Take a Break!

surf pictureI’ve just returned from vacation with my family, and I’m feeling good! It was just a week away, and it was nowhere exotic, just staying with my Wife’s family in Michigan, but we needed it. Even though I still have unpacking to finish, and I realized that my daughter doesn’t go back to school for another two weeks, I do feel energized. This led me to give some thought to the role that vacations have in our lives.

Many of us, especially in the United States, work too much and play too little. A lot of people have become used to going into work early and returning late, giving up weekends and not taking enough vacation time. Even when we get time off, we’re still connected to our work by mobile devices that can (and do) interrupt us at any time of day or night. I’m convinced it makes us less productive.

So what constitutes a vacation? It doesn’t have to be sun, sand and surf (we spent one afternoon by the shore of Lake Michigan, and I soon left the rest of the group to go for a walk because I’m not especially into simply laying on the beach and the sun was just relentless – even so, I still got sunburned!). It was lovely not to have to cook and to have relatives to look after my daughter.

There’s an expression, “A change is as good as a rest,” and I’ve found that to be true. I didn’t do any tarot readings and kept my online time to a minimum. I continued work on some music I had been writing, and started a brand new piece. My business didn’t collapse! In fact I had some new ideas pop into my head, and I wrote them down for later consideration. Changing things allowed me to recharge my batteries, so I have the energy to enthusiastically tackle what needs to be done upon my return.

Sometimes, when you’re faced with a lot to be done, the answer is not to work harder, but to take a break, so you can work smarter when you get back.

Have you taken a vacation recently? How has it helped you? Reply here and let me know.

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Tarot Readings: How To Ask Your Question

One of the things I’ve learned since I’ve been offering tarot card readings is that people often have difficulty wording the questions they want answered. They frequently have a very general idea, but sometimes they need a little help in putting their thoughts into words. I find that tarot can be very useful when you need to make an important decision, but need some help finding the best direction to take. However, some people just want some general guidance about a certain area of their life, such as their career, love-life, etc.

SignpostBecause I’ve been asked so many times for help putting together a question, I realized that I hadn’t provided enough guidance on my website about how to do it. I’ve now hopefully fixed that by providing a How to Ask Your Question page.

On that page, I’ve also added that instead of asking a specific question, I’ll also do readings “on a theme,” for those who want more general guidance on one area of their life. Tarot is an effective tool for me to use for certain types of questions, and not so effective in other cases, and I’ve outlined that too.

Of course, as always, if you ever have difficulty with this process, I’ll be happy to help you. Just drop me an e-mail at tarotbygraham@gmail.com.

 

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Book Review – Perfect Pairings: The Art of Connecting People by Jessica Leigh Levin

You might be surprised to see a review of a “business book” on a tarot site, but there are specific reasons why I’m doing that here. Firstly, this book firmly straddles the line between business and self help/self improvement and that makes it relevant to many people I do readings for. Secondly, as you’ll read below, Perfect Pairings has changed the way I think and will certainly influence the advice I give to some of my clients.

perf5.000x8.000.inddI was originally going to preface my review of Perfect Pairings: The Art of Connecting People by Jessica Leigh Levin with a disclaimer, saying that the author is a personal friend of mine (in fact, she gives me a shout-out on page 80!); however, I realised that being a friend of the author put me in somewhat of a unique position to add something to my review that I think is particularly important. You see, this isn’t a book containing armchair theories and “pipe-dreams.” I know from personal experience that Jessica practices what she preaches – she lives her life as a “connector.”

You’re probably familiar with “networking,” the technique of meeting people at events, etc., and finding out how those people can help us and vice versa. Connecting, as Ms. Levin describes it, is an alternative that can yield extraordinary and far-reaching results. Here’s an example of how the connector mindset works: I may be talking with someone, either in-person or online. I will be thinking of someone in my network who might be able to help this person meet their challenges, or I may be thinking of someone in my network who might benefit from the experience or expertise of the person I’m talking with. On the surface, it’s a very selfless act, but there are hidden benefits to the connector, as the author describes.

I always think that one of the signs of a great business or self-help book is that it gets you thinking about things you can do yourself, and Perfect Pairings is a perfect example of this. On almost every page I found myself thinking of parallels in my own life and how I could put the techniques and suggestions in the book to immediate use (and the book has inspired me to actually follow through with that); in addition, Jessica helpfully ends most chapters with an action item that pretty much anyone can do. The book also reassured me that, while networking is often an extrovert’s game, connecting works well for introverts too.

While Jessica started writing her book with the intention of it being a “business book,” she soon realized that the connector mindset could be a benefit to many aspects of one’s life, and so the book is full of great advice for not just making business connections, but personal ones too.

In conclusion, this is an easy-to-understand, practical, life-changing book that can benefit almost anyone.

Purchase the book from Amazon using the links below:

Perfect Pairings: The Art of Connecting People (Paperback)

Perfect Pairings: The Art of Connecting People (Kindle)

The Dangers of Deck Collecting

I recently bought a deck of tarot cards. What’s so unusual about that? Well, the deck I bought, The Jean Noblet Tarot de Marseille is the same as two other decks I have. It’s my “working deck,” the deck I use for all my readings. I bought my third copy so I would have a second backup should anything happen to the first then the second copies. It’s like being a craftsman and having a favorite tool. My cards are my tools, and I want to make sure I always have them available when I read for someone. A number of years ago, I discovered that this particular deck resonated with me, and I’ve used it exclusively ever since.

Tarot Decks

There are many decks of tarot cards available, and more are created all the time. There’s always a market for them because there is always someone who has to purchase the latest creation. Some people have many decks in their collection. Some of the images in these decks are wonderful, so I can understand loving the art on the cards and so wanting to collect them as beautiful objects. However, I believe that some people use the purchase of new decks almost as a substitute for learning to read the cards properly. I can certainly relate to wanting to find tarot cards that “speak to you,” but I fear that some people will never settle on one deck, but will constantly flit from one to another, looking for that mythical “perfect deck.” It’s a bit like someone who keeps buying new guitars, but who will never get beyond noodling a bit on them and learning to play properly.

If you want to collect decks of tarot cards because of the beautiful art, that’s great! But if you want to read the cards, my best advice is to pick a deck and stick with it until you get proficient with it. The “magic” is in you, not the cards.

You Are “The One”

As I write this, it’s about a week before Valentine’s Day, and many people are thinking about love right now. Those with partners may be planning something they could do for their special someone to celebrate – maybe take them out for a meal, buy a gift, etc. But those without a partner may be, quite frankly, sick of the whole thing, as Valentine’s Day seems to just be there to rub their noses in the fact that they are single and would rather not be.

L'Amoureux

Detail from L’Amoureux from the Jean Noblet Tarot de Marseille

It will probably be no surprise to you that quite a large number of people who come to me for tarot card readings want to know about matters of the heart. They may want to know whether they will find love soon, or if the person they are currently with is “The One.” When I do a reading for someone, I’m reading them – I can’t really predict random things from some random place in the universe, or tell you about someone you nor I have ever met. Unless there’s something you can do to influence the situation, I probably can’t help you. What I can do, however, is help put you in a better position to find that person, or help you see whether you’ve found “The One.”

A very good friend of mine recently shared an article about relationships on Facebook, and it prompted a very interesting discussion. Like many people – indeed many people who were involved in that discussion – my friend has become disillusioned with dating, especially online dating, following a disappointing run of bad dates, no-shows, etc. She has decided that she’s “retiring” from that scene. I don’t blame her – in fact, I think that’s the best thing she can do right now. She’s an amazing woman and one day, the right person will realize that.

A couple of comments in the discussion really resonated with me. One woman talked about how she had heard many stories of women who had stopped looking for “The One” and decided to focus on themselves and their own happiness and suddenly found themselves in love. What she said next was really profound, and I use her exact words here (with permission) since I couldn’t put it better myself:

Sometimes, I just think we try too hard to find The One, forgetting that really, WE ourselves are The One.

The reason these words resonated with me was that they completely echoed my own experience. I wasted way too many years “looking for love in all the wrong places.” I spent time in bars, clubs, trying to date women at work, etc., and while I had some dates and even some short relationships, they were not satisfying. When I say “wasted” perhaps that’s a poor choice of word, because I always try to stress that there’s no such thing as a bad experience, it’s just experience and it goes to shape the person you are today.

It was only when I decided to stop the nonsense and concentrate on me that things happened. Almost magically. Once you start working on you, on your personal growth, you pretty much are guaranteed to become a more interesting person. And interesting people are very attractive!

In my case, I was fortunate to stumble upon someone who was in almost exactly the same phase at the same point in life as I was. And this March, we’ll be celebrating 16 years of marriage.

Time For a Tarot Reading?

watch imageSometimes when I’m looking for ideas or inspiration for a new blog post or business direction, I’ll turn to social media to see what’s being said about tarot. It can be time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, but occasionally a gem will appear. Doing such a search on Twitter a little while back, I found a post from someone who said she thought she was going to go get a tarot reading the following week because “it felt like it was about time.” I’ve been on Twitter a long time and I’m guessing she was probably bombarded very soon after with messages from tarot readers offering to do her reading. I was not one of them. I just felt like reaching out to her and saying that I would hope any decent reader would likely tell her that she’s wasting her time and energy getting readings under those circumstances and to go out and make her own destiny!

In my experience, treating tarot like a game to play when you’re bored, rather than using it as a tool when you have important decisions to make, usually results in frivolous answers… which will probably bore you even more. Don’t get me wrong – you’re not going to somehow wear out the tarot deck by getting readings like this, but you could become disillusioned with tarot, which would be a great shame. That’s one reason I’m not keen on reading tarot at parties or similar events. At a lot of parties, the presence of a tarot reader is quite exciting, and many people will want a reading. The trouble is that a lot of those people won’t really know what questions to ask because they’re not at a stage in their lives where they need to make a big decision (which is, in my opinion, the best time to get a reading).

When someone is first learning tarot, it’s common to want to do many readings. The temptation to read for oneself, for all one’s friends, for celebrities or even for fictional characters (it happens!) is huge. And in itself, it’s not a terrible thing. But some people take it to extremes, especially when reading for themselves, and a dependency on tarot can be the result; a situation where someone can’t make their own decisions without asking tarot, almost like asking permission to do the smallest things. And that’s not a good thing.

Thankfully, and largely because of the way I present my reading style, most of the people who come to me for readings do so when they have big life-decisions to make. It probably costs me clients, but I don’t regret taking my approach at all. Come to me for a reading when you’re ready, not when I’m ready.

 

(Image courtesy of Aleksa D at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

New Year Resolution Round-up

Something a little different today: I’ve been thinking a lot about New Year Resolutions. Whether you made a resolution and were unable to stick with it; if you didn’t make a resolution (it’s not too late to set a goal!); or if you just want some general help with goal-setting, I’ve collected together some articles from around the web that may help. The easiest way to check them out is to look at the Pinterest board I’ve set up (but you do have to log in or join Pinterest to access it) and linked to below. The advantage of this is that you’ll automatically find any other articles I find after I’ve published this post. Alternatively, you’ll find the links listed individually below.

Why 90-Day Goals Are Better Than Year-Long Ones – Trade shorter goals for year-long ones, for greater success in keeping new habits.

Sarah Dawn Designs: New Year Resolutions Printables

Free Printable: Family New Year’s Resolutions & Year-in-Review – Look back on your year and make goals for the year ahead – the “I want to try” and “I want to stop” categories are great ideas.

29 Things to Remember for the New Year – Small things, but good reminders.

50 Simple and Smart New Year’s Resolutions – We tend to bite off more that we can chew with New Year’s Resolutions. Here are 50 Simple and Smart New Year’s Resolution Ideas that are easy to implement.

Setting Goals – Helpful steps to make it easier to reach your goals.

Here’s What You Should Do Instead Of Making New Year’s Resolutions: Rememberlutions. Such a nice idea for an alternative to making resolutions.