Archive | Typical Tuesday

Typical Tuesday with Luanne Castle

On Tuesday morning, I wake up between 5:30 and 7 AM, depending on the slant of the sun. There is a gap between my blind and the window sill where the brilliant Arizona morning light blazes through.

I open my bedroom door, and my tortico cat Sloopy Anne is lying there waiting for me. I shoo her down the stairs so that my calico cat Tiger can make her way downstairs undisturbed. They get along fine in the kitchen and living room, but not upstairs.

Downstairs, coffee that my husband made awaits me, but I ignore it. Instead, I pour myself a Mountain Dew (you thought I was going to say tea? that comes later in the morning) over a full glass of ice and plunk in a red-striped paper straw. As I do this, the cats greet me, and I talk to each one individually.

We have six cats now. My husband and I have been volunteering at a local no-kill animal shelter for a few years, and we keep bringing home difficult to place kitties. They might not show themselves to advantage in the shelter environment, but they make loving additions to our household.

By 8 AM I’ve fed the cats and cleaned up after them: food bowls, water bowls, any random barf.

I sit at the computer and skim my new emails, my blogs, and other social media.  I respond to some. A genealogist from the Netherlands has written to me, giving me information on an ancestor I blogged about last week. I’ve learned so much more family history since I completed Kin Types that I now wonder if there is a Kin Types II in the future.

I keep two to-do lists. One is a preprinted form with exercise and other constants. The other is ever-changing, and it gets re-written every day. I check these over. I also check my datebook in case I have appointments. Mondays are always very busy, and sometimes it feels that the week as I want it begins on Tuesday.

After a breakfast of two Dr. Praeger’s green veggie patties squirted with sriracha mayo, I start to do the chores on the lists, respond to more emails and blogs, and answer the telephone. The business my husband and I own is operated out of our home, and in addition to many other job titles, I am the receptionist. I gaze longingly at the item on the permanent to-do list: WRITE. But I have more work to do first.

Late morning, I let my newest cat, Perry, out of his bedroom and follow him around as he interacts with the other cats. Luckily, Kana, the dominant one, is in a basket in the laundry room today and ignores Perry. Pear, Felix, and Tiger watch Perry make the rounds of the room.

But Sloopy Anne has decided he’s a thorn in her paw and tries to hiss him back into his bedroom. Today he holds his ground and lies down, facing her. They stare at each other while the minutes tick away. I think about that word on my list: WRITE.

Forty minutes later, Perry is back in his room, coaxed with treats and a kiss. Back in the kitchen, I pour a glass of iced tea that I brewed yesterday in my Mr. Coffee iced tea maker. With the glass in front of me on the kitchen table, I set to work on a blurb for a friend’s new book.

Kana asks for lunch with a warning nip on my arm. She has IBS and can’t eat very much at one time, so she needs many small meals throughout the day. Just ask her.

I put the blurb draft away to finish tomorrow because my daughter calls. All these distractions have made me unable to focus on the review needed for the back of my friend’s beautiful book.

My daughter needs me to fix a problem on her website. Although I am not a computer expert, ironically, I am better at these things than she is, probably because I’ve been blogging for five years.

My husband walks into the house and asks, “What’s there to eat for lunch?” What he really means is, “What will you give me for lunch?” Since he spent four hours in the yard gardening and supervising the roofing guys, it’s the least I can do, so I give him a half corned beef sandwich on gluten free toast. He has celiac and maybe IBS like Kana, and there are only so many things he can eat.

He leaves to go to a business meeting, and I know this is the best time to write, but first I have to move the laundry along. Oh, yes, I threw a load of laundry in at one point, as I was scooping litter boxes while talking to my mother on the phone about her latest medical appointment.

Eventually, I get to WRITE, as it says on the to-do list. I don’t have to worry about writer’s block or finding the zone because I am so eager after putting it off for hours and hours that I just jump in.  At first I scribble nonsense, but then the water clears and I see what lies underneath.

I am working on a poem draft I began six weeks ago. I’m addressing the diamond in my dad’s ring, a diamond that first showed up (in our family, at least) in my grandmother’s ring, then in a necklace for my mother, and only later in my dad’s ring. My dad gave it to me a few weeks before he died in 2015. It’s not easy writing to a diamond, but I’m trying to make the best of it.

 

For years I struggled with teaching (which included prep, grading, writing academically, and attending conferences), working at our business, raising my kids (and pets). I’ve had to fit in time for creative writing as I could.  Now that my kids are grown and our dogs have passed away,  I’ve added more cats, my father passed away, and my mother is elderly and needs my help. I’m still working at our business. Because I work from home now, everything is always happening at once: I might be revising a poem while answering the business phone and breaking up a minor cat scuffle. It’s hard to get a clear mind. But what I always try to do for myself is write a little each day. Sometimes something happens on the page, in spite of the chaos.

When my husband gets back, I’ve been writing for 30 minutes, and now the business phone calls heat up, and I have to handle business emails and write a letter.

Finally, I say to my husband, that’s it, I need to work out. He doesn’t give me a look like I’m sliding out of work because he likes it when I workout. I ride the stationery bike. I don’t have a lot of options for aerobic exercise because of my rebuilt foot. As a reward, I read on my Kindle (which I always said I would never get, but it’s so lightweight and convenient on the reading shelf of the bike!). Then I do some exercises for flexibility and strength in my hip and upper leg areas.

The day starts to close in on me. I’m tired and sweaty. I’ve gotten a lot done, but there are still 14 items left on my to-do lists. I don’t know what we’re going to eat for dinner, and I can’t get a pizza because of my husband’s celiac. Eventually, I have a meal planned and, with a glass of Chardonnay in hand, I cook chicken teriyaki in the wok with some vegetables I hope won’t make my husband sick (so many foods do). The rice puffs up in my Hamilton Beach rice maker. I feed the cats.

After the kitchen is cleaned up, I go into Perry’s room and cuddle on the bed with him and watch TV for an hour or more. We watch part of an LMN movie. You know, those crazy Lifetime-movies-meet-serial-killers ones. I never watched one of these movies in my life, until Perry moved in this spring. (He moved in because my husband found him hungry and homeless in our backyard). The movies are two hours, but if I only see an hour, I don’t feel I’ve missed anything. Besides, they seem to be contemporary gothic novels, and I pretend I’m going to write an academic article comparing the two.

Then I head back out to the living room where my husband watches TV and open my iPad or Kindle or a book. And fall asleep within a half hour. Eventually, I wind up upstairs in bed with my husband and Tiger who snuggles happily between us.

About the Author: Luanne Castle

Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, Doll God, Luanne Castle‘s first collection of poetry, was published by Aldrich Press. Luanne’s poetry and prose have appeared in Grist, Copper Nickel, River Teeth, Glass Poetry Press, Barnstorm Journal, Six Hens, Lunch Ticket, The Review Review, and many other journals. Published by Finishing Line Press, Kin Types was a semi-finalist in the Concrete Wolf chapbook contest.

Luanne has been a Fellow at the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California, Riverside. She studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Riverside (Ph.D.); Western Michigan University (MFA); and the Stanford University writing certificate program. Her scholarly work has been published in academic journals, and she contributed to Twice-Told Children’s Tales: The Influence of Childhood Reading on Writers for Adults, edited by Betty Greenway. For fifteen years, she taught college English. She divides her time between California and Arizona, where she shares land with a herd of javelina. Visit her website.

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Typical Tuesday with Erica Goss

My day starts at 2:00 a.m., when I wake up from my first four hours of sleep. If I’m lucky, I’ll go back to sleep until 5:30 a.m. If not, I might drift in and out of what I call “snapshots” – snippets of sleep characterized by strong, visual dreams.

At 5:30, the radio turns on. I hear National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” faintly through my earplugs. After a half hour, my husband gets out of bed, where Rosie, our extremely spoiled Lancashire Heeler, greets him. A few minutes later, Rosie and our 17-year-old cat JJ are fed, and my husband starts the coffee.

I remove my earplugs, visit the bathroom, and pull on yesterday’s outfit, which I left on the floor beside the bed last night. This morning, I’m happy to re-wear my favorite corduroys and red cotton T-shirt. I greet my husband and prepare my breakfast: one soft-boiled egg and a slice of sourdough bread with butter and Marion berry jam. We sit down to read the New York Times, and interrupt each other by reading parts of the stories out loud. My husband gets the front page, while I scan the arts section and then start the crossword puzzle. My brain wakes up as I ponder clues; hmm, fifteen across: “Ancient land in Asia Minor” and eleven down: “Ljubljana resident.” My husband finishes his muesli with bananas and blueberries, kisses me goodbye, and drives to his office.

My goal is to be at the computer by 8:30. I’m a morning person, and I need to catch my ideas early. I’ll check my journal, where I jot down things as they occur to me.

These could be fragments of conversation, dreams, random thoughts, or a few sentences. Quite often, something I read in the newspaper will trigger some writing. Then I attempt to craft these bits into something cohesive, a poem or an essay or an article.

I’ve been writing short personal essays about subjects that range from grief to gardening. Recently I wrote an article for a pet magazine about color vision in dogs, and three poems about rooms. I don’t stick to a word count (i.e., 1000 words a day) but I do try to make significant progress on my writing every day.

My energy starts to flag around noon, so I shut down the computer and eat lunch. If there are no leftovers from last night’s dinner, I’ll eat my standard lunch: Tillamook cheddar melted on rice cakes. I also read the front page of the newspaper, scan social media, and check my email.

My two grown sons live at home, so they might be in the room while I’m eating lunch. The dog barks to be let in or out, depending on which side of the door she’s on. If it’s a good day, I’ll be back at my computer by 12:30. This is when I look at yesterday’s work. I’ve found that, at least for me, it’s a bad idea to start editing a draft too soon. Often my work looks weird or even alien to me right after I write the first draft. I need a day’s distance so I don’t inadvertently spoil a poem or an essay with too much editing. I always keep the first draft in a Word file or handwritten, so I can trace back to my original thoughts.

In the afternoon, I often struggle mightily against the urge to nap. I get drowsy after lunch, and it takes all of my strength to stay off of the couch. Sometimes I give in, but naps don’t often refresh me – I usually feel weird for the rest of the day after a nap. For me, sleep is never easy.

I switch from writing to video editing or to creating curricula for classes I teach. I’m developing a new class called “Five-Minute Memoirs,” where students will create short videos based on an important event in their lives. I also teach on-line poetry classes, which include phone support with my students, and I’m always looking for new writing prompts.

In between writing and thinking, I’ll stop and read from a book of poems I have at my desk. Right now I’m reading a collection of World War I Austrian poet Georg Trakl’s poems, which have exquisite and enigmatic titles: “In the Red Foliage Filled With Guitars” and “Three Glimpses Into an Opal” are tiny poems as well as titles.

I also use the afternoons to work on marketing. This is when I research places to submit my work. My poetry collection, Night Court, just came out, so I look for venues to read, write blog posts, and communicate with reviewers about the book. I’ve also created two videos from the book.

By 4:00 p.m. I’m usually done. If I don’t quit by 4:00 or 5:00, I might get a second wind and then stay up all night, which would not be a good thing. I need time to relax, read, and socialize with my family. My husband comes home from his office by 5:30 or 6:00 and makes dinner. We have a glass of wine and tell each other what happened that day. After dinner, my sons and I clean up while my husband plays the guitar or does some additional work.

I usually read until the news comes on at 9:00 p.m. I’m reading Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third of Elena Ferrante’s four Neapolitan Quartet novels. Reading helps quiet my mind, letting me transition to the restful place I need. I have trained my brain to understand that reading several chapters of high quality fiction is part of the ritual. I have my journal nearby to jot down any thoughts that occur to me as I read.

By 10:00 p.m., I’m usually curled up on my 100% organic cotton mattress, where I sink into my first phase of sleep. See you at 2:00 a.m.

About the Author: Erica Goss

Erica Goss is a poet and freelance writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Eclectica, The Red Wheelbarrow, Main Street Rag, Pearl, Rattle, Wild Violet, and Comstock Review, among others. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls. Please visit her at www.ericagoss.com and connect with her on Facebook, Linked In, and Vimeo.

(A)-Typical Tuesday (Holiday Edition) by Jeanie Croope

Let the summer recharge begin! Here on an inland lake in Northern Michigan I have settled for the better part of the summer, taking in big breaths of fresh, clean air and enjoying (mostly) blue skies and warm days.

The return to the cottage always brings about a certain amount of work with it and when we arrived for our first visit a couple of weeks ago, I wouldn’t list “relaxing” as a key word. There were screens to put on, porch furniture to haul out, linens to change, cupboards to wipe down (yes, mice seem to prefer inside to outside in the cold Michigan winter), and bags to unpack.

There’s also a beach to weed, but that’s part of the never-ending story of summer!

But that’s done and now it’s Tuesday, July 4, a very atypical Tuesday!

The morning begins with birdsong. Gulls and other lake birds start their chatter early in the day, just after sunrise, and the quacking of the duck family isn’t far behind. As soon as there is action that indicates someone may be getting out of bed, Lizzie-the-Cat adds her own chorus to the music of creatures and her calls are well heeded.

For Rick, it’s coffee; for me, Tab. (Yes, people still drink Tab. For breakfast.) Something for breakfast. And then it’s off to our typical July 4. Rick is a cyclist in training for a ride to Quebec City this summer. He’ll be off on a hundred-mile jaunt to a small town about 50 miles from here. Once he’s out the door, I will gather a book — or more likely, my watercolors — and spend some time on the porch “doing my thing” while he does his.

I value this period of quiet creativity, listening to the morning ripples on the lake just yards away from where I sit with two jars of water (one for rinsing brushes, the other for mixing), several pans of my favorite paints and more likely than not a blank page, waiting for the first marks. Will it be a landscape? An animal portrait? A whimsical bit from my imagination? Who knows?

About an hour or so before he’s due to hit his halfway destination, Central Lake, I’ll pack a picnic for us to enjoy. Thick sandwiches with deli meats, veggies and cheese, a confetti orzo salad  with bright bits of red and yellow pepper, radishes, green onions, black olives, fresh herbs, feta and a non-mayo dressing so that we’ll have no worries on food safety. We’ll round it off with chips, big cookies or brownies and cold drinks. Then I’ll hit the road, picnic in hand, camera in my bag (along with a good book, just in case I get there first!).

The July 4 parade in Central Lake has become a tradition for us. The town itself is very small, one Main Street and a lake just steps from the four corners. I’m not sure where they find all the people to be in the parade, much less those crowding the streets. And yet the sidewalks are packed and the parade itself is fairly long, reminding me of something I would encounter in a Garrison Keillor story. If one has a dog, a tractor, a truck or is a clown, they are in the parade. Good candy-tossing arms are a requirement! Queens from neighboring communities ride on floats, sweltering in their gowns in the noonday sun and yet waving with cheer.  Children from area churches and Sunday Schools ride on the back of flatbed trucks, singing. Every high school band within 30 miles or so is represented, some more tunefully than others, but all with great spirit. There is red, white and blue everywhere, along with plenty of smiles.

As the parade draws to a close, we’ll find a shady spot by the lake for our picnic and when we are satiated, he’ll take off on two wheels. I’ll take off on four and explore antique stores, art galleries and fruit stands on the way home.

I will certainly beat him home and in an effort to do something that appears to be productive, I might take another stab at pulling out the weeds from the beach until I’m oh, so very warm! And then I’ll be glad to jump in and swim my “route” between the neighbor’s buoys, making sure to be out of the water by the time the boat parade comes along.

The boat parade is a longstanding tradition. Those with power boats on the lake (and a few intrepid canoe or kayak enthusiasts) deck them out with streamers, balloons and flags and at least begin circling the lake’s shoreline. I say begin, because they do tend to drop off after a bit. Being only about a mile or two from the start line, most are still in place as they pass by. Of course we wave as they honk and shout happy greetings.

By now on this atypical Tuesday, Rick has returned and soon it will be time to fire up the grill. It’s definitely a white-wine-night, well chilled and refreshing. If we’re lucky, we’ll have guests for dinner, guests who will stay for the fireworks later in the evening.

The lake is at its best as it begins to quiet down. The jet skis have moved on and most are home, enjoying their holiday meal as well. It’s a festive atmosphere. Neighbors are in chat mode, there’s likely to be music. In the air you can smell grills getting a workout — burgers and dogs, chicken and ribs. Summer may have officially started two weeks before, but July 4 seems like the kick-off to a season of refreshment.

More likely than not, there will be a spectacular sunset, with the sky taking on various shades of orange and gold and gently edging into cobalt blue. As dusk closes in and stars begin to emerge, so do boats, settling into the waters across from the County Park (and in front of our cottage) to get prime seating for the fireworks display. It doesn’t get fully dark till nearly 10:30 at night at my little spot in Northern Michigan, but the revelers don’t care. And really, why should they? Being out on a lake on a beautiful  evening doesn’t require fireworks. It is simply the frosting on the cake.

And then that first burst of color. Another, and one after that. The fireworks will bring to a close this atypical Tuesday, dropping streamers of purple and gold, red and blue into the waters with approving honks from boat horns for a particularly spectacular display. As the grand finale draws the evening to an end, the horns join together in loud appreciation of a day well spent.

There will be campfires after and more fireworks set off on beaches along the way. Lizzie-the-Cat will hunker down under the quilt that covers our bed, even if the temperature is 80-something and humid, only to emerge when the noise quiets or she is hungry (again) — whichever comes first.

As for us, we’ll tumble into bed, smiling and satisfied from a beautiful holiday celebration and eagerly anticipate the next day of art and bicycles, books and swimming, ice cream and a very vocal cat. And if we are wise and honest, we will acknowledge that our atypical Tuesday at the lake really isn’t too different from any Tuesday on vacation — it’s just a little louder and a little more festive.

About the Author: Jeanie Croope

Jeanie Croope bioAfter a long career in public broadcasting, Jeanie Croope is now doing all the things she loves — art, photography, writing, cooking, reading wonderful books and discovering a multitude of new creative passions. You can find her blogging about life and all the things she loves at The Marmelade Gypsy.

Typical Tuesday: Anna Oginsky

At 6:00 a.m. Brett Dennen’s Oh My Glorious begins to play on my cell phone. This is my daily alarm. I press the snooze button.

At 6:09 a.m., when the alarm goes off, I press snooze again. I stretch my arms up over my head and listen, trying to hear who is awake. Specifically wondering if my oldest son, a high schooler, is up and getting ready for school.

I slowly make my way out of bed, through the bathroom, and into the kitchen. I make coffee.

The high school bus comes at 6:40, then the intermediate school bus picks up my second son at 7:30, and finally at 8:25 a.m. my daughter, the youngest, boards the elementary school bus.

In between I fill water bottles, answer questions, complete permission slips, and confirm whether it is an A day or a B day for the middle guy.

It is always a relief once everyone is where they need to be in the morning. I am grateful that my own schedule allows me to be present for my children in the morning.

From 6:00 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. my Tuesdays are typical. Once my daughter is on the bus and Johnny the dog and I go back into the house from the bus stop, we eat breakfast. Kibbles for him and it could be anything for me. Eggs, oatmeal, or a smoothie.

After breakfast, my days vary quite a bit.

For the past 15 years, I’ve mostly been a mom about town. I’m not sure where the term “stay-at-home-mom” originated because while I understand the term in theory, I don’t know any moms who get to simply stay at home.

I dream of keeping to a routine that starts with yoga and is followed by writing and art.

I have a second book I’d like to write and a business I’d like to nurture. Lately though, it is incredibly challenging just to keep my head above water.

Like so many families, we’ve got a lot in the mix. I keep forgetting appointments and assignments.

It could be that summer is in the air and I am ready for a break in the daily routine. Or maybe, it’s all. Too. Much.

Our bodies weren’t designed to take in as much as we are required to take in each day.

While I am grateful for my flexibility, I wince as my schedule fills with obligations and I sit in awe of parents who work in jobs full time as well as try to raise families. I’m not sure how anyone is doing what they do without going crazy or falling ill.

On top of all the stuff to do, there are emotions that require space and time to surface, spirits to tend to, and bodies that need nourishment and rest. We may not all be going crazy, but I know few people who aren’t feeling stressed and overwhelmed these days. Everyone is just so damn busy and personally, I don’t like it.

To invite more ease into my day, I have alarms set on the hour. These serve as reminders to take a deep breath. I stop what I’m doing and breathe as the Beatles sing Let it Be to me. If you’re nearby, I’ll invite you to take a deep breath too. Some people roll their eyes at me, but mostly my invitation is well received. Eyes light up, heads nod, and we resume what we were doing feeling refreshed.

We must remember to breathe.

I long for a Typical Tuesday. I sometimes wonder what my days will look like when my kids have all moved out of the nest. Will I be bored and miserable? Or will I be living the dream with yoga, writing, art, and a daily lunch date with a dear friend?

In the space between, I try to build practices into my day that help it to feel more that typical than not—breakfast with Johnny, a deep breath on the hour, and a moment of gratitude for stillness and silence each morning amid a big, busy, chaotic life.

At 3:00 p.m. the high school bus pulls up to our driveway. My son rushes off the bus, checks the mailbox, and comes into the house. At 4:30 p.m. the younger two arrive home together. They’re usually arguing before they even come through the door. Johnny stirs from his afternoon nap. I try to finish up whatever I’m working on in my studio.

My husband comes home at some point. We have dinner but no activities on Tuesdays. I’m trying very hard to stay present to all of it, as the days go by quickly turning into years and my children grow faster than I ever imagined growing into themselves.

Daily, I walk the balance between longing for more predictability while at the same time feeling grateful that for me, there isn’t ever a Typical Tuesday. Not yet.

About the Author: Anna Oginsky

annbioAnna Oginsky is the founder of Heart Connected, LLC, a small Michigan-based workshop and retreat business that creates opportunities for guests to tune in to their hearts and connect with the truth, wisdom, and power held there. Her work is inspired by connections made between spirituality, creativity, and community. Anna’s first book, My New Friend, Grief, came as a result of years of learning to tune in to her own heart after the sudden loss of her father. In addition to writing, Anna uses healing tools like yoga, meditation, and making art in her offerings and in her own personal practice. She lives in Brighton, Michigan with her husband, their three children, and Johnny, the big yellow dog. Connect with her on her website; Twitter; Facebook; or Instagram.

Typical Tuesday with Laura Foley

I wake or, more preciously, am awoken, before 6 a.m. by our dogs, who insist it’s morning, in spite of still-dark skies. After a quick walk, I feed the beloved beasts— two German Shepherds,  Arlo and Alys; one yellow Labrador, Chloe. I prepare peppermint tea, return to bed with a cup for my partner and one for me.

But let me back up for a minute. For twenty years I was happily married to a man. After my husband died, I was busy raising our three children through their teen years; I also discovered I was attracted to women. Those years included many soul-searching, silent retreats, Zen ordination, Chaplaincy training,  Jungian analysis, Karate (I made it to second level Brown Belt) and Yoga (trained as an instructor).

And I discovered poetry.

Before that, I had been an academic, with degrees in English Lit. from Columbia University. I had read a lot, and studied a lot, but I had never written anything creative. At 45, as my husband was dying, I started writing. Today, 15 years later, I have six poetry books published, two more in progress.

On this Tuesday, I return to bed with two cups of tea, one for my partner, Clara, whom I have lived with for four and a half years.

After another snooze of the alarm, I get up at 7:15. The sky is brighter now, sun beginning to light the yard around our house. I jump in the shower, drive from our house in Pomfret Vermont to my favorite yoga class in Norwich. The teacher’s approach is Tantric, which fits nicely with Zen: a body-centered awareness, including explorations of how emotions manifest, how to work with them. Yoga class is a spiritual experience for me, a reminder of the ever-present, deeper stream beneath the busy-ness of a day.

After yoga, it’s off to a local coffee shop for oatmeal and a cappuccino. I make a nest of poetry books, my laptop, and spend some time reading poems on Writer’s Almanac, Poetry Breakfast, Autumn Sky, Poetry Foundation. Today I also watch a You Tube video interview with Sonia Sanchez, a poet who speaks about being in China, recites a haiku about the International Date Line. This triggers a memory for me. I grab my notebook, start to write about my father’s WWII experience (he was in China).  This is a subject I have tried to wrestle with before, how he always knew war would start on a Sunday, and it did, but it was Monday in China, because of the date line. Today the idea returns in full force, and I’m off, into the creative process.

After about twelve drafts, I feel the poem is ready to share with my online women’s group.  I have been in the habit of sharing rough drafts with them for many years; often receiving encouraging responses. They are my family, and I’m sharing work hot off the press.

By now it’s time for lunch,  soup and salad.  I spend the afternoon editing older poems, sending finished poems out to competitions and journals, preparing for the writing workshop I will lead tomorrow, in the local hospital, for those affected by serious illnesses.

At 5:00 I return home, over the river and through the trees, to our house far away, up on a hill in the woods of Vermont. My partner is preparing a delicious dinner of spaghetti squash with her own tomato sauce. Clara, originally from Spain, is a foodie, one of those fabulous, rare beings who loves to cook.

After her full day at the Law School, where she’s a professor, she unwinds by preparing me my favorite meals. As she stirs and chops, I carry in wood, prepare a fire in the fireplace, take the dogs out for a romp around the yard. We eat dinner, share stories about our day, sit on the couch with a cup of tea, some dark chocolate and a cookie. We watch Trollope’s Doctor Thorne on Netflix.

At ten o’clock, I take the dogs out one last time. I notice the brightness of the stars on this new moon night; Orion, reaching across the sky.

About the Author: Laura Foley

Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of six collections. She won the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor; and the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: WTF, Night Ringing, The Glass Tree and Joy Street. The Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared on The Writer’s Almanac, in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.

A certified Yoga Instructor and creative arts facilitator in hospitals, she is the mother of three grown children, grandmother to two granddaughters. She and her partner Clara Gimenez live among the hills of Vermont with their three big dogs.

Follow her on GoodReads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Spaghetti Tuesday by Julie M. Terrill

It must be 6:30 am. My eyes are still closed but I can feel her looking at me.

I know that when I open them Bee’s nose will be millimeters from mine and her chocolate brown eyes will be watching me intently, tail wagging happily. In silence I meet her gaze and smile. She is a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and even with my bedframe on risers we are nose to nose. She reminds me of the lion statues that stand sentinel at the doors of The Chicago Art Institute. She remains still until I say in a barely audible whisper, “you are invited.”

With a bound she joins me for our routine belly rub in silence. It is not that I am grouchy. I just don’t like to talk for a while. My family knows that a smile and a wave is the extent of my communication for the first few minutes of my morning. My mom says this has always been the case.

Bee and I enjoy our quiet snuggle and then I hear it… Rain! I love the rain and don’t want to waste a moment of it. I rush out the back door and dance barefoot in the grass. My flamingo-print pajamas are soaked and I sing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Bee watches and waits on the dry porch.

Provided there is no lightning, it is a pretty safe bet that if it is raining I am outside dancing.

Back inside I heat some water and go dry off. I steep my favorite tea, purchased during a recent trip to Ireland, and make a mental note to order more soon. I am enjoying my Irish Breakfast Tea in the dragonfly mug I received from my friend McGillicuddy. With a nod, I raise my mug to her and send a quick text telling her so.

The rain falls harder and the wind picks up.

After tea, a bagel and some blueberries it is time to get down to the business of Spaghetti Tuesday.

Not long ago I was a photographer and writer paralyzed with fear, unable to muster the courage needed to hit the send button on the growing number of email queries and pitches that were instead relegated to my draft folder. I had quite a collection of essays, photographs and stories that waited unseen.

I was unaware that gathering the basic tools and materials needed to build my dream of a creative life was not enough. I did not yet possess the skills to utilize those tools. Fear of ridicule, rejection and dismissal reinforced my state of inertia. I desperately needed to change and was referred to writer and business coach Christine Mason Miller. Christine re-framed the process for me.

You know how some people throw a piece of spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks and is ready? Christine told me to throw my creative spaghetti out into the universe and see what sticks. Undercooked spaghetti is not a personal rejection; it simply needs a little more time.

Brilliant! Spaghetti Tuesdays are now a part of my weekly schedule.

Today’s spaghetti-throwing menu features half a dozen photo submissions to the stock agency, two article pitches and two applications for Artist In Residency programs. I update my Curriculum Vitae, compose both Artist’s Statements, Project Proposals and upload my portfolio. One of the AIR programs is in Europe and it is likely that I will not hear from them, but that’s okay. It’s just spaghetti.

I laugh as I remember the photo I sent to Christine of the words “Throw Spaghetti” written in purplish lipstick on my shower wall.

The rain stops and dark clouds hang low, heavy with the promise that this lull will not last long. I grab my sneakers, Bee’s leash and harness and we head out the door. Bee, as always, is incredibly curious and I indulge her. We slow to check out every puddle and I rescue each wayward snail lured onto the pavement by the storm. My house is in sight again when the raindrops resume and I, of course, dance. Bee is far less amused and picks up her pace now eager to return home.

We dry off and I wash up before I head to the kitchen to begin chopping fragrant herbs and colorful vegetables. Red roasted peppers, purple onions, deep orange carrots, golden corn kernels and bright plum tomatoes paint a colorful swirling palette in my stock pot. While the soup gently simmers and the glass lid clouds with condensation I work in my office space that sits adjacent to the kitchen. On one desk sits the gourd I have been working on for three weeks. Already etched with the wood burner, carved by hand and lightly sanded, today it is ready to begin staining. Slowly and meticulously I daub the tan stain over the uncarved portion of the gourd’s hard shell until my family returns home. I ladle supper into colorful soup mugs that were a Christmas gift.

I am pleased by the anachronism as I reach for the antique silver soup spoons that I love to use, chuckling at how my kids won’t use them because they were purchased at an antique store and were “used.”

It has been a good day, rainy days and Spaghetti Tuesdays usually are.

About the Author: Julie Terrill

julieterrill_bio

Julie Terrill is a photographer and writer with a passion for travel. For ten years, she’s told stories of empowerment through the lens of her camera in an array of unique landscapes, environments, and projects – from a shelter for children rescued from trafficking in Thailand to Faces of Courage, complimentary portrait sessions she offers to cancer patients in her community. She is a photographer and facilitator at Beautiful You and Soul Restoration retreats.

Connect with her at: JMTerrillImages.com

Typical Tuesday with Theresa Reed

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I never sleep in. I’m up and at ‘em before my husband even begins to stir.  The quiet time in the morning is essential for me. I use this time to get my brain – and day – in order.

I rarely need an alarm because I’ve trained myself to wake up around 6AM.  Once my eyes are open, the day is started.

My day begins with brushing my teeth. I am a compulsive tooth brusher and like to brush ‘em throughout the day. I like the minty-fresh breath thing.  Next up, a big glass of water. Water is important because we become dehydrated in the night.  A fresh glass gets everything in my system refreshed.

Now it’s time for meditation and movement.  I need to move my body in order to get the blood pumping. That might be with weights, yoga, or with energy work.  Whatever I can get in.  A little meditation stills  my mind, which preps me for starting my work.

Every morning, I post a tarot “Card for the Day” post on social media.  Once that’s done, I check my emails and put out any fires there.  Then, I sneak in a little writing. It might be my blog post for the day or the new book I’m working on.  Or maybe something else.  Morning is my favorite time to write because I know I won’t be disturbed.

After a bit, it’s time to get to these cats.  They are bugging me by now.  I feed them and then grab a bite to eat.  I’m not a big breakfast person so it’s usually a bowl of organic oatmeal, Greek yogurt with berries, or a bagel.  Copious amounts of green tea follow.  I’m not a coffee person at all. The only way I can do coffee is in a Frappacino – which, as my son so sagely noted, isn’t really coffee – it’s dessert!

I take my breakfast at my desk and then write some more. If it’s a blogging day, I’ll post that morning and put links on social media. Otherwise, it may be some other project I’m jamming away on.

Then, it’s time to hit the showers!  I love a blistering hot shower.  Like, mega-steaming to the point where my skin is red when I’m done. I know it’s probably bad for my skin but it makes me feel purged and alive!

Once I’m outta there, I love to slather my skin with body lotions and potions before getting dressed and getting my face on for the day. It takes me about five minutes to put on my makeup most days. I always say: if it takes you more than ten minutes to put on your face, you’re wearing too much.  Most days, it’s just a little tinted moisturizer, a swipe of eyeshadow and my signature black eyeliner with a little gloss. I don’t even bother with blush or mascara.  I don’t have time to bother.

I will do a check in with social media and emails – then it’s time to run errands with my husband, who is by now awake but bleary-eyed.  He’s a night person so I have to nag him awake.

Our mornings together are my favorite. We get in a walk and discuss whatever needs discussing.  It might be talking about our day, the latest news, or some project we’re working on.  We’re both workaholics so you can guess that most of our conversations center around that.  Post office, banking, Starbucks, and groceries are next – usually in that order.  I buy fresh groceries almost every day because I cook every night.  It’s my way of winding down plus fresh food is important to me.

Once we’re back home, it’s time to begin client work.

That starts off with email readings.  I used to do a lot of them but they are extremely time consuming so I’ve been limiting myself to a few a day – and no weekends.  I spend about two hours doing these – no more.  Remember, I’ve already been writing for most of the morning.  A few hours of email readings on top of all that and my arthritis is kicking in!  Gotta save those paws so they must be used very mindfully.

Next up, it’s time for readings.  Meaning, phone sessions with clients.  I make sure to have time between each reading to grab tea and get off my chair.  I NEED to move as much as  possible because this is sedentary work and I’m a believer that the chair is the devil.  LOL I find excuses to keep on moving as much as I can. In fact, the tea maker is on the third floor which means I have to take the stairs to refill my mug.  Believe me, I get in plenty of stairs every day.

My office closes promptly at 7PM on Tuesdays but then I’m hitting the computer for #TarotRap, my weekly Twitter chat about tarot.  I’ve only been doing this a few months but it’s a great way to connect with fellow tarot fanatics and talk about all things tarot!  I’ve been having so much fun – and the best part: I’ve even been learning a few new things.  You CAN teach an old tarot dog new tricks!  We’ve got some amazing people showing up every week – both newbies and old pros.  I am not sure how long I will be doing this but for now, it’s been great fun.

Once #TarotRap is finished, it is time to cook a meal, grab a glass of wine and relax with my husband and the cats.  We’ve been watching InkMaster on Tuesdays but often, it’s more likely just quiet time and reading books, side by side, with one of the cats jammed in between us.

I am usually in bed no later than 11PM.  As you can probably guess, when my head hits the pillow, I’m out like a light.

My days are long and challenging but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my work and my life.  It’s engineered to suit my workaholic nature and introvert tendencies.

Blessings,

Theresa

About the Author: Theresa Reed

theresareedTheresa Reed (aka “The Tarot Lady”) has been a full-time Tarot card reader for close to 30 years. She is the author of The Tarot Coloring Book (release date: Nov 1, 2016), an illustrated tour through the world of Tarot with coloring sheets for every card in the deck.

In addition to doing private Tarot readings, teaching Tarot classes, and speaking at Tarot conferences, Theresa also runs a popular website—TheTarotLady.com—where she dishes out advice, inspiration and tips for Tarot lovers of all experience levels.

Follow Theresa on Twitter and Instagram for her daily “Six Second Tarot Reading”—plus photos of her extremely handsome cats, TaoZen and Monkey.

Typical Tuesday with Courtney Weber

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We let the cats sleep with us last night. This morning, I’m reminded of why this is a terrible idea. Before I could hit snooze on my phone’s alarm, one cat whaps it to the floor. The other one cries like she’s starved for weeks. Get up, Primate.  I herd the little monsters into the kitchen and feed them before they wake my husband. I can sleepily slog through my day and no one will get hurt. But my husband is a nurse and if he slogs, people will get hurt.

While the cats are eating and finally quiet, I sip my morning glass of water because I’m a sad person who can no longer handle caffeine and just isn’t wild about herbal teas. I close my eyes and pretend the water tastes and smells and behaves like coffee. It doesn’t. But I’ll survive.

It’s time to write.

I start with a free-write, in a journal. I’ve kept journals since I was six years old. Almost thirty years later, there are boxes of my old journals clogging the closet of our spare bedroom and my parents’ attic. The flow of cursive on the unlined (always unlined, for me) pages is comforting. There are no deadlines with a journal. No expectations of voice, style. The only audience is Future Me.

Today, I journal about stairs and cats. I live in New York City. New York City is made of stairs. Five flights down when I want to leave the building. Two flights up for the subway. Two flights down for work. Stairs get old. I wish there weren’t so many. I also wish the cats loved each other. They’re fighting in the hall as I write this.  

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Even in my journal time, sometimes the “IShould” voices creep in. IShould write about my feelings. IShould write about current events. IShould document everything thing I do and how I do it. I saw a journal on display at the Ellis Island Museum. That could be me someday. If I write a better journal, maybe it will be. But chances are good that Future Me will be the sole reader of the journals. Current Me prefers Past Me’s entries about things like stairs and cats more than Past Me’s feelings and then-current events. I suspect Future Me will feel the same. Back to stairs and cats.

Two journal pages–that’s the warm-up. Then, I dig into my novel, which has been sorely neglected these past few weeks. I’m working on an official second draft. I think about the characters’ motivations, sometimes writing a smaller character’s entire subplot by hand in the notebook I keep by the laptop. Much of that will never get into the main novel, but it helps me all the same.

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Maybe this novel will be SUCH a success that I can publish this side stuff as appendices! Maybe they’ll both get movie deals!!!

As dawn creeps in, I write and edit, the work punctuated by breaks to pluck my eyebrows, get more water, reorganize the cookbooks. If I’m really blocked, I’ll start baking. My writing “process” almost never involves merely sitting and hammering away at the keyboard like an old-timey secretary. The words often come when I step away and do something else. This morning, fortunately, I don’t have to bake anything to get there. I dig into my characters, shaping them and loving them.

Husband gets up and scrolls the news while he eats breakfast. We are the modern couple, both staring into our laptop screens as our morning ritual. As he leaves for work, I remind him that I won’t be home when he gets in this evening.

It’s 7:30 and it’s time to get ready for work. I am reasonably satisfied with the writing, but then I breathe through a moment in which I wonder if I’m wasting my time on the novel. Should I should be writing another metaphysical piece? Should I turn this into a three-part series which is more likely to get a book deal and a movie? I remind myself that I didn’t know if my first two books would ever see life outside of my hard drive and I kept going, anyway. I imagine Future Me telling me just to keep at it. I imagine her finally writing for a living, in a big house in the country, paid for in cash by generous royalties.

It could happen. Anything is possible.

I dress and have breakfast, with bad news on the television for company.

Just before lunch, I steal two chocolates from my co-worker’s stash. She said it was okay last time. I wonder if I should log them in my food log. My nutritionist will probably say I should have stopped at one. But they’re small, so I’ll log both as one. It’s better than logging nothing.

On a work break, I send out an email to my Tarot students, reminding them about class tonight. No one responds. I courtneyweber_tarotforonetry not to take it personally. While I work, ideas for the novel brew. I email myself notes and if I get really crazy, open a Google Doc and write a new scene. Writing seems to be a balance between diligent and work and looking the other way to give story a chance to sneak up on you.

After lunch, I steal two more chocolates but they’re also small, so I can log them as one as well.

I run into that co-worker and confess both chocolate raids. She says it’s fine. She was trying to get rid of them, anyway and suggests I take more. I hold back. Does that make me disciplined? Probably not. But I wish I got credit in the food journal for turning down chocolate.

I arrive at the yoga studio, where I will be teaching the Tarot class. Only two people attend, but that’s fine. Sometimes smaller classes are the most fulfilling. One student said she bought my Tarot book which makes me happy. I ask her if she’d be willing to write an Amazon review–if she liked the book, that is. The studio manager sets out a container of chocolate-covered cashews and I nearly faint. I love those things so much.

I privately draft an apology to the nutritionist and help myself to the delicious treat. I make a mental note to plan a better food day tomorrow.

The three of us pour over our Tarot cards. I help them dig for deeper meanings of what they see. We keep our voices low as a yoga class is going on. Inside the studio room, someone’s Ujjayi breathing sounds like Darth Vader.

I pull three cards to demonstrate a new spread. My question is, “How do I best approach my novel?” I pull three Sword cards, all upside-down. These three Sword cards typically reflect control. In Reverse, I interpret them as “Surrender.”

Surrender to the story. Let it happen on its own terms. It will eventually blossom.

When I get home, Husband is watching Star Trek. I take a peek at what I wrote this morning on the novel. It’s not too bad. It might even be good. But I really have no idea. We cuddle for a while on the couch and then I play a little guitar as I haven’t practiced much this week. We turn in early as we both have another early morning waiting for us.

Someday, writing will be my fulltime job. Until then, I’m thankful for the cranky cats, morning dilly-dallying, Tarot and chocolate. Somehow, those are the little white lines on the writing freeway.

About the Author: Courtney Weber

courtneyweber_bioCourtney Weber is a Priestess, author, Tarot advisor, and activist. She is the author of the newly released Tarot for One: The Art of Reading for Yourself and Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess (Both through Weiser Books). She produced and designed “Tarot of the Boroughs,” a contemporary photographic Tarot deck set in New York City. She blogs at Huffington Post and on her website: www.thecocowitch.com. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and cats.

Typical Tuesday with A.R. Hadley

TypicalTuesday_RoutinesandRituals

I wake up and make my way to the kitchen and dip my finger into a jar of peanut butter.

No. Wait.

That’s what the sexy character does in the book I’m currently reading on a Tuesday morning before the sun and my kids wake up.

Jesse dunks a finger into the Sun-Pat and licks. It may not sound sexy, but trust me — it is.

The story is part of a trilogy (I’m in book three), and I read him before I exit my bed, when I go to bed at night, and sometimes (shh… don’t tell) I sneak away throughout the day, hoping to find fifteen minutes of quiet space away from other humans, tiny humans, so that I may continue to indulge in my own jar of peanut butter — books.

They are yummy.

I am lucky.

Every day is like Tuesday.

I spend each day with books, a notepad, my husband and my two kids.

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Tuesday could be filled with a homeschool group game of friendly kickball or doctor appointments or walking by the river, and they are always filled with math problems and hugs, breakfast and pencil sharpeners.

In the late afternoon I fold five baskets of wrinkled laundry as Turner Classic Movies blares a black and white. I laugh at Spencer Tracy.

His presence looms large, forcing me to acknowledge things I have numbed or forgotten.

It’s on the screen — life — and it’s in the spaces between the dialogue. It’s on the faces and foreheads and lips of the actors. It’s in Tracy’s eyes and frown lines.

It cannot be ignored.

Maybe I’ll cook an actual meat and potato dinner or I’ll buy tacos, and at bed time there will be a struggle and a snuggle.

Mom and dad win. Eventually.

The kids are in bed. I’m writing this essay. My eyes are heavy. I tap away on my iPhone. I wonder if anyone can relate to my words or thoughts, the endless spin cycle my brain functions on. I wonder who might be out there, in the universe, listening to my silent key pounding.

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My husband snores.

I can’t shut off my working mind. I’ll go to sleep soon. Maybe I’ll read about my peanut butter dipping Lord or I’ll dream up my own fictional character. It works, you know — dreaming. It leads to all kinds of possibilities and rainbows and friends and amazing, amazing things.

About the Author: A.R. Hadley

ARHadleyBioA.R. Hadley writes imperfectly perfect sentences by the light of her iPhone.
She loves her husband.
Chocolate.
Her children.
And Cary Grant.
She annoys those darling little children by quoting lines from Back to the Future, but despite her knowledge of eighties and nineties pop culture, she was actually meant to live alongside the lost generation after the Great War and write a mediocre novel while drinking absinthe with Hemingway. Instead, find her sipping sweet tea with extra lemons on her porch as she weaves fictional tales of love and angst amid reality.

A creative writer since elementary school, A.R. all but gave it up after her children were born, devoting herself to the lovely little creatures, forgetting the pleasure and happiness she derived from being imaginative.
No more.
She rediscovered her passion in 2014 and has not stopped since — writing essays, poetry, and fiction. She is currently working on completing several novels as part of a romantic trilogy.

Day or night, words float around inside her mind. She hears dialogue when she awakens from sleep. She is the one who has been awakened. Writing is her oxygen. Cary Grant fans the flames.

Typical Tuesday with Little Fox Tarot

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At around 5am, my Joe kisses me on the head on his way to work. His love is real, as I’m certain I’m snoring when he does this. Generally, I wake up at 6:04am. I’ve got an alarm set with the wake up song “Get By” by Talib Kweli. If you haven’t heard this song – it starts with a sample of Nina Simone from “Sinnerman”. Soon the hook starts,

“This morning, I woke up
Feeling brand new, I jumped up
Feeling my highs and my lows
In my soul and my goals
Just to stop smoking and stop drinking
I’ve been thinking, I’ve got my reasons
Just to get by, just to get by, just to get by, just to get by….”

You can’t listen to this song and not want to do something big.

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I shift into care mode. I take the dogs (Libby and Lucy) outside, and sit with them for a few minutes, just breathing in and out. I quit smoking a year ago, and this is an important part of my Not Smoking. I just breathe. I feed the cats (Daisy, Daisy Adair and Minerva Jane McGonagall Cynova). I hand feed our tortoise, Phil – that’s my meditation time. We’ve spoiled this tortoise to the point that he won’t eat his whole breakfast unless he’s hand fed. If it’s a Kid day (shared custody), I wake up my sweethearts and get them started on their day. If it’s not a Kid Day, I take a shower and putter around for a bit.

img_3111I choose my card of the day.

I’ve been reading tarot cards since 1989, and this is the first year I’ve ever done readings for myself – ever. Weird, yes. But there it is. I got this great journal from Darla Antoine – The Divina Dream Journal for Magical Babes. Its intent is to help you remember your dream, but it also has a section for Daily Divination. I started pulling a card every morning and writing about it.

It’s amazing how calming it is to take ten minutes to figure out what the day could look like. I’ve found that usually I get an important head’s up about how the day is going to unfold. I got the Three of Swords, which is about heartbreak and pain, but wrote that it didn’t feel like I was the target.  A few hours later, my son called to tell me he hurt his ankle and could I please come home? I pulled the Lovers card, and the day turned into a spontaneous, hours long date with my sweetheart.

There is a great deal of validation in seeing even the smallest predictions come true. It adds an element of control to what might otherwise feel like a completely random day.

I drop the kids off at school or head to work. I have a forty minute commute, so I listen to audio books and enjoy my alone time. I usually knock out two or three books a month and it helps me avoid the stabby-inducing road rage.  I get to work around 8am and head home at 5, listening to my book the whole way. I like my job. It’s challenging and interesting and I like my team, so it’s really a blessing to get all three things in one place.

It’s a difficult thing to balance writing and reading cards and working a full-time muggle job.

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I wrote most of my first book last year during lunch breaks and when I had insomnia late at night. I’m editing it now, and I have to schedule time to make writing happen.

I get home from work to find that my partner Joe has picked up the kids from school, cooked dinner, and has taken care of the animals. He’s usually got laundry going, too. I hang out with my family until 8:30 when the kids go to sleep, and then I start doing readings or writing.

kitchen-table-tarot-coverI remind myself that writing is a privilege, not a right, and that for me? I can’t not write. I can’t not read tarot cards.

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was six years old. I told my best friend 20 years ago that my dream in life was to have a book in the Library of Congress.

In April 2017, Kitchen Table Tarot will be published and that bucket list item is checked! It took me four years to complete this book, and the only reason it’s finished is because I decided I wouldn’t push off my dream anymore.

I read or write until 10:30 or so, and then I go to sleep, and am up the next day. I’m tired a lot, and I don’t have as much time to write or work with my cards as I’d like, but I’m still getting things done.

I have a number in my head of how many years it will take me to become a full time author and tarot reader. It’s very clear, and I know that the more I work now, the more likely that goal will become a reality.

About the Author: Melissa Cynova

Melissa CynovaMelissaC_Bio is owner of Little Fox Tarot, and has been reading tarot cards and teaching classes since 1989. She can be found in the St. Louis area, and is available for personal readings, parties and beginner and advanced tarot classes. You can Look for her first book, Kitchen Table Tarot, from Llewellyn Publishing in January 2017.

Melissa lives in St. Louis with her kiddos, her partner, Joe, and two cats, two dogs and her tortoise, Phil.

She is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Go ahead and schedule a reading – she already knows you want one.

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