Tarot: It’s Not As Crazy As You Think

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The Wild Unknown Tarot deck, available from The Wild Unknown and Free People

A lot of people are really into tarot. Most people scoff at it as just another hokey bit of mystical mumbo-jumbo. I’m one of those people who’s really into tarot.

Please don’t leave. I’m not a crazy lady. Hear me out.

I can be pretty cynical about this kind of stuff too. I’m very grounded in things I can physically experience. I love spirituality, but sometimes I have a difficult time connecting to the intangible stuff. For me, tarot is a way to connect to the part of myself I sometimes have a hard time reaching.

I use tarot as a kind of meditation. When I’m trying to figure out what direction to take my career or how to approach family issues, or when I just need affirmation that eating a pint of gelato in one sitting does not make me a bad person, I turn to my tarot cards.

The cards are purposely a bit vague so that they can apply to anyone. I see that as a positive thing. I don’t expect the cards to tell me the future or anything like that. I use them to organize my thoughts. Often I have so much going on in my head that I’m not sure which direction to go. Tarot helps me turn the craziness inside my head into a cohesive thought process. The cards tell me things I already knew but hadn’t been able to decipher properly (like the fact that I probably should not be eating a whole pint of gelato in one sitting).

Different people get different things from the cards. Some people are not very open to them, which is fine. Those who are open to guidance from the cards don’t find out who they’re going to marry or when they’re going to die. They simply find out how to organize their thoughts enough to start out on a more decisive path.

I don’t know if I believe in crystal balls or spirits or spells, but I do believe in guided meditation. Some people meditate during yoga. Others surround themselves with nature. I read tarot cards.

If you want to give tarot a chance, find a reader near you or ask me questions about tarot in the comments. It can seem silly at first, but the more you meditate with tarot, the better you’ll be able to decipher your thoughts. I can’t, however, make any promises regarding gelato intake.

Aside

Sorry for Bailing on Last Week’s Feminism Fridays. Israel Needed Me.

I didn’t post anything for this past Feminism Fridays, and I’m sorry about that. I was busy all weekend showing my support for Israel. I went to a rally on Friday and spent Saturday editing audio from the rally so it could be used on a radio show called The Sunday Simcha. I will post something more about the rally later, but for now you can listen to the Sunday Simcha and hear some of what was said there by clicking on this link. If the date on the program page is not already listed as 8/3, choose that date and press play.

You should also read this article about how the son of Hamas’ co-founder spied for Israel. It shines light on some of the actual facts of the terrorist organization controlling Gaza.

Don’t Be Afraid to Buy the Medium Bag of Popcorn

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Dinner and a movie.

It’s become the typical and cliche date for young high schoolers in love. It can also be a great night out with friends. But what about going to the movies alone?

A lot of people shy away from that one empty seat between The Chick Who’s Obviously Going to Talk the Whole Time and The Man Who is Clearly Too Large for This Chair. That hesitation is understandable. No one actually wants their right ear to fall off while their left shoulder is being swallowed whole by a blob monster. But there’s probably also a row that’s fairly empty, and there’s no reason you can’t lay claim to it.

Maybe you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe all your friends are busy. Maybe you don’t have very many friends. Who cares? There are so many amazing films out, and you shouldn’t let a lack of moviegoing companions keep you from seeing them.

The key is to act you like own the whole damn movie theater. Walk up to that box office with your head held high and your fist ready to punch those annoying little teenyboppers in the face . . . okay maybe don’t do that second thing.

Anyway, moving on. Flirt with the guy who rips your ticket stub or the girl who sells you that soda and medium bag of popcorn. Yeah, that’s right, order the medium. You’re already there by yourself, so you might as well go all out.

(Don’t forget to go to the bathroom at some point before the movie though. If you need to pee in the middle of it you won’t have anyone to explain the epic plot twist you just missed.)

So now you’ve braved the public bathroom, got your snack and left your number with the guy at the ticket counter. It’s time to find your seat.

When you enter the theater, don’t be afraid to take a minute look at where the best seats are. You do this anyway with friends. Now, some people like to sit completely alone. Others like to sit near other people for possible interaction before or during the movie. Either of these scenarios is okay. Just do what feels comfortable.

Once you’ve found your seat the worst is over. The movie will start, it will be amazing and you’ll forget whatever reservations you might have had when you were forced to park your car 5 miles from the actual entrance because you left a little bit late and all the good spots were taken.

As humans, we like doing things with other people; it’s in our nature. But doing things on our own can be just as fulfilling. So next time you really want to see that new action flick that none of your girl friends like, or that chick flick that makes all your guy friends want to vomit, don’t stress about not having someone to go with. Go on your own. Be shameless about it. Buy the medium bag of popcorn.

Homemade Shampoo — the Best Thing to Ever Happen to My Hair

I recently graduated college, which is a pretty big change, and it’s inspired me to try making some smaller changes too. With that in mind, I decided to make the transition to natural, homemade shampoo.

Store-bought shampoo has all kinds of chemicals (seriously, what the hell are ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate and methylchloroisothiazolinone?) that mess up your scalp’s natural state. Many shampoos advertise that they remove the oil from your hair, but when your scalp notices that there’s a lack of oil in your hair, it works overtime to compensate. In the end, shampoo causes your scalp to produce even more oil than it does naturally, which throws your hair off balance. That’s why, if you don’t shampoo for a couple days, your hair feels oily enough to start a grease fire.

Homemade shampoo, on the other hand, doesn’t strip your hair. It works in conjunction with your hair and scalp to keep everything in a soft, smooth, just-enough-oil state of being. If you want to try out homemade shampoo for yourself, here’s my recipe.

I took this picture after my first batch of shampoo, which is why you see a bottle of avocado oil instead of jojoba.

I took this picture after my first batch of shampoo, which is why you see a bottle of avocado oil instead of jojoba.


 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup liquid castile soap* (Dr. Bronner’s is pretty much the go-to on this one. I like the rose-scented one, but the unscented baby mild is great for sensitive skin.)
  • 2 tsp jojoba oil (you can use a different carrier oil if you want to, but I like jojoba oil because it is closest in pH to our skin’s natural sebum)
  • 1/8 tsp peppermint essential oil
  • 1/8 tsp tea tree essential oil
  • 1/2 cup aloe vera gel (Lily of the Valley is a great brand)
  • 1 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional, but it gives the shampoo more body)
  • 10-15 drops of essential oils (also optional, but will make your shampoo smell delicious and will give you aromatherapy benefits)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Use a whisk to make sure the aloe becomes fully incorporated (no chunks). Put the shampoo into a bottle, and you’re done! Shake the bottle before every use.

* Castile soap (like most soaps) is naturally alkaline, but our scalp is naturally acidic. That’s where the jojoba oil and aloe come in. They are both also naturally acidic, and they help balance the pH of the shampoo so your hair and scalp stay happy.


Some people like to do an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse after shampooing. It helps rinse the soap out, keeps your hair from getting greasy, and also keeps your scalp’s pH balanced. I like to use this version from Reformation Acres. It makes my hair feel really soft. If you don’t like that version, though, just use 1-2 TBS of ACV mixed with 1 cup of water.

If you switch to homemade shampoo (which you should, because it’s amazing), you should know that there is an adjustment period. For the first couple weeks or so your hair might seem extra oily. This is normal. Your scalp is still used to overproducing oil, but without the chemical shampoo to get rid of those oils, you’re in grease-fire mode. The ends of your hair also might feel damaged. This is also normal. Chemical shampoo coats your hair so you don’t notice the damage. Homemade shampoo doesn’t coat your hair, so the damage is more noticeable. Once your hair and scalp adjust, though, your hair will be so soft you wan’t be able to stop running your fingers through it.

Those are the basics of homemade shampoo, and I hope you give it a try. Remember to do your research, though. Different natural ingredients don’t work the same on all hair types. What works for someone with thick, oily hair might now work the same for someone with thin, dry hair. Don’t give up, though, if the first thing you try doesn’t work. I’ve been using homemade shampoo for about a month now, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for my body. My hair feels so much healthier, softer and fuller. So give it a try!

Good Hummus Is Key to the Process of Discovery

Processed with VSCOcam with e3 presetA couple weeks ago I returned home from my second trip to Israel. I could have written this post then, when everything was still fresh in my mind and home didn’t quite feel real again yet. I wanted to wait till now, though, so that I could get used to real life again, so that I could look back on my trip and remember the things that were truly important (like hummus).

The trip I went on was called Birthright. It is a ten day trip offered to Jews, and it’s free. That’s how important Israel is to Jews. The country, along with private citizens, pay for Jews to come to Israel and experience the country in a way that the media never shows us. In Hebrew, the trip is called Taglit. Taglit means discovery, and that was exactly what this trip offered. It gave me, and the other forty North Americans and eight Israelis, a chance to discover Israel, to discover Judaism, to discover ourselves.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetI could spend all day talking about the things we did there. We visited the Old City of Jerusalem, visited a desert oasis, rode camels, slept in a Bedouin tent, climbed Mt. Masada and watched the sun rise, swam in the Dead Sea, experienced the Tel Aviv nightlife, and so many other things. That’s not to mention the food. I could spend a day alone talking about hummus, falafel, shawarma, pita, bamba, and, again, so many other things. All of those things, however, are surface discoveries. They are memories that will fade over time. I will forget how uncomfortable riding a camel actually is. I will forget how soft my skin was when I washed off the Dead Sea mud. I will forget what the sun looks like rising over mountaintop ruins that are thousands of years old. I will forget how good Yemenite hummus is compared to Sabra (no offense, Sabra). What I won’t forget are the things I learned there. Israel has problems, just like everywhere else. The conflict with Palestine is not the only thing to focus on in Israel, just like we often focus on the wrong things in our lives. There are some things worth fighting for. Family is everything. Judaism is more than its stereotypes. It is a culture, a way of life. Questioning what we don’t understand should be encouraged, not punished. We need to remember our past so we don’t make the same mistakes. Learning and discovering is an active process. We can’t allow ourselves to become so complacent that we stop moving forward.

Processed with VSCOcam with n3 presetSometimes we get so wrapped up in our lives, so comfortable in our routines, that we stop noticing the world around us. We stop trying new things. Traveling helps remind us what we love about our homes, but it also introduces us to new things. Unfortunately, traveling is not something most of us can do often. Fortunately, though, most of us also don’t need to travel far to break our routines. So go somewhere different for lunch (have some hummus), take the long way home, explore a neighboring city, listen to a new band, go on a hike, buy yourself that thing you’ve been wanting forever but haven’t been able to justify. Read the news, educate yourself, contribute to your community. There are so many different ways to keep your life exciting and discover new things. You just have to be willing to try.

Processed with VSCOcam with e6 presetThis was not my first time in Israel. Some things were familiar to me, some things we completely new. This country has so much to offer, so much to discover, and it will always have a place in my heart. It will always be home. It is hard to describe to a non-Jew what Israel means to me, to Jews everywhere, but many of use the word “home.” It is the one place in the world we can go to and move from the minority to the majority. It is the one place we have that was created for us. Coming home from Israel is an interesting feeling. It feels more like leaving home, actually, like when your parents are divorced and you split your time between two homes. I’m back in America now, but Israel is still home, and I will keep its lessons with me. Eventually I will go back, and I will learn new things and bring them back to my daily life here. Until then, however, I will do my best to remember the important things (and to find some quality hummus). And if you ever get the chance to go on Birthright, DO IT, and savor it. You only Birthright once.

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P.S. If you want to see more photos and in-depth descriptions of my trip, check out my Instagram page here, or find me on the app @jordynmyah.

Another Year Older, Another Year Better

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My birthday was two days ago. It’s been an interesting year. This time last year I celebrated by having a party at my apartment. I spent most of that time wishing I could go in my room, shut the door, and just be alone. Things only got worse from there. I isolated myself, stopped doing my work, withdrew from society, cried a lot. I’ve been depressed pretty much since I started puberty, but last year was one of the worst. There were days I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was empty.

Then, in February, I started seeing a therapist again. I started taking antidepressants. I left my apartment, hung out with friends, became motivated to do things again. For the first time in a long time I felt like a person again. So this year my birthday I went out to dinner with friends, stuffed my face full of pizza and garlic rolls, and came home to wine and cookie cake. It was a great night. It felt kind of like New Year’s, like a clean slate, a fresh start. It felt like a chance to be better.

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So here I am. Another year older. Another year wiser. Another year to figure myself out. It doesn’t matter how well we think we knew ourselves. We’re always changing. There’s always something new to learn. This year I plan to listen to myself better. I usually know what I want, but I either have a hard time convincing myself I’m right, or I have a hard time gathering the confidence to go through with what I want. So my goal for the next year is to stop doubting myself and to know that I can both do what I set my mind to and know that I am deserving of the things I want.

 

I think we take our birthdays for granted. We often see them as excuses to get presents or hang out with friends or get free Grand Slams from Denny’s. But birthdays are more than that. Our birthday is a day to look back at where we’ve been and how we’ve changed, and it’s also a day to look forward to what we can be.

When is your birthday? How have you changed in the past year? What do you want to be?

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Asking for Help Is Not a Surrender

Processed with VSCOcam with k3 presetI saw my first therapist when I was eight years old. My parents had just gotten divorced, and they wanted to make sure my brother and I were dealing with it ok. I don’t remember much about therapy then. Ken, my therapist, had a ponytail. I put some puzzles together, which I think was supposed to be some representation of how I was handling everything. The whole experience felt strange.

I saw my second therapist when I was fourteen. I had just started high school, and after three years of dealing with depression under the guise of “teen angst” and “it’s just a phase,” I knew I needed some help. My dad took me to Dr. Shinitzky. Shinitzky was a nice Jewish name. I only saw him for about a month. He kept pointing out my failings, and I always felt worse after I left his office. I don’t know if it was his fault or mine that therapy wasn’t working. It was probably a little of both. All I knew was that I still wasn’t happy.

For the next seven years I made excuses for my depression. Freshman year of college was hard for a lot of people. Of course being back in Florida was less fun than spending a semester in England. I did poorly in school because my family was going through a lot. But eventually I ran out of excuses. I isolated myself. I spent all my time in my room. I went straight home after class. I didn’t go out. I barely spoke to my roommates. I lost interest in everything. I cried often, and when I wasn’t crying, I slept. I had struggled with depression for ten years, but I had never felt so empty, so helpless. I knew, again, I needed help.

I told both my parents what I was going through, and they encouraged me to not only see someone but to think about trying medication. My mom took antidepressants when she first got sober. My dad started taking them around the same time, when he and my mom got divorced. Knowing that they had both been through what I was going through helped me make my decision.

I started seeing my third therapist a couple months ago. I also started taking an antidepressant. I tried Zoloft first, and I had side effects bad enough to land me in the ER for a few hours early one morning with a grumpy nurse who jammed an IV in my arm unceremoniously enough to cause some pretty good bruising. Not a great start. But then I tried Celexa, and after a few weeks I felt like an actual person again.

The meds have been giving me some insomnia, but it’s nothing a cup of herbal tea before bed can’t fix. Other than that, I feel better now than I’ve felt in years. I’m motivated and excited to be around people again. I don’t get anxiety attacks when I sit down to do work anymore. After years of feeling like I’ve been sleepwalking, I finally feel awake again. (Yes, I know that is a horrible cliché, but it is honestly the best way I can think of to describe what I’m going through.) And unlike the last couple times, therapy is actually helping me.

I don’t tell you all this for pity or anything like that. I tell you this because I think it’s important to get the word out that depression and anxiety are not mere phases or things you can talk yourself out of. For a long time I told myself any number of things to convince myself that I was fine. And because I wasn’t on the most extreme end of depression, I thought I wasn’t depressed at all. A lot of people are afraid to ask for help. Some people don’t even realize they need it. It took me years to reconcile with the idea that I needed help.

I’m still working on what it is exactly that triggers my depression and anxiety, but the point is that I am in fact working on it. It took a lot of courage to ask for help and to realize that some of that help might come from medication. It’s still taking a lot of courage to look at myself and try to figure out how to be a happier person. But even just realizing that I do have the power to be happy is a big step for me. Yes, part of that happiness comes in the form of a small orange pill, but I’m ok with that.

So, like I said, I’m not telling you this to call attention to myself. I’m telling you this to encourage anyone who might be reading this to get help if they need it. There is, unfortunately, still a stigma surrounding mental health issues and medication for said issues, and I know that this one blog post in some small corner of the Internet is not going to change the way the world thinks about mental health. It might, however, change the way a few people think about mental health, and that’s all I’m trying to do.

An October Night at the Fair

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Last October my best friend Dragana and I went to the local fair. Recently I found some of the photos and I thought I’d share them with you because it was such a great night. We hadn’t spent one-on-one time in a while, and the fair seemed like a wonderful place to do it. So here’s to Dragana, and to best friends everywhere.

2012-10-27 20.37.58-12012-10-27 21.08.51-12012-10-27 20.13.04-12012-10-27 21.48.46-12012-10-27 20.41.57-12012-10-27 21.00.15-1We left the fair that night with two stuffed dogs that the carny we won them from named Sandy and Candy. We also won two goldfish, which we named Randy and Glandy (we decided to keep up the rhyme scheme). It was lovely night, and we’re going back again this October.

If you’ve never been to a fair, you’re missing out. Take your best friend. Win a stuffed animal, or maybe a goldfish. Hang out with the carnies. Get on the bumper cars. Don’t be afraid to be the oldest one there, because the kids will show you no mercy. Do what you want with a person you love. You’ll be happy you did.

Change Is Gonna Come

2013-07-13 16.34.22Today a woman stopped me on the street. I noticed her looking at me, as if to get my attention, and when I made eye contact she stopped and spoke to me.

“I don’t mean to bother you,” she said, “but I’m a psychic and you have a very strong aura. I see a career change coming for you. You’ve been very confused lately, but things will work out. You’ll end up where you’re meant to be.”

And then she walked away.

A lot of people would scoff at this woman, but I’ve always been fascinated with the supernatural, be it psychics, tarot, spirits, magic, or  what have you. I think there’s a lot in the universe that we don’t understand. There’s also the fact that this woman hit the nail pretty hard on the head.

I’ve spent the summer in New York City interning for an entertainment magazine, and while it’s been a great experience, it’s also made me wonder if this is what I really want to do and where I want to be. For the longest time I thought I wanted to move here, but I realized I don’t want that at all. It’s been a struggle because, if I realized that I actually don’t want something I’ve wanted my whole life, what else don’t I know about myself?

My time at this internship is almost over, and after this I have one more year of school. In that year I need to figure some things out. I’m still not even sure what all those things are yet. I am sure, however, that I need to look at myself a little closer. I thought I knew what I wanted, but now that’s been turned on it’s head a bit. I need to figure out what I actually want, not what I thought I was supposed to want.

Maybe this woman really was a psychic. Maybe I just looked a little lost. Regardless, the things she said to me were things I’ve been saying to myself for a while now. Change is coming, like she said. I’m not exactly sure what that change will lead to, but it is going to happen. I just need to take a step back and figure things out a little bit first. I’m excited though. I’ve felt for a while now that I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be. Maybe now I’ll be able to get myself there.