So this post isn't about Tarot. This is all about business BABY (I liked saying that wayyyy too much)! Anyway, months ago, I saw this awesome Kickstarter campaign for a book called "This Year Will Be Different". The book was made up of interviews with female entrepreneurs and female freelancers. Now being a female entrepreneur my eyes lit up and I was all about supporting this book. Once I got it, I literally could not put it down. Reading about all the differences between these awesome woman was completely and totally inspiring. The summary on the back says:
"This Year Will Be Different is a book for and about entrepreneurial woman; a practical guide everyone who wants to start their own business or become a freelancer. It's filled with tips, tricks, stories and interviews with woman who are now making money as bloggers, designers, consultants, photographers and many more great professions within the creative industries."- This Year Will Be Different
If you haven't picked up this book, and your a girl who is killing it (or about to be) in the business game, PICK THIS UP.
Why I like it: In this book, Ms. Kanokova goes through the process of trying to become a professional freelancer step by step. Each chapter is informative and includes interviews the freelancers and business owners. The interviews talk about issues such as "How to build a financial buffer", "going social", "work with awesome people" and so on. Another thing I love about this book is that the women here are not all millionaires. This is not a book about how to "become rich off your blog in in 30 days". If your looking for that, you won't find it here. These woman are talking about their struggles and the reality of having a small business and/or being a freelancer. Another thing I enjoyed is that these woman are from around the world. It honestly does get boring to only hear about the American perspective, and these woman bring a lot of awesome flavor into the mix. Hearing stories about woman everywhere making their dreams come true is definitely inspiring.
What was my favorite part: Honestly, I didn't have a favorite part because all of it was good. It was one of those books that was very well put together and I enjoyed every part of it. Oh wait! I forgot that with each interview includes a super cool drawing of the person being interviewed! It is so cool!
Where can I learn more and where can I get it?: Try Amazon and to learn more about the book visit www.thisyearwillbedifferent.com.
I was lucky enough to happen upon the Vudu tarot in one of the many tarot facebook groups. As a tarot reader of color, it can be hard to even find other readers of color, let alone decks (not that is necessary because in my opinion tarot and most divination systems transcend cultural boundaries, but its still nice to read cards with faces that look like yours and reflect stories and characters you understand). So to see someone creating cards that uses mythology that spreads across different parts of Africa and the African Diaspora as well as including some Indian culture (another really awesome thing because many West Indian people have are ethnically Indian and have Indian ancestors!). I also was really attracted to the way that this mythological figures looked like heroic comic book characters. Without looking too goofy or silly, they still look very cool and modern. So without further ado, let's get to the actual interview!
Monroe Rodriguez Singh is an exhibited artist, designer, developer, and professional tarot reader. For more than 6 years, he has been a professional Tarot Reader and a member of American Tarot Association and Tarosophy Tarot Association. When he indulged in Afro-Caribbean traditions 5 years ago, he knew he wanted to create a deck himself that was rich, authentic, and unique. Stemming from his passion for tarot card reading and illustrative designing, he took inspiration from his multicultural background and knowledge about Afro-Caribbean culture to create a set of tarot cards that richly illustrate African/Caribbean culture and references.
Monroe Rodriguez got his first-ever tarot deck when he was 11 years old and today, he has more than 50 tarot decks. He has always been passionate about tarot cards and reading, and has been studying comparative religion and mythologies since he was 8. This is his first time creating, illustrating, and self-publishing a tarot deck and he endeavored endlessly to create the perfect deck for his audience. After long hours and days of work, Monroe has finished the illustration and design of his tarot deck, ready to print.
(The questions I asked are in black and underlined!)
How did you get started with Tarot?
I was drawn to tarot when I was a child because of the artwork. I had always enjoyed puzzles and card games. The occult part of it also appealed to me as well. My first deck was the dragon tarot. Great images but a little hard to read for a beginner so I read what I could find relating to tarot in books from the library.
Has your own spiritual path helped and influenced your tarot practice at all?
My spiritual path has not been a traditional one. I grew up with a primarily Baptist Protestant upbringing combined with teachings from Southern, Latino and Indigenous practices. My parents were more spiritual than religious so I hardly went to church and I was not baptized until adulthood. There was a lot of self-study, spiritual conversations with my grandmother, and reading about other religions/mythologies from around the world. To the outside world we were normal Christians but occult topics were something that was commonly talked about at the dinner table and family gatherings.
In college, I studied and participated in many different spiritual institutions from Catholicism to Buddhism to Unitarian Universalism and Wicca. I started to do tarot readings for friends in college and I didn’t really put much faith in it. I had only read for my family and myself at that point. In a short time, I gained a little bit of a reputation in the dorms for my reading even being called a “witch” in a derogatory manner.
After college, I started reading as a professional psychic with and without tarot cards. However, I preferred to use tarot cards because I could use the imagery in the cards to help the client understand what I was trying to convey even though I often said things that were not in the cards at all. I have never read at a shop before, but I have read in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Lou Free’s Psychic Showcase in Seattle, the Psychic Spectrum and on various shows on blogtalkradio. I believe I learned the most about reading styles by being on a panel of other readers giving readings to a live audience. Not only did I get to see different styles, but also in that environment, it’s very real. You can’t fake it, you either got it or you don’t.
I took a short departure from Tarot when I was initiated in African Diasporic Traditions because they each have their own training, divination systems and rituals but nevertheless I would still collect tarot decks. I would also read for people with tarot when I did not have the materials or space to read traditionally.
Have you at all found it hard to relate to certain tarot decks being a person of color?
Tarot comes in all types of flavors from classic to freaky. There is a wide range of themes but when it comes to cultural diversity, it can be challenging. I tend to purchase decks that are visually appealing in terms of colors, artwork and composition. I do not look for people of color necessarily but when I find one of the few that are marketed to people of color I buy them and check them out. My main problem with a lot of the “cultural decks”, is that they are often not from the culture they are portraying and a lot of times not even from the same country. In addition, with some decks, I feel like the cultures depicted in some decks are treated in the same fashion as creators make fantasy themed decks like vampires, faeries etc. I mean these are real traditions and real people, do the research. I have bought some great decks and been offended by a card or two in the deck and it ruined it for me. I basically took the cards I liked, used them as altarpieces and threw the rest out.
What inspired you to create the Vudu tarot?
Several things inspired me to create the Vudu tarot:
I think that all mythologies are interesting. Each culture has a plethora of beautiful stories that explain the human condition and how we navigate within the spiritual and material worlds. I focused more on Afro-Caribbean spirits because I say a need and there are plenty of Greek/Roman, Celtic mythology tarot and oracle decks out in the market. There is a huge pantheon of spirits but usually it gets marginalized into the same 7-12. I wanted to create a deck with 79 different characters all based on Haitian/Dominican Vodou without taking spirits from other traditions or repeating myself. No deck has done that until Vudu Tarot.
In terms of Indian Mythology, that was sparked by heritage and spirituality. My father is “Indian” as in Indigenous, Indian, and Caribbean. It was something I always wanted to explore and finally did through art. Spiritually, I am also an Amritdhari (Baptized) Sikh and Sikhism has made an impact on me in terms of how I see the world, God, and all the other spirits under him/her.
How did you relate these characters to the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot characters?
The Spirits in African Diasporic Traditions are full of rich stories and they complement the archetypes of the RWS Tarot. The major arcana are always the easiest. For example, the Death Card is Baron Del Cementerio, the Baron of the Cementery who leads the Guede and the Dead. His skull face and black top hat and cane with tombstone veves provide some of the imagery of the quintessential black armored skeleton rider on the pale horse in the Rider Waite Death card.
The Aces of their respective suits are all Legba (gatekeeper) spirits for the nacions (nations)/divisions. The Suits are aligned to their elemental equivalents while maintaining the same names except for pentacles which is named “Skulls” in the Vudu Tarot. The Skulls suit are characters from the Guede and Baron Division. The Wands have hot Petro and Kongo Spirits. The Cups have the cooler Rada and Agua Dulce (India) Divisions. Finally, the Swords have the armored and battle ready warriors of the Nago or Ogou Division who have Yoruba influences so you will see some familiar Orisha names in this suit.
I want to thank Monroe for letting me interview him and get some insight into his world and his deck! If you want to check out the Kickstarter campaign for this awesome deck, click here! And to check out the site, click here!
So as I have mentioned before, I'm a registered nurse here in the USA. All through nursing school, my professors drilled into us something called the nursing process. NursingWorld.com describes the nursing process as "the essential core of practice for the registered nurse to deliver holistic, patient-focused care". This means this process enables the nurse to look at the whole patient instead of just focusing on one problem. I go to thinking, this is precisely the way a business plan and goals for your business should be made! It makes perfect sense! Let me break it down for you cool cats:
First Step: Assessment.
Nursing Logic: This is the step where you collect information about your patient. You look, listen, feel, and talk to the patient to see what needs to be addressed.
Business Logic: You take a long hard look at your business. Where is it lacking? Where are you doing too much? What could you be doing better? Look at the numbers (income, time management, expenses) and other things that factor in to your success. All you need to do is look for now.
Second Step: Diagnosis.
Nursing Logic: This is where we take all the objective data and decide what the problem is.
Business Logic: How can you better reach your business goals? Is the problem you spend too much on advertising that isn't giving you back the money that you thought it would? Is the rent on the space too much? Do you need to do more networking? After looking at the data, make some conclusions on what is really going on in your business and write down areas where you could improve.
Third Step: Planning.
Nursing Logic: By looking at the diagnosis, from here we can make long and short term goals for our patients.
Business Logic: This is when you start forming goals for your business for the next year. Maybe you need to make some changes so that you can be more efficient, or to save money. Maybe you need a better way to connect with your customers. Forming solid long term and short term goals is the best thing to help your business progress and a way to help you stay on track. Why do I say long term and short term? Because I have notices that many people have super fantastical amazing goals, which is awesome and you should, but you also need a road map to get there. That is where your short term goals come in.
Fourth Step: Implementation
Nursing Logic: This is where we put those treatment options in motion for the patient.
Business Logic: Because you are just now making these goals, you want to look at how you can implement these changes starting now or starting when your business plan is supposed to start. I'll use the example of advertising. Do you spend way too much on advertising and your not seeing a profit return? Maybe you can cancel some of those advertising subscriptions and spend more time upping your social media game! And that is something you can start doing now.
Fifth Step: Evaulation
Nursing Logic: This is where you look at everything that was done and see how effective it was. If it didn't work, time to go back to the assessment stage and start all over again.
Business Logic: Now you won't always be able to do this immediately. It takes time to see if something new you have put into place is actually taking working or not. But look ahead, this can be a valuable step when making goal. Look at your goals and think going forward: is this sustainable? Is this something that is doable? And if you realize your goals aren't working for you, guess what? You can go back to assessment and start all over again!
So this is how a bit of nursing knowledge can help us all! How is your business planning going? What are some of your goals for 2016? Let me know!
I'm about to get personal, so stay with me.
So about a month and a half ago, I had a complete meltdown. Like, it was bad. I remember coming home from my full-time job and just laying in bed hysterically crying saying I couldn't take it anymore. I'm going to be honest. I pride myself on having my shit together. I am the one in my family who everyone comes to, the one my friends come to for advice, and in most crises, the who always has it under control.
And understand, right now I have a lot to keep track of. I have a full-time nursing job, a business that I work on at least 30 hours a week, a new budding crafting venture, and I take college classes to finish my bachelor's degree (I will be done in June 2016, thank God). So, I'm a busy girl.
Compounded with things going on in my personal life, I started to break apart. I was constantly anxious, lashing out at the people I love the most, distancing myself from my friends, and finding myself waking up angry for no reason. I just was losing it.... and fast.
And as for my business, I was letting it fall by the wayside. Not emailing people back. Not keeping up with appointments. Not answering the phone. Not being to write blog posts that I was passionate about.
Just being a general mess. And my clients were suffering because of it.
I also realized something during this time. I GOT MYSELF INTO THIS. I was going out of my way to make my customers happy, and in the process hurting myself. Giving free services, letting people go over their paid time CONSTANTLY, and other things that were slowing putting me in a bad position.
I have now crawled from out of my hole which was my funk and I can breathe once again. I also can reflect and tell you guys, how to not fall into a similar trap.
1. Be Firm- I have a bleeding heart when it comes to most people. I always want to help, that's why I became a nurse and that is why I'm a tarot card reader. As a business owner, you really do want to do that. I want clients to know I am here for them and I want to help in anyway I can. But be firm. You can't worry your whole life about making others happy when you making yourself crazy. When you say, "this is the rule", make sure it is. Don't constantly bend because you feel bad.
2. Do things you like. - Do things you like. Go to your favorite restaurant, color, take long walks, see good friends, have a Netflix marathon day. Take time for your self. Do what makes you really happy inside, something that has nothing to do with your business. My thing: I love flamenco dancing. When I dance, all I'm thinking about is my posture, the way my arms look, the singer's voice, the way my body feels... all this has nothing to with my business. And that's why I need it.
3. Get help. Seriously. If your business is becoming too big for you, it's ok to ask for help. Even simply automating certain systems can take a mountain of weight off your shoulders. And if need be, hire a living breathing person. That is a-ok and will help you be more organized!
4. Take care of your body. - Good ol' health advice. Exercise, eat right, exercise. It will help maintain your sanity. I promise.
5. Stick to the plan.- I'm a Gemini. I can't get through the day without having 17 different ideas for my business. It's great but it's also annoying. I want to do everything all the time. And that is exactly what I tried to do. After I got out of my funk, I also realized how far I had deviated from my business plan for 2015. But you might be saying, "But isn't being creative good?!" Of course it is! And you don't have to follow your business plan to a T all the time, but you should try and at least stay on the same general path. But you can't do everything. I wasn't able to keep the pace and bring in a new product, class or service I want to offer. Makes no sense. So trying your best to keep things close to your business plan, and if you want to introduce something new, plan it well.
6. Long term goals are great, but short term goals keep you in line.- As business owners, we all have goals. How many customers we have a month, how many email subscribers we want to gain, how much money we want to make and so on. That is great and you should always have something to work towards. But your lofty, large long term goals may seem like they are far away and impossible to reach, which might make you feel discouraged.
Business burnout can happen to anyone. But it don't let you defeat you! It is something that you can experience and move forward from! I have faith in you and you will get through this! Do you have any stories about business burnout? Any more recommendations? Let me know!
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