An Elegy in Tarot.

Right after Sam and I quit our careers in digital marketing in April, we decided the first order of business needed to be a vision-quest walkabout in Joshua Tree. Four days spent in the desert at a remote Airbnb away from the hustle of Los Angeles, where we could cover the walls in giant sticky sheets, arm ourselves with Sharpies and a few spliffs…and just get REAL with each other. What did we want our new self-care business to be? Who did we want to make this for? What did we want our new lives to look like? What are our goals…our dreams…our intentions?

And of course, what better ceremony to officially kick off our new partnership than a joint tarot card reading.

Meeting Caris, aka @luminous_palm .

I had met Caris the previous November when my husband Adam and I had escaped to Joshua Tree for a weekend while I was in the midst of my soul-searching deliberation on whether or not I should quit my job to build this brand. Now, this was the first “true” tarot reading I had ever had in my life, not counting the ones done with friends who happened to have a deck of cards. I found her through a long windy Instagram rabbit hole I fell through one day and it turned out that she conveniently made house calls anywhere in Joshua Tree. I thought to myself, this could be interesting to do with Adam…something that might strengthen our bond. Truthfully, I didn’t take it very seriously and didn’t think the reading would turn into the wake-up call that I needed to help me make the decision about my career and starting this new business.

Caris is not a psychic, but she is incredibly intuitive, which is why I believe she is such a gifted tarot reader. I took two things away from that first reading with her:

  1. I need to spend more time in nature. This is something I feel a deeper need for than the average human. I must make this a priority in my life as it will help me deal with my stress levels.
  2. I will be ok…because I already know what I need to do.

She helped me tap into my inner compass that day through her explanation of the cards and their positions. Never once did she tell me what I needed to do. Rather, she helped me draw the answers out of myself simply by talking about the cards. I began to see the value in tarot that day, and I attribute that all to Caris.

Rainbows and New Beginnings.

So fast-forward back to May 2018 — Sam and I agreed to do a joint reading with Caris when we were in Joshua Tree. This was the start of our new journey together and though we had spent loads of time working together at the marketing agency, we were really just starting to get to know each other on a more personal level. It was time to be vulnerable with each other – something that both of us struggled with in our lives. But I knew that in order for this partnership to work, especially for the empathetic brand that we wanted to create, we would need to work through the layers and get down to that open, exposed and scary deep level with each other. And I knew it was going to take time to develop that trust, but this reading was a good first step for us.

My reading was full of rainbows, all positively affirming that the difficult road I had been on towards making a decision about leaving my career was paying off— I had successfully come through to the other side!

But now came the new challenge. I had the opportunity to build a life that serves me in ways that my career didn’t. I can find true fulfillment. I can prioritize my friends and family, all the things that are important in my life that I never had time for. I can have a reason to travel more and build that into my new reality. I can literally create my world the way I want it. I just need to be mindful of that as I approach my new business.

My one big watch-out was that I needed to find a way to surrender my stress about financial stability so that the decisions I was making with the business would be from a pure and positive place, born of a genuine desire to help women. I needed to trust that the Universe would provide in time and that I would be ok. Much easier said than done. But in the last three months, I have learned to let go of that worry and am trusting that––with all our good intentions and positive energy and experience driving this effort––if this is meant to be, it will truly be.

A Lesson in Pain and Vulnerability.

About two weeks ago in the last week of August, Sam and I decided it was time for another reading with Caris. We were now four months in, with every week feeling like a month with how much we were accomplishing and learning. It was time to stop and reflect. And luckily for us, Caris had just moved to Highland Park in Los Angeles, a short 15 minute drive from the Arts District DTLA where I live.

This time, we both told Caris that we wanted the reading to reflect our lives as a whole, and not just around Daughters. As we have been building our business these past four months, it’s become obvious that this process has also been a parallel internal journey of healing, and will continue to be for both for us. We’ve been learning how to be honest with ourselves and how to face the issues from our pasts that have been buried deep inside and carried in our bodies for years and years. (Full disclosure: each of our personal stories on our “About” section of our site has been rewritten at least five times, with each revision peeling back another layer and getting more vulnerable and honest. It’s been a journey.)

My reading with Caris revealed to me that I had a lot of pain to release from my past. My dad passed away when I was 15, and what the cards and the recent reiki session I had experienced at FLOW were telling me was that I had not dealt with it properly yet. Memories from October 1992 came flooding back to me like short snippets of video that I was suddenly rewatching in my head.

Memory #1: In the hospital watching the doctors rushing around trying to resuscitate my dad as he flatlines. A selfish random thought I had — “He’s not going to be here to help you with your science fair projects anymore. You need to learn to do them on your own. You have to be independent.”

Memory #2: Riding in an elevator in Taiwan with my mom around 5pm that evening after losing my father. Her grabbing me and crying and kissing my head and saying, “Everything is going to be different now.” This was the only emotional moment my mom and I shared during this time.

Memory #3: Another random thought I had — “You have to be the ‘man of the house’ now since you’re the oldest. You need to take care of your mom and your little brother. You need to be strong and resilient for them. Don’t be emotional.”

Memory #4: Walking back into school the next Monday after flying back from Taiwan. Seeing my friend Leech nervously walking towards me and quickly uttering, “I’m sorry…” then rushing off. Amused by his reaction to me, I make a mental note that I need to smile and do and say whatever I can to make sure no one feels awkward around me. I need to be fine. I AM fine.

Memory #5: After my English class. Ms. Connor (one of my favorite high school teachers) grabbing me and shaking me gently, concerned that I wasn’t showing any emotion or outwardly grieving, and that I had returned to school so soon. Telling me I needed to let this out, to deal with it, or else it will have serious repercussions later in life.

This was the card Caris explained that indicated I was grieving and will be going through an emotional month.

I’m amazed at how these lessons reveal themselves when you need to learn them the most. I’m realizing that for the last almost 30 years, I have built up a wall of self-reliance around myself, to protect from the pain of losing people in my life that I depend on. My husband repeatedly has to remind me that it’s ok for me to let him do things for me, that I don’t need to do everything myself…that I can lean on him.

I have also become really good at escaping pain by throwing myself into work, which has been reinforced by a successful career that ultimately led me to an executive creative director role. And that lethal combination of being a successful, self-reliant workaholic made delegating a challenge for me. I was constantly overworked and burned myself out on every project and campaign I lead.

I’m also realizing that these lessons are coming up for me now to teach me that these harmful behaviors will inevitably kill my partnerships — both in life and in business. As Caris continued to explain the cards in this reading, she told me I was entering a time of grieving, that this month was going to be extremely emotional for me. And that I needed to just let it happen. For once in my life, not to run away from the pain. She told me that I was falling back into the old systems that I have been working to break away from because it’s familiar to me. But I needed to heed my own wisdom and promise for Daughters and prioritize my own needs. I was slipping into my comfortable workaholic mode again and I needed to allow myself to grieve, to rest.

Vulnerability, empathy and pain have a close relationship to each other. Pain causes us to shut ourselves away, to put up the walls and not be vulnerable for fear of the hurt. But if we’re brave, if we open ourselves up, if we face the pain and stop running away from it, then we can generate real connection and empathy. You can’t have empathy without embracing your imperfections and mistakes and pain. It’s the acknowledgement of these not-so-great moments that allow us to empathize, connect and learn from our collective experiences. Pain is our greatest teacher.

For years, I’ve been proud to be self-reliant and “strong” on the outside. I’m now learning what real strength is. It’s letting people see you as you truly are. It’s allowing yourself to depend on others and have them depend on you. It’s trust and faith in people. It’s showing your real feelings and not bottling them up. It’s being raw. It’s facing your pain and not trying to numb it with work or booze or any other distraction.

It’s been almost 30 years since my dad died, and I’m just now accepting my grief and the pain that comes with it. But I am starting to see the beauty in that pain and all its lessons. I’m seeing the rainbows and the new beginnings. But I am most grateful to see the opportunity to connect with others through my acceptance of this pain. And that brings me joy and the peace I have been missing all this time.

An Elegy in Tarot. was originally published in we are all daughters. on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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