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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The Creative Challenge

CreateThis week, I’m issuing you a creative challenge. We all do so much consumption, such as watching TV, reading, eating what someone else has made, etc. And that’s fine. After a hard day at work, I know people often need to unwind in front of something mindless.

But just this week, try replacing a passive activity with something creative. For example, instead of listening to music, I’m going to create some music. Instead of reading, I’m going to write some more pieces for my blog. There are many more things you could do – instead of going out for a meal, create a meal; instead of watching a tv show, how about creating your own video. Write a poem, paint, sing, create a garden, make a business plan.

Please feel free to share this challenge. And let me know what you created.

More Music For Tarot Readings

You may remember my post to this blog, Music To Read Tarot By, recommending some sources of ambient/new age music for use when reading tarot, meditating, etc. This is an update of that post, since I’ve discovered a couple more excellent sources.

As I mentioned on the earlier post, I like to have background music playing when I read tarot. It helps me focus and keep odd external noises from distracting me. I prefer to have fairly neutral music playing, since I worry that anything too emotional might “color” the reading too much. I also prefer music without a beat for this purpose. Recently, I’ve also been playing these stations when napping and sleeping.

Ambient Sleeping PillAmbient Sleeping Pill Logo bills itself as “Internet Radio pouring out uninterrupted music for sleeping, taking Naps and other more wakeful tranquil moments” and that’s a very fair description. It streams 24/7 with “No ads, no beats, no new-age-cheese.” Most of the music it plays is free for downloading also, although one of the ways the station has been funding itself is by selling CD and downloadable compilations of some of the best music it plays. I applaud this station for keeping the ads out of the stream; there’s nothing more jarring than an upbeat advertisement when you’re in the moment!

Drone Zone LogoDrone Zone is a streaming station from the SomaFM family of Internet radio stations; in fact, it was the first SomaFM station. It bills itself as, “Served best chilled, safe with most medications. Atmospheric textures with minimal beats.” It goes on to say, “Droning atmospheric space music and ambient textures with minimal beats. Music on Drone Zone is all about sonic textures and environments.” You’re likely to hear music by such artists as Steve Roach, Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Robert Davies, etc. The music is scheduled and programmed by Rusty Hodge, the founder of SomaFM and the General Manager and Music Director. SomaFM is listener-supported, mostly by donations. There are occasional channel IDs, but they’re in keeping with the sound of the station, and not intrusive.

tunein logoBoth of these stations can be listened to directly by going to the websites linked to above, or by using an application like TuneIn. TuneIn’s mobile apps have a sleep timer, which turns a channel off after a given time period, which is handy! SomaFM also has its own app. available.

I’ll make the same request that I did at the end of my previous post about music; do you know of any other sources of this kind of music? If so, please do share in a comment below.

UPDATE: Somebody on Facebook saw this post and commented, including a link to another resource that’s too good not to share here: Ambient Chillout Music Mixes by JaBig. It’s a collection of music by Brian Eno.

Music To Read Tarot By

If you’ve read earlier posts or spent some time on my website or Facebook page, you probably understand that I’m not your “traditional” tarot reader. I don’t shroud my readings with mumbo-jumbo new-age nonsense.

Music is a big part of my life. I once had intended to become a music teacher. I compose music, I play, and of course I listen to a lot of music. So what do I listen to when doing a tarot reading? It’s your traditional, new-agey meditation/spa music! I find that the washes of sounds without too much of a beat help me to focus on the cards.

At some point in the future, I may very well create some of these types of tracks myself and make them available. But there is a wealth of it out there, on various music streaming sites, for example. There’s a Spa channel on Slacker.com and AccuRadio and other sites also have similar channels available. This music is suitable, of course, not just for giving tarot readings, but also for any time you need to relax or focus – meditation, contemplation, concentration or relaxation. My only word of warning is that some of these streaming sites occasionally play audio advertisements, which can be very jarring.

Another option might be YouTube. I’ve found a bunch of collections of interruption-free meditation music with a few simple searches. Here’s one to get you started:

If you find some other sources you recommend, please do feel free to share them in the comments. And don’t forget to check out the comments, to give you some more ideas of places to find some of this great music!

Getting To Know Me

Welcome to a brand new website for a brand new venture! Tarot Readings by Graham is the new home for my tarot readings. And to continue with this obvious theme, my name is Graham.

Before we get too bogged down with tarot-themed items, I thought it would be fun and useful to tell you a bit about myself. I’m a tarot reader now, but I have been, and continue to be, many things. As my About page states, I consider myself to be a teacher, a seeker and a no-nonsense tarot card reader. I’m also an expat Brit (now living in New Jersey) and a stay-at-home Dad.

In the past, I did a lot of computer-y stuff. I was an Analyst/Programmer for ages, I spent a while in data recovery and conversion, and I taught for an online education company. At one point, before teaching, I decided to leave computing, and helped run a hotel for a while. Before I got into computers, I was interested in teaching music. In fact, the new (at the time) application of computers in music is what got me into computing in the first place. Music is still something I love, both creating it and listening to it.

I love the community I live in, and do as much as I can to help it. Currently, I serve as President of our township’s Friends of the Library organization. I also created and maintain their website. I’m passionate about literacy, and I love reading. Other things I enjoy are cooking, good beer, wine and spirits, and movies.

Next time, I’ll focus on my background in tarot. In the meantime, I’d love to get to know you too, so please feel free to post a reply and introduce yourself.