Posted in Life, Writing

Acting the Fool in 2015


Last night at midnight, my husband and I got out my collection of fortune-telling paraphernalia and did a quick “What does the new year have in store for us?” assessment. We each compiled a reading based on the following items:

* One store bought fortune-on-a-stick
* One homemade fortune-on-a-stick
* One question for the Magic 8 Ball
* One question for my homemade fortune journal
* One card from the homemade Tarot deck from my cousin
* One card from the Poet Tarot (which the hubby gave me for my birthday)
* One card from the scary Labyrinth Tarot deck my dad bought for me at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo in New Orleans
* One card from my Halloween Tarot which I love and which always tells me some version of the truth

So what does my future hold?

The first fortune stick told me I would be more charming than usual. It was pretty much downhill from there. The second stick said CHANGE EVERYTHING. The Magic 8 Ball told me I will not get paid for my writing. The journal showed me a picture of a frowny face. Cousin Kelley’s Tarot card said ANARCHY. The Poet Tarot gave me John Donne, who represents fatherhood (which I’m not interested in) and leadership (or a lack there of) and finding the balance between organization and chaos. The scary Labyrinth Tarot gave me the Nine of Wands which means “going back to the start, expectation of difficulties, deception, inactive time.” Yikes.

I saved my beloved Halloween Tarot card for last, hoping against hope that it could somehow turn my future around. Then I flipped it over and saw… The Fool.

Of course.

The description of this card begins, “The Fool, playful clown that he is, juggles merrily, not noticing he is about to step off a steep precipice!”


But the more I read, the more I understood that playing the part of the fool isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, it denotes naiveté and some amount of unawareness, but there’s more to it than that. The book goes on to say, “The fool lives moment by moment, facing whatever he stumbles across without judgment or preconception. He is not tainted by artifice or ego—the only ‘baggage’ he carries is the bag of tricks he keeps beside him. The skull and crossbones symbol on the bag shows that he accepts the idea of death, along with everything else, without fear… The Fool represents pure potential, and the card tells us to explore life’s possibilities, take risks, live in the moment, and shuck our rigidity.”

Now, that doesn’t sound so bad. The absence of fear and ego? Accepting without judgment? Those sound like some pretty good qualities to have, especially when starting over, changing everything, not making money, and facing anarchy.

So I embrace my role as The Fool. This year I will take risks, live in the moment, and accept the difficulties that come my way while happily juggling all aspects of my life. Here’s to pure potential in 2015!

(Although, if you see me dancing too close to the precipice, please give me a polite nudge in the other direction. Thanks.)

*     *     *

[Note: The good news is that my husband’s fortune included growth, pay raises, cleverness, success, and fun. The only things he has to watch out for are too much arrogance and being betrayed by someone wearing purple. So hopefully we’ll still be okay this year even while I’m bumbling around exploring life’s possibilities and causing charming chaos.]

Posted in Writing

Is It Written in the Stars? Or Maybe on a Popsicle Stick?


This morning I scrolled through Facebook’s conga line of cupcakes, roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, love letters, and jewelry. My favorite post was from a friend from junior high. She and her husband gave each other the same singing lemur card. ?! Seriously, that is true love. I hope everyone had a nice day today, regardless of his or her feelings about candy hearts and sonnets. Personally, my husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because—let’s see, how may I put this most cheesily?—because our love has no calendar. Nailed it.

Instead, I chose to spend the day contemplating the future of a different relationship in my life, the one between myself and my unfinished novel.

When it comes to research, I have a plethora of reference materials at my disposal (Dictionary, Thesaurus, Atlas, Writer’s Market, Internet, Magic 8 Ball, Tarot Cards, Fortune-Telling Sticks, Spell Book…) and I use them all equally.


I’ve always loved fortune-telling paraphernalia. My cousin Kelley and I used to enjoy getting advice from the gods of fate so much that we’d make up our own procedures for consulting them. One way was through poetry. We both had a lot of poetry books, which are full of wisdom. One cousin would call the other cousin and say, “I’ve got a question!” The other cousin would collect five poetry books and say, “Ok, pick a number between one and five.” After selecting the book, the page number, and the line of the poem (all sight unseen, of course) we would have our answer… more or less.

Cousin #1 – “Ok, got it. What was your question?”

Cousin #2 – “Is (current crush) going to kiss me tonight?”

Cousin #1 – “Your answer says, ‘All the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries.’”

Cousin #2 – “So… maybe?”

Later we started creating our own fortune-telling devices. Cousin Kelley made cards and a box of cookie-like fortunes, while I made journals and popsicle sticks. No question was safe around these items. Should I have chocolate for lunch?  Who will be my next door neighbor in ten years? What is my dog thinking right now?  Why are there so many balloons on the ceiling at HEB? The truth was out there. Sometimes REALLY out there.

So anyway, today in a bout of super-procrastination unseen in this house for days, I decided to consult ALL of the fortune-telling references at my disposal about the future of my novel and my writing career.

Here’s how it went.

Good News / Bad News

I started with the basics, and pulled a cookie-style fortune out of the box.

Not a bad start. 🙂

Next came the fortunes-on-a-stick, both store-bought and homemade. They were less encouraging.

fortune sticks
But I wear purple a lot…

Then it was the Magic 8 Ball’s turn, and let me tell you, he was in a GOOD mood today!

  • “Will I finish my novel by June?” It is certain.
  • “Will it be good?” As I see it yes.
  • “Will I get an agent in the next six months?” Outlook good.
  • “Will I make money from my book?” Without a doubt.
  • “Will I become a super-famous YA author someday?”
Well, ok then!

Buoyed by the 8 Ball’s positivity, I consulted two different homemade fortune-telling journals that I made a decade apart.


I asked the big orange one to give me its best writing advice and turned to page 96.


I asked the smaller journal what my writing career will be like five years from now and randomly chose page 68.

I chose pasta. Underneath it said, "Keep going."
I chose pasta. Underneath it said, “Keep going.”

Next I checked in with the homemade tarot cards my cousin Kelley gave me. I asked them, “What are three things I need to succeed at writing?”

So I need liberation, a sensitive soul, and a drink. Sounds about right.
So I need liberation, a sensitive soul, and a drink. Sounds about right.

Last, but certainly not least, I did a tarot reading with my deck of Halloween Tarot cards. These cards are the real thing. I can always count on them to tell me the truth, whether it’s what I want to hear or not. There’s also a good story about how I aquired them. You can read about it here. (And, if you keep reading further down that page to the note from February 10, 2010, you’ll also learn why I chose not to consult the “Black Cat Fortune-Telling Game” that cousin Kelley gave me for my birthday a few years ago. That one is MEAN.)

The Halloween Tarot, though, is not mean. It’s honest. And it did not disappoint.


I won’t bore you with the details of the full tarot reading. Some of it is personal anyway. The gist is that I’m on the right track. My goal is clear and I know the risks. Other people may not fully understand what I’m doing or why, but that’s ok, because writing is an individual journey and one that is sometimes hard to define. All I know right now is that I’m happy, and I think my novel and I have a future together.


[ To purchase one of my homemade fortune-telling devices, visit my Etsy store, Pumpkins & Poetry.]