I use tarot and oracle cards as tools for reflection and contemplation. Rather than divining the future, they are a way for me to look more deeply at the "now."
"The goal isn't to arrive, but to meander, to saunter, to make your life a holy wandering." ~ Rami Shapiro

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Future's so Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

From the Tranformational Tarot, Alchemy (Temperance); from the Celtic Book of the Dead, "Island of the Cats:"
Alchemy is more than just blending, it is taking two elements and making a third that is totally different from the first. This woman mixes water with earth, but more than mud will be produced. She appears to be shedding a snakeskin, further emphasizing this transformation. All around her flowers grow that need both water and earth, not just one or the other. Perhaps these blooms symbolize the beauty that can be created with receptive compromise instead of "all or nothing" demands.
In the Celtic Book of the Dead, the voyagers came upon the Island of the Cats when they were exhausted and starving. Inside a fortress there, the men found a feast laid out on a table and a cat leaping about. Maelduin, the leader, asked the cat if the feast was for them and intuited that it was, so the men ate heartily. There was also great treasure all around, and one of the men secretly slipped a necklace in his pocket (though warned by Maelduin not to take anything). As they were leaving, the cat jumped through the thief, turning him to ash. This tale emphasizes the obligation of hospitality to others, but underscores the duty of those visiting not to take advantage of what has been offered. Adding this card to Temperance/Alchemy, I am reminded that such an accord doesn't mean the scales are weighted in another person's favor. The Middle Path is not a sneaky way for one person to fleece the other; it should bring harmony, not create more distrust.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Swinging and Singing

This week I'll be using the Transformational Tarot created by Arnell Ando and published by U.S. Games. The oracle I'll be using with it is the Celtic Book of the Dead, created by Caitlin Matthews, illustrated by Danuta Mayer and published by Edison-Sadd. Today's draws are Karma (Wheel of Fortune) and "Island of the Singing Birds:"
An ancient sundial is surrounded by a snake, a symbol of regeneration; a girl swings from the bottom, oblivious to the precarious laws of change. I suppose growing older allows us to objectively witness cycles and patterns, and hopefully we will realize that we're responsible for a lot of what happens to us. Sure, life deals out some stuff that we have no control over, but still a lot of it goes back to our actions (or nonaction) and words we have spoken. Clueless at the time, we often set the ball rolling for circumstances that will affect us later. Will we wake up and be accountable or keep mindlessly swinging?
The Island of Singing Birds is part of an immram, or mystical voyage. This island was not filled with the random, raucous calls of birds, but with birds singing in harmony as a chorus. There is an important message here that can only be heard by stopping and listening closely. It is quite likely a call to stop blaming life for what's on our plate and instead change our attitude or behavior.

Friday, August 29, 2014

From the Outside, It Looks Fine

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Eight of Cups; from Rory's Story Cubes, "Helmet/Crown:"
This particular Eight of Cups looks rather balanced, unlike the the RWS version that appears to have an open space in the stack. But the two wheels make this grouping of cups feel very insular, as if no one is allowed in or out. The cube below has two clocks on the sides and two arrows on the top; I get the feeling that something will change soon to upset this static situation. When that happens, disharmony will reign, and I imagine a scramble will ensue to rebuild the relationship structure (like an ant hill that gets stepped on).
The cubes represent a warrior role (Helmet) and a monarch role (Crown). Do either of these positions seem very egalitarian for a relationship? Respect, genuine compassion and kindness seem to be missing from this equation. I doubt there will be any lasting stability until they are factored in.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pin Cushion

From the Neuzeit Tarot, Ten of Swords; from Rory's Story Cubes, "Shield/Wand:"
Surrounded by a crowd of people, a carousel turns displaying decorated swords. But these swords are useless because they are made of paper. Still the people clamor over them because they look good. I am reminded of all the opinions (stated as facts) that the news and social media constantly have on exhibit. What a colossal waste of time that only produces fear and anger instead of practical solutions.
If I don't want to become a human pin cushion for the opinions of the media, I need to protect myself (the Shield cube). Limiting the time I spend watching the news or perusing the internet will help in this endeavor. Yet the Wand cube suggests I also create something. Instead of relying on the paranoia and hate-filled information being spewed all around, I can do my own research (look for facts) and be responsible for forming my own ideas.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Camp for Wayward Women

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Empress; from Rory's Story Cubes, "Treasure chest/Monkey:"
The Empress has an ouroboros draped around her shoulders like a shawl, emphasizing her unending creative role (easily seen as the personification of Mother Nature). Things may change - baby birds grow up to be adult eagles - but she moves with the seasons. Being at my mother's house for the past few days fits perfectly with this card. For several years now, my cousins and I have come from different cities to stay with my mom, leaving behind husbands, children and pets. Which brings me to the cubes chosen for today - the treasure of free time to "monkey around" and have fun. We take long walks, play hours of cards and games, eat when we want, and visit with each other. It's my idea of a near-perfect vacation, all thanks to ma mère.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Finger Wagging, Please

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Page of Cups; from Rory's Story Cubes, "Finger pointing/Fire:"
The Page of Cups, besides being known for his sensitive side, is also known as an intuitive person. In this image he appears to be scrying in a large cup, which to me is more in the realm of fortune-telling than tapping into intuition. I believe that preconceived notions and ideas can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. What I imagine beforehand will color how I perceive a person or situation. If I expect to have a horrible time with arrogant, opinionated people, that's probably what I'll find. Maybe that explains the cubes chosen for today - fires of passion that produce anger and blame. But the Tibetan dorje at the bottom of the Page card suggests a different approach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the bell (feminine) represents wisdom that leads to enlightenment, while the dorje (masculine) symbolizes compassionate action. In other words, I should make charitable assumptions instead of doing any finger wagging, especially before I have all the facts. But even then, compassion should be my guide.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Shearing Time

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Ace of Cups; from Rory's Story Cubes, "Sheep/Sun:"
In Wegmuller's image, there is a sun rising from the chalice which might seem strange. Yet when I think of describing joy, I almost always express it as a warm feeling. The two feathers on the moon crescents suggest a gentleness and lightness; the cube the cup sits on indicates a stability not often seen with emotions but with the heart. Here is the chance for a loving relationship that will stand the test of time.
The Sun on the cube reflects the one on the Ace, but the Sheep left me puzzled. However I looked at his fluffy wool coat and thought of shearing, done usually in late spring or early summer when the temperatures are warm. I tend to wear a protective covering in my relationships, often hesitating to show what's beneath my layers. If a relationship is to grow and last, such intimacy is necessary; I must learn to trust.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to Basics

From the Neuzeit Tarot, the Ace of Pentacles; from Rory's Story Cubes, "Temple Gateway/Arrow:"
The pentacle on this Ace shows the natural cycle of a plant - flowering, producing seed, and blooming again. Plants are very good at naturalizing in the right environment and sustaining themselves, but humans haven't quite caught on. Which is why below the coin stand four races of people looking fed and well, but below them two figures reach for a plate of food in a house-like structure.
The Temple Gate and Arrow cubes suggest there is a way out of this conundrum. It is going to require us as a community, country and global society to think differently. An actor from one of my favorite shows (Orlando Jones of Sleepy Hollow) recently took the ALS ice bucket challenge, but instead of water and ice, he used shell casings. This guy wasn't trying to make an issue of gun control (he's a member of NRA and an active member of Louisiana's police force). Rather he stated that our problems stem from an "us versus them mentality." I agree, yet my ego is still quick to point out who deserves what based on their actions. But if I removed the judgment of my ego, I would readily admit that everyone deserves the basics of food, water, shelter, safety and medicine.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How's Your Luck?

This week I'll be using the Neuzeit Tarot, created by Walter Wegmüller and published by AGMüller. The oracle I'll be using is a combination of Rory's Story Cubes (Original set and Voyages set), created by Rory O'Connor and published by Gamewright. Today's draws are the Page of Pentacles and the cubes "Moon/Magnifying Glass:"
Would this Page's dad be proud of him for being such an entrepreneur? Probably not if he gets busted by the gambling commission for running an illegal game. Yet there are always people looking to make an easy, fast buck. When I go get gas at the curb store, people are constantly lined up waiting for lotto tickets. Yet this Page's jester hat should be a clue that the odds of winning is slim and none. I imagine the only real winner is the Page who is raking in money from the players. The Moon cube suggests that there's not a lot of clarity here, and the Magnifying Glass suggests reading the fine print and taking a closer look at things. In this case, if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Trading Snow for Snakes

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Five of Disks; from the OH Cards, "Aura/Depend:"
My first reaction to the Mary-El card was favorable, seeing no starving, crippled folks wandering in the snow. But then I realized the man's braids were snakes... <shudder>. I spent many years living on a large farm, which was a little slice of heaven for a kid. But the large number of snakes there all seemed to be around 5 to 6 feet long and come with rattles. I developed a healthy fear of them as a child which became more intense and less realistic as an adult. And this smiling guy is covered in them. But over his heart is a peaceful, pastoral scene; he is happy because he knows there is a spiritual solution to his situation. Not that some superman-like deity or fairy godmother is going to magically change his circumstances. Instead, when he taps into that inner resource, he'll find peace, strength, wisdom and guidance. Which I hope like hell will tell him to go to the nearest barber and get a shave and buzz cut.
The OH image card gives me the impression of an aura of sorts. I've never seen auras around other people or myself, but I sure have felt something akin to them. Some people naturally make me feel like I've had a soft, cotton quilt placed around me; other people make me feel like I've put my finger in a light socket. The "depend" word card suggests I should pay attention to these feelings and put my trust in them. Perhaps these sensations are a part of that inner self that resides in the heart.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Go Naked

From the Mary-El, the Nine of Cups; from the OH Cards, "Go/Naked:"
Wow, that is one solid, chunky monkey (though he's a baboon, so I guess technically he's an ape). White says he represents Thoth, the god of math, science and measurement. A strange symbol for a cups card at first glance. The Nine of Cups is about feeling contentment and satisfaction, but I can understand how knowledge could give a person a feeling of confidence (or smugness) and make them feel good about themselves. My self-esteem gets a boost when I finally begin to assimilate what I've been studying. Yet there is a staircase behind the great ape that leads to the star, which leads me to the second card for today.
The OH combination of cards had me giggling with glee this morning. However, when I contrast this combo's message with the hairy ape, things get a little more serious. This ape is feeling good about himself, but he's missing something: someone to share the good with. He's going to have to climb down from his throne of knowledge and bare himself (or at least his heart), if he wants to connect with someone on an emotional level.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


From the Mary-El Tarot, the Nine of Swords; from the OH Cards, "Progress/Habit:"
The sixes generally represent a return to harmony, a change that restores balance. In the Mary-El painting there is a white tower on land and a black tower in the sea, an image that suggests a sort of yin and yang. The eagle flies over both, moving toward the temple and city which Hathor watches over. Something has been lost or damaged in communication or the exchange of ideas. Truth and objectivity have been exchanged for opinions. The situation and people involved are not going to change. If I want things to be different, then I'm the one who will need to move in a new direction.
The OH Cards image shows a person charting and measuring growth and progress. The Habit word card implies something done on a regular basis. "How did I get myself involved in this mess?" is a phrase I hear often and have said myself. But keeping tabs on how things are progressing instead of letting them slide will prevent me from being caught off guard. If there is no open and honest exchange so that things might change for the better, then the alliance or association is bankrupt. It's time to move on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Adjust Your Sails

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Page of Cups; from the OH Cards, "Fire/Father:"
The koi tattooed on this young boy shows how all of his thoughts move directly from his head to his heart. He walks around like a peeled grape, extremely sensitive to everything and everyone in his environment. And though he is tender-hearted, such intensity can wreak havoc because he takes everything so personally. In her companion book, White leads this entry with a Yiddish proverb: You cannot direct the wind but you can adjust your sails. The Page of Cups must learn the art of sailing through tumultuous seas without capsizing his boat.
The OH image card features a person about to stick his hand in a fire, while another grabs his arm to prevent him from doing so. The title card, Father, brings to mind a parental figure who tries to guide and protect another. Extreme emotions with no tools to manage them can cause the Page to act impulsively, often hurting himself. Yet he does have an adviser who is familiar with that kind of mindset and can teach him to pause rather than react. He can remind the Page those powerful feelings are like the booms of supersonic jets - attention-getting but fleeting.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Feminine Influence

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Seven of Wands; from the OH Cards, "Family/Women:"
Just the other day I drew the dark wolf, the one who slinks around hiding in the darkness. But this morning I chose the light wolf, who looks straight at me and doesn't hide at all. Her coloring (unless she lives where there is year-round snow) makes her stand out rather than blend in. She doesn't want to be petted and put in a zoo; she wants to have the freedom to follow her instincts. She reminds me that I must be assertive and have boundaries if I want to maintain my creative integrity.
The OH image card made me think of a mom walking her kids to school. Though both the children are nearly as tall as their mother and probably old enough to walk on their on, this appears to be an expression of protection. The Women title card made me smile, because as I have gotten older, I no longer see other women as "the competition." I have surrounded myself with a small group of trustworthy women who are honest enough to tell me when I'm full of BS but will stand and fight with me for any noble cause. They support and encourage me, and they make me remember the strength I have within myself.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Get a Water Filter

From the Mary-El Tarot, the Five of Cups; from the OH Cards, "Hug/Violate:"
I was curious as to why this unicorn had eight legs; that waterfall must either be polluted or radioactive. But White explains its connection to Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir, who not only had incredible speed, but could bear its rider to the abode of the gods or the land of the dead. White refers to this card as "the wounded heart," a fitting description for the Five of Cups. The unicorn symbolizes a need to make something pure that has become sullied, to find a way to heal the hurt. The good news is seen in the pear and fig trees in the background; both are full of fruit, suggesting there are other sweet relationships waiting to be enjoyed. Time to saddle up and ride out of hell (taking a basket of fruit with me).
The OH card selections seem almost opposite each other in meaning. But if a person I was close to betrayed or used me, I would see that as a violation. Do I plot my revenge, waiting for the right moment to retaliate (meanwhile stewing in that polluted water)? Or do I learn from my encounter and try to be more discerning in my relationships? It appears from the Five of Cups that my time would be better spent with more trustworthy companions.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bad Moon On the Rise

This week I'll be using the Mary-El Tarot, created by Marie White and published by Schiffer. I'll be pairing it with the OH Cards, created by Ely Raman and Joe Schlichter and published by Eos Enterprises. Today's cards are the Seven of Cups and "Ants/Joy:"

I see a bad moon arisin'
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin'
I see bad times today
Don't go around tonight
Well, it's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise
~ John Fogerty
I suppose it was both the literal and metaphorical darkness of this card, but as soon as I drew it, I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival's song Bad Moon Rising playing in my head. Not only do the lyrics talk about earthquakes and lightning, they also speak of hurricanes a'blowing and rivers overflowing. Geez louise... it's like having a nonstop loop of Fox News' doom and gloom playing in your head. Now I have plenty of real-life drama in my little sphere, and I know there are some serious issues going on all over the world. But I refuse to passively stand there and let the wolf of darkness eat me; I'm going to move on until I find some sunlight.
The OH set is made up of two decks, one of pictures and one with words. I drew the ants first and then the card "joy." Now what could one have to do with the other? I'm thinking cooperation and group effort that leads to some fun. There's nothing like hanging out with friends who like to laugh and enjoy the moment if I want to keep the wolf in his lair.

Friday, August 15, 2014


From the Tarot of the Crone, the Six of Disks; from Transforming Dragons, "Esberfonc:"
My first reaction upon seeing this card was that it was an image of His and Her bathrooms. Well, probably not, but it is about segregation between people depending on physical characteristics or what they have or don't have. And though sixes are generally about restoring harmony, in real life this is one tough nut to crack. There is a heightened sense of protection and defense instead, with a child-like attitude of "you stay on your side - we don't want your cooties." Neither rival wants to bend, because it feels like they are submitting to the other side. If it were only possible to live as "the other," to experience his or her life, then maybe peace and balance might be reached.
Esberfonc the dragon has been given the keyword "emotionalism," and I can't imagine a better explanation for segregation. Watching the news about Gaza and Israel or the protests and fighting in Missouri, most of what I see is rage and anger, but underneath there is fear and ignorance. Conceivably, an objective third party - a mediator - might help, but first emotions are going to have to cool.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two Ends of the Spectrum

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Priestess; from Transforming Dragons, "Spedonco:"
Whenever I draw the High Priestess, I think of stillness and receptive listening - basically tapping into my higher self rather than my ego. But my ego can be louder and more annoying than Gilbert Gottfried, so I have to figure out what noise is coming from it and what wisdom is coming from my higher self. I have a list of qualifiers I go through now as a test. My ego is manipulative (loves to shame) and feeds on cravings and fears. My higher self is compassionate and operates on unconditional love. My ego is completely self-centered and thinks everything is an emergency situation. My higher self is concerned about everyone's welfare and speaks calmly and softly.
The big bulging eyes of Spedonco made me think he's had way too many cups of coffee this morning. He is indeed running on adrenaline, yet not the kind that comes from caffeine but from fear. It seems this is what the ego will use to attempt to drown out any message I might get in that quiet, still place. Maybe earplugs will work.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Leave the Hornets Alone

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Four of Cups; from Transforming Dragons, "Nervoc:"
A woman stands alone on a rock in the sea, while overhead a solar eclipse is in progress. This woman has either had too much sun and fun or too much drama and tension. Her cloaked appearance and the eclipse mean she's put herself in time-out. We often think to rest our minds and bodies, but rarely think about our hearts. But the heart requires time to recuperate and heal just like anything else. I imagine she'll hop on one of those sailboats eventually, but for now peace and solitude are what she needs.
Nervoc the dragon is characterized by imprudence and carelessness. He can't stand things to be dull, so he lives life on the edge. Of course he's had things blow up in his face due to his impulsive and irresponsible nature, but that doesn't seem to slow him down. He'll try to tempt the woman on the rock to do something to shake things up. "See the pretty, colorful jellyfish? Why don't you pick it up?" No thanks; a small bit of boredom doesn't mean I should go kick any hornets' nests.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Welcoming the Unfamiliar

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Fool; from Transforming Dragons, "Broncho:"
The star falling through the darkness of the chasm makes me think of swimming in the ocean. I've enjoyed the sun while pleasantly floating on a raft, then suddenly found myself upended and underwater by a large wave. At first there was fear because of confusion; it was hard to tell which way was up. But as soon as I got my bearings, I broke the surface and took in a lungful of oxygen. Yet that moment of bewilderment was scary. Looking closer at this image I realize that the inky black is not a chasm but a cloak, making the dark unknown seem more comforting. The last part of Lorenzi-Prince's poem for the Fool reads:
A mere spark of awareness
But that is enough
That is where you begin.
Broncho the dragon is suspicious of everything and everyone. This personality type has written every conspiracy book on the shelves of bookstores. But her motto of distrust leads to a very isolated and lonely life. Better to take a fool's risk and possibly be disappointed than to lock myself away in fear. Life is to be lived, which includes welcoming the unfamiliar instead of hiding from it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Power of a Bridge

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Two of Disks; from Transforming Dragons, "Suboc:"
The Two of Disks suggests that I need a hand - physically, financially or time-wise - to help me balance out my obligations. Lorenzi-Prince describes this card with the phrase "the power of of bridge." My resources can only reach so far across the chasm; I need to connect to someone else. Help can come from unexpected people and places, but I'll never get it unless I send up an emergency flare.
Suboc is described as being in a "bad humor," but I just think of him as a curmudgeon. If someone says or does something beneficial, he'll grumble that they'll probably stick it to you somewhere down the road. He'll do his best to convince me that if I reach my hand out for assistance, I'll be left hanging. Maybe I'll stick my fingers in my ears and hum instead of listening to his blather.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pour Me Another One

From the Tarot of the Crone, the Witch of Cups (Knight of Cups); from Transforming Dragons, "Axidox:"
The waves and this woman's body has become a cup; she asks me, "What do you fill your cup with? What do you let others pour into your cup?" Yesterday I was talking with some women about crisis and drama. It used to feel so exciting, but now it has lost its magnetic pull. I try to avoid getting involved with histrionic performances when I can; my serenity and clarity of thinking gets too muddled otherwise. The Witch of Cups tells me to set and maintain firm boundaries, if I don't want to find myself caught in an emotional rip tide.
Axidox likes to point at other people's faults and mistakes, staying busy taking other folk's inventories instead of looking at herself. Just because I don't want to get involved in drama doesn't mean I'm immune to discussing it. But isn't telling stories about it just another way of dipping in my toes? I can roll my eyes and make judgments, but such an attitude doesn't benefit myself or the other person in the long run.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nail Biter

This week I'll be using the Tarot of the Crone book and deck set, created by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince and published by Tarot Connection. I'll also be using an oracle called Transforming Dragons, created by Sonia Cafe and published by Samuel Weiser. Today's draws are the Beast of Cups (Page of Cups) and the dragon "Pelifo:"
If you've ever met a frog with dry skin, I imagine it was already in froggy heaven. Thus the frog is a perfect choice for this Page. Lorenzi-Prince writes about this court card: I change with the seasons. I learn without words. I see through my skin. Being emotionally sensitive has its good points; such a person can be very gentle, kind and sweet. But it also makes me think of someone who has thin skin and takes everything as a personal attack, even when it was not meant to be. These are the kind of people for which the phrase "walking on egg shells" was created.
Pelifo the dragon bites his claws because he is jealous and insecure. He views the world through the expectations that someone is going to take away something he loves or not give him something he deserves. The problem is that he has a child's emotional vision of how the world should be (there's the Page influence). The hard facts are that we don't always get what we want, and constant security is impossible in a world that is always changing. These cards remind me that when I am out of sorts, the adjustment needs to begin internally with myself.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Leap without Looking

From the Hezicos Tarot, the Knight of Wands; from the Way of the Horse Oracle, the "Field of Dreams:"
If you look closely, you'll notice an acorn design on this knight's helmet. His goal is to plant a lot of seeds (ahem, in more ways than one I imagine). Here is your go-to guy if you need some encouragement to get a project started, but he's not so great with the planning and follow-through parts. His helmet completely covers his ears, which is a hint at how well he's going to listen to what someone else has to say. But if you're the Fool who needs a push off that cliff, he's the man who can help.
The Field of Dreams card represents unexpressed imagination (the wide-open meadow) and the potential to fulfill your desires (the horse). I am reminded that whatever creative ideas I have, the first step of getting started is the hardest. Once I'm off and running, the momentum is there. So my virile and energetic knight stands in my corner shouting "Just do it!" as he prepares to push me over the edge.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Human Road Maps

From the Hezicos Tarot, the Queen of Cups; from the Way of the Horses, "Attraction:"
This queen wears what appears to be an alphabet cone shell on her head for a a crown. The brown deposits made by the snail on the outside often resemble letters of the alphabet, hence the name. She likewise spells out exactly how she feels - there is no guessing needed in her relationships. But not everyone is like her in this respect, which is where those moon snail shells dangling from her earlobes come in handy. This particular snail drills down into the shells of other sea creatures to get at what is hidden inside. If you've ever found a shell with a small round hole (ready to string on a necklace), you've just found the work of a moon snail. Her empathy and intuition make it hard to hide any feelings from her.
The Attraction card deals with relationships, and how we often resonate with certain people. While it might simply be one person feels connected to another because they are like-minded, it may also be because they share similar experiences. If one person has gone through emotional trauma or challenges and come out whole on the other side, she can counsel the other in how she managed to muddle through it. Many of my women friends are a bit older than I am, and I think on some level I see them as mentors. They've already made many journeys and have helpful suggestions about what to do and what not to do when I find myself on the same road.