Easter at a distance

Quarantine Culinary Connections Through Cultural Expressions

Easter is a thing. In Greece it’s a big thing. I can’t describe it in any other way; but as the most important religious holiday of the year. Christmas has nothing on Easter. Christmas is an American construct, Greek Easter is a religious and pagan ritual. Most Greeks just stick to the copious food and wine of the obligatory break to the 40 day long lent, that follows the days of distance from meat (aka Apokries) between February and April. Easter is a time of celebration and rejoicing following a time of renewal, rest, and (νηστεία- lent) that certainly dates back to the ancient Hellenic rituals cleaning before the coming of spring. It is a culmination of a journey from one pagan/christian holiday to another.

Easter is a huge thing in the Greek community of any major American City. Among Greeks Easter or Pascha is a unifier. We all celebrate it in small and big ways. I’ve never intentionally set foot in a church, I’m not religious and I’m largely a vegetarian and hardly drink but like so many others absolutely love Easter. Greek Easter is defined by three things meat wine and red eggs; plus a dash of spirit (yes the holy one). During this time of quarantine and self isolation, I wanted to find a way to bring the tradition of Easter Sunday lunch which turns into dinner, story telling, music playing and drinking into this time of quarantine and isolation. This year has been incredibly different, difficult and eye opening.

Easter is a time of gathering. Not just to “receive the holy light”, not only to gather in a church and listen to the midnight sermon, not just to eat the thick, hot aromatic leek, liver and entrails soup (served at the stroke of midnight on Sunday, but to be together with dear friends and lovers, family and people you care about. It’s about community, conversation, deep embraces and kisses on the cheek with the slight aftertaste of wine, salt and lamb grease. Easter is about flavors, music, and a promise of a bountiful summer. This year despite that aching feeling of isolation and lack of human interaction; didn’t feel any different. These things can still be shared, despite the distance.

I woke up this past Sunday morning with a strange joy I’ve not felt in a long time, because of Easter. Yes I the atheist vegetarian needed, wanted this connection with ritual, tradition and belief, plus lamb and potatoes in the oven (aka Αρνί με πατάτες στο φούρνο). This dish is synonymous, in its many different renditions with traditional Easter Day fare. Lamb on a spit or in the oven if you live in a city, is Easter on a plate. This time of quarantine has given me a chance to explore things that I’ve needed and wanted to understand better for myself, through the lens of forced separation from my community.

before

Easter is about family. The one you are born into and the one that you acquire along the way. We gather and share in this tradition, with those we love and cherish the most.

Easter is inclusive. Regardless of religion or belief, people gather to be together and share food and copious wine (I must stress this) with anyone who wants to be included.

after

Easter is about being close, about sharing stories into the late afternoon, before you take one last swig of wine, watching the sun quickly vanish into the horizon. While savoring the last morsel of potato covered in lamb grease that you will probably heat up again next week, you lick your fingers and taste just one last rush of thyme, rosemary and garlic; you promise yourself that next year, your embraces will linger a little longer, your stories will be that much more rich and the tradition regardless of our belief is there to bring us just a little closer.

Χρόνια πολλά….

More tomorrow from the quarantine diaries.

Day 0. Soup For the Soul

Communities built, sustained, and healed on the sharing of a bowl of soup

This is a little bit of a departure from the hunkering down of previous daily posts. I needed to revisit a post I had been planning on sharing for some time but tonight is as good a time as any to talk about how communities sustain and protect each other not only in times of joy but also in times of need. During these very uncertain times, some of the communities I’ve been and continue to be a part of, and who have sheltered me over the years here in New York; are coming together to support, connect and sustain each other when isolation and a global health crisis has brought us to a very poigniant reconing.

I’ve been living in New York for seven years now. More than I ever expected to last and fewer than most would accept for a person calling themselves a New Yorker, so in this eternal grey area of half existence I have picked my communities from very different parts of this city. Many of these communities have opened their hearts to embrace, assist, accompany and comfort during this very challenging and stressful time. Without them I’m sure we would all go a bit mad. I have only placed a small pebble in this vast web of support but we all have something to offer and contribute during these trying times.

This post has been hard to communicate since a feeling of helplessness has overtaken many of us during these past few weeks. We are all in a state of being and not being. Existing and not existing. Communities of all forms are even more important now and thankfully more and more of them are becoming a resource and a virtual meeting place for those who might need it. Yoga and meditation has become my guide in very uncharted waters, as more centers are using their vast network to become a compass in a very uncertain storm.

Yoga classes, lectures, live streaming, meditation and dance sessions and my own practice has been a life saving line and connection to the community that has in the past and even more now been a savior and peace of mind. Daily meditation sessions, breathwork, movement and walks, keep the body and mind connected. Now more than ever my old Ashtanga family is coming together to share, inspire and support. Without that I am sure my capacity to deal with the extra stress and feeling of uncertainty would inevitably become that much harder.

There are countless other resources out there that are being created on a daily basis. Art, dance, theater, music. These things matter, now more than ever. They are vital for all of us to become closer, kinder, and more productive. Writing on this blog daily brings me closer to those who might be feeling exactly as I am and I’m determined more than ever to keep going. Reaching out, connecting in these times of isolation ( self or otherwise) is key to weathering this dark storm. If you need to move move, if you need to breathe breathe if you need to read read. And if you need comfort, there is always a community available to you, no matter where you might be.

As I sit in my kitchen with a piping hot bowl of homemade vegetable soup, I can’t help but wonder how we build who we are when we find ourselves in between places, and in great uncertainty, things we have otherwise have taken for granted, just cement a community in the simplest ways.

In trying times like these, we are called to build families, connective tissue and communities in ways that are never clear cut, but always necessary for survival and healing.

Till tomorrow… stay strong.

Day 19. It’s the simple things.

It’s day 7 of voluntary social distancing here in New York and staying at home has been a challenge and a blessing. Now we have all the time in the world to focus on the things that we could never catch up on before. Time has become a loose and fluid entity these past few days. Hence why I’ve taken a couple of days off the daily challenge to just reflect and connect with my breath and my thoughts and write something different.

I’ve slowed down so much from my previous rhythms, that I’ve had so much more time to reflect on what really matters here and what doesn’t. There are opportunities in this global health crisis we can’t afford to miss. We’ve been either forced to stop what we were doing before but also take stalk of what the hell we’ve been doing to our planet to each other and ultimately our own health. We’re nothing next to this enemy within.

We’ve been told to stay home, help the collective good for once instead of the personal gain. We’re going stir crazy in our forced solitude, and all of a sudden it’s become a reflection on the little things. That is all that truly is on my mind these days. The grind has stopped and sharing a cherished moment talking to a loved one has taken ultimate priority over anything else.

I ( hope) know this too shall pass but we’re at a pivotal point in our existence and the space we inhabit and no amount of analysis will change it. Here’s a few things I’ve taken from the past

In the past week, I’ve cooked a home made meal for me and my housemate every night. I’ve listen to music and read a book with so much attention I forgot to stop at 2 am. I’ve stretched and moved with my friends in Athens who are also cooped up in their homes without any clear idea of when this will end. And all that I am craving is the little things that make life worth living.

The delicate and personal, the memories and the things we share with those we most cherish. The beauty of this planet and the connections we build. The smell of a home cooked meal and the clink of a glass of wine with friends in a shared tavern table just at the foot of the Agean sea. The crisp folding of a page from a book I can’t put down and the feeling of clean air against my face. Quiet mornings sipping a cup of coffee with my family before the day unfolds. No amount of technology can replace it although taking to friends and family daily is of utmost importance. The list of little things is like a treasure trove that we nibble at when all the supplies have been depleted. And here we are cherishing all that we took for granted. Living what we thought was a given and saying all we thought was understood.

Let’s hope we share on those small joys more often.

Onwards to day 20.

Past and Present self

How do you reconnect with the self you truly want to be and let go of the one you chose to be.

A libreto of self.

Look in the mirror. Who do you see? Does the reflection looking back at you remind you of someone? Is it a complete stranger, or are the familiarities lingering underneath the layers of masks you’ve had to wear over the years weighing heavily on your skin.

Take a breath. Listen to your eyes when they speak. They say a lot about you without you uttering a single word. What was your past self telling you that you didn’t take time to listen to? What is your present self shouting over the rooftops that you can scarcely hear?

Being present is a motherfucker. Because we all linger in the in between spaces, we alone create. We alone break.

Look a little more carefully at the lines that have formed on your face. The laughter remains in your eyes despite the difficulties you may have faced. Honestly, look at yourself. Does it terrify you? The possibility of knowing that you missed on those opportunities to dive in and let go?

Does it really matter?

Does your past self still haunt you?

Does you past self still soothe you?

Experiencing the waves of fear that overtake you despite you being safe now.

Scars long healed but never truly so.

Breathe.

Let it all

Go.

Angels and Sinners

No one is all good or all bad.

In recent years I’ve come to understand that people who can be beacons of kindness, can also harbor shadows of darkness and unkindness. We are all made of the cloth of “good” and “evil”.

Owing much to the stagnancy in theoretical and religious notions of someone being bad or good; we tend to forget that we are capable of one AND the other. Picking a side is not clear every time. Consciously choosing kindness, nonviolence and goodness is a work in progress and those who once sinned can be redeemed, and those who seem all loving are revealed to be the opposite.

Countless examples of world leaders, spiritual figures and people seen as poster children for all that is good in the world; are often capable of causing immense harm at the same time. Is their good then invalid? I suppose for those living in a world of absolutes; there are no exceptions. Religion wants to make us choose, doctrine states that we can’t possibly be both, yet there is a dark spot in a sea of white and a white spot in a cloud of darkness.

Yin and Yang.

An ever present reminder that there are no absolutes, we are made of both darkness and light. In the same way a pimp can be a loving father, a revered humanitarian can be an abusing, controlling partner, and an addict can have a heart of gold; we are not monolithic, and capable of redemption and destruction.

In my life I have tried many times to see the good in people who rarely see it in themselves and unearth the darkness in seemingly nice people. We all try to construct an image of ourselves and others that is cut and dry, but within the crevices of our existence, lie the myriad of ways in which we are extremely complicated and multifaceted. Oftentimes we see only what we want to see.

Good and Bad are not extremes. They are not just clear cut choices. Because we are not just one or the other. We are both.

No commitment necessary

How to navigate a culture of zero commitment and instant gratification.

I’m not a staunch critic of online technology, nor do I think it’s the bane of our existence. It has given me and countless others a vast platform for communication and consumer choices. On any given day people I will never meet read my words, look at my yoga videos, and get to share their thoughts on pictures I’ve captured with my camera phone. Everything we could ever want or not is there, readily available and if we’re not completely satisfied we can revoke our membership, get our money back and purchase a trial week for the next big thing.

I’m not sure what came first; our desire for diversity of choice, and less commitment or the availability of countless no commitment choices due to mass marketing. More and more industries are adopting the quickie answers and no commitment culture that is increasingly prevalent in the dating world. Now you can swipe left or right and pick a sample without purchasing the full size from clothing to work-spaces. No one gets hurt, easy return policy and if you’re not completely satisfied; your money back guaranteed . These types of no commitment transactions are showing up from online shopping to online dating and sex. Don’t like the man or woman you’re dating after two dates? Return to sender. Don’t like the dress you tried on via mail order? Stick it in a box and slap a return label no questions asked. Try it on, and if you don’t like it transactions; are equally extended to people as well as shoes. No fuss no muss.

Yet ( yup you guessed it, there is a yet) when demanding or expecting instant gratification or no commitment returns of people and feelings, inevitably someone gets damaged in the return policy. Pick a small medium and large of something and it will fit, but people just aren’t and should not be disposable or returnable. It’s a dangerous thing to play with someone’s identity and worthiness online.

If something doesn’t work out in the first half hour, the availability of thousands more souls on a screen make it seem as if our choices are limitless. Time and time again that way of thinking has been rebuked. Taking time to understand, listen to, and acknowledge another person isn’t the same as sampling a perfume. People don’t come in sample sizes.

We’re complicated, vulnerable and imperfect. We have baggage, we have flaws and we have a history that can’t be summed up in 140 characters or less. Zero commitment policies have permeated interpersonal relationships to the point where if one doesn’t fit a preconceived idea or image; one is instantly disposable; returnable without any personal responsibility or explanation.

That way of thinking can lead to massive disappointments, and be a cause for deeper traumas. In my Meeting and getting to know a romantic partner is like making your favorite cake. Even if its a recipe you’ve read about over and over before actually trying it out, the ingredients must be fresh, the process can’t be rushed, and following a recipe won’t always make what’s in the picture. Sometimes you will burn the cake, but wanting it to be picture perfect and without the calories and the burned edges, is just plain unrealistic. What the picture lacks is depth, substance and above all flavor, and making a cake from scratch is much more involved than buying it ready made at a classy bakery. The hands on experience of actually taking time to get to know someone is beyond the ideal presented in a glossy magazine or app profile.

By the same token, zero commitment doesn’t build brand loyalty or personal loyalty. It fuels the idea of “here today gone tomorrow” as something to aspire to, because there is more where that came from. Rather than investing in something worthwhile, which in the long run takes, patience, perseverance, self knowledge and observation, most choose for instant popcorn, instant lovers and instant joy. Replaceability, cheap alternatives, quickie fixes, and satisfaction guaranteed isn’t what human nature is about. We are more than that, we want more than that, and we should value ourselves more than that.

Picking through samples with a limited warranty and a fail safe return policy may be acceptable for marketing mail order perfume, but for me staying power is like a bottle of Chanel No. 5, it’s a classic no matter how many new perfumes are made.

Her Eyes — Poem

Mural by artist SimpleG – Athens, Greece

her eyes

still alive

despite her fight to survive.

Her defiance her drive.

Alive.

Her smile.

She

thrives.

I hope she defies the odds that deny her supposed circumstance her lost chance her “fate”.

You can’t deny her fire.

Her desire.

In spite,

of

it

all.

Her Eyes

She’s not too late to turn her life around.

Rebound.

Fly

Dribble through the rubble of her life.

The strife

She Thrives

Destiny drives…. her fire despite her current situation

Pay attention to the spark in her

her eyes.

They are still alive despite her fight to survive.

Her defiance

her drive.

Her eyes

Still alive

Despite her fight to survive

She’s on fire.

She’s on fire.


Please visit the artist’s page for more info at :

https://simpleg.net/

What’s in a Lie

The Truth May Sting But a Lie Dis-empowers

Small ones, big lies, white lies, sweet little lies, big huge pile of shit lies. I’ve done it on occasion, I’ve been the recipient of all these; half truths, full on no connection to reality fabrications, and little ones that mask reality with just a tiny film of deception. Over the years, I’ve realized how much damage harsh truths can cause, but how much lasting damage lies create.

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I have long held the conviction that; telling the truth about who I am, my life, my struggles, and my pain is the only way to be true to myself. Giving it straight to others despite the sting it might cause or initial discomfort it might bring is far more valuable than letting stuff slide, mucking about with the truth or strait up lying to someone; especially someone I love and care about. I’ve often heard others follow the mantra that it’s better to tell someone a little lie to save them momentary pain, disappointment or long term disillusionment, rather than telling it as it is. After many attempts at sugar coating, bending the truth or full on lying; I have found time and again that formula is not effective, or helpful. Even the smallest lie is incredibly damaging in the end. Honesty and vulnerability go hand in hand, whereas insecurity and dishonesty are strange bedfellows and often bicker behind each other’s backs. Someone will eventually sleep on the couch.

The Blue Pill conundrum

Telling the difference between the truth, half truth and a full on stinking lie requires a diligent mind. Calling out a lie at our day an age; is almost an act of bravery. Making the conscious choice to speak the truth no matter what, is about letting go of a lot of false comfort. I’ve never been comfortable with lies. I’ve never wanted to accept them as truths and dealing with people who readily dip into the pool of deception no matter how shallow unnerve me. Dishonesty is easy scapegoat. Choosing to see the truth, speak the truth and live the truth is a sacrifice, and a way of life; on the other hand ( as the Matrix so aptly shows) choosing to live (in) a lie, tell lies, accept lies as truth, and ignore lies when they are spoken is a very lonely existence. Knowing that the reality you see is false and still accepting it takes an enormous amount of self deprivation. Lies starve us, whereas truth no matter how harsh leads us to freedom.

The Lies we tell ourselves

We’ve seen the scenario, we’ve played the part often enough to know that lies to others, are lies to ourselves. The truth we conceal from others is the truth we don’t want to face. The repetition of self deception and deception of others is a cycle marred in self doubt. We lie because we don’t want to face reality, we conceal from ourselves because we can’t bear to see; and by creating deceptive images of ourselves to others often creates a far uglier picture than we’re willing to admit. Self knowledge requires self honesty, brutal, raw and unfiltered. Lying to ourselves creates distance, false comfort and ultimately a departure from reality in general. Facing our limitations, fears, shortcomings, problems and discomfort requires honesty, truth and transparency. Without that, who are we really but a story we create?

Fact, Fiction and Freedom

Well woven stories are all fine and good, but the truth is far more interesting in the end; because unlike a perfect tale; we don’t have to work hard to remember what’s true and what’s a fact. The line is all too often blurred by desire, insecurity, megalomania and greed. Every story however doesn’t have a happy ending, and reality is a testament to that. Be real, be truthful, be honest and the riches of those aspirations far outnumber the lies we create in the sacrificial altar of ourselves.

Like this article? — Please feel free to share and comment!

Want to read past articles and poems? Look no further 🙂 Check out past stories below

The End Game- a poem

REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout/File Photo


Sometimes I lay down and wonder what it would be like to be your wife…
Fuck no.
Thank the universal beings and celestial forces you are as far away from me
as possible.
Undoubtedly so.
You did me a favor
With your razor sharp wit.
I must admit, I thought you were hot shit.
But then the reality hit SMACK DAB in the center of your fantasy of me.
You see?
God is in the details they say and you’re just murky
Trust me.
It’s apparent.
I gave you consent over my body.
Not my mind.
You played that one of a kind,
pimp game.
The lie folded into half truths and lead me to assume
that you loved me.
It was all above me like a noose.
I get goosebumps when I think of the shit I would have done to lower myself to your level.
It’s undeniable how unreliable
The pussy is compared to the gut.
And in you strut,
like a homing device for my weakness my vice.
You slice precisely like a surgeon, my heart into a cavernous hole.
But then you underestimate my soul.
And here I am Whole.
Compete without distinction or defeat.
I spit at your feet.
Don’t deplete my space
I have erased you from my memory.
click — delete
complete without distinction or defeat.

Day. 13 &14- Monetizing Passion.

How can we reconcile our desire to explore all our passions, with the philosophy that only mastery leads to success.

One thing I’ve always wanted to be when writing on this platform is honest. There is no point in writing about anything without honesty, so on today’s post I’ll be a little less curated.

I’ve always been a woman of many loves and inspirations. This has been equal parts hindrance and blessing. There is no pretense in thinking I’m the master of anything that I practice, but after 20 years I can safely say, I’m a pretty decent yoga instructor/massage therapist and “working on it” writer. Photography, Cooking and Dance are my long term lovers. We don’t commit to each other fully but we can’t live without each other either.

Anything else in life comes and goes, but the passions seem to stand out. Unfortunately many of the people I’ve met and spoken to about this predicament share the same conundrum. Many of them title themselves under doing or being what they make money at, instead of what they are passionate about. If I were to follow that paradigm, I can’t hold any claim to the above mentioned passions. Yet better monetizing what we are passionate about pursuing, leaves us with a slight handicap. The ever mind numbing idea that when you make money off of what you love, you’re a sell out, and if you don’t make money on what you love, you’re not good enough or dedicated enough or with it enough, to be a success. Catch 22.

In the end for me. The passions win. If money catches up to them, I consider it a bonus. After all my observations about practicing what you love despite the rewards. I’ve come to this conclusion:

Keep the fire going even if you have only 10 people who love what you do, because in the end; what you love and strive to do well, shows. What you do for pure income alone, looses its luster and authenticity.

What are you passionate about and want to share with others?