10 absolutely delightful books I couldn’t get enough of this quarter

A woman sitting by the window and reading

It’s time for the third check-in for the 2020 Book Bingo reading challenge. Wondering what the challenge is? Check out this post where I lay out all the rules for the 2020 Book Bingo reading challenge, and then come back here and jump right in!

After last quarter’s rather dismal reading tally – just 4 books, all excellent though – this quarter was rather stupendous! I read 10 books this quarter, making it a total of 18 books read this year. So here’s a quick roundup of the books I read this quarter, along with the bingo squares I checked off.Continue reading

Book review: Against the Loveless World by Susan Abhulhalwa

Book review Against a Loveless World by Susan Abhulhalwa

I live in the Cube. I write on its glossy gray cinder-block walls however I can – with my nails before, with pencils now that the guards bring me some supplies.

Light comes through the small glass-block window high on the wall, reached only by the many-legged crawling creatures that also reside here. I am fond of the spiders and ants, which have set up separate dominions and manage to avoid each other in our shared nine-square-meter universe.

So begins Against the Loveless World, and our introduction to Nahr. She’s confined in the Cube, but her mind wanders free. To Bilal, to Kuwait, to Jordan and Palestine. This is her story. But more than that, it is the story of Palestinian refugees, of the people who remained in Palestine, of how they live their lives and how they resist.

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September 2020: Tarot spread for the new moon in Virgo

Tarot spread for the September 2020 new moon in Virgo

The September 2020 full moon falls in the sign of Virgo. The Virgo archetype is logical and practical, with an eye for detail and the steadfastness to go after their goals. This is a sign that thrives on meticulous planning, on honing skills to perfection and gaining mastery over their chosen vocation.

Spiritually, the Virgo archetype teaches the principle of devotion. One way to understand this principle is by looking at it through the lens of one’s devotion to their craft. While all the buzz seems to point towards profiting from your passion, there are numerous examples of famous writers and artists who held down a day job for most of their lives. Franz Kafka was an insurance clerk, Harper Lee was an airline ticketing agent, Mark Rothko was an elementary school teacher and Paul Gauguin was a stockbroker. They could all have given in to the dull drudgery of making a living, but they didn’t – and the world is much richer for their devotion to their craft.

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Creative cycles: Understanding artist block and how to overcome it

What is an artist block and how to overcome artists block

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
– Stephen King

In today’s episode, we’ll talk about creative cycles and how to deal with a lack of creative mojo. I share experiences from my most recent artist block, discuss some of the reasons why we get blocked, and give you some of my top tips and suggestions for how to break out of an artist’s block. You’ll also find the shownotes + highlights from the episode below.

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Journaling for self awareness: write your way to clarity

journaling for self awareness

2020 has been a highly uncertain and a very unusual year. No one would have imagined we would be locked up in our homes, that self-isolation and social distancing would become our new normal.

And yet here we are. Isolated. Distant. Uncertain of how and when all of this will end.

For those of us familiar with the tarot, this year represents Tower time. Everything that we knew as truth, everything that we took for granted, has been shaken right down to its foundations.

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September 2020: Tarot spread for the full moon in Pisces

Tarot spread for the September 2020 full moon in Pisces

The September 2020 full moon falls in the sign of Pisces. The Pisces archetype is highly intuitive and very open to the flow of creative imagination. This is the sign of creative dreamers and mystics and visionaries, which makes this new moon an excellent time to flex your intuitive and creative muscles.

Spiritually, the Pisces archetype teaches the principle of unity, of recognizing the divinity within you. One way to understand this principle is by looking at creation – the creator {God, Universe, Source, however you wish to name it} created this earth, the rivers and seas, the trees, birds, insects, animals, man. Similarly, man has the ability to create – and to create consciously. It is this ability that points to the spiritual truth of Pisces, that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. It is by accepting responsibility for consciously creating that you connect most deeply with the creator. Needless to say, empathy and compassion are the cornerstones of the Pisces archetype.

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On my art table: The Mazaar

What influences your painting process?

For me, it’s often the music that I choose to listen to while I paint. Happy, upbeat music, for example, lends itself very well to fun mark making. Hand pans help me get into a more happy, floaty, flow-like painting state.

Needless to say, I’m always experimenting with the music that I listen to while I paint.

When I started this particular painting, I was listening to a Coke Studio playlist on Spotify. When Bismillah by Salim – Sulaiman, featuring Kailash Kher and Munawar Masoom came on, it captivated me and inspired the piece I was working on.

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August 2020: Tarot spread for the new moon in Leo

Tarot spread for the August 2020 new moon in Leo

The August 2020 new moon falls in the sign of Leo. The bold and dynamic Leo archetype infuses us with a passionate zest for living. It is the archetype of the fiery creative who is confident and unafraid of standing in the spotlight. But this infectious dynamic can quickly succumb to its shadow aspects of overbearing pride, drama and arrogance.

Spiritually, the Leo archetype teaches the principle of creative manifestation. Clarity of thought and focus direct energy, which points to the spiritual principle that it is your beliefs about life that will shape your life. You can see this spiritual principle at play with a regular gratitude practice. As you cultivate an attitude of gratitude, you experience a significant transformation in your life and circumstances. And while your life may not change dramatically, your outlook to life leads to a shift in how you shape your life.

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