I Coulda Been a Lexicographer

When I was growing up nearly everything that interested me was ruled out as a possible life path with the words, “You’ll can’t make a living

I think I would have been a wonderful Mud Pie Baker.

I think I would have been a wonderful Mud Pie Baker.

doing that.”  I couldn’t be a ballerina. I couldn’t be a gardener.  I couldn’t be Wonder Woman.  I couldn’t be a mud pie baker.

Like every high school student in America, my last two years were filled with the question, “What are you going to major in when you get to college?”  Once again everything that I found interesting enough to spend time studying was dismissed with slightly more sophisticated versions of the same statement.  “What can you do with that degree?” or “You won’t make enough money doing that.”  So writing was out.  Acting was out.  History and Literature were out.  When I discovered philosophy that was out, too.  Because I am rebellious and stubborn, I got my BA in Theatre.  I love theatre and was sure that I could ‘make’ it.  Whatever that meant.  A combination of a fear of sexism and a fear of economics kept me from making a serious stab at an acting career.  That will be the subject of another blog.

Time has past and I have seen a lot of the world.  I have met a vast array of interesting people.  In that time I discovered a secret that is so secret even the NSA doesn’t know it.  Here it is – If you are passionate about something you can find a way to make a living doing it.  You may not become rich and famous, but you can support yourself and a family.  The thing is, there are millions of careers out there that require obscure knowledge, unusual proclivities and bizarre skills.  There are people who get paid to tell you how old a rock is.  They are Geochronologists.  There are people who get paid to make food look pretty.  They’re Food Stylists.  There are people who get paid to travel around and watch high school and college sports.  They’re Athletic Scouts.  There are people who collect the venom from snakes.  They’re Snake Milkers.  Ant Catchers dig up the ants for ant farms.  Odor Judgers smell armpits to see if a new deodorant works.  An Ethical Hacker is paid to hack by companies who want their systems to be hack proof.  This last one is my favorite – a professional Cat Catcher is paid to come to your house and get your cat into the cat carrier for you.

Furthermore, just because the chances are slim that you will get the top job in your chosen field doesn’t mean that you can’t earn a living in that field.  Not everyone who studies archaeology gets to become Harrison Ford.  Ooops, I mean gets to become an archaeologist.  However, an archaeologist needs an amazingly big support staff.  They need people to help dig, to clean the items they find, to analyze what was found, to catalog it.  There are a lot of people who work in archaeology who are not archaeologists.  I know a man who got a degree in zoology.  He doesn’t work in a zoo.  He works for a college in the biology department.  He takes care of all the animals that the biologists are studying.  I know a woman who used to get paid to measure the cracks in the bodies of airplanes.  I know a person who has made an entire career of traveling around to beautiful nature places all over the US and Canada.  He takes pictures of place, animals and things that he thinks look cool.  He prints them as posters and sells them all over the world.  How’s that for a cool job?

Erin Mckean's TED talk explores how much fun an evolving language can be.

Erin Mckean’s TED talk explores how much fun an evolving language can be.

Today, thanks to a wonderful woman named Erin McKean, her TED talk is Erin McKean: The Joy of Lexicography, I learned that there is such a thing as a lexicographer.  That is some whose job it is to study words.  They study spelling, pronunciation, meanings, etymology and everything else you can possibly imagine relating to words.  Usually they take all that knowledge and compile a dictionary or edit one.  For someone who loves word play as much as I do, this would be a really cool job.  When I was in college I never even knew it was an option.

During this back-to-school time of year when many people I know are starting high school and college, I have heard a lot of people dismiss a subject they love because they do not believe they can make a living with the degree.  They reject archaeology for accounting; creative writing for education; geology for healthcare services.  They are being practical and have an eye on their future.  Practicality in important.  Earning enough money to survive is the first job of an adult.  However, it breaks my heart to see bright talented young people turn away from what they love in the name of being ‘practical.’  It is important to feed the spirit as well as the body.  I believe that we need to remember that doing something we love and doing something practical are not mutually exclusive.  There are people all over the world doing work they love and getting paid for it.  Typically, they are happier and more fulfilled than people who do a job because it pays the bills.

So if you are a young person trying to decide “What to do with your life’ or if you are an adult trying to decide what to do with the rest of your life, follow your heart.  When some grey unimaginative person asks you, “What can you do with THAT degree?”  Tell them, “I don’t know.  That’s the point.  I’ll find out when I get there.”

The “Five Things” Rule

"Titania and Bottom" by Edwin Henry Landseeroil on canvas 1848

“Titania and Bottom” by Edwin Henry Landseer
oil on canvas 1848

The best dating advice, indeed the best lifetime advice I ever received was from my mom’s best friend.  I call her Penny for the Queen of Pentacles.  The Queen of Pentacles is a mature practical woman who is generous and intelligent.  She is the bountiful mother that sees to it that everyone has plenty to eat and clothes on their backs.  She is less concerned with abstracts and more focused on concrete practicalities.  This is Penny to a T.  I came home from college one weekend and went to see Penny.  She was overjoyed to see me and asked me all about my life in college.  She also asked how Benjamin, my first serious boyfriend, and I were doing.

“Well, we just had this huge fight and I just don’t know if we’re gonna make it.”  I replied.

Penny tried to look concerned even though I knew she didn’t like Benjamin at all.  “What did you fight about?”

I sighed and replied with complete seriousness, “Artistic integrity.”

Penny burst out laughing.  I was amazed and sort of annoyed.  I was ready to tell all about our fight and how Benjamin was a complete jackass and totally wrong, to boot.  Penny just kept laughing.  Then she called to her husband and told him the subject of my fight and he laughed too.  By now I was completely annoyed and a little confused, too.  I was a young art student and integrity was pretty important to me.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.”  Penny said wiping the tears from her eyes.  “I didn’t mean to laugh at you, but…” she started to laugh again, but controlled it.  “In my life I’ve listened to a lot of people talk about their relationships and NEVER have I heard of an argument over artistic integrity.  People fight about money and bills and if you’re cheating, not about artistic integrity.”

“Well, you always knew I was special.”  I said with a laughing smile.  This launched a long discussion about relationships and dating.  I was a late bloomer and kind of new to the dating scene and needed some guidance.  Towards the end Penny gave me a tool that has helped me throughout my life ever since.
“Gracie, here’s the thing.  When you’re dating you got to know what you’re looking for.  Before you even start looking around, you need to figure out your 5 things – five qualities that you want in a partner.  You can have as few as four or up to six, but keep it around there.  Now, if you’re just dating casually they can be missing one or two, but any guy you are even thinking about marrying has to have all five.”

That sounded like good advice to me, so I thought for a while and came up with my five things.  Now since I was young and idealistic (did I mention I was an art student), my list was heavy on ideals and WAY short on practicality.  He had to be intelligent.  He had to be creative.  He had to follow a spiritual path or at least respect my spirituality.  He had to have integrity and he had to make me happy.  Notice that there was nothing about responsibility, income or having a job.  I told you that I was an idealistic artist.  The partner that I had for fifteen year, not Benjamin, did have all five and we were pretty happy.  I did learn that when both partners in a couple are impractical idealists things are rough financially.  However, when my relationship of fifteen years ended, it was NOT because I had any false or misguided ideas about what he was or what he brought to the relationship.  Needless to say, my list has changed as I have grown older.

In the years since Penny passed on those wise words, I have shared them with friends, family members and countless Tarot clients – male and female.  Those who took the “Five Things” rule to heart may not have had perfect relationships thereafter, but they knew what they were looking for.  Now that I think about it, many of them did have solid relationships that lasted pretty long.

Eight of Pentacles from the Druid Craft Tarot

Eight of Pentacles from the Druid Craft Tarot

Years later after I got fired from a job I hated, I finally saw the obvious fact to which I had been blind for years.  The “Five Things” rule works for more than just relationships.  If, instead of taking the first job offered out of financial desperation, I had a list of Five Things I MUST have in a job, maybe I would have better luck in my job hunting.  That very day, as I drove home, I decided upon the first item in my new “Five Things for Work” list.  My new job had to have flexible hours.  As a single mother, I needed to be able to leave work for doctor’s appointments and to stay home with sick children.

My “Five Things for Work” is actually four things – Flexibility, a small company, $X00.00 per week and work that I find interesting.  Just like with dating, if I find a job which is missing one or two items, I might take it for a year or so.  However, I job I plan to be at for more than five years needs to have all four.

We like to think of Love as being something that just happens to us.  Cupid shoots us with his bow and BAM we love the next person we see like Tatiana in Midsummer Night’s Dream.  However the truth is that we pick the objects of our desire.  It is just that usually the choice is made by our subconscious.  In today’s workplace, most job seekers feel even less in control that a teenage girl in the throws of her first crush.  A person submits his resumes and waits passively in hopes that the employer will pick him.  In these days of online applications, their usually isn’t a way to contact the employer to follow up.  All the job seeker can do is wait and hope.  The “Five Things” rule empowers a person whether they are looking for the love of their life or just a job.  If you want to be more in control, before you date or job hunt make sure you know your five things.

Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles

This is a new attempt at blogging for me. I have had personal sites and blogs before, but I never really did much with them. Now that I am taking another stab at freelance writing, I have discovered that it is necessary to have an active and lively blog or several. I have envisioned this new blog as kind of playground for me. Rather than stick to a theme or topic, I will post the things which strike my fancy. Hopefully, the writing and the comments you as my readers contribute will help me hone my writing style.


Let me explain a little about my blog name. As many people know, the Tarot has been a huge part of my spirituality and my Self for decades. I tend to see most of life in a Tarot framework. When it was time to choose my blog’s title, many titles floated through my brain, but this one about the Tarot stuck. The Minor Arcana of the Tarot is divided into four suits. Each suit corresponds with an aspect of life.


Wands are connected with clubs in the normal playing deck. They are associated with summer, south, Archangel Michael and fire. Because they are associated with fire, Wands influence things about which we are passionate. Bodily passions, certainly, but also what ‘feeds your fire’ as a friend of mine once put it. If you are lucky enough to love what you do for a living then Wands are about your career. If your passionate about collecting coins, painting murals or scrap-booking, then Wands are connected with that.


Cups, which are hearts in the playing deck, are frequently assumed to be about love and they often are. However, the suit of Cups contains relationships of all types. Friends, family, even enemies fall into the realm of Cups. Cups, also, hold spirituality, inspiration and creativity. Cups are further associated with water, autumn, west and Archangel Gabriel.


Swords are a misunderstood suit. When seen in a reading, many people leap to thoughts of conflict and strife. This is a very narrow understanding of Swords. Yes, strife is often part of Swords, but the better heading is challenges. Challenges are often strife-ridden, but not always. Furthermore, challenges are always an opportunity to improves one’s Self. Overall, Swords have to do with the intellect and the mind. It’s development or atrophy. Air, spring, east, spades and Archangel Raphael are all associated with Swords.


Pentacles are lodged in the cold crisp north. I always see forested, snow covered mountains when I think of Pentacles. It is hard to be fanciful in such a cold hard realm. Appropriately, Pentacles are about the material world. That which can be seen and touched. The practical ‘real world’ everyone keeps telling me about. Pentacles deal with money, security, stability and health. They are also connected to earth, winter, diamonds and Archangel Uriel.


I feel that nearly everything in life can be placed under the umbrella of one of these categories. Therefore it seemed logical to name my blog after them. Every week I will write about topics which are important to me, to my friends and family, to my readers and to the world. Please feel free to comment frequently without flames or spam. I hope you enjoy my work.  Image