The death card from the Rider Waite deck

New Hobby: Tarot Card Reading

Thanks to TV and movies, I always thought Tarot card reading was a special skill or belief. I assumed it was frowned upon unless you were or wanted to be a psychic or someone else seeking supernatural guidance. It never occurred to me that I could pick up Tarot card reading as a hobby. Until now…

Recently, while reading the Beautiful Creatures quadrilogy (or quadruply as I like to call them), it dawned on me I could order a pack and learn to read. In the series Amma, a Seer, uses cards to see the future outcome of events. This character triggered a curiosity in me that I buried as a child because I thought Tarot cards were wrong in some way.

So, I ordered a pack. My friends and family thought I was a little crazy, but they embraced the idea, and I received a Zombie Tarot pack as well (thanks, James)!

The Cards and What It All Means

Tarot reading does not insinuate worshiping Satan or not believing in God. It’s about symbolism, and as an English major, I was trained to look for symbolism in everything I see and do. It’s all about interpretation. The cards represent human emotions and situations, and although some look into them for prophetic reasons, I am more interested in picking up a new hobby to entertain myself and friends.

There are multiple ways to lay out the cards depending on what you want to know. Each card represents specific emotions and can have different interpretations. For example, the death card does not necessarily mean death – it could mean the end of something or change. The lovers card does not mean sex, it represents youth, innocence, and true love “before it is corrupted by material possessions.”

Photo from learntarot.com
Photo from learntarot.com

The Rider Waite pack designed by Pamela Coleman Smith in 1903 is gorgeous; each card is a work of art. They are simple and effective, almost mystifying you as you shuffle them. My Zombie cards are somewhat bizarre and modernized, but they are very fun and zombie-apocalypse specific. I recommend either deck and encourage you to look for ones that may interest you; there are also angel, Steampunk, vampyre, and witch designs, to name a few.

The lovers card from Zombie Tarot
Photo from manplat.wordpress.com

The few readings I’ve done were lots of fun and full of laughs. Finding new hobbies can be a great stress release, rejuvenate you, and teach you something – especially about yourself. Sometimes a new hobby pulls me out of a funk or opens my mind to more possibilities, and often times, my hobbies help me focus more on things work, family, and goals.

Do you have any unusual hobbies you recommend? Feel free to share below!

Treat Yourself: Take a Mini Vacation

Little fact: In 2011, CNNMoney reported Americans forfeit around $34 billion in vacation days per year. That is the total amount of money from unused vacation days. Ouch.

This statistic and recent planning inspired me to write about the importance of taking a break. This weekend I took my son to Kentucky for our annual mini mom/son vacation. Yes, work will be a little crazy when I return. Yes, it cost a little money. And yes, it was totally worth it.

The sunset and beach in Panama City, FLWhy Should You Take a Mini Vacation?

We all need a break, especially if you have a physically demanding job or sit at a desk all day. Our bodies get stiff, and our minds run 100 mph to keep up with our schedules. I am not suggesting a vacation with crammed schedules full of things to do. I’m talking about a vacation with fun activities and relaxation – think hot tub, beach, a hike or run, ziplining, or a quite dinner and drinks. And I strongly urge you to turn off your phone. Gasp!

Relax and Recharge: There are a number of sources that argue the mental and physical benefits of vacationing. Getting away allows us to have fun and relax, and we tend to sleep better. When we pack up and drive off, we break the monotony of everyday life and free ourselves – even if only for a couple of days. These trips are especially important for kids because they sit in class all day and deal with being kids. If you remember being one, it kind of sucked.

Make Memories: It’s a dismal thought, but do we begin dying the moment we’re born? It’s an interesting argument, and if so, we don’t have a lot of time to make memories and do everything we want. My son loves our mini vacations and will always remember his parents taking him to nearby attractions and cities, good restaurants, and spending quality time with him. I hope he will do the same with his family and friends.

Reflection and Connectivity: In our family, our mini vacations are times when one parent travels with our son. Last year, my husband and son went to their first NBA game in Memphis. This year, I took our son to one of the scariest places on Earth. Our little vacations are a time to grow closer, talk about anything, and try new things and foods. It’s all about spending time together or even traveling on your own. Taking a break can also jump-start creativity and inspire you to work harder.

We stay distracted and busy all the time, so it’s time we shut down like we do our computers and cellphones. Money and time are often factors, so here are some resources that may help:

51 Mini Family Vacations from Parenting.com

Inexpensive Mini Vacations from Easy Money Tips

The Mini Vacation from Travel+Leisure

It’s also a cool idea to vacation in your own city or take a day trip. We often overlook nice hotels and popular attractions that are in our own backyard.

If you’ve taken a cool mini vacation, feel free to tell us about it in the comments below!

Writing for Web: Take a Break

It’ll still be there tomorrow.

I say this a dozen times a week to myself, co-workers, and friends when I see us running ourselves into the ground for work. Unlike most people, I love to work. However, you have to know when to shut the computer down, leave the office or house, and go have a life.

This week’s chapter discusses the revision process and includes a very important step: taking a break.

It’s very easy to let work consume us, especially if we’re excited about the project or obsessed with deadlines. When you’re writing, you have to know when to take a break or put the first draft down for a few days. Felder recommends these tips, and I added my secrets, too:

  • Watch a movie, good or bad. Sometimes a bad movie is just as good because you can tear it apart or make fun of it. Slasher movies are great for this. Reruns of your favorite shows are an option as well because they can make you laugh, cry, or reignite excitement.
  • Soak in a bubble bath. Relaxation can do wonders for your mind and body.
  • Pick a hobby. Hobbies are great for releasing stress and taking your mind off of your project. A good workout has the same effect and keeps you healthy.
  • Call or hang out with friends, but don’t talk about your writing. Just enjoy good company and maybe a drink.
  • Immerse yourself in nature. Stop for a moment and literally smell the roses, watch the sunset or moon, and wish upon a shooting star.

How do you decide what changes need to be made?

Once you are refreshed and ready, it’s time to rewrite. Felder’s tips for changing your perspective are very helpful, and I was surprised by her ideas. For the full list, check out Chapter 13.

  • Zoom in or out of your document. This either forces you to focus on one scene or the big picture.
  • Print a hard copy and read the entire thing from beginning to end. You don’t have to do this in one sitting; treat it like a magazine or book. Look for plot holes, confusing sections, and flow.
  • Read it aloud. You will hear how it sounds and decide if it drags or doesn’t make sense. I do this with every manuscript I read, and I recommend every author do this on their own before every giving it to an editor. Especially the dialogue.
  • Let someone else read it. Most of us do not like criticism, but if you are going to put your stuff out there, get used to it. Take the feedback gracefully, keep your negative attitude to yourself, and take suggestions seriously. The person who reads it is only trying to make it better.

This was one of my favorite chapters because it covered things that are as important as all the technical writing stuff. You must take care of yourself before you can do anything else. Stepping away for an allotted time will not only make your work better, it makes you better.

What do you do to take a break from work or writing? Share your tips!

Need a two-minute break, check out tough-guy Dean from Supernatural.