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To say that I love this oracle deck would be a gross understatement.

The Chakra Wisdom Oracle Cards by Tori Hartman have become my main go-to deck since I got them earlier this year. They’re simple, beautiful cards that I’ve found to be wonderfully accurate for me.

I use them on a weekly basis drawing one card for the week as a reminder of what I need to focus on. The deck is split into cards for each chakra base through to crown. Each one has a lovely illustration, a word and then a page in the accompanying book which has it’s meaning along with a story and a meditation for the card.

It hasn’t taken me long to get a feel for the cards. The single word on the bottom of each one along with the illustrations really fire my intuition. The set is colourful, easy to use and well organised. I love the depth a single card can go to when you consider it’s connection to a specific chakra and what that chakra represents in relation to the card itself.

For those unfamiliar with the chakras and their meanings the book says a little about them, each section giving an over view of the cards for that chakra before delving more in depth with each one.

The one thing I will note about these cards is that, for me at least, it’s less a divination deck and more rooted in the present, helping me to discover the root issues I’m dealing with and how to work through it. My readings, because of this, have felt real, tangible and well timed. It’s something that I have really come to love and appreciate about this deck and probably the main reason why I use them so regularly.

If you’re looking for a colourful card set that specifically relates to the chakras then I would recommend this deck. Personally I love oracle cards, often more so than tarot cards. I’ve used many decks over the years but this has become my favourite for it’s beauty, simplicity and the way I connect with it.

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Unlike many self help books I have read, Living Magically by Gill Edwards really pushed the boundaries of what I thought I knew about life and made me look deeper and harder at my beliefs about how life and positive thinking actually work.

I would be lying if I said I found the book easy, it was a hard read, not because of the way it was written but because of the things it introduced and asked me to think about. I had to take my time with it so that I had ample opportunity to really digest what was being presented to me to see how, if at all, it fit with me.

My belief system is ever changing, growing and transforming as I find new information that resonates deep within me. This book really did that in a way I haven’t felt since I first picked up Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way years ago.

In many ways the book made me think of a course in extreme manifestation, going beyond the idea that we can ‘think’ what we want into existence to really asking ourselves how we got to the point we are at now. It was a hard pill to swallow to think about the possibility that all of our life experiences we have manifested for ourselves in some way and yet deep down I couldn’t refute the possibility.

It promotes finding and accepting self responsibility for our situations, stopping those victim thought processes and thinking about how we can move forward following that realisation. It’s about making substantial change, not just in our actions but our thought processes which, as Living Magically likes to remind us, is the root cause of all that happens in our life, both good and bad. As I said, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

I didn’t really know what to think of this book when I brought it beyond knowing that I was being pulled towards it, that it was the next step on my journey of self discovery. Despite being a difficult read and at times pushing my buttons and making me want to give up on the ideas of alternate realities that it supplied (which I first felt was too out there a concept for me to feel comfortable with), it was one of those books I had to finish. So I gave myself the time and opened my heart and mind to what it was suggesting to me.

I read it a few weeks ago and have had it sitting on my windowsill since then, waiting for me to be ready to give it a second read through, which I feel the book really needs and deserves. Did I like it? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes, as long as you are willing to open your mind to give what is being presented to you a chance. It has been a while since I have read something that, through words alone, has really helped me to feel spiritually connected to the people around me. Living Magically did that and for that alone I feel it is worth a read.

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Before Christmas I had been looking into investing in my first ever fitness tracker. There was, admittedly, a lot of umming and ahhing on my part. I wasn’t sure if it would be a helpful gadget for me to have or if it would in any way help to motivate me to increase my exercise and activity levels. I knew, however, that I wanted to make changes for my own health and with that level of motivation in mind I decided to give it a go. I took weeks looking over different brands, reviews, comments on them and thinking about what I wanted, finally settling on a Fitbit Charge as I decided that I might as well buy one that has some level of sleep tracking as well given that I haven’t been sleeping great for the past couple of months what with all the stress I’ve been under.

I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and wanted to do so before writing about it and doing a small review just going over what I like, dislike and whether it’s helped me at all.

I haven’t worn a watch type thing on my wrist for a very long time and I like not having one there as I dislike how often I used to check on the time when I did, it became a constant habit and the main reason I stopped wearing one. My concern that this habit would be restarted was unfounded, however, as I usually forget that I’m even wearing the tracker since it’s light weight, comfortable, rubbery and more like wearing a thicker wrist band than anything else. You can check the time by tapping the display area or pressing the button at the side, pressing the button more times then brings up your pedometer info, distance moved, calories burned, flights of stairs climbed and, if you have one set, when your alarm will next go off.

While I like the idea of the silent alarms I do find them a little unnerving, not so much in the day but in the mornings and I have found I actually need a fairly decent level of sound to really wake me up properly. I don’t have to worry about waking anyone else up so it’s not a problem and I prefer to leave the vibrations of the tracker to notifying me when I’ve reached a goal such as walking 10,000 steps in one day.

So far I’ve had no issues with the tracker coming off though now that I’ve been using it a while I have found the grips that hold the band on looser to peg in and release. I worry that after extended use they may be likely to pop off and as such a buckle would be much preferred though, as I said, so far I’ve had no issues with this coming close to happening.

 The sleep activity tracker has been a really interesting addition for me to see a general overview of how much solid sleep I get and how restless I am during the night. It tots up the time spent actually sleeping versus the time spent being restless and/or awake during the night which I’ve enjoyed looking at to see just how much sleep I’m getting. One of the main reasons I got the Charge was because it auto detects sleep, you don’t have to set it into sleep mode which I was pretty sure I would forget to do if I had to do so manually.

To get the most out of the tracker you need a device or browser capable of running a version of the Fitbit app which you can sync to the Fitbit either manually by plugging into your computer or by Bluetooth which is what I’ve been doing as it’s super easy and I don’t have to even think about it. It just happens and all the information is there and ready for when I want to go over it. I like the app and how simple it is to use though admittedly I haven’t spent much time really delving into all it can do or any of the challenge or goal functions really. You do, however, get emails when you reach certain milestones with a ‘badge’ for those achievements as well as emails when your Fitbit is getting low on battery power to remind you to charge it, which again is helpful and doesn’t leave me wearing it for ages when it’s run out of battery.

If you’re trying to keep a track of your calories and/or lose or gain weight the Fitbit syncs with My Fitness Pal which in itself is a great app for keeping track of your food intake and exercise sessions. I started doing this to try it out though haven’t really been keeping a track of my calories or food habits, purely because my goal isn’t to primarily lose weight.

In conclusion; the Fitbit has really helped me to keep motivated though I’m not sure if that’s because of what it does or because I don’t want to feel that the money I spent on it is in any way wasted. The sleep tracking has been interesting and probably the most useful part for me along with the pedometer and silent alarms, even if I do find the vibration of them a little unnerving. While my goal isn’t to lose weight I have decided that if I continue to keep active and increasing my activity and if I manage to get to my first weight goal, which in and of itself would be a miracle, then I may well upgrade to the new Fitbit Charge HR in the future for the heart rate monitor function, buckle strap and being able to order it in a nice plum/purpley colour (which I couldn’t get for the Charge), though that is a way in the future as it stands now.

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Having completed my work through of Journal Fodder 365 and still enjoying the activities in Wreck This Journal by Kerri Smith (I’m over half way through the book now) I decided to look into the other titles she has released and get another to play around with. Of all of them it was The Pocket Scavenger that really appealed to me so I snapped it up with the free Amazon voucher I was given a couple of weeks ago for completing a survey.

I thought it would be a fun thing to do both for me and the kids, particularly in the holidays when they are home and getting bored.

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As soon as it came through I was impressed with the feel of the cover and  pages they’re nice and thick with easy to follow instructions to get you  started. There’s a list of things to scavenge and a checklist plus a double  page spread reserved for each item. Once you find something you turn the  book upside down and flick to a random page which will tell you a way to  alter the item. There’s also a section near the end of scavenging activities to do by yourself and with others.

So far so good, I’m enjoying the idea and will be working with it alongside Wreck This Journal. Full reviews on both will come once I’ve completed them, possible with a video to show how they end up, if  I’m feeling brave enough.

 

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Last year I purchased a copy of Journal Fodder 365: Daily Doses of Inspiration for the Art Addict by Eric M. Scott and David R. Modler. I was looking for something to work through over a long period to help me to get back into and expand my regular journal practice in the hope that it would not only reinvent my creative journalling but also get me thinking about my life and what has been going on in it.

It has been a long journey but very enlightening and thoroughly enjoyable.

The book itself is set into themed sections with a series of writing prompts to engage and inspire. Alongside this are different ideas for materials, effects and page examples to get the reader to engage with their journal in different ways both practically in creating and setting up a practice of turning to the journal more readily, taking it to places and using it as a mix or written journal, diary and creative outlet.

I really enjoyed working through this book, which I downloaded on my Kindle. In many ways I wish I had purchased a physical copy for ease of flicking through and to be able to view the pictures in colour, but the essentials were there and well laid out on the Kindle.

Some of the prompts in each section I did find a little samey though it makes sense given the themes of each section. Although this was the case it did mean that many of my pages worked nicely together and flowed into one another which was particularly enjoyable when I was working on single pages in my journal as opposed to double page spreads.

If you are looking for a prompt type book to get you started or just working in your journal in new and different ways I would highly recommend this as a fun and thought provoking way to get back into journalling.

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I’m over half way through my Moleskine sketchbook and I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a review of how it works for me, what I like and dislike and how it’s generally holding up.

On the whole I tend to make my own sketchbooks, I’ve tried a lot of different types over the years and have found that the majority just don’t stand up to the amount of stuff I put on. I’m not a neat artist, as you will know if you’ve been following my Journal Fodder exploration this year. I use a lot of paint and stick in a lot of stuff and the majority of journals I have had break, particularly over the binding with the sheer volume of stuff I plaster in them. Making my own journals became a habit as I could build them myself to withstand the abuse I throw at them.

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There is, however, a part of me that also likes to buy and use pre-made journals. One I had never tried was a Moleskine, until now. When it came through the post I loved it, as ordinary and sleek black as it seemed it smelled nice (yep, I’m one of those people) and the paper was lovely and thick without being overly stiff, the elastic, bookmark and back pocket also pleased me. I bought this one and also loved the size, the pages being just slightly smaller than A5 size which is what I prefer to work on in my sketchbooks.

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As you can see the spine has held up well, while it’s showing a good bit of warping and wear and tear it is still bound and holding with no real signs of it giving up any time soon.

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The elastic too is holding which was a very pleasant surprise, while obviously it has stretched and loosened it does still wrap around the book and keep in somewhat closed and is well fastened in the back. Like the spine it certainly doesn’t seem to be giving up any time soon.

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As you can see I add a lot to my books, bearing in mind this is only just over half full of work and I’m pleased to say that it has stood up to what I’ve done really well which given the money spent on it I have been very happy with. I love the rounded corners to the pages as well, I’m not sure why I just like them.

I think that one of the only negative things I have to say about the book is that it can be a little resistant to inks, watercolours and water in general as it’s not very porous, however, I have found that saturating the pages with a water spray helped well with this and I found that I actually warmed to this resistance after a while, enjoying the way it reacted as it did help to make my watercolours more maleable once on the page given the time it took to really soak in and cling to the paper.

All in all I have been very pleasantly surprised with the journal. Once I got used to the paper and how it reacted with different media I have been thoroughly enjoying working with it. The pages are a good size and there are a lot of them so I haven’t found myself filling it so quickly that I have needed to buy another one yet. I think it’s safe to say that I would buy another of these in the future when this one is finished, though I do still like the freedom and individuality of making my own sketchbooks/journals as well.

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