Category: writing

Empress is About Bounty Today

The Empress from the Practical Tarot by IzoldaT

Today’s Practical Tarot card is the Empress. Think abundance, bounty, fertile creativity, and joy. You can choose your perspective towards those today.

Here’s an example from my own life. Rich and I are moving to a new neighborhood at the end of May. The day we’re supposed to move is either Memorial Day or the day after memorial day. If we can’t get into our new apartment until June 1, everything gets kerfuffled because will have nowhere to take our stuff for that weird 24-hour period.

So, I’m choosing to remain in that hopeful, abundant, bountiful place. We will move correctly and properly into our new place and will be easy, simple, and full of bounty and goodness. It will slide into us living in a lush, lovely, and fab new place where we can make our home for the next few years.

That’s how the Empress works. And that’s how storytelling in tarot works too. You intuit the story of your life and make it so.

It still boggles me that I created this deck. I have 35+ years professional reading experience, and over the years I’ve realized the tarot is the perfect storytelling tool. You have 78 possible stories. Each them is a universal life lesson. When you read the cards, you tell those stories. And I love hearing from people who’ve gotten their own copies who say they can see the stories in the deck as well.

The Practical Tarot – The Moon

If you want to be happy, get OK with uncertainty. The things you can control, you will control. The things you can’t control, you don’t have any say over. And sometimes the things you think you can control end up spinning way out of control anyway. It’s not about removing stress because there will always be stress. It’s about responding to it in a way that keeps you peaceful in the moonlight.

The Surprising Truth About Inclusion in Tarot Decks

One of the things I really wanted to do as I was creating this deck is to make it inclusive. Tarot decks are usually not inclusive. Some of the more modern or specialty decks have embraced inclusion, but many more traditional decks don’t default to male-oriented, heterosexual imagery and white skin.

I wanted to do something different. Many of the cards in my new deck, the Practical Tarot, lend themselves to reimagining. This is one of them. For example, the Sun usually has a little blonde-haired blue eyed child riding a horse. One, I didn’t want anyone to be riding a horse. And two, I wanted to be sure that we had children who weren’t just little tiny blonde babies on the card. That’s the cool thing about being the artist. You get to do what you think is right.

The Pages in the deck gave me another opportunity to be inclusive. A lot of other decks give you court cards of white people with different-colored hair.
The Practical Tarot takes many other types of people into account and includes them.

First, usually, there is only one person on the Page card. Granted, the person looks a bit androgynous in some decks. But often you can ascribe male as the identifier.

So, I added two people in each card. They can be male (or male-identifying) or female (or female-identifying). I couldn’t figure out how to insert gender-fluid or non-binary folks because I couldn’t find depictions that would convey those notions in addition to the people already on those cards.
But I could have additional hues of skin, and I did.

It’s so fascinating to me now to see the difference between my old deck and its default to white skin and my deck with its rainbow.

I hope that more people will be able to see themselves reflected in the cards. As a good friend of mine put it to me recently when we were talking about why she moved to Philly from a less diverse place. “It was really great to walk around and see people who looked like me.”

And that’s what I was going for with this deck. I hope you’ll be with it and see people who are like you.

March Guests on the Innovative Mindset Podcast

Check out this line-up, y’all! I’m so honored to host this month’s guests on the Innovative Mindset Podcast.

March guests, John Lee Dumas, Tom Peters, Lisa Zawrotny, Josh Kline, and Jim Adams

The Entrepreneur On Fire himself, John Lee Dumas will be talking about how to access your zone of fire and his upcoming book, The Common Path to Uncommon Success.

Leadership Expert Tom Peters (author of In Search of Excellence) returns to the show to chat about his upcoming book and course, Excellence Now: The Forty-three Number Ones.

Lisa Zawrotny, founder of Positively Productive Systems will chat about how to carve out space to breathe and create.

Josh Kline, founder and CEO of the social impact app, HaveNeed will be talking about how he’s innovating the barter space.

Business consultant Jim Adams chats about how to grow your business through getting comfortable with its numbers.


On Speaking of the Dead

I’m thinking about death this morning. Or rather, I’m thinking about a convention we use to talk about someone who has died. After the person, or a beloved critter, dies we start referring to them in the past tense. More to the point, we refer to how we feel about them in the past tense.In other words, when my dog, Hatha died, people said things to me like, “I know how much you loved him.” Loved. Not love. Loved.

My love for my dog hadn’t gone anywhere. I still love him just as much as I loved him when he was corporeal. But suddenly, when people talked about him they said things in the past tense. I’ve noticed it with TV shows and movies too. For example, on police procedurals, almost immediately when someone is talking about their beloved brother, the victim in a murder case, they say, “He was a great guy. Everybody loved him!” (or some language like that).

But they refer to the person in the past tense even an hour after the person has died.It’s as if now that the person is dead, we have to refer to them and their lives and accomplishments and how we feel about them in the past tense. It’s like we’re not allowed to talk about them and our love for them in the present.And the writers on TV shows and movies and in books follow the convention.

My feelings for beings who have died don’t pass away with them. They’re still there. They still exist, now, here today, in the present. And yet I, too, feel the pull to follow convention and talk about them in the past.No, they aren’t here any longer in the physical sense. But my feelings for them don’t change. I still feel what I felt before they died. Why would I refer to my love for them as something that passed on when they did?I will refrain from doing that from now on. I will communicate my feelings for someone who has died in the present because they deserve to know my feelings remain, and so do I.

What’s up with February?

This month’s three-card draw.

Imagine that you wrote a mystery novel. Now, imagine that it was about a professional tarot reader who works with the police to solve crimes. And now envision how much licensing a deck would cost so you could use it to talk about stuff. So, what’s an enterprising person to do? Make a plan and then make their own!

And that’s what I’ve done. So, this month, let’s talk about your plans and your actions. Every month this year I’ll be drawing and reading three cards. And when I’ve created them, I’ll be adding my cards to the interpretation.

For this month? The Ace of Swords, The Ace of Rods (reversed), The Page of Cups (reversed).

The Ace of Swords tells us to start the plan. If there’s something you’ve been wanting to try, do, or achieve, now’s the time to be practical. If you know me, you know that I usually encourage you to go all-in. Start. Hit the ground running. But this month, don’t jump in with both feet. The time isn’t quite yet right. Make the plan. Figure things out. Do exactly what you want to do. But if you aren’t sure exactly what that is, then don’t start off heading in the wrong direction. This isn’t a time for course correction. It’s a time to test the wind and start out right. The only caveat is if you’re thinking of hunting for a new job. That’s a perfect thing to begin today, right now. Go look at Indeed. Ask your friends if they know anyone who’s hiring. Spruce up your resume. But if you can wait until the time is right to say “Yes!” to the offer, so much the better. And here’s why.

Generally speaking, when I draw an Ace of Rods, I’m thrilled. That’s because it means, “Get going. Don’t wait. Get started. Follow your dreams. Follow your passions. What the hell are you waiting for?”

But, when the card comes up reversed, it sings a different tune. Now’s not the time to jump in. Instead, it’s a time to make sure that your dreams are really yours and not someone else’s. Do some soul searching this month. Figure out whether or not what you’re reaching for is really what you want. Or is it, perhaps, what other people want for you? If you have the resources to figure it out, do that. I sometimes push myself so hard that I exhaust myself. And then I have no room left over for planning, thinking, or doing. And that sucks. So, don’t be like me. Don’t run yourself into the ground before stopping and seeing if what you’re fighting so hard for is really the prize you’re after.

So, don’t take the leap quite yet. Wait a couple of weeks. Things are about to change. And with that change in the wind, your needs, wishes, and desires might change too.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we’re a few weeks away from spring. That’s amazing. But we’re all still sitting and stewing in our juices because the pandemic. And that means we have an incredible opportunity to get super honest with ourselves. Take a piece of paper and write down what you really want. No, in fact, I’ll encourage you to do an exercise I do with my coaching clients.

Make four columns on a sheet of paper. In column 1, write down everything you need in the next three months. These are things you can’t do without. In column 2, write down what you want. What would you love to have in your life but isn’t something that you can’t live without. In column 3, write down things you’ll accept. They’re not the end-all-be-all, but they’re livable. And in number 4, write down your dealbreakers. This is the state you can’t abide. Then, put the piece of paper away for three days and come back to it. See what you might want to change and change it. And then look at your list.

It’s a good set of priorities for the next months. And here’s why I asked you to do this. The last card in the draw was the Page of Cups reversed (haven’t made that card yet, and truth be told, I miss it being part of this post). When the card is right side up, it’s all about the blush or love, romance, and having a light, creative heart. When it’s reversed, it talks to us about ending things that aren’t good for us (or sometimes those things being ended for us if we aren’t the initiating party). So, if you’re feeling down and/or depressed (and it isn’t clinical), doing the above planning and deciding will help you end what needs ending so you’re to begin what needs beginning when the opportunity presents itself.

Take care of your heart. Do small things that make your inner self smile. Breathe deeply. It’s going to be a bit of a bumpy ride, but it will get better.

I’ll see you next month for What’s up with March? In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to learn more with a deeper reading, get in touch.

Want to be a Guest on a Podcast? Here Are Some Dos and Don’ts

My job as a host is two-fold. I want to give my audience a great, engaging, inspiring, and informative episode. And I want to highlight my guest and the great work they’re doing. I always try to achieve both in every episode. Having said that, I get pitched several times a day, and I definitely have some things that turn me off from a potential guest. (I also have things I LOVE in a potential guest, and I note some of them below as well.)

  1. If you, the guest (or your PR pitch person), don’t do your research on my show. Listen to an episode or two to see how I do things and what my perspective is on innovation. If you’re an accountant, how do you do things differently to serve your clients? If you’re an artist, how are you innovating your art? Without those things, my podcast isn’t the right fit.
  2. Someone who just wants to pitch their product. If you don’t have value you can add on innovation and creative thinking, my show isn’t the right one for you. So, figure out how you can add value to the show you’re pitching.
  3. Someone who doesn’t have a point-of-view on innovation and creative thinking. Know who you are. Know what you believe re innovation and creative thinking. Without that perspective, the episode won’t work.
  4. Someone who doesn’t have a press sheet they can send me with their social media links, questions they can answer, and a bio that is concise and easy to read. If you’re compelling guest, I might forego it, but I really want all your information in one place so I LOVE press sheets.
  5. Someone who isn’t easy to work with. One of the big reasons I was excited to have Gloria on my show (and Aurora as well) is that they and their teams made it extremely easy for me to work with them. They got me their materials. They answered my podcast questions. They showed up on time, and they were engaged, excited, and ready to share their wisdom. (My show was featured in the Slice of Life section in the book, Podcasting for Dummies because it’s real, fun, and informative [so they said ☺️ ]. So, I need my guests to be that way too, or the entire show doesn’t work.)
  6. Someone who doesn’t ask for help if they need it. If something comes up and you need to reschedule, that works as long as you give me notice. If your tech dies, I’ll absolutely work with you. But try to give me as much notice as possible.
  7. Someone who ghosts me with no explanations. If you do that, you won’t get another chance when you try to pitch me again. (that’s happened and the gentleman was really put out when my team member said “thanks but no thanks,” in reply to them wanting to come on the show after blowing off an interview with no notice or explanation.)

I hope these points help you when you start pitching your story to podcasts. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Wonder Woman Review

Wonder Woman (MAJOR SPOILERS).
Here’s my review. If you haven’t seen it, read at your own risk. And many of you, my peeps, might shake your head at me for this review. It will be different from most other people’s perceptions. But hey, read on, and we’ll see where it leads us.
I had high hopes. I had super high hopes. I adore the character. She has been close to my heart since I first saw Lynda Carter’s series in the 70s.
And Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman was the best thing (and one of the only good things) about Batman V Superman.
But here’s the thing. This movie? Not so much. Honestly, I feel like I should like this movie much more because finally, a female superhero headlines her own flick. And for that I am grateful and happy. But the movie? Was it great? Not to me. That makes me sad, by the way, because I so wanted to love it. But I didn’t. And let me tell you why.
First, here’s my question, how do you take a movie about a female superhero and make the plucky sidekick the actual hero (It would be like having a Superman movie but having Lois Lane be the hero. Would that *ever* happen? I doubt it)? Because that’s what the movie did. While Gal Gadot was really good in the movie, while she did a lovely job embodying the character, the writing didn’t do her justice.
Wonder Woman killed an unarmed opponent. She believed he was the God of War, but he wasn’t and boy did she kill that guy. And then there was no blowback for those righter of wrongs and doer of rights. She had no bad feelings whatsoever. Yes, this was war, but in the end he was no match for her, she killed him, and then didn’t feel badly at all once she found out she had killed the wrong guy.
Did she grow during the movie? Sure. Did I love the scenes on the island? Absolutely (and Robin Wright was fantastic as Antiope even if her accent slipped and slid periodically). But the writing was so the end of Return of the Jedi it was ridiculous and watching that ending scene between Ares and Diana was Emperor/Luke like crazy and that was a little boring. We knew how it would go and it would go nowhere new except a side trip to Cheeseville with the whole, “love conquers all,” vibe, (“No, I am a Jedi like my father before me. I’ll never join you.” “Very well. If you won’t join me young Jedi, you will die.” Blarg, the writer must have re-watched the Star Wars movie a bunch while writing this dialog [and yes, I know the trope has been around far longer, but the writing was almost verbatim to Jedi and it stuck in my craw]).
Speaking of Ares, when did the God of War become the God of Manipulation??
“It’s nothing I’m making them do, honest. I’m just giving them the tools to do it.” In other words, “Tee hee. Aren’t I super sneaky?” Um, no, dude. You are the God of War not the god of scenery-chewing. You can be violent. You can be dangerous. You can kill a bunch of people. But manipulate them? Be smart about it? Nah, manipulation is a trickster god thing. And smarts and strategy during battle, isn’t that more Athena? They should have written his character better, way better. Other than being super strong, he was no match for Diana. He had no center. And to me, villains with no center, who aren’t doing things because they think they are the right things to do, are not compelling or strong. He wasn’t compelling. He was just a little boy with Daddy issues.
Oh, brother! Can we get a new trope, please? How often can we see movies/tv shows (Lucifer, much?), and read books where the villain is the villain because he/she has Daddy issues or Mommy issues? This was no different, and it made for an insipid plotline. “I’m acting out because Daddy didn’t love me.” There was no tension until the last second when Diana called him “Brother.” That’s when we knew she had accepted her mantle even as she ended her own kin’s life.
Blech. How boring and overdone. And speaking of manipulation, I love the inconsistency of “If you build it, they will come,” in this movie. Oy. So, all you have to do to make everyone be good guys is to kill the God of War, huh? So, they have no free will? They can’t act on their own? They don’t think for themselves? And how is it that only the Germans were being evil (and influenced by Ares)? And wow, how quickly the thrall left them once Ares was dead. And wasn’t Ares spending all of his time in England with those forces? Shouldn’t they have been more influenced by him? Shouldn’t Steve Trevor have been? And hey, how come just a few years later there was another war, a bigger war? If she killed the God of War, by the logic in the story, shouldn’t that have stopped all wars from then on? Guess not, so how come it stopped the soldiers from fighting cold right then? I dislike those sorts of inconsistencies in writing with the hot white passion of a thousand suns.
And speaking of Ares, they telegraphed his identity nicely to me. It was Verbal in The Usual Suspects in that moment when Sir Patrick walked towards Etta. He wasn’t limping. He was menacing and that was all the clue I needed to cement my thought that Lundendorff was too insane to be the God of War. Again, Ares isn’t the God of Insanity or the God of Sneaky. He is the freakin’ God of War. Making him otherwise didn’t work for me at all.
OK, and let’s talk about scenery chewing. Dr. Maru? Really? “It’s going to be *terrible*” said with that, “I’m barely restraining myself from orgasming all over this window” passion was just eww. I hate mustache-twirling villains (see Billy Zane in Titanic). She and Ludendorff had zero redeeming qualities. Obviously, they were murdering psychopaths, but what if they were doing what they thought was the right thing? Wouldn’t that have been more interesting? More compelling? Wouldn’t that have made them more fascinating villains? That last moment when we saw Maru look like she was going to cry just showed me that she might have had some humanity left (in addition, you know, not wanting to be killed), but it was too little and way too late and it didn’t help the movie.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked Gal Gadot. For the most part, I liked her Wonder Woman. She did a great job. I just don’t think the writing did her justice and a good story is the foundation of a movie. If you don’t have that, everything else will suffer for it, and Diana and Gal Gadot did.
On the other hand, Steve Trevor? To me, he was the true hero of the movie. And Chris Pine did right by him. Pine does those bad boy with the heart of gold roles super well. He had just the right amount of heart/do the right thing/bravado/humor/with a side of sexy to knock the role out of the park. His sacrifice, his instant of realization that it was ok to do it because he knew he was leaving the world in capable hands and that his contribution was this one last thing was a lovely moment, and Pine delivered on it beautifully.
He was compelling. Heck, I would watch the crap out of a pre-Wonder Woman movie with him and his band of misfits. Now that would be interesting. When Diana asked him about what having a normal life is like and he answered, “I have no idea,” I so wanted to know more about him. What made him tick? How did he get to where he was?
And oh, by the way? He had no Daddy issues. That little watch trope showed us that he was the one person who liked his dad and I guess that made all the difference. See? In the end, it was all about Daddy issues. If you have them, you are a major villain. If you don’t, you get to be a good guy. And once you resolve them (like Diana did by finding out who her Daddy was and then accepting that), you can be a good guy for real.
Whew! OK. Now that that is over, I want to say just a couple more things. First, I am *so* glad to finally have a female superhero movie. Was it better than the other DC Universe movies? Yep. Did it need a lot of work? Yep.
I’m glad they did it. I’m glad it is a hit because hopefully, that means we will have more kickass female-led movies. And I hope that Wonder Woman 2 builds on this admittedly shaky foundation and truly knocks it out of the park.
Until next time.

Flash Your Fiction Workshop Writeup

Day One

worddiceLast night’s Flash Your Fiction class at Howard Community College went great!
We talked creativity, freedom to create, and sparking the flame. We put a little science in our fiction and did the Cloud in a Bottle activity and it applied perfectly. (I am just starting to incorporate different aspects of the activity into every presentation I do. It applies to them all.)
Then, we wrote flash fiction from a prompt word (they had one minute to write a story). And then prompt pictures (ditto). And they did great. It was hard for them to start but once they did they hated having time called on them. But the urgency of having such limited time bumps you into fight or flight and if you decide to stay and fight, the words become your playthings and then the writing explodes!
Interestingly, all but one of the students were willing to read their work out loud. The last one had trepidation and downright fear about it. But then, I found a solution. I used a modification of the excellent Mobius Corpse activity (created by my friends John Cooper or Jacob Davenport or some combination of the two) and had the whole class write a single story collaboratively. Then, they read the entire circular story out loud. Once the student realized she was part of a team, she was able to read the rest of her stuff aloud perfectly well. You never know what will push past the boundaries and break through the fear but when you hit on it, it’s magic!
After that, we gambled and threw my Word Dice (object, location, profession) and Word Cards and the students got homework to do writing sprints with their word cards and also to eavesdrop shamelessly everywhere they go. Like my “Overheard” project, they will hear tantalizing snippets that will yield story ideas if not outright novels.
Next week, we continue with more exercises using the Word Dice, and we will discuss plotting, compelling dialog, pacing, and characterization and how to access those before you edit.
We will finish up with some editing exercises and resources before I send them off to their new writing lives. Exciting!
Really, I could have taught an entire eight-week class on this and had material left over, but I’m glad I’m going to leave them wanting more. 🙂

Happy Anniversary To Me

Forty-three years ago today, on February 27, 1974, my family arrived in the USA after a year-long process of immigration. We lived in Israel and Italy during while we waited for paperwork and visas and all the accompanying bits and pieces of immigration.

passport photo in the FSU
Mine and my sister’s passport photo pre-emigration

We landed at JFK airport sometime in the late afternoon, I believe. Here is what I remember. My mom was very pregnant with my sister, Golda, who was born just a little over a month later.   Mom walked off the plane hand-carrying my 1/4 size violin (no case, no bow, just the wee bitty instrument). I played that violin until I got a 3/4 size one for a bit when I was eight and then my full size one (which I still play to this day) when I was nine.   Everything was busy, busy and people scurried to and fro’ but I don’t recall being bothered by the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest airports in the world.   I spoke only a few words of English so I observed and let it all flow over me. I took it in with a

Here is what I remember. My mom was very pregnant with my sister, Golda, who was born just a little over a month later.   Mom walked off the plane hand-carrying my 1/4 size violin (no case, no bow, just the wee bitty instrument). I played that violin until I got a 3/4 size one for a bit when I was eight and then my full size one (which I still play to this day) when I was nine.
Everything was busy, busy and people scurried to and fro’ but I don’t recall being bothered by the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest airports in the world.   I spoke only a few words of English so I observed and let it all flow over me. I took it in with a seven-year-old’s delight in the new.
The room at the Holiday Inn (where we stayed that first night) had a square shower stall (I don’t recall ever seeing a shower before much less a square one) and was bright and clean and had glass doors. I remember looking out the window and see color and light all around. We lived up high in Israel (as I recall, we had to climb down many stairs to get down to the bomb shelter), but because it was wartime, there wasn’t much light at night. And I believe our time in Italy was spent on a lower floor so I never saw that much light and motion at night until we came to New York City (the ultimate nighttime light and motion place). So, I come by my love affair with NY honestly. It started first thing.

The next day we flew to Detroit to begin our lives as new Americans.

Happy anniversary my mom and sisters. Our lives would be nothing like we have had in this great nation.

Sitting on a log in the woods by the river
Three-year-old me sitting on a long at a day-long picnic on the Dniester River.