I see Tara’s comment on my “this is going to be the new thing I try in February” post on Instagram as I am running to pick my kids up from school. I am always running when I pick my kids up from school. I am always slightly out of breath as I stand with the other parents as our sticky, noisy little humans tromp across the asphalt towards us with bent paper crafts and loose water bottles and unzipped backpacks and garbled, excited updates.
I hate that I am always just about (or actually) late. The other moms seem relaxed and organized and I pretend.
“Hey I’ll pull a wee Oracle card for you if you want? I love your challenge!!”
I have told the Internet that my new experience for the month will be tarot card readings and she kindly offers to do one for me.
I read her happy and friendly comment just before I stuff my phone in my jacket pocket and jump out of my car right into a dirty puddle of slush.
My sock is now drowning in icy cold, twisting between my toes. I run-walk, trying to beat the oncoming traffic and illegally jaywalk across the road to the school. I can see the Principal. I duck behind a parked van and hope she doesn’t notice my criminal ways.
I am clearly a stellar role model for road safety the world over.
“No, no, no, no, way, no, no. nope, no,” I mutter to myself with each footstep as my boot slaps the pavement.
No to the Oracle card reading. No to the offer. No, no, no.
The no comes so easily to me. Like “hello” or “of course” or “thank you” it just slides out like all my other musts. There is no consideration, no, “hmmm, that is interesting,” no, “ooh I wonder…” Just an immediate “no” to myself and the universe and to this friendly, sunshiney woman without a pause.
My brain has had so much practice immediately shutting things down, that even though I have literally publicly proclaimed that I am dedicating an entire year of my life to trying new things I don’t even miss a beat and knock this opportunity down the drain.
I don’t have to wonder how many other things I have shrugged away without a thought. I already know the list is a mile long.
I forget about Tara’s offer until a few days later as I’m plodding through the grocery store critically evaluating cereal. I haven’t replied. I am an asshole.
I stop right there beside the FruitLoops and prepare a chirpy, “oh it’s okay! I don’t want to put you out!” reply that will not only let me off the hook but also make me look generous for not wanting to take up anyone’s time. “Look-at-me-I’m-such-a-good-good-guy.”
I am saying no because saying yes feels like handing control and comfort over to someone else. And that is bad, apparently. Even for something as seemingly small as a card reading from a (until now) stranger on the internet, it feels a lot like standing on the edge of a rocky cliff in the wind and hoping that the person holding onto the hem of my hoodie doesn’t let go.
Why does it feel like that? Why does it feel so scary?
No, really, I’m asking. Why am I like this? Why do I have to have every little corner nailed down? Why do I care if the other parents at pick up see me panting because I’ve been running, why do I have to know the outcome of every little thing before I even start?
Before I post my sheepish reply I check out her IG profile.
Under her handle it reads: “Living with GBM4 brain cancer.”
I Google “GBM4 brain cancer.” “GBM is a grade 4 glioma brain tumor.”
I scroll though Tara’s profile. She loves her family. She loves food, especially Indian food (me too). She has recently dyed her hair red. She’s studying Chinese Nutritional Therapy. She’s got a podcast. She loves to travel (so do I) and hike (same) and she’s chill and cool and…
Oh dear Lord I am being an idiot. And a coward. And boring. Again.
I hit back-back-back-baaaaaaack to make my feeble drafted reply disappear and craft a better one:
“Thank you for the offer! That is so lovely!” I grab a box of Cheerios and feel a little out of control. You wouldn’t think saying “yes” to an innocent Oracle card reading from a nice woman from Ireland would knock me off my kilter… although maybe you would because this is me we’re talking about and by now you are getting accustomed to my nonsense.
A few days later I have Tara’s reading in my inbox.
Have you ever lost a glove that is your absolute favourite (this is related, stay with me)? You don’t lose both of them, of course, just the one. They are the perfect pair, they’re warm and they fit perfectly and they even go with your jacket. You retrace your steps but you can’t find that one glove anywhere and it almost drives you crazy because you look and you look and you look. And then eventually you just give up. You buy another pair but they aren’t the same and you keep that one lone glove just in case, even though you have looked everywhere and you know it’s a lost cause? And then the following winter, you reach under the seat of your car, the same spot you checked at least 20 times, and there it is! It’s dirty and it’s crumpled because it was wedged in behind the springs, but it’s here! And then you rush over to the closet and find where you saved the other one (it’s there!) and you put them on together (and you still have the jacket so the whole gang is together again) and you are just so pleased and you say, “Oh good! I love these gloves!” quietly to yourself and really the only way to describe it is to say you are tickled pink because it’s just so great and you grin when you catch a glimpse of your cozy hands lying together in your lap?
I have the reading Tara has recorded for me in my inbox and I listen and that’s what it feels like.
I am tickled pink.
She has beautiful cards that she loves and crystals from her friends’ new business and she takes such care and I feel like I am opening a gift.
I feel like I am talking to my friend. My friend who has really good advice.
As she gets everything ready she smiles…
“I feel… I wouldn’t say I’m an expert at this… but I’m putting in intentions for you… and I feel it inside…”
Her sincerity makes me forget how I could have ever hesitated to take her up on her offer.
She shuffles her cards and takes her time.
She pulls the Grief card.
“Oh that makes me feel a bit sad… although I pulled this for myself about a week ago and actually it’s quite beautiful…”
“Grief is love without a place to go…”
I said this exact thing to my husband a couple months ago about sadness, hopes interrupted. My eyes start to well up.
“I feel like you’re doing this journey for yourself this year for a reason, for a purpose, you might not even realize it right now but you’re going to bring up things that you never even expected could come up…”
She’s right. It feels like I’m bumping into every insecurity I’ve ever had with this year long challenge and I’m only two months in. When I started I thought this was going to be some lighthearted fun. Turns out it feels more like getting up on stage and realizing, whoops, I am completely naked and the podium in front of me has disintegrated and my feet are glued to the floor and the audience is doubling in size and…
You get it.
She draws another card. Seven of Shells. This card speaks to choice and ambition. It’s got a lobster on the front. I love this card.
“Searching for purpose, I feel like if you’re trying all these new things, you might find your purpose in there… Ask yourself what will truly fulfill you. You need to fill out your own cup before you even think about anybody or anything else…”
Her reading is spot on. Those intentions she has for me, I feel it. It feels like a hug. Chicken soup for the soul.
I have to pause now, with this post. All these words. I’m stuck. I need a sec.
I don’t know how to end this blog post in a way that feels not only appreciative of the time Tara gifted me with her reading, but also respectfully acknowledges that she is a cancer survivor.
Tara strikes me as an awesome person who is living her cancer journey guided by a lot of curiosity and patience. I get the sense that she is a healer and an explorer and a leader in saying yes. I get the sense that she is constantly evolving and she is rolling with that evolution. I imagine that sometimes she feels scared and mad and tired and overwhelmed and sometimes she feels grateful and full of love and in love and excited.
So, let me just speak to Tara directly, actually, maybe that would be less weird:
Hi! It is so wonderful to meet you! Thank you for your patience with my WhatsApp ignorance – that was painful, sorry!
Thank you so much for doing a reading for me, hopefully it has come across in this post – I truly love it! I’ve listened to it a couple times now and it is so reassuring and validating and… emboldening. You have a wonderful talent with this stuff and I have no doubt everyone you have done this for as the same feeling of appreciation I do!
From someone who says “no” too much, thank you for being a “yes man.” You have made a difference in the way I see opportunities – I don’t think I’ll be able to say “no” ever again without stopping first and saying, “wait a sec… why not yes…?”
You mentioned on a live that your diagnosis completely turned your world upside-down and I can only imagine. Thank you, truly, for letting us learn along side you. The way you listen to yourself and your body… you are 100% right. You are teaching me with your knowledge, thank you for sharing it!
We are all connected, you are so right. From Ireland, to Canada, to the Ukraine, to every single edge of every single community… we are living a shared experience. Thank you for reminding me to err on the side of connection.
Thank you for helping me say “yes.”
~ Love Shauna
If you would like to join me in making a donation to Brain Tumour Ireland – an organization that Tara supports – please click the “Donate” button below***
*Full disclosure, this is not an ad. Tara did not ask me to share her links in exchange for a reading, I just think she’s rad and wanted to share…
**I’m sure I don’t have to mention this because everyone here is cool, but just in case: please don’t hit Tara up for free readings. Keep being awesome, just send her some love…
***You will be taken to Brain Tumour Ireland’s Enthuse page when you click – I am not affiliated with this organization or the process at all, they handle everything!
I am conducting an experiment: I have challenged myself to try something new each month in 2022. Here are my (self imposed) rules. Let me know if you have ideas on fun/ interesting/ novel things I could try in the comments. Or join me, that would be even more lovely actually…