave us quite a scare because it was going directly downward, seemingly towards earth. Noah told me not to worry, it didn’t hit Earth because when a comet hits Earth the sky lights up, but it was still really intense.
-Day 9: while driving with mom I saw an eagle flying while on the freeway
-Day 11: while spending time with Noah in the car, he saw an eagle flying over us. I didn’t see it because I was facing the other direction.
-Day 14: Saw 2 hawks flying low over me while driving home. One seemed to fly “with” me for a while.
-Day 16: Noah and I were driving on the freeway when we saw 2 hawks flying low over us
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Today was a big day. It was a full moon and I was invited to a full moon drum circle in the teepee (the same one from day 8). I had been really looking forward to this as I’d never been part of a drum circle and didn’t know what to expect and Noah also got to go which was great!
Noah’s favorite social activity is sitting around a fire and talking with a small group of friends. The teepee seemed to be perfectly intended for just that. It also blocked the wind and a good amount of the rain while trapping in the heat of the fire. Unfortunately teepees have a shelf life of about 7 years.
Anyway, the drum circle was really interesting. We started with a “heartbeat” rhythm and some people would add something extra. I was having a lot of trouble finding my ideal drum (there was quite a selection of drums and other percussion instruments) and after what seemed to be 15 minutes or so my wrist was too sore to drum. I think I spend too much time on the computer because my wrist endurance sucks! It was a really awesome experience but I was too self conscious (and sore) to really get into it. Whenever my beat was thrown off Noah’s was too, and whenever I didn’t feel the rhythm anymore, neither did he. It began to wear on me, and it seemed that pretty soon I didn’t want to play at all. Eventually I just sat there and took it in.
Traditional Drum circle
(Photo credit: Manatee County Public Library)
The last drumming session got really interesting. There was a certain point where some of the women seemed to be casually chatting during the drumming. I didn’t think about it much then realized “wait, that’s kinda weird (and rude)” and looked around trying to find who was doing it. No one was saying a word yet in my head it seemed I could distinctly hear women talking! I couldn’t make out what any of them were saying, but I sounded real. The chatting seemed to stop when the drums got louder but at a certain frequency I seemed to always hear talking. I’ve heard similar things like this before when there was some sort of monotone static going on but never at this volume.
I wonder if it’s a spiritual thing or if there’s just a frequency of sound that happens to mess with my brain?
Either way, I’m beginning to feel like this personality isn’t mine. Unlike girly, I’ve generally accepted this as who I am and while I’ve deviated from the plan I still have maintained my identity as a spiritual person. I feel as if this is a mask that is beginning to wear on me. For once, I’m beginning to realize I’m not New Age as much as I’d like to be and that not being myself can really suck. In general pretending to be someone you’re not wears on you. I really have loved this personality though, and knowing it’s not who I truly am is a bit depressing.
In a way I feel as if I’ve failed some spiritual test through this revelation. The guidance I felt before seems gone. Things are less spiritual. But perhaps these spirits who guided me are beginning to let me go because they know I should continue my own journey. After all, Monthly Makeovers is a spiritual journey in itself, and I know it will change me for the better. Who knows? Maybe I just need to read some more Eckhart Tolle, or another book, and I’ll feel right as rain.
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This morning Noah and I made Thai pizza! I was pretty hesitant about the idea of meatless, cheeseless, TOMATOLESS pizza but on the website I got it from it was highly rated and all the reviews were positive. It turned out delicious; and was pretty easy to make!
At 7:30 today I went to a session called “Building your own Theology”. It was in the church program and it sounded really cool. I already have my own ideas about spirituality before this experiment even and I used to kind of joke about having my own religion. The session unfortunately was the wrong one for me to go to: it was a concluding session where everyone who was at the workshops before talked about how they wanted to change things for the next cycle. They also talked about their own theologies they developed from the workshop. It seemed that their spirituality was more fluid than mine. My spirituality is much more grounded, much more focused on specific principles and ideas.
My spirituality is based on logic: what has been scientifically studied, what is proven to be beneficial, what just makes sense? The supernatural to me isn’t something necessarily divine but something we can’t understand yet still exists in some form. What if the 4th dimension is the spirit world, we just don’t know how else to describe it? I used to think I was turning into an “unwilling atheist” before this; spirituality and religion just weren’t my thing. I think that’s the only part about New Age I don’t like: it’s not grounded enough. I want a reason why; not necessarily a scientific reason but a logical one!
This session brought me back to who I am a little. Yes, I can really appreciate New Age and I really like it, but am I really one of them? I think I’ve been focused on what I can understand and not so much on personal values. I suppose that’s what makes a person fit in their personality type: they value it.
I do value aspects of spirituality, but I don’t know if I’m at that point where I can imagine it being a complete necessity to life. But then again, it is somewhat of a necessity, at least in the context of atheism. I’m not one to stereotype; in fact I’d heard about the poor attitude of Atheists from friends but never judged until I came in contact with them. They seemed bitter and condescending. I don’t know how much of it has to do with lack of spirituality or lack of something else but I greatly preferred the attitudes of their Christian counterparts who at least seemed to try to focus on good and better themselves internally.
After the session we went home to make some vegan Shepard’s Pie. I’m not really one for dense European food, but Noah was raised with it, and I thought he deserved a treat for being stuck with me and my parents (with none of his comfort foods) plus the recipe said it was the vegan dish you could give to your meat-eating husbands, and I had to test it out.
I realized something kind of strange: I’m not at all accustomed to European food! Sure, I can have burgers, French fries, pizza etc but corned beef cabbage and shepard’s pie are too dense for me. I like foods that have a fresh feeling to them, and those kinds of foods don’t really emphasize that. It’s weird because I’ve always considered myself predominantly white but I’m much more accustomed to Asian food that typical “white people” food.
This dish was a success in the sense that Noah loved it but I was just looking forward to eating the veggies. I can’t say it was bad but it definitely wasn’t the kind of food I liked. I can’t imagine eating the original kind! I would die! My mom tried it and she seemed overwhelmed too. Interesting how people value their tastes. Noah values hardy, Dense, rich foods with meat, potatoes and bread. I value light, fresh, flavorful foods with vegetables, sauce, and rice. That seems to be a common thing I see between men and women. Is it cultural or biological?
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This vegan pizza is not what you’d expect: it has no cheese, no meat, no tomatoes (not even in the sauce!)! Yet it still pulls off being a pizza AND being delicious! Don’t believe me? Cook it yourself and see!
- pizza crust (I use the easy, yummy, and Quick Pizza Crust recipe from this site or Rustic
- 2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated (or 1/2 teaspoon powdered)
- 2 tablespoons peanut or sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons peanut butter, unsalted & all-natural
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 1 lime, juice only
- 1/2-1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste (make sure to check label for fish sauce or shrimp
This stuff was vegan
- 8 oz. of your choice of protein (I used Thai-Style
marinated baked tofu)
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and light green parts only)
- 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, loosely packed
- Optional: 1/2 cup pineapple, chopped (personally, I’m not one for pineapple on any of my pizzas)
- Preheat oven to 450*F.
- Mix the ginger in with the oil. Brush mixture (I use a silicone basting brush) across the pizza crust.
- Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.
- Mix together the peanut butter, tamari, lime juice and curry paste. Spread this on the crust and top with remaining ingredients. (TIP: If you are using MSF Meal Starters, put them on the pizza BEFORE the sauce and they will absorb lots of extra flavor.)
- Bake for 10 additional minutes.
As you can see, the pizza looks pretty damn delicious for being vegan!
It turned out AMAZING! I have to say the sauce was the toughest part, and I WILL be making this again so it will be better next time. When I first made the sauce according to the measurements it was too runny so I added more peanut butter. The sauce tasted really salty too, so I tried adding some lemon (since I only had 1 lime on me which I already used) but nothing seemed to change. The final product tasted amazing but the sauce was still really salty tasting after the pizza was baked. Perhaps I’ll mix water in with the tamari next time.
Still, the pizza was gone before dinner, and I’m craving more already!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
- 4 or 5 russet baked potatoes, peeled and cooked
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup mushroom or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup plain soymilk
- 8 oz. slice mushrooms
- 1 head broccoli, chopped or grated, stems and all
- 2 carrots, chopped or grated
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch plus 1 teaspoon flour
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 handfuls French fried onions
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Mash cooked potatoes with as much soymilk as you need and lots of vegan buttery spread to make them nice and creamy. Add some salt and pepper and a sprinkle of garlic powder.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the garlic and onion over medium heat until soft and translucent.
- Add the broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and celery and cook until veggies start to wilt
Typically for me this would be the last step in the recipe
- Add the broth and soymilk along with the cornstarch and flour. Let the mixture come to a boil, stirring frequently. Sauce will thicken up a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When all the vegetables are cooked, remove from heat.
- Spray an 8″x8″ or 9″x13″ baking dish with nonstick oil spray and spoon the vegetable mixture onto the bottom. Cover with the potatoes and smooth them down. Sprinkle the top with nutritional yeast and French fried onions.
- Heat in oven for 10 minutes or so until top is slightly firm and onions are browned.
Yum! Make sure to add a good amount of extra seasoning (or just prepare to add it in after the fact) as I thought my dish as a tad bit bland for my tastes, but Noah LOVED it, so mission accomplished!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This morning I realized I didn’t have any food for school. I made some polenta for the morning and wraps for the day. I wasn’t really into the wraps too much but I highly recommend making polenta some time because it’s really simple and easy. You can find the recipe here, it’s really simple!
Mostly just did homework and worked on the blog today. Here’s a link to something really fateful that happened today but I need to try to make my blogs less intimidatingly lengthy. Even though I seem to work many hours a day on my blog I still manage to lag behind on days! I think it has something to do with how disorganized I’ve been since starting this experiment. This scatter-brainededness must be me embracing the “go with the flow” persona of New Age. Poor Noah, he has to deal with my messiness and self-hatred whenever I feel like I’ve been too much of a slacker. I’ve actually been doing much better at not hating myself for not being perfect at everything.
At 7 or 7:30pm almost every day there is something New Age going on. Take note of that spiritually minded people: if you know of a place that undoubtedly has New Age events at it like a bookstore or a Unitarian church just show up there at 7! Today was a session called “Circle of Compassion”. I could have gone to this or the Dhammakaya meditation. I was in a dilemma: I could go to the Dhammakaya meditation and most likely sit uncomfortably for an hour or I could go to the circle of compassion and with my association of the circle of joy be lectured on one principle over and over again.
I finally decided on circle of compassion and I’m very glad I did. I asked someone in the store where the event was held what seeing a lot of hawks and eagles meant. She directed me to a book called “Animal Speak” but also said from her own personal knowledge it usually meant you were being spiritually guided through a journey. This really struck a chord with me; I don’t know how often I mentioned this feeling of being guided through a journey in my blog (I’m sure I mentioned it at least once) but it’s definitely been an underlying feeling. By the way, I counted and there have been about 5 hawk/eagle sightings since this experiment.
This New Age stuff is really getting to me; I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it anymore! If you were going through these experiences and you were supposed to believe in it would you keep doubting? I mean I would have to be kind of a jerk (and an idiot) to willingly take on this persona and then continue to be a skeptic when things seem to be falling in place exactly where they should.
The circle of Compassion session was not at all what I expected. It was organized by a completely different person. She was some sort of monk…she had the robes similar to a monk and her head was shaved. The group was much more diverse too, which was refreshing. The circle of Joy group consisted completely of middle-aged/elderly white women, and while I don’t have a problem with middle-aged/elderly white women it was nice to have a different perspective from different demographics.
There was a Jamaican, an Indian, some sort of Asian (the monk), a woman from some sort of European country (I detected an accent), and only one white American woman. Of course there were only women, which made me wonder. The thing I liked about it is when we talked about family; there were a lot of really interesting and different perspectives. I felt freer to speak my mind in that kind of environment because if I was out of the ordinary it wouldn’t be that strange.
I’m going to digress just a bit: I cannot tell for the life of me what ethnicities people are! Someone has to be really African, Asian, Indian, or white or else I just can’t discern at all. I guess it’s a good thing. People always ask, “so then what do you think of them if you can’t tell?” I usually either think nothing of it or after a while I’ll think “hmmm… that person looks … ethnic” and that’s as far as it goes.
The session was based around something called the “Charter for Compassion” which was meant to spread compassion throughout the world. Click the link so see what it says; it’s only 4 paragraphs long, so don’t be intimidated!
It was more inviting for people to talk which is what I liked the most. Even though we ran later than we should have I at least didn’t feel rushed or anxious. Everyone else seemed to know each other but I didn’t feel out of place. They were very inviting and I felt welcome in their circle. I could tell there was no conflict in this group, just honest discussion. Most of them had a notebook out to write down new thoughts and ideas. It was a place full of sharing all around and I got a lot of valuable resources from everyone. Here are some websites I got from this group:Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This morning I realized I didn’t have any food for school. I made some polenta for the morning and wraps for the day. I wasn’t really into the wraps too much but I highly recommend making polenta some time because it’s really simple and easy.
-First of all buy the “Onion and Mushroom” polenta (through trial and error I found this to be my personal favorite when it comes to frying it, but everyone has different preferences; do what you want!).
-Cut it in thick slices and cut those in half.
-Put JUST ENOUGH oil on the pan so that the polenta get cooked evenly, but not too much (I also realized through trial and error that too much oil makes the polenta less crispy and more chewy).
-Cook until medium brown. There you have it; delicious polenta!
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