Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

The final few: Week 3

On Wednesday Rama told me that on Sunday morning I’d be doing the 100s workout. You know the one:

  • Push-ups x 100
  • Crunches x 100
  • Bunny hops x 150 
  • Squat presses x 50 
  • Shuttles across the gym x 80 

On Sunday morning, Rama texted me: ‘Hey, we’re doing the long circuit workout today – see you in 5’. Like I needed reminding. I replied: ‘I know. I’ve been dreading it since Wednesday!’ The last time I did it, back in March, it took me 24 minutes and 20 seconds.

I did a 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer, a few stretches, a few minutes on the bike, and then the timed circuit began. As before I could break it up however I wanted, so I did this:

  • Squat presses x 25
  • Bunny hops x 50
  • Crunches x 50
  • Push-ups x 30
  • Shuttle runs x 20
  • Squat presses x 15
  • Bunny hops x 50
  • Crunches x 30
  • Push-ups x 25
  • Shuttle runs x 20
  • Squat presses x 10
  • Bunny hops x 50
  • Crunches x 25
  • Push-ups x 20
  • Shuttle runs x 20
  • Push-ups x 20
  • Shuttle runs x 20




It took me 21 minutes and 58 seconds, an improvement of 2 minutes and 22 seconds! It was tough but felt good once it was over. 

Then there were some hamstring curls using the Swiss ball, pelvic raises using the Swiss ball, overs-and-unders, tricep extensions, tricep dips, and abs exercises. I was exhausted by the end of it, but was a good start to the week!

I woke up on Monday – my hamstrings ached, my abs ached, my upper body ached. Everything ached. My cousin and I had yoga that morning – and it seemed tougher than usual, from the very beginning of the class. 

I ached even more on Tuesday. I went to the gym and walked 5k – and I still felt sore at the end of the day.

I felt a bit sore on Wednesday but it wasn’t as bad as the day before. When I got to the gym for my session with Rama, there were two women in there… and a Pug (Milo, I learnt later). I didn’t even notice him at first because he was more or less the same colour as the wooden floor, and he was on a leash tied to one of the doors. His owner asked if we minded having him there but neither of us did.

While I was warming up Rama told me I was going to do the timed short circuit I’ve done before. I’d done it twice – back in January (8 minutes and 19 seconds) and at the beginning of April (6 minutes and 23 seconds). It comprised:

  • Push-ups x 15
  • Squats x 20
  • Star jumps x 20
  • Jogging on the spot x 30 seconds
  • Wall squat x 30 seconds
  • Burpees x 15
  • Stair climbers x 20
  • Crunches x 20
  • Plank x 30 seconds
  • Bear crawl x 2 lengths of the gym
  • Tricep dips x 15
  • Punches holding 3-kg weights x 20

I hate this circuit. It was shorter than the one I did on Sunday but it was a tough one. And I had to do it twice. The first time I finished it in 6 minutes and 5 seconds. Once again, Rama thought I could improve on that speed in the second round. And once again, I had my doubts.

‘Try and finish in under 6 minutes,’ he said.

And I did.

I finished the second round in 5 minutes and 44 seconds. He said that in a few weeks my speed will be at the 5-minute mark and that I was getting fitter. 

After that there were a lot of abs and upper body exercises, and then back to the floor for the lower body exercises. And finally there was stretching. The session seemed longer than usual (but it wasn’t). 

When I was lying on the floor, Milo’s owner took him off the leash and he came running over to me and started licking me. I think he felt sorry for me and was trying to make me feel better! 

On Thursday I walked 5k on the treadmill in 48 minutes and 33 seconds. That evening I bumped into Milo and Owner (no idea what her name is). ‘Your trainer works you hard!’ said Owner. Tell me about it. We chatted for a bit about the gym and training and went our separate ways. 

I bumped into Milo and Owner again on Friday – twice! Once at the pool and once at night on my way home from dinner with my mum and grandmother. I was all set for the spinning class at the Shangri-La that day but they called to tell me that the class had been cancelled that day. I could have gone to the gym instead but decided to stay on at the pool. 

I didn’t work out on Saturday either. 

Low point of the week? Going for a massage on Sunday and the masseuse assuming I was pregnant. (I do not look pregnant, bitch.) I told Rama about it on Wednesday – he burst out laughing, and then made me do double the amount of abs exercises than normal.

High points of the week? Mum coming back from India on Wednesday after 2.5 months and telling me I looked ‘amazing’ (though I’m bracing myself for a comment like ‘But you could lose some more on your hips/bum/thighs/arms/tummy’ because I know it’s lurking there somewhere); Dad’s jaw dropping when I walked out of my room ready for a lunch – he had to take a photo of me and send it to my brother and sister; trying on a ring Mum was wearing and it being loose for me (she has slender fingers). 

Weight loss? None. In fact I put on 0.5 kg but it hasn’t bothered me so much this week. I’ve eaten out a couple of times and had several vodkas on Thursday night, but I know not every week is like this! I’ll be back on track next week. Or the week after. I have a feeling these final few kilos are going to take a long time to come off.


Read more updates here

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Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday mocha beanie mummy

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Your week ahead (29 April – 5 May)

Hope you all have a good week!



The Empress – mothering – giving birth, nourishing life, expressing tenderness; welcoming abundance – luxuriating in plenty, having more than enough, feeling rich; experiencing the senses – giving and receiving pleasure, focusing on the body, doing physical activity; responding to Nature – embracing the natural, feeling connected to the Earth, going outdoors



2 of Swords – blocking emotions – denying true feelings, hiding distress; avoiding the truth – refusing to look at facts, choosing not to know; being at a stalemate – staying stuck, refusing to decide



The Sun – becoming enlightened – finding the sense behind the chaos, getting to the heart of the matter; experiencing greatness – being singled out for notice, becoming the centre of attention; feeling vitality – experiencing joy, feeling invigorated; having assurance – knowing you can succeed, trusting your abilities



Wheel of Fortune – feeling a sense of destiny – using what chance offers, finding opportunity in accident, altering the present course; being at a turning point – reversing, having a change in fortune, being surprised at a turn of events; feeling movement – being swept up in new developments, getting involved, experiencing change; having a personal vision – seeing how everything connects, becoming more aware, expanding your outlook



8 of Cups – seeking deeper meaning – leaving the rat race, finding out the facts, concentrating on what is important; moving on – abandoning a hopeless situation, starting on a trip of unknown length, finishing up and walking away; growing weary – dragging through the day, lacking energy, getting weighed down by worries



Knight of Pentacles – finding a balance between being unwavering and stubborn – staying fixed to a chosen course and refusing to listen to reason; being cautious and unadventurous – checking/double-checking and being too conservative; being thorough and obsessive – being meticulous and being too picky; being realistic and pessimistic – predicting problems in advance and dooming a project from the start; being hard-working and grinding – being tireless and unflagging and forgetting life should be fun



The High Priestess – staying non-active – withdrawing from involvement, being receptive to influence, waiting patiently; accessing the unconscious – using your intuition, trusting your inner voice, being aware of a larger reality; seeing the potential – allowing development, opening to what could be; sensing the mystery – opening to the unknown, seeking what is concealed, looking beyond the obvious



7 of Pentacles – assessing – evaluating the status, making sure you’re on course, finding out where you stand; reaping a reward – receiving payoffs, reaching a milestone, finally seeing some results; considering a direction change – pondering alternatives, thinking about change, standing at a crossroads



6 of Cups – experiencing good will – doing a good turn for another, receiving a gift, feeling blessed; enjoying innocence – being acquitted, having a clear conscience, feeling simple contentment; focusing on childhood – feeling carefree, being taken care of, indulging in play



5 of Wands – disagreeing – quibbling over details, quarreling, arguing and bickering; experiencing competition – rising to the challenge, trying to outdo yourself, looking for a fight; experiencing hassles – getting annoyed by demands, needing to take care of details, being bothered by trivialities



10 of Cups – feeling joy – radiating love, delighting in good fortune, counting your blessings; enjoying peace – doing away with hostilities, reducing stress and tension, calling a truce; looking to the family – working for peace in the home, supporting a relative in need, reaffirming a family commitment



The Hierophant – getting an education – pursuing knowledge, seeking a deeper meaning; having a belief system – identifying a world view, knowing where to put your faith; conforming – fitting in, doing what’s expected; identifying with a group – devoting energy to a group, feeling loyal to others

For previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.

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Review: The Sandglass


I’d mentioned in an earlier post that I went to a session at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature and Romesh Gunesekera was on the panel of writers. I’d read Monkfish Moon back in 2004 and had thoroughly enjoyed it. The Sandglass sat on my bookshelf for 7 years, and seeing Gunesekera at the festival reminded me that I needed to read it. And it would count towards the 12 books in my Mount TBR Reading Challenge.

I have to say I was disappointed with the book. It tells the tale of two feuding (but yet intertwined) families in Sri Lanka from the 1930s to the 1950s, through the eyes of Chip, the narrator, when he visits Sri Lanka in the late 1990s. He reminisces about the year before, when he discussed past events with Prins, who had arrived in London for his mother’s funeral. Their conversations take place over 1 day.

The story moves between contemporary London and Sri Lanka of the past, reminding me of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos, where Cesar Castillo spends his last hours thinking about his life. 

Even though I found the constant jumping between periods of time confusing, the author uses words beautifully:

Outside, the silence of freshly fallen snow pressed against the window panes; there was no traffic to be heard on the roads. This was silence like the dream of heaven. I began to realise how wrong all those composers were who heaped scales upon scales in their vain attempts to capture the grandeur of heaven: what they really needed to do was to stop. To hold their breath and try to imagine a stilled heart and the peace that can only come from the absence of conflict, of abrasion, of friction, of sound itself. No wonder we never hear the angels on our shoulders: they do not speak. They melt at the prospect of sound, perhaps even prayer. Heaven is not music: heaven, if anything, must be silence. The stillness of the centre, the eye of a storm whirling across the universe. An unveiling mind.  

I could hear the author’s voice in my head when I read that paragraph.

Was I expecting too much from the book? Have my reading tastes changed over the last 7 years? I don’t know, but I’m thinking of re-reading Monkfish Moon and trying to figure it out.

And that’s number five in my 20 books in 2012 challenge!

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Dubai: A proofreader’s paradise

Just a couple of things this week!



I think it should be Starring, don’t you?


The menu was littered with apostrophe’s (yes, I did mean to do that) but I just chose the first one I saw…


To see more mistakes, click here.

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Dubai: Week 17

It started off as a quiet(ish) week. I didn’t have my usual session with Rama on Sunday, and I didn’t go to the gym either. I’d invited my friends from London and their kids over for lunch – and invited my cousin too. I’d asked Joy to make spaghetti and minced chicken (separately in case the kids wanted plain spaghetti), and broccoli salad. For dessert there was fruit (watermelon, blueberries, strawberries and kiwis) and vanilla ice cream. Most of the food finished – and while we were lingering over dessert the kids were running around the bare living room. They caught sight of the pool below and that was it – they had to be there. We went down for an hour and a half, the kids splashed around for a while, and then we came back up. The kids were changed and they all left at about 5pm.

I had no plans for the rest of the day so I got into my pajamas and watched ‘Game of Thrones’ in bed. 

On Monday I had yoga and then was home working for the rest of the day. At about 4.30pm I decided to take my book down to the pool – it was such a nice day. There were a couple of kids and their nanny already there, but by the time I left at about 6pm, there were nine other people there. It was so nice, I thought I’d do the same on Tuesday.

But Tuesday was cloudy and grey and windy. I went to the gym in the morning, did some work and then decided to get my hair coloured. When I left the Fairmont, I walked to Gloria Jean’s – I was at a good part of my book so I decided to sit in there and have a coffee while I finished the chapter I was reading. It wasn’t hot at all and I thought about walking the rest of the way home. It would have taken me 15-20 minutes, but in the end I opted for a cab.

Wednesday was a busy day. After my session with Rama, my Dad and I went to Hakkasan for lunch with my uncle, aunt and cousin. We all had the set menu, but were there for quite a while. We didn’t leave there until 3.45pm. After that Dad and I went to Festival City to collect our new car. He had been toying with the idea of getting a Jaguar or Mercedes, but I asked him what the point of that is when the only person who’s going to be driving the car is the driver? So he settled on a Volvo. We got there just after 4pm and were there FOREVER. Paperwork, registration, insurance, plates. I had two coffees (which were very good, I have to say) talked James (the sales exec) to death, and at 6.30pm one of their drivers drove us home in our new car. 

A little while later I went to MoE (by cab) to meet a schoolfriend for dinner. She was another friend I hadn’t seen since I left school 20 years ago and she was in Dubai for work. We ended up at More Cafe and talked about school, and what we were up to now, and so on. Her flight back to Tokyo was later that same evening so we said goodbye a little after 9.30pm. It was nice to see her – and I think she’ll be coming to Dubai twice or thrice a year. I think I’ve met more Cobham girls in the last couple of weeks than I have in the last year!

On Thursday I was home all day working (or trying to) and in the evening I went to a wine club meet-up.

I had lunch with Dad at Lemongrass on Friday. We both like the food there and it’s reasonably priced too. After that we went for a wander around Lamcy Plaza – he was looking for a calculator but we couldn’t find one. We went home and I went to my spinning class at the Shangri-La.

That evening we went to see ‘Battleship’ at the Dubai Mall with my cousin and her parents. It was so bad. It should be called ‘Battlesh*t’. It’s set in Hawaii – and I kept hoping Alex O’Loughlin and the 5-0s would show up, save the day and cut the movie short. Bad script, bad acting, too long – the first and last 20 minutes were OK, but the rest was awful.

While we were at the mall, I could hear a lot of activity from the ice rink below. I walked over to the railing and looked over. The ice had been covered and people were playing football instead!


I had planned to spend Saturday by the pool, but that morning one of the women I’d met at the British expat drinks in January sent me a text about a new writing group that was meeting that afternoon. I decided to go as I hadn’t done any writing since moving to Dubai (apart from this blog). I went down to the pool after breakfast and read for a while. I could only manage an hour as it was so hot. That evening I got into my pajamas, read a little and caught up on some TV shows. 

I love my life.

See more Dubai updates here.

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Writing and book group

On Saturday morning one of the women I’d met at the British expat drinks in January texted me to say she was going to a new writing and book group that afternoon and asked if I wanted to join her. I had planned to spend the afternoon at the pool, but I had also planned to do more writing when I moved to Dubai and that hadn’t happened yet. Perhaps this was what I needed. So I accepted her offer and she said she’d pick me up at 2pm. I had plenty of time so I spent the morning at the pool instead.

At 2pm we headed to Al Wasl – the writing/book group took place at an osteopathy centre. In fact, it turned out to be the same one I went to with my dad in January. You know, the one with the good-looking physiotherapist. One of the women in the group works in the same place so we used her office as our meeting place. It was the first time the writing part of the session was happening so I hadn’t missed anything. We began by introducing ourselves – apart from me and my Scottish friend, there were two other Indian women – a psychologist (whose office it was) and a copywriter, one French woman (a university lecturer) and an English woman (I think she was English). And then we began. The group was very much led by the psychologist.

We began with a short meditation and three warm-up exercises. Our first subject was ‘the smell of ripe bananas’. We had 3 minutes to write whatever came to mind about ripe bananas and we would read aloud what we had written (if we wanted to). I wrote this:

Each time I walk into the kitchen I can smell them, taunting me. ‘Why buy us if you’re not going to eat us?’ I will, I will, I tell myself. I just don’t fancy one so early in the morning. ‘But your trainer said…’ I know what he said, I tell no one in particular. They empty kitchen judges me as I reach for the crunchy peanut butter instead. This is OK too. A teaspoon of peanut butter or a banana, he said.

It’s not great, but what do you expect from just 3 minutes?

The next two subjects were ‘my father’ and ‘taste’ (I wrote about the truffle fried rice at Okku). 

After that, we did a longer piece of writing – we had to spend 15 minutes writing about an hour (or particular time) in our day. My days are pretty much the same and no reader would find them particularly exciting so I decided to write about my weekly visit to Lulu.

After we’d each read our writing to the others, it was almost 4pm and we took a short break. 

We started the book group after that. The English woman left, and another Indian woman (an English teacher) arrived. The book group is different compared to other book groups. With most book groups you all read the same book and discuss it for a couple of hours. In this one, we bring the books we’ve read in the last month and the books we’re currently reading with us and talk about them to the rest of the group. I took The Sandglass by Romesh Gunesekera as I’d finished it a couple of weeks ago. It’s actually a very good idea and I’m hoping I’ll find some new authors to read. My reading list is getting longer and longer!

It had been a long time since I’d used the creative part of my brain and by the time I got home I felt exhausted. I’m looking forward to the next meeting. They’re an interesting group of women and I think I could learn a lot from them. 

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The final few: Week 2

Not a great start to the week. Rama cancelled our session due to a knee injury and although I planned to work out on my own, I ended up going back to sleep and not quite making it to the gym. I could give myself a hard time about it, but I did work out six times the week before and I feel good about that.

On Monday I had my usual yoga class at home. For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about Bikram yoga and I wonder how much of the class I’d be able to do – now that I’m fitter than I used to be. And then I think about how hot it is in the studio, and that the only thing I want to be doing in heat like that is lie by a pool… I think I might find a sauna/steam instead.

On Tuesday I went to the gym and did 5k in 48 minutes and 41 seconds. Until now I’d been walking for 40-45 minutes, varying the speed and incline depending on my mood, but I think from now on I’m going to aim for at least 5k each time and see how I get on. 

I had a tough session with Rama on Wednesday morning – I did the usual 5-minute warm-up on the cross-trainer and then he put me through a short series of fitness tests: wall squat, plank and 500m on the cross-trainer at resistance 10. I had to hold the wall squat and plank for as long as I could. I held the wall squat for 1 minute and 1 second (the last time I held it for 43 seconds). I held the plank for 1 minute and 34 seconds (the last time was 1 minute, I think?). I did 500m on the cross-trainer in 3 minutes and 41 seconds (last week it was 3 minutes and 58 seconds but that was after a tough circuit).

I then had a choice: I could do the 100s workout from a few weeks ago or the 30-second on, 20-second rest workout from last week. I went for the latter. I just couldn’t face 100 push-ups, crunches, bunny hops, etc. so I suggested we ‘save’ that for the next session!

Some of the exercises I did were:

  • Push-ups
  • Squats (standing on a balance trainer)
  • Tricep exercise – in a push-up position with my hands on the edge of the treadmill, putting one hand on the floor and then the other, and then putting the first hand back on the treadmill and then the other
  • Hamstring curls and pelvic lifts with a Swiss ball
  • Tricep extensions
  • Abs

There were probably more but I’ve blocked them out of my memory. Thankfully there were no bear crawls or burpees! 

I woke up with sore abs on Thursday. When I got to the gym (which was empty), I stood on the treadmill and pressed play on my iPod and… nothing happened. I pressed it again. Still nothing. Dammit – I’d forgotten to charge it! It was going to be a painful session. I thought about humming something but the only thing in my mind was ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ (no, I don’t know why) so I scrapped that idea. I did 3k on the treadmill in 29 minutes and 14 seconds and decided I’d had enough. I did two sets of tricep dips (I have no idea what came over me) and then went home. I suppose something is better than nothing!

On Friday I called the Shangri-La to find out what time their spinning class was that day. I reserved a space on the 6pm class. I had lunch with Dad at Lemongrass, came home and relaxed, and then walked over to the hotel next door. I went to the gym on the fourth floor, paid my AED60 and was taken to the studio. There were eight spinning stations in a semi-circle, each facing the instructor’s bike, with bottles of water and towels on the handlebars. I was the first one there but we ended up being five in total (not including the instructor). I’m glad I went early because I hadn’t done a spinning class in about 9 years – she showed me how to adjust the height of the seat and handlebars, and how to use the resistance dial. Not much has changed since 2003.

And then the class began. I wasn’t sure what to expect, whether I’d be able to do it all, and I imagined it to be a complete nightmare. The music varied from ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and ‘Footloose’ to LMFAO and other contemporary dance tracks. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be – I could do most of it, apart from when we were spinning and doing push-ups across the handlebars simultaneously. It wasn’t because I couldn’t do the push-ups, though – I couldn’t quite coordinate myself to be able to do both at the same time and thought that if I even tried the one-armed push-ups I’d end up on the floor with my feet still stuck on the pedals. By the last song, when we were spinning as fast as we possibly could, sweat was dripping off my nose and eyelashes. I didn’t feel completely out of breath at any time during the class – maybe I wasn’t working hard enough – but I was drenched by the end of it, just like the others… There was some stretching at the end, and then it was over. 

It was hard work, but I’m definitely going back next week.

I took Saturday off and sat by the pool – working out five days in a row is enough, isn’t it?

And my weight? I’ve now lost 14 kg (just over 30 lbs), 6 kg left!


Read more updates here.

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Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday mocha beanie mummy

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Your week ahead (22-28 April)

I can’t believe we’re already approaching the end of April – where is this year going? Have a great week!



The Fool – beginning – entering a new phase, expanding horizons, beginning an adventure, heading into the unknown; being spontaneous – letting go of expectations, acting on impulse, surprising someone; having faith – staying open, feeling protected and loved, recapturing innocence; embracing folly – taking the ‘foolish’ path, being true to yourself, trusting your heart’s desire



The Emperor – fathering – protecting and defending, bringing security and comfort; emphasising structure – creating order out of chaos, being organised; exercising authority – taking a leadership role, representing the establishment; regulating – establishing law and order, setting standards of behaviour



Knight of Cups – finding a balance between being romantic/over-emotional – remembering special occasions/blowing hot and cold in affections; being imaginative/fanciful – spinning marvelous tales/having an overactive imagination; being sensitive/temperamental – responding deeply to life/getting melancholy and depressed; being refined/over-refined – being suave and gracious/getting overwhelmed by pressure; being introspective/introverted – seeking below the surface/being unable to relax around others



Queen of Pentacles – being nurturing – giving love and support, making people feel better; being big-hearted – giving freely and abundantly; being down-to-earth – handling problems matter-of-factly, taking a simple and sensible approach; being resourceful – making a little go a long way, being handy and versatile; being trustworthy – being loyal and steadfast, keeping confidences and secrets



The Chariot – achieving victory – reaching your goal, winning, beating the competition; using your will – rising above temptation, focusing your intent, concentrating your energies; asserting yourself – knowing who you are, feeling self-confident, having faith in yourself; achieving hard control – getting your way, maintaining discipline, curbing impulses



6 of Wands – triumphing – having your day in the sun, coming out on top, achieving success; receiving acclaim – earning applause, achieving recognition, getting a pat on the back; feeling pride – strutting your stuff, holding your head up high, having a high opinion of yourself



4 of Pentacles – wanting to possess – acquiring material goods, keeping what you have, hanging on to someone; maintaining control – wanting to be in charge, insisting on your own way, setting limits and rules; blocking change – wanting everything to stay the same, stagnating, holding on to the present



5 of Swords – acting in your own self-interest – thinking of your own needs, going for the win-lose result, gloating; experiencing discord – choosing to battle, creating ill will, feeling people are set against each other; witnessing open dishonour – losing your moral compass, sacrificing integrity, knowing of criminal activity



7 of Cups – indulging in wishful thinking – creating fantasies, building castles in the air, lacking focus and commitment; having many options – looking at a wide open field, getting to pick and choose, being offered many alternatives; falling into dissipation – letting everything go, being lazy, procrastinating, eating/drinking/partying to excess



The Empress – mothering – giving birth, nourishing life, expressing tenderness; welcoming abundance – luxuriating in plenty, having more than enough, feeling rich; experiencing the senses – giving and receiving pleasure, focusing on the body, doing physical activity; responding to Nature – embracing the natural, feeling connected to the Earth, going outdoors



9 of Wands – defending yourself – being paranoid, protecting others; persevering – trying repeatedly, keeping your resolve; showing stamina – holding fast, keeping up the pace



The Lovers – relating to others – feeling love, getting closer, making a connection; being sexual – making love, opening to another, feeling a physical attraction; establishing personal beliefs – figuring out where you stand, staying true to yourself, making up your own mind; determining values – facing an ethical or moral choice, finding out what you care about, struggling with temptation

For previous readings, see Notes by Nectar.

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