Angel Reading Cards by Debbie Malone - A Review





Debbie Malone is one of the most unpretentious and inspiring people currently working on the Sydney spiritual scene, and I have been blessed enough to work with her on a couple of occasions over the years. Her gentle energy, quiet confidence and always-loving messages come through her work with the angels, and over the years Debbie has written about her angelic messengers and created ways in which everyday people might also be able to work with them. In her latest deck of reading cards Debbie has manifested an exquisite display of Angelic energy, and anyone who uses the Angel Reading Cards will, from the very first time they open them, recognise the powerful mystical energy that informs them.





Debbie creates a distinctly 21st century gathering of Angels - there is an Angel of Parking, for example, and an Angel of Relationships for those seeking some bigger answers to life's usual array of vexing questions. Each card has been exquisitely painted by Romanian artist Amalia I. Chitulescu, and each perfectly combines a kind of modern photo-realism with a wonderfully sparkling quality of angel-light that lifts the spirits no matter how many times you see the same card.



The deck comes with a comprehensive book, which supplies a full page of in-depth description for each card along with other information for using the cards. Debbie suggests that, on first opening the cards, the new owner should imprint them with their own good and loving energy, and to that end she provides a handy dedication exercise for their first use.

The book also provides a number of suggestions for using the cards, including 3 card angel guidance layout and a 7-day layout for a whole week’s guidance. When using oracle cards like these Debbie reminds us that we should pay careful attention to the ways they “behave” in our hands and on the table. Cards that fall out or stick should not be ignored – this is usually the message we most need to read.

The entire deck is working with positive energy, of course, but this does not mean that Debbie’s angelic work is not without its challenges. She nominates the Angel of Patience as the most challenging card in the deck, because nobody wants to hear that they need to sit and wait. I know exactly what she means.




There are 36 different angels to work with in in this deck, and Debbie tells us that they make the perfect companion to the rest of our spiritual work. At a recent talk she described a cleansing ritual that involves opening all the windows of the house and smudging each room with sage, all the while inviting the angels into the space. This leaves every room perfectly suited to higher states of existence, and better enables us in whatever spiritual discipline we pursue, be it meditation, prayer, mantra work or sacred reading.

With an eye towards finance in the coming year, I have found myself especially taken with the Angel of Abundance (card No. 17), and naturally she keeps appearing again and again as I shuffle the cards. The waterfall in the background of this beautiful image represents the constant flow of abundance, the pulsating energy of giving to the universe in order to receive.

There is also a smattering of male angels in the deck, all of them distinctly hunky. They remind us that the angelic energies are male as well as female, and that strength and power are equally as angelic as love and nurturing. The cards remind us to imbue our own actions and words with the quality of angelic thought and behaviour. Debbie Malone’s Angel Reading Cards make a beautiful addition to anyone’s daily spiritual routine. Morning or evening, take a card or two at random and see if you can divine the heavenly message contained. Simply ask the Universe: “What do you want from me?” and your angel will appear and direct you.

This is a deck that provides answers, inspiration and plenty of beauty. Get it and play with it and entertain the possibility, just for a moment, that angels are moving amongst us. Have fun with them, and see just how your life might improve with the help of the angels.

A new Pet Shop Boys album in April




Was thrilled to discover over at Boyculture that there is going to be a new Pet Shop Boys album in April.

The Pet Shop Boys are one of the great 80s acts and they have consistently put out good music over the decades. I buy every one of their releases, and I don't really think there's ever been a dud.








They first came to my notice in 1985 when Opportunities was first released. The distinct and unusual whiny vocals of Neil Tennant made it instantly noticeable, and I loved the dorky high-techness of their sound - it reminded me of Soft Cell, a band I'd been devoted to since I was 12. Later on at high school the song Suburbia became something of an anthem for me, and I still love its sophistication.

When I left home and went away to university, all of my suspicions about the Pet Shop Boys were confirmed. They were on the very edge of being open about their homosexuality, which was still a rare and brave thing in the late 80s, and so the clique of gay guys I hung out with held them in extremely high esteem, just a notch or two below Erasure and Kylie Minogue.

When I went back to my country town for the school holidays the newly-opened cinema was paying the Pet Shop Boys movie, a camp extravaganza which attracted appalling reviews but which I loved. I went to see it several times, and my little sister, just a child, adored it instantly. It is still an amazing piece of surrealism which I recommend you hunt down.

Then there was the much-anticipated release of the Domino Dancing video clip, an outrageous piece of overt homo-eroticism which was a really important moment in Queer culture. We were all raving about it. At this stage (1989) the Pet Shop Boys were more or less openly gay. Their music was a feature of our infamous house parties, and well I remember dancing the night away to Heart. A close friend sent a love letter to Chris Lowe.



Chris Lowe


The albums that followed were spectacular - odd, literary and frequently challenging. They did a Dusty Springfield album and a Liza Minnelli album - both still on high rotation at my house 25 or so years later. The dance party era was always peppered for me with Pet Shop Boys highlights - everybody in a frenzy at Go West at the Mardi Gras party, the dance floor at the Exchange writhing with people dancing to their cover of Can't Take My Eyes off You.



Dusty Springfield, Pet Shop Boys era



The Pet Shop Boys-produced album


I even managed to see them live a couple of years ago, at a sparsely attended New Year's Eve party on Sydney Harbour with Culture Club and Jamiroquai.

So now I look forward to April 1, when they release their new album called Super. And we can just be sure it is going to be super.


Fabulously Creative - a free workshop at Ashfield Library - February 5, 2016




Ashfield Library is offering a wonderful opportunity to do a really invigorating and fun writing workshop with me - absolutely free!

My 3-hour 'Fabulously Creative' workshop has been held all around Sydney, but people have always had to pay - until now.

Do take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to renew your creative juices and really get some focus back on your creative work in 2016.

It's time to dust off the writing shoes and show the world just how wonderful you are! In this one-day workshop come on a creative journey with me as you explore your options, get daring and spend some time discovering that spark of sheer fabulousness that lies within us all. In a joy-filled workshop of imaginative discovery you will learn to say yes to your creative impulses and crash through the barriers – real and imagined – that have held you back till now. Walter will have you believing again in the wonderful world of possibility that makes you so special and your stories so unique. Whether it’s beating writers block, creating a truly tremendous new year or writing things down and making them happen, this workshop is just the thing to give you the tools to energise and inspire a creative new you.

This workshop will encourage you to:

-    Get out of your creative shell and let people know the value of your work and ideas
-    Build your strength and determination to truly lead the writer’s life
-    Develop  your skills, knowledge and attitude and get excited again about your craft
-    Open your mind and get writing seriously – every day, every week and always
-    Start some awesome projects with passion and conviction
-    Believe in your own talents and gifts

Details:

Writing Workshops for Adults: 

Fabulously creative with Walter Mason

Ashfield Library


Do book now, as Ashfield's free writing workshops are always very popular.

My Playlist for 2015

Here they are - the songs I listened to most in 2015. In order:





1. King of Everything by Boy George (89 plays) - The first single from George's 2013 album This is What I Do. Such a beautiful, bittersweet song that speaks to my anxieties about ageing.





2. Adult Education by Hall & Oates (85 plays) - Probably not their greatest moment, but there's something about the strange 80s-ness of this song that I've really come to love. It's the backing singers' "Oh-yea, oh-yea"'s that stay with me.





3. You've Got It by Simply Red (84 plays) - Slick and smooth, this Lamont Dozier co-written song is 1989 pop-sophistication at its best.





4. I Feel for You by Chaka Khan (76 plays) - For when I'm bored and want to do a bit of boogying, nothing can beat Chaka.




5. Let's Get Started by Gota (68 plays) -  Bossa Nova funk from the 90s Japanese master.




6. Rise Like a Phoenix by Conchita Wurst (65 plays) - It was love at first sight with Conchita, and this is a damn good slice of high camp musical melodrama. Conchita needs to be the next Bond girl!




7. Everything She Wants by Wham (64 plays) - Funnily enough, I was never that much of a Wham fan when I was a kid. But this bitter, funky tale of exploitation just seems so fantastic now. I still maintain that the one who wasn't George was way hotter. And yes, he still sounds incredibly camp in this.

Walter Mason in conversation with author Michael Costello, Ashfield Library, February 6

Walter Mason in conversation with 

Sydney author Michael Costello




Walter Mason, well known travel writer and interviewer, will chat with Dulwich Hill based author Michael Costello about his new book, Season of Hate.  

Season of Hate is set in a small wheat town in western NSW and addresses discrimination and injustice.

This ‘in conversation’ event is an opportunity to get an in-depth insight into Michael’s writing process.

 Michael is an established playwright with an ability to pen complex characters as featured in Season of Hate.

Free.


Location: Ashfield Library

When: Saturday 6 February, 11am to 12.00PM

My favourite books of 2015

You’ve got plenty of time for reading over the Christmas break and you want to catch up on something interesting? You have the Kris Kringle for that difficult relative and think that a fun book might be just the thing? Never fear – Walter’s 2015 list of the best books is here.

As always, I am not a slave to the new. This list will contain some old books as well as some new, because, like you, I am human and sometimes it takes me a while to get around to something. So here they are, the books that most thrilled me this year:

 


Live Your Bliss by Terry Cole-Whittaker – self-help with a capital S, Cole-Whittaker’s eccentric and wide-ranging book is exquisite and thrilling, and is the perfect thing to read at the new year. Unapologetically spiritual in focus, it is also completely accessible to even the most hardened materialist. I finished this book a much better person than when I started it, and I hope you give it a chance to change your life too.

 


Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym – Every time I read a Barbara Pym novel I fall more and more into her tiny, elegant world of exquisite social anxiety and church flower rotas. This is possibly the best Pym novel, in which two old university friends maintain a difficult friendship though both have gone on to quite different lives. The glamorous spinster and the frumpy vicar’s wife who together attend literary afternoons and garden parties and incur the disapproval of almost everyone. Oh, what a delight! Read this and see why Barbara Pym is a cult.



 


Walking Home by Sonia Choquette – The famed psychic and intuitive has her marriage dissolve and so she goes on the Santiago de Compostela and her life is changed forever. This is not at all as clich├ęd as I have made it sound – it is a constantly compelling spiritual travelogue with a completely unexpected outcome. Choquette is not afraid to let herself look silly and spoilt, and she is completely honest about the pilgrimage and her up and down moments of spiritual awareness. To read while you are on holiday, anywhere.


 

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz ChastChast is the New Yorker cartoonist whose slightly crazed characters have frizzy hair and unkind noses and are always skirting the edges of neurosis. In this book Chast has written a memoir of her parents ageing and death as a comic strip, and it is simply superb. A must-read for anyone reaching this stage with their own parents, it is sensitive, clever and naturally sad. Very funny too, in parts. In fact, this is a masterpiece.

 


The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer – Just the most inspiring book I have read all year. I have no interest in Palmer’s music, but heard her interviewed on a podcast and she was so engaging I got the book. From the start it is fascinating, a kind of manifesto of creative vulnerability and one that I think all writers, musician, artists and creatives need to read as soon as possible. Amanda is my new guru.


 

Masters of Wisdom by Edward Abdill – Have you ever encountered the Ascended Masters? These figures, ubiquitous in New Age circles, are mysterious and all-knowing. Abdill has produced a really fascinating and constantly readable piece of occult history which looks into the beginnings of the Theosophical movement and the universality of the idea of the great masters who live removed from the earth but somehow influencing its changes and shifts. A great one for history buffs and students of the history of religion and spiritual ideas. And, most importantly, a rollicking good read.



 

The Other Shore by Hoa Pham – Australian writer Hoa Pham won the Viva La Novella prize with this one, and it is a mysterious, lyrical and exquisitely crafted piece of fiction that appeals to the reader’s cleverness and sense of mystery. The story of a Vietnamese teenager who can commune with the spirits, in a community that is uncertain about the old ways and afraid of the new. Intriguing stuff from a great talent.

Sharon Livingstone on creating her first book




Our guest this week is my student and friend Sharon Livingstone. She recently published her first collection of flash fiction, Red Inks. I asked Sharon  to share how she got back into writing and the creative fears she had to face:



For a couple of years, I complained a lot about having writers’ block, a non-specific condition whereby a writer simply can’t get cohesive, wonderful words from their brain to the page. Or the creative cogs have rusted and the can of WD-40 is empty.

I even started a writers’ group to help me to get over this debilitating condition. It was only a short term solution, keeping me writing for a day or two at best.

I read every article I could find on my “problem”. Write everyday, even if it’s rubbish, keep writing. That was the common theme. Gave that a go - it lasted a day. I started a blog, with the theory that, if it’s public, I’ll be motivated to keep going. It lasted for a few weeks before drying up. Mary-Lou Stephens suggests that meditation is helpful. I’ve tried meditation many a time with patchy results.

Writers always seem to be wishing we were more successful, better writers, had the talent of J. M. Coetzee or the ideas of J. K. Rowling. Are we jealous when we hear about other writers having amazing success? Maybe not but it might be tickling our toes. More and more of my writing group were announcing their books had been published. I’m genuinely happy for them and I know how much hard work that each has put in to achieve this goal. I’d heard them read some of their writing and it was impressive. More success to them, I reckon. But it lit that green fire in my gut too.

Not that I had anything to be jealous about. They were constantly writing, were focused and determined. I was staring at a computer screen that invariably had my Twitter feed scrolling through or displaying something to throw my credit card at.

As they say in the classics, something had to give.

I had a look at my excuse list:

  • “I’m soooo busy with work.” 
  • “I can’t figure out how to manoeuvre my characters to the climax of the story.” 
  • “Social media is too addictive. Have you seen what they’re saying on Twitter today?”

Yeah, well, busy at work really is a rubbish excuse. I admire people like Fleur McDonald, who was writing while also being a farmer, a mother (one of her kids has autism), a spokesperson for women in agriculture and, at one point, she was a carer for a sick family member. Yet, Fleur still writes and publishes a new and intriguing book each year. I have nowhere near those kinds of demands on my time or mind.

Plot development issues should have been a red flag. The story wasn’t good enough. The story was too long. There were too many characters.

I’m so easily distracted. Ooh, look at this amazing food Walter is showing me on Instagram! Ahem.

 Apparently there are solutions: you can simply not log into the WiFi;  or you can use a social media blocking app (there are fistfuls out there).

That dealt with the excuses. I’m not even sure I had writers’ block. I’m pretty sure it was chronic laziness. So what got me writing again to the point where I could publish my own book?

A shift in mindset. Sounds so simple, right? Well, it is!

I’d been focusing my energy on writing novel length stories. But in the same way that an actor on stage feeds off the immediate reaction of the audience, I loved the response of an audience when I read out a story I’d written in ten minutes. That can of WD-40 was full again and the creative cogs were turning. What if I was supposed to write super short stories instead of a novel?

What do they say about light bulb moments?

Know your strengths, accept your weaknesses.

Hmm, but that still didn’t make me write every day. That took some commonsense advice. I’ve never been one for goal-setting. At least, not for sticking to benchmarks for the goals I set. But when it was suggested that I create some short term goals and put a completion date on each task, it worked. It really worked.

I gave myself three months to write 60 stories for a collection of flash fiction stories, which would be published one month later.

Off to the library! WiFi turned off, I wrote for two hours on each of my days off work. I made it more enticing by getting the coffee in and packing a snack. I can’t seem to write without something to nibble on. The library isn’t quiet and I like to sit outside near the cafe but the fresh air works wonders on the creative mind.

I booked myself into a Blue Mountains writing retreat for four days, too. I got my inspiration by bushwalking in the morning and, with a coffee, wrote all afternoon and later into the evening. There was no WiFi there at all. Writing was becoming fun again instead of something to dread.

Wouldn’t you know it? Being disciplined, with a fixed goal and methodology, I got those 60 stories written (two weren’t good enough to make the collection). Naturally, not everything went to plan and my beta readers, cover designer and editor didn’t have the same timelines/priorities as me, so publication shifted by three months in the end. I didn’t beat myself up over that because I’d worked in Defence industries and target dates always shift to the right. It’s normal. Besides, I’d told simply everyone I knew that I was publishing a book, so there was no way I was not going to finish this project. I mean, who wants to look like an idiot to their family, friends, colleagues and passing acquaintances?

I saw my book on the bookshelf this morning. A symbol of organisation, determination and focus.

That tiny thing needs some brothers and sisters.

www.sharonlivingstone.com
Twitter: @SharLivingstone
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