tarot therapy, part iv

Missed the intro to this series? Read about it here.
This is the full suit of pentacles.


ACE OF PENTACLES:
Jupiter

The Ace of Pentacles represents abundance and opportunity. Jupiter is the planet associated with growth, expansion, and good fortune.


TWO OF PENTACLES:
neptune

The two of pentacles represents balancing multiple priorities and being adaptable.

The planet Neptune represents collective consciousness, idealism, artistry, the destruction of the status quo, and the ocean.

I consider my adaptability to be one of my artistic superpowers and the ebb and flow of the ocean is a perf metaphor for balancing priorities.


THREE OF PENTACLES:
mercury

The three of pentacles represents teamwork, collaboration, and learning.

The planet Mercury represents rationality, communication, and thinking in patterns, all of which are keys to successfully working and learning together.


FOUR OF PENTACLES:
pluto

Upright, the four of pentacles is about scarcity, control, and saving money; reversed, it represents over-spending, and greed. It usually depicts a man that is stuck in place because he is so afraid to lose his money.

Pluto is named after the god of the underworld and is commonly associated with transformation.


FIVE OF PENTACLES:
eris

The five of pentacles represents financial loss, isolation, and worry. Eris, a dwarf planet, is named for the the Greco-Roman goddess of strife and discord.


SIX OF PENTACLES:
makemake

Upright, the six of pentacles represents giving and receiving, generosity, and charity. Reversed, it’s self-care and unpaid debts — it’s basically a Taurus

Makemake is the creator of humanity, which seems like a great example of giving a gift that is used or mis-used.


SEVEN OF PENTACLES:
uranus

The seven of pentacles represents a long-term view, perseverance, and sustainability.

Uranus is visible to the naked eye, but it’s hard to see and moves very slowly, so early observers didn’t know it was a planet. With a commitment to discovery and a flexible mindset, we eventually figured it out.


EIGHT OF PENTACLES:
ceres

The eight of pentacles represents apprenticeship, repetitive tasks, skill development, and mastery.

Ceres is the goddess of motherhood and agriculture, two under-rated crafts that are best learned through experience.


NINE OF PENTACLES:
venus

The nine of pentacles represents abundance, luxury, self-sufficiency, and financial independence. It is usually depicted as a successful woman.

I often find the concept of a “girlboss” to be reductive, so I’m re-envisioning Venus. The planet is named for the roman goddess of love, but she’s also the goddess of prosperity and victory — and I love to see any representation of a woman winning.


TEN OF PENTACLES:
moon

The Ten of pentacles represents wealth, financial security, family, and long-term success.

When the card is reversed, it represents the “dark side of wealth” and who can resist a Pink Floyd reference?


PAGE OF PENTACLES:
mars

The page of pentacles represents manifestation and skill development. Mars is the Roman god of war, but unlike the Greeks, Romans treat their god of war as a god of peace, too — fighting only in the service of balance. For me, the pursuit of knowledge and skills feels a bit like goinp


KNIGHT OF PENTACLES:
earth

The knight of pentacles represents hard work and routine. What could be more pedestrian than the planet you’re on right now? Literally every slog you’ve ever slogged has been on earth.


QUEEN OF PENTACLES:
haumea

The queen of pentacles represents nurturing, practicality, and working parents. Haumea is named after the Hawaiian goddess of fertility and childbirth.


KING OF PENTACLES:
saturn

The king of pentacles represents wealth, business, leadership, discipline, and abundance. Saturn is the Roman god of wealth and agriculture.

tarot therapy, part III

Missed the intro to this series? Read about it here. This is the second half of the suit of wands: seven through king.


SEVEN OF WANDS:
verbena

The seven of wands represents protection and perseverance — usually depicting someone defending their territory. Verbena symbolizes protection, but it also symbolizes healing. It’s a reminder to me that I don’t need to be fighting for things constantly and it’s okay for me to rest.


EIGHT OF WANDS:
icelandic poppy

Upright, the eight of wands is about movement and fast-paced change; reversed it represents delays and frustration.

I picked the Icelandic poppy for this one. To be honest, I was trying to find a place of poppies in this suit and at first I couldn’t. But then I started thinking about WHY I wanted poppies and the answer was 50% because I think they look cool and 50% because I watched the Wizard of Oz every day as a little kid.

To me, the poppies in that movie represent a choice to get stuck or move forward and thats’s the choice that the eight of wands presents you with. As a person with severe anxiety, I often need to remind myself that I get to decide if I want to dwell or move forward.


NINE OF WANDS:
euphorbia

The nine of wands is courage, perseverance, and strong boundaries — which are not my strong suit. This flower is closely related to the poinsettia.

I like the idea of using them to symbolize protecting myself because

a. While they do emit poison, you have to fuck with them to get poisoned and

b. they’re bright red, as a warning, so you’re fucking with them at your own risk.


TEN OF WANDS:
fuschia

The ten of wands represents hard work, burdens, and extra responsibility. It’s often represented by a person who is hunched over, so I picked fuschia, my favorite hanging plant. The flowers bend the stem, without breaking it,.

PAGE OF WANDS:
flowering apricot

The page of wands represents ideas, inspiration, potential, and a free spirit.

These are apricot flowers, which grow on an (imo) underrated flowering tree. I think they’re weird and beautiful and when I think about openness and creative inspiration, I think weird and beautiful


KNIGHT OF WANDS:
firecracker plant

The knight of wands is energy, passion, and adventure. I was about to tell you that I picked the firecracker plant because it’s the same color as adventures firecracker plant because it’s the same color as adventures, but I’m realizing that assigning colors to concepts isn’t a thing everyone does.

I think these are my adventure colors because I am obsessed with volcanos and the natural, neon, day-glo color of lava.


QUEEN OF WANDS:
dahlia

The queen of wands represents courage, confidence, independence, and determination. I picked dahlias.

There are a bunch of reasons they’re. a good match for this card: there are hundreds of kinds of dahlias; I love drawing them; I associate reds and purples with courage.

The reason I picked them, tho, is that I wanted to put them here and I felt like not-second-guessing-myself was the energy I wanted to give this card.

KING OF WANDS:
lotus

The king of wands represents vision, leadership, and entrepreneurship. For me, those concepts are tied into my identity — I like that my first impulse in the hardest times is to dream a big dream and then make it come true. I picked the lotus because it represents rebirth and enlightenment, and each time I build something for myself in a hard moment, I’m a step closer to whatever comes next.

how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb weed

I am an enthusiastic consumer of marijuana. This has been true since the first time someone smoked me up when I was 19.

For the four years I spent dating the first man that ever got me high, I mostly smoked with him. I thought about weed like I thought about drinking. It was a fun weekend activity that gave me a break from my own brain.

At the time, my brain was being woefully under-medicated for a disorder with which I hadn’t yet been diagnosed, so getting drunk or high was a break from my racing thoughts. An opportunity to just exist in my body. A chance to be with my boyfriend without seriously considering the ways in which he was mistreating me.

As a grown-ass person and diagnosed anxious-American, I feel so much warmth and pity towards the dumb little baby I was in my late teens and early twenties. I spent that whole period of my life with a thousand concerns that all felt equally urgent and relevant. It made it impossible for me to see the difference between freaking out because my weird brain convinced me that I had to listen to the same song on repeat or I would ruin opening night and freaking out because my weird (but perceptive) brain thought my boyfriend was definitely cheating again and gaslighting me about it.


So here we are, more than a decade later, with a firm grasp of my OCD/General Anxiety, and heavy-duty meds, and a bunch of weed. In addition to traditional medical intervention, I’ve acquired intention behind my marijuana consumption that wasn’t there when I was a confused teen. I get high when I get too anxious — to help stave off panic attacks. I get high when my mystery hives are super bad — to help me sleep. I get high when I want to make something and I’m feeling super blocked — to help get past my internalized imposter syndrome.

I’m a little high right now, for all three of those reasons, actually.


My favorite vacation from my own brain is to have a weed gummy and lie in the dark listening to Marconi Union’s album Weightless, which was neuroscientifically designed to help you chill tf out. It gets me a kind of high that borders on tripping — and that’s the space that feels safest for my anxious mind to think scary thoughts. I can dip into scary feelings or memories and then dip back out. I guess I should explain that part of my OCD is: once I start a train of thought, I feel obligated to finish it. My brain can convince me that finishing the thought might keep the thought from coming true, or make it more likely to come true, or keep me from getting heartburn, or keep me from spontaneously combusting, depending on which of those outcomes I’m most interested in at the moment. But when I’m high, I’m more flexible. I can opt out of such prompts as “think of the saddest thing you can imagine or you’ll never feel happy again.”

Much like most living things, I am more inclined to sit still and take stock of my surroundings if I don’t feel trapped. So the unproductive thoughts I fight so hard against during the day — did my ex-girlfriend love me? — are stripped of their potency and rendered, well, helpful: what have I learned about how I want to be loved?

It feels like deciding to dip my toe in a swimming pool instead of deciding to dip my toe in a vat of acid. I can pull my toe back out of a pool and it’s not hurt, so there’s no reason for me to be mad at myself for trying in the first place. And if I do that enough times, maybe I can dip my whole foot in — did deeper. Or maybe my foot is still in when I wake up and I learn the traumas and anxieties I let myself explore are actually are an acid that can be neutralized.


It’s been a real gift to me and my anxiety to see marijuana become socially acceptable as a therapeutic resource. I recognize how much privilege is inherent in that statement. I can speak honestly and openly about weed because I’m white, and I am my own boss, and I work in a creative industry, and I have parents that could have afford to help me out if I’d gotten arrested, and no one cares that much about searching my bag under most circumstances. In recognition of the injustice that Black folks have experienced as a result of the War on Drugs and our carceral state, I’ve donated to The Last Prisoner Project, which is working to legalize marijuana federally, get folks out of jail, and get their records expunged. I’m also a dues-paying, card-carrying member of the Democratic Socialist of America, which is committed to police abolition and ending the carceral state.

tarot therapy, part II

Missed the intro to this series? Read about it here. This is the first half of the suit of wands: ace through six.


ACE OF WANDS:
lupinus

The ace of wands card is for new beginnings rooted in creativity or innovation. I picked a flower that stood tall and strong, that represented originality, and that was in a color palette that makes me feel inspired. 


TWO OF WANDS:
blue thistle

The two of wands card represents discovery and pushing past your comfort zone into something wonderful.

I first saw blue thistles in a grocery store. My girlfriend had just started a new job and I wanted to find a way to celebrate her and I saw a bouquet with these flowers I’d never seen before.

I looked at them and I thought, “these are weird and interesting and beautiful and I love them — and that’s how I feel about her.” Now, did that girl break the fuck up with me? Absolutely, she did.

But I still feel that way about the flowers, I still want to feel that way about my next relationship, and I still feel like something good is on the other side of my next discovery.


THREE OF WANDS:
lavender

The three of wands represents confidence, foresight, and being on the precipice of expansion.

I chose to represent this with lavender, which is a calming plant. I like the idea of feeling relaxed and confident in the face of forward progress. You see all that’s coming, but you know you can handle it.


FOUR OF WANDS:
marigolds

The four of wands card represents homecoming, safety, and security. I wanted to give myself a flexible definition of what it means to be safe at home because my house is my home, but so are my friends, and weeknight football practice, and drawing, and the dog. So I picked marigolds because they can thrive in almost any condition and can build a home wherever they land.


FIVE OF WANDS:
porcelain berries

The Five of Wands represents competition. I picked an invasive plant that I think is gorgeous — a reminder that asserting myself is a balancing act between ensuring my own survival and impacting someone else’s lived experience.


SIX OF WANDS:
anemones

The six of wands represents victory, progress, and self-confidence, so I pieced anemones — they’re my favorite flower to draw, so it feels like a celebration of my growth and success to put it on this card.

tarot therapy, part I

I’m in the process of designing a full tarot deck for myself. The combo of quarantine and 6+ weeks of unexplained hives has made me anxious and frustrated and I’ve been itching — pun intended —for a creative project and a lens through which to process my feelings.

Rather than picking a really specific overarching theme for the deck, it simply features the things that make me feel most connected to the broader universe. The plan for the Minor Arcana is as follows:

  • WANDS: flowers and blooming plants
  • CUPS: potted cacti and succulents
  • PENTACLES: celestial bodies
  • SWORDS: crystals

Each Major Arcana card will be rendered with one of each element to represent its position in the fool’s journey.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: 2019 in Review

decorative: logo

This year isn’t 100% over, but it’s getting there and I’m starting my 2020 planning, so I wanted to share some milestones and talk about my goals for 2020.

1. I started (and will complete) a certificate in User Experience Design

This degree has really helped me think about how to get my personal website in order and how to better serve clients. It’s my hope that the clout behind the program I completed will make me a more attractive candidate to customers seeking web design and re-design.

2020 Goal: Book three clients for entirely new web design work or full rebrands.

Continue reading BEHIND-THE-SCENES: 2019 in Review

HOW-TO: employing plain language as a UX professional AND as a small business owner

I read a great piece on Medium by Rachael Renk called Using Plain Language in UX Writing. In it, she makes a pitch for using plain English in UX work and making strong writing skills a priority for UX designers.

The primary example she gives is microcopy on a website you’re building — and that’s hugely important; it can make or break whether someone interact with the content. But it also got me thinking about all of the other ways that I apply that same spirit of saying exactly what I mean across my business — from those UX components to correspondence with design clients to selling retail products.

Continue reading HOW-TO: employing plain language as a UX professional AND as a small business owner

BEHIND THE SCENES: Activist Commission for Pride

Quick content warning: this post touches on homophobia and includes images of some homophobic slurs.

Scott Whalen and I went to college together, so when he asked me – over cocktails and Ru Paul’s Drag Race – about an idea he had for some shirts, I was totally game.

The idea was to reclaim slurs that had been used against him and other queer folks in a series of t-shirts. He told me that, as a cis white dude, he felt he had the privilege to make the more provocative statements and, thus, a responsibility.

During our initial concept conversation, we discussed a simple sans serif block letter, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how we might better convey the idea that these were being employed by someone at Scott, not just employed by Scott. He asked for something that was bold and aggressive, and something active vs passive.

I came back to him with a few ideas: including a westboro baptist sign feel, a scrawl on a locker, or a social media platform. I wanted it to be clear that the words had been employed at Scott, not by Scott.

Continue reading BEHIND THE SCENES: Activist Commission for Pride

HOW-TO: Brainstorm the Perfect Custom Gift

Something I’ve really loved working on for the last few months is custom gifts. I’ve done a couple for other folks to give, but I’ve also made quite a few super different gifts that I got to give myself! When your options aren’t limited to stuff someone’s already manufactured, thinking up gifts is kind of fun. So I wanted to share my process with you. My questions and tips will help, whether you’re making something yourself, commissioning an artist, or just coming up with some new google terms to search.

The secret to giving a good gift is to ask yourself a few questions about your giftee — and then extrapolate. The first thing I think of is always relevant but boring, but a creative pivot will take you from a serviceable gift to a really thoughtful one.

Continue reading HOW-TO: Brainstorm the Perfect Custom Gift