The deck is bringing hopeful emotions to the table this morning with the Seeker of Pages. Before I share the guidebook entry for this card, I want to talk about the intuitive and introspective nature of the tarot. The cards act as a mirror and a tool to spark creative inquiry. Every time we draw cards we get to confront ourselves; the meanings assigned to them plays only a small part in their interpretation.

Through my own tarot practice, I began to realize that I had been stifling my creative and intuitive voice for longer than I could remember. For so much of my life, I’d been taught that someone else was the authority on my life, my creative pursuits, and the stories that I wanted to tell. So I began to sit with each card and interpret the images and the feelings that bubbled up around it for myself. Asking questions like, “What does it mean that I am disappointed when I draw the Ten of Swords instead of the High Priestess?” and “Why does the Death card make me so afraid?”

Oh, and by the way, if you’re already a tarot aficionado, the suits in my Lunaria Tarot echo the common Rider-Waite-Smith deck as follows:

Inkwells = Cups
Pens = Swords
Quills = Wands
Pages = Pentacles

and the court cards as follows as well:

Seeker = Page
Apprentice = Knight
Artist = Queen
Mentor = King

And now on to the Seeker of Pages…

Seeker of pagesMaybe this is you? A hard-working, generous, responsible person who always thinks of what you can do to benefit others.
The Seeker of Pages has so much to offer. They may not be the most original or the most radical with their art. But their sincerity and earnest desire to help others shines through, and elevates them above the crowd.
Maybe there are elements of this card that you need to add to your craft. Take your ego out of the equation and ask yourself, “What can I do to develop my writing so that I’m producing my best work all of the time?”
The Seeker of Pages is studious, thoughtful, supportive, goal-oriented. How can you embody these traits today?
Key words: responsible, supportive, shy, kind

This year… this year has been a decade.

And as tempted as I might be to just burrow down into the earth and not pop my head out until spring… I decided to try something new this year. So I signed up for Holidailies.

Five of Inkwells

For the next month I’m gonna ramble away about … Tarot! Because I am in the process of publishing my first tarot deck, Lunaria: Tarot for writers, which was successfully funded on Kickstarter in October. (and OMG bear with me as I learn how to use BoldGrid to format my posts… it is NOT intuitive, WordPress, no not at all.)

So. Today’s card is the Five of Inkwells. I’m going to post the Lunaria guidebook text for each card, and give myself the space to decide whether I’ll expound on that each day, because I’m notoriously overly ambitious and have terrible follow through.

So again, without further ado: The Five of Inkwells

Okay, so you’ve suffered a setback. A beta reader bailed, maybe; a writer-friend who promised a blurb dropped the ball; your latest manuscript out on sub came back with no requests for pages. These are REAL reasons to be bummed out, for sure. But don’t let them take over the rest of your life. Give yourself five more minutes to wallow. Then pick up the pieces and get back to work.
Key Words: disappointment, moping

Ha. What an interesting way to start off the month. And what a good reminder… that disappointment is a real feeling that you’re allowed to feel. You just can’t let it rule you. You can’t let it stop you from creating, from reaching for your goals, from iterating until you figure out how to make your dreams realities. 

I’m looking forward to sharing more over the next 30 days. If you read this–whenever you read this– I hope that it brings you joy and encouragement.


In case you’ve missed me, I’ve been… evolving. But now I’m back with a couple of major updates for you! Oh, and I missed you. For certain.
Artist of Inkwells
From the new tarot deck for writers Jennifer Gerhart illustrated and I wrote

a publishing adventure

First, Lunaria Tarot (my tarot deck for writers) has an agent! We’re currently shopping the deck for the perfect publisher. *dies* I mean, that’s kind of awesome, right? Oh, what’s that? I haven’t mentioned Lunaria Tarot here before? Well allow me to explain and show off a little of the gorgeous art that Jennifer Gerhart, illustrator of the deck and amazing human, has put together.

Lunaria Tarot started as an idea during a mentoring session with one of my favorite humans, Stuart Horwitz. We were talking about witchy-ness and tarot and my book coaching business and he suggested I write a tarot deck FOR WRITERS. Which of course! How could I not?

At first, we considered self-publishing our deck, but

The Magician - W.B. Yeats
Each card in the Major Arcana is represented by a famous author

as the project came together, and as we began to talk to more people about it, the potential for a larger market became apparent. After pitching the idea to my friend, Jennifer Chen Tran of Bradford Literary Agency, she signed me and took on the task of helping me polish a proposal for this beautiful deck.

We’re pitching to editors even as I send out this blog post. Keep an eye out for updates on this publishing journey!

website update

Also, in case you haven’t looked at the site recently, it’s brand new! I finally migrated away from the old SquareSpace site and set up a WordPress site at InMotion where I host my Writing Refinery website. I have been meaning to do this… for. EVAR. because it’s a cheaper option for me, and because I haven’t updated… ANYTHING… on the site in a long time. I’m thinking it’s time to revive the blog, and share my musings with the world again for a while. I hope you’ll stick around and join the conversation. Since I moved the site, I still have to work out the RSS feed and other pertinent sharing details. Bear with me in the process. I will figure everything out soon!

Ten of Pages
The Minor Arcana symbols are writer-related (Inkwells=cups, Pages=pentacles, Quills=wands, Pens=swords)

wild healers rising

Finally, I’ll be participating in a business mastermind group for the next year to help me develop … what’s next … for me. I’ve been dreaming of creative coaching for people who are blocked, whether by fear or by depression or anxiety, to help them break through and become their best creative selves. It’s part of what I do in my book coaching already, helping people release whatever is holding them back so they can tell their best story. I want to take that idea to the next level. Fear, of being seen, of doing it wrong, of not being good enough… fear is the main culprit keeping most people from daring to make art or do what they dream. It’s what holds me back so often. But… I have dreams of rooting out that fear and sending it back so that people can find their creative voice.

My amazing (former) therapist and beautiful friend Florie Wild runs this mastermind class for people to level up their dreams and to bring their healing work to life. I’m so excited to be a part. I’ll do my best to make regular updates here so that you can share in this next big phase with me!

As the lovely Janet Wallace said: “Don’t chase your dreams. Drag them kicking and screaming into reality.”

It’s time for me to recognize that my dreams are within my grasp. What about you?

If you want to keep following along with my publishing journey, my thoughts on magic and tarot, and my wild healer journey as well, make sure to sign up here!

A merry Winter Solstice to all of you, dear readers. I hope that this day finds you in tune with the darkness and the shadows, and feeling the pull of the return of the light. We light candles and share warm food with those we love in this season, aware of the long nights and shining our light and warmth in the midst of them to help lift each other up.

I hosted a party a couple of nights ago and shared a few of my favorite Solstice rituals with my friends: 1) Lighting a candle to set an intention for the new year, and 2) writing down something that you want to let go of and then burning it to release it and make room for new things. It was a sweet time of sharing, of lighting the dark places and of clearing out the clutter of the year to make room for new adventures.

Light a Candle; set an intention

To celebrate the Solstice this morning, I pulled a few tarot cards, asking for wisdom and a new perspective for the coming year. You can see the cards I pulled in the picture below. It was supposed to be a three-card reading, but the Ace of Wands popped out and decided to join the party. I always consider cards that present themselves randomly like that as a bonus, something extra the querent needs to hear in their life. I drew these cards for me, but I feel like there’s someone else out there who needs to hear what the cards are saying to them to. Let me know in the comments if any part of this reading speaks to you.

I’ve been reading Brené Brown‘s The Gifts of Imperfection recently, and contemplating my own struggles with perfectionism and imperfection paralysis, and the thing I burned to release from my life (again) during the Solstice ritual the other night was Impostor Syndrome. So the first card I drew, Five of Swords, speaks especially to me. Let go of embarrassment, disappointment, and the bruised ego. Laugh at your mistakes, learn from them, and keep moving forward. Anyone else feeling this card? Just me? I’ll take it. Shame resilience, as Brené Brown discusses in her books, is so important, and so hard to cultivate. It takes energy and effort. But so does sulking and brooding. I’m leaning into the discomfort of perceived embarrassment and reaching for what I want out of life this year. What about you?

In conversation with the ever delightful Stuart Horwitz the other day, I mentioned too, that I’m invoking the spirit of Baba Yaga this year. So when I drew this next card, The Moon, I felt the resonance in my heart like a tuning fork, bringing me into pitch with the melody of the universe. The Moon, and the Crone, and the shadow side all speak to honing your intuition, seeing past outer appearance, stepping into your power. These are all things I crave in my life, have craved for my whole life, and am manifesting in this new year. I’ll be carrying her around with me, the moon, the crone, Hecate, Baba Yaga in this new year, as a reminder of the wild magic that lives inside us. How are you recognizing and reconciling yourself to Crone magic (or Hag Fire) in your life? How can you tap into that power?

Finally (almost), the Eight of Wands, a sign that creative and business enterprises are on the move. I am looking forward to a big year next year. There are many accomplishments that I have been setting myself up for in this new year with my business and in my creative life. This card is to remind us that the setbacks and disappointment we think we see are illusions… that they’re really just steps along the path, and that if we keep moving, the momentum will carry us forward into making our dreams a reality. What are you setting your intentions toward in this new year? How will you make space for the goals you want to achieve? Keep moving! Keep coming back to your workbench, putting fingers to keys or brush to canvas. I can’t wait to celebrate your accomplishments with you.

The Ace of Wands, the bonus card, is a reminder that this is just the beginning. You may feel like you’ve been around the block a few times, and that there’s nothing new under the sun, but the Ace of Wands begs to differ. It’s calling out courage, motivation, creation, energy in your life. Look for it. Embrace it. Make space for it. Let’s all make the world a better place in the New Year.

Make sure that if you haven’t already you sign up for email updates. When I do something amazing, you wont want to miss it!

Consider these two pictures:

Above, the experience I would have liked to have, below, the experience I actually had.

It started out simple enough. The Mermaid Challenge: Between the Summer Solstice and the Fall Equinox, swim in one river, one lake, and one ocean. Anything that affirms my mermaid status is good in my book. And I like to swim. A lot. The camping trip I just returned from, to Crater Lake in Oregon and Big Lagoon on California’s coast, seemed like the perfect time to check off at least two of the Mermaid Challenge requirements.

The day of the Crater Lake swim dawned like any other. I mean, aside from the fact that I’d had a really rough night’s sleep the night before… rougher than usual. Yay camping. My friends and my lovely husband, Noah, knew my goals. There’s only one place where you can enter the water at Crater Lake, and in the height of summer it’s going to be crowded.

We drove around the park, biding our time until it warmed enough for us to consider swimming in the frigid water. And then things started to unravel. Our plan to all hike down to the water together was thwarted when we realized we couldn’t bring the dog down the steep, dusty trail. After a little strategizing and adjusting, our group split up so that someone could wait with the dog while the others went down to swim in the water.

Then when we reached the bottom, it became clear that the most popular way to “experience Crater Lake” was to jump off a ledge 18 feet above the water and plunge into the incredibly deep and incredibly frigid water below. My heart froze before it ever touched the water.

As I stood and watched, over and over again people of all ages, races, and nationalities made the leap off the rock, including two of my wonderful and amazing friends (see the first picture above). I stuffed the growing fear I had as I watched them, thinking This! This is it! This is the supreme, ideal way to complete the Mermaid’s Challenge. What better way than to embrace bravery and fly off the edge into the unknown?

One problem. I’m not good with heights. I was terrified. As I waited for Noah to join me so that he could be part of my triumph, as I watched 6-year-olds line up and leap, my fear continued to grow. But I had ruled out all the alternatives. Anything less than leaping would be a failure. I had already begun pushing myself, terror and all, to the edge of the rock.

When Noah arrived I declared we were going to jump off the rock and into the water together, even as I cried because I knew in my heart I was too scared to complete the challenge as I’d (completely arbitrarily) decided it should be. I had formed a picture in my mind of my ideal self and she looked nothing like the person I really am. I had set myself up for supreme disappointment.

Even before I got to the edge of the rock, I knew I would not be able to jump. But I gritted my teeth and pushed myself to the edge to look down into the blue abyss. I stood there and cried as Noah held my hand, and felt the pressure of a hundred people waiting behind me for their turn to jump… and I didn’t. I couldn’t. In my mind, this was failure. I’d faced my fear, stared it down, and turned away, completely disappointed in myself for not achieving the goal.

But who set the goal? What was the goal anyway? How did I get from “swim in a lake” to “jump off an 18-foot ledge”? And why, if I know myself, would I do that to myself?

I finally stepped away from the ledge (the real one and the one I was leaning myself aggressively over in my mind) and reassessed. The goal had never been jump. It had only been swim. I was the one who had moved the target. I was gas-lighting myself! And now I had to grieve a loss of expectation. It took a while to get there, but I finally did.

I recognized that I was supremely disappointed in myself for not being able to jump, but I could still swim. And that had been the true goal, the first goal. So eventually, after a lot of fuck this is cold! I managed to ease myself into the lake in a shallower area and tread water for three or four seconds (it was fucking freezing). Success! Less glamorous? Sure, but I achieved the goal of swimming in a lake. Maybe I pick a warmer one in the next month to give myself a longer, more luxurious swim.

But I was still stuck in a cycle of self-deprecation. Why couldn’t I bask in this moment? Why couldn’t I recognize that I had faced my fear by standing at the edge of the rock and contemplating the jump instead of flatly refusing it in the first place? I regularly set high expectations for myself, unreasonably high expectations, and then torture myself for not meeting them.

In reality, I achieved so much. I met my goal. I contemplated a scary thing. I was with my friends. All these things matter so much more than jumping. But I had lost sight of that. I had suddenly had a seismic shift in perspective that equated my self-worth to whether or not I could jump, when in actuality, standing on the edge of fear is so much braver than blindly flying past it.

I faced my fear, and that’s a start. I held the hand of my life-partner and felt the love and support of my friends. I’m learning to give myself grace to do things in my own unique way, no matter what those around me are doing. And that’s the best I feel I should ever need to be. Willing to look out, willing to step up to the edge. Willing to learn something new about myself and to love myself no matter what I learn. Willing to grow, however small the increment.

 The next day, though it was chilly and we had no swimsuits with us, Lauren and I stripped down to our underwear and took a dip in Big Lagoon, completing another part of the Mermaid Challenge. It was an excellent experience, a memory I will cherish. The next day, though it was chilly and we had no swimsuits with us, Lauren and I stripped down to our underwear and took a dip in Big Lagoon, completing another part of the Mermaid Challenge. It was an excellent experience, a memory I will cherish.

 Image found on the webs... no photo credit Image found on the webs… no photo credit

With your feet firmly planted on the ground… raise your hands up and turn your face toward the sky… now feel the turn of the earth… set your intentions… put your feet back on the track to your heart’s desires… this is the longest day of the year… the days all grow shorter from here…

Merry Solstice, all.

This weekend is Mother’s Day, a holiday that I have a great deal of trouble with. While the premise seems simple and innocuous (sharing with your mother that you appreciate and love her), the practice has become fraught… and for many people was always fraught. Some people, when they think of Mother’s Day, find their hearts full of pain, shame, guilt, and a slew of other emotions. When they think of their mothers (or their lack of) or their own motherhood (or their lack of), the last thing they want to do is celebrate.

If those feelings rang like a bell in your heart just now, I write this post for you. And I want to give you permission, right this minute, to opt out of observing a ritual that causes you so much pain. You don’t have to pick out a card or send flowers, or receive candy and hollow sentiments to try to hide the fact that everything is not “world’s best mom” perfect in your motherly relationships. In fact you probably shouldn’t. 

Don’t send a card if you don’t really want to. Don’t force yourself to fit a mold that wasn’t made for you. Don’t let others make you feel lesser for something you may have no control over. You are valuable. You are loved.

Mother’s Day, just like any other holiday, is a social construction, given weight by the current cultural belief that motherhood is the most exalted state of being for a woman. It reduces women to one particular role and then judges them by how well they fit into that role. Worst of all, it fails to acknowledge that a lot more goes into being worthy of appreciation and praise than the simple act of giving birth.

Anne Lamott says in an article she wrote for Salon in 2010:

“But Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is, sadly, true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering.”

Some women who would be amazing mothers aren’t, either because they can’t or don’t or have chosen not to have children. Some women would rather not have or weren’t ready to have children. Some women were mothers but aren’t anymore. And some people’s mothers are absent for reasons totally out of their control.

A person’s value is not contingent upon their fertility (thank you, The Handmaid’s Tale). And the truth is that no amount of cards or candy or flowers can make up for the the quality, or lack of quality, of our relationships. So I’m advocating for Hallmark and the government and organized religion to stay out of our business. They’re the ones who make it easy for a broken social construction to keep forcing this holiday down our throats.

Instead, let’s focus on being real, being present in the relationships that we have and valuing the people in our lives regardless of our biological connection to them.

What are you wishing for in this new year? What are you dreaming of doing? Do you hear of friends and acquaintances receiving awards or discovering opportunities that you wish were yours? Do you feel like you could be, or should be, doing so much more with your art/life/etc.?

It’s a new year, dreamers, wanderers, lovely readers. It’s time to put yourself out there and make your dreams become a reality. Want to win an award for writing? Enter contests! Want to have a painting accepted in an art show? Put your work out there! Want to get added to Benedict Cumberbatch’s restraining order list? You better hurry up and pluck those eyelashes to mail to him! (too far?… maybe…)

Time to take a risk

My point is you can’t have the things you want if you don’t put yourself in the way of them. Sure, entering a contest or applying for a spot are scary, time-consuming things. But no one can experience your work, can offer you the chances you want, if you’re not out there actively looking for them.

I’m saying this more for myself than anything else. All the time I hear of people that I know accepting awards or putting out amazing collaborative projects or getting their dream jobs and I think, “I wanna do that! I want to be recognized! I want to collaborate!”

Turn “No” into “YES!”

But I’m here to tell you, as proof myself, that until you put something on the table, until you take the risk, until you share yourself, your art, your heart with others, you’ll be stuck saying “I wanna…” and feeling unfulfilled. And it takes more than once, usually, before you realize your dreams. For some people, it takes years of hearing “No thanks. Not at this time. Better luck next time. It’s just not quite right for us.” Just today I found out that I did not make the top 20 in a contest I entered. But will that stop me from believing in the project I’m working on? No!

If you believe in yourself, if you love what you do, if you feel in your heart that you’re meant to write that book, paint those pieces, do that ONE THING… you’ll pick yourself up after each one of those No’s and keep going until you hear YES! It’s not instant success. It’s persistence that brings fulfillment to most of us. So, dear wanderer, never give up. And I promise I won’t either.

 Tag in his new yard
Tag in his new yard

I haven’t posted anything about this yet because house buying can be so fraught and unreliable, but we closed on a house yesterday! I had all these plans of taking pictures of Noah and me in front of it to share… and maybe we still will… but it was super rainy today (see “sad collie in wet yard” photo above).  Also, there’s no electricity at the property for a few more days so with clouds it was just too dark for photoing. 

In a couple of weeks we’ll be moving into our new little home and preparing for the long haul of renovation/repair work that come with homeownership. We’re excited for it for now. We’ll see how we feel as time wears on. 

It’ll be a new experience, a new city (even if it is just 20 miles from our old place). I’ve been working on expanding myself for a while and it feels like a new city will help me to do that. To reach further and more purposefully for friends. To stand more firmly on my own.

For Noah and me both, the large yard is a huge draw (and for Tag). We have horticultural dreams we would like to realize and artistic ones as well, and so though the space is small inside, outside there’s room to stretch and grow and fill and be messy and noisy in. 

Stay tuned for updates on house and garden adventures!

In other news, I’m on the last round of substantial revisions for Chasing the Wind. The end is in sight! I will keep you all posted on the pub date as soon as I have it available!

love and light. happy holiday season. 

 Raven in Death Valley. Photo credit me (Elisabeth Kauffman) 2015
Raven in Death Valley. Photo credit me (Elisabeth Kauffman) 2015

I’m in Berkeley tonight, spending the night with my fab friend Lauren so we can be ridiculously productive and torture me with running on super-steep hills in the morning. It’s a lovely thing that I have friends who make the mundane and sometimes painful parts of achieving goals more enjoyable. Though I don’t know that I believe in a god, I acknowledge that I am blessed.

And, not to bury the lede, but… I have some ridiculously exciting news. I mean, this is epic. Well for me, that is. My novel, Chasing the Wind, is currently in the last stages of beta-reading! I’ll be rounding up the notes from my awesome reviewers, making a few revisions, and then sending it off to be edited SOOOOOON! And that means that if everything falls right into place I could have a published novel by the end of 2016! Eeep!

And… one of the more cool parts of the publishing process? I have a cover!!!! This is the REAL DEAL y’all. Today a cover, tomorrow a Goodreads page and an Amazon page (well, not TOMORROW, but soon…) Wow. I am starting to get all the nerves, ya know?

So now I just need to verify the timing and that I have everything together, and then I’ll share Chasing the Wind‘s cover with you. Yay! Make sure you sign up for email updates so that you get a first look when I reveal the cover. I’m sussing out dates right now. You don’t wanna miss it! Also, if you wanna help me broadcast the cover reveal to the world, I’ll have a sign-up list for that really soon, too!

I’m so glad you’re on this journey with me, friends.

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