Earth Wisdom Tarot Sacred Art

Reflecting on 2009: What Goes Down Must Come Up

in Art, Family, Gratitude, Spiritual Practice, Tarot, Wheel of the Year

(Warning: this is a long post, but it’s a juicy one.)

This is the story of how my personal experience of 2009 began in near-disaster and ended in something resembling triumph. Today I reread my blog posts for the whole year, month by month, to see what kind of theme I might discover. What a doozy of a year! It was a Wheel of Fortune year for me, in Tarot parlance, and there were indeed dramatic ups and downs. 

I signed a contract with Llewellyn in December 2008 for the Gaian Tarot, and I had a whole year to finish the deck and book. This gave me some breathing room, or so I thought. In January there was a lot of drama in my family with an elderly cousin who went missing, and more drama around our finances and housing situation. The recession hurt Craig and I badly because of our investment in the real estate market (we owned two houses when the recession hit, with a legal commitment to buy a third. The two houses were for sale for months, with no takers). We were sliding towards foreclosure on one of the houses, as well as possibly losing the house we were living in. Several of my posts in January had to do with finding ways to keep one’s equilibrium and peace of mind during difficult times. (For those of you who have asked: a year later, the police are still investigating my cousin’s disappearance.)

Late February brought an end to part of the housing drama; our island house was leased to wonderful tenants and the other house finally sold, though at a great loss. We walked away with a large debt that needs to be paid off. But our credit remained intact and there was a lot to be thankful for. In my work life, I was mainly focused on my web design business and was not working much at all on the Gaian Tarot, since the web design business was paying my bills. 

I traveled to Santa Cruz, California in March for my naming ceremony as a Priestess of the Sisterhood of the Silver Branch.  I had been ordained once before, in 1996, by Lady Olivia Robertson of the Fellowship of Isis, and I had trained many priestesses (and one priest) myself. I am happy to be bonded with this circle of priestesses who are led by Grove Mother Lunaea Weatherstone. It was lovely spending time with sweet sisters and reconnecting with my young-adult roots. (I spent many hours on the Santa Cruz beaches and in the redwood mountains in my 20’s.) Looking back on this ceremony, I see now that the initiation was preparing me for the epiphanies that came in April and the major changes that followed.  

Back at home, I was still struggling with our housing situation, still unsure about whether or not we would be able to qualify for a loan to purchase the house we were living in. 

I took action towards a new vision of financial prosperity in April when I signed up for a six-month Abundant Business Mastermind class with Elizabeth Genco Purvis. I had taken several classes from Elizabeth previously, and knew she was a good match for me. At the beginning of this course, I set goals for both of my businesses — my web design business and the other one, which I tended to call my “Art / Tarot / Writing / Workshop” business. What a tongue-twister. I’m now calling it the “Business of My Heart.”  In my first coaching session with Elizabeth, we identified an enormous “abundance leak” (as she puts it) with one of my web design clients. I had fallen into a pattern of allowing the client to owe me a large balance on their bill. (“Large” as in several thousand dollars.) I immediately began to work on my boundary issues with all my clients. I recognized a lifelong pattern of putting other people’s needs before my own. With Elizabeth’s help, I identified a deep-seated belief that everyone else’s work (or life mission) was more important than mine. This is one of the first insights that began to rock my world.

April was a busy month. Craig and I worked with a local mortgage broker in the hope of finding someone who would lend us the money to buy Rainbow Cottage (the house we were — and are — living in). We were turned down a number of times. I continued to work on websites for various clients, and I’m very proud of the work I did for them. Craig and I traveled to Maine to visit my son Steve, daughter-in-law Jenn and of course, our beautiful baby granddaughter Grace. 

Craig flew home while I headed for New York. I visited Kris Waldherr and Diane Saarinen in Brooklyn then moved on to the annual Readers Studio Tarot conference.  Today I reread this post: Epiphanies from the Readers Studio.  And honestly? I am blown away.  This is the pivotal post of the year for me. The message came through loud and clear, over and over again, during that week in New York: It’s time to let go of the web design business, focus on the work of your heart, and trust that the income will be there to support you. 

But did I act on that insight after I returned home?  No sir, I did not. That’s the other part that blows me away. I heard the messages loud and clear, but did not act on them. I continued to put my web design business first because I could not imagine where the money would come from to support me if I did not have web design clients. In retrospect, I would say we are talking about a major failure of the imagination here.

The other thing that strikes me now about that post is the anecdote about misplacing my glasses and needing someone else to help me find them. At the time, I interpreted the incident as if it were a dream, asking myself: What is it that I am not seeing? That question served me well throughout the rest of the Readers Studio. But now I see another layer of interpretation: in order to really move ahead and make progress, I need help. That’s why I continue to work with Elizabeth as my business/marketing coach, and why I have just started to work with my friend Elaine as my health coach. 

May was relatively quiet, compared to April. In the Abundant Business Mastermind Group, Elizabeth floated the idea past me of “firing” the web design client who owed me so much money. I was aghast. Absolutely not. I need that income.  Heh heh. Well it only took a few weeks before I shifted my position to: I can’t wait to be done with this client. Elizabeth asked me to imagine what I would do with all of the time that was currently going to this client; not only the actual work time, but all the time spent stressing over not getting paid in full. I began to imagine the possibilities. 

In June, our mortgage broker came through for us and landed us a mortgage with an excellent interest rate. We were going to get to stay in Rainbow Cottage! There were still ups and downs, with the drama continuing to the very last minute at the closing in the title company’s office. We signed the final documents a mere twelve hours before we left for Missouri for ten days. Whew. In Missouri, I was a featured presenter and Craig was a featured performer at Pagan Spirit Gathering. This was a wonderful experience in so many ways, but also a very challenging one because of the intense heat and humidity. One of the best parts for me, however, was receiving so much positive feedback for my Gaian Tarot work, the “Business of My Heart.” I hadn’t been invited there because of my skills in web design, I noted to myself.  

In July, I started working on the last four cards of the Gaian Tarot. I stopped taking on new web design clients, while working on a plan for the business in the Mastermind group. I created an entire new name and brand for it (, and decided to focus on design work and project management while farming out the coding work to others. I gave notice to the client who owed me so much money and stopped working for him in early August. He agreed to pay me the balance in full of what he owed me by the end of the month, a promise he did not keep. I kept working on the Elders in August and September, finishing the last one just after Autumn Equinox. During September, the last month of the Abundant Business Mastermind group, I worked with Elizabeth on the launch of pre-sales for a Limited, Collectors Edition of the Gaian Tarot. My goal was to make enough money in pre-sales to finance the entire production (this is not a small figure!). 

Instead, the pre-sales launch in October exceeded my hopes and expectations. It was (and still is) an incredible thrill. In September and October, the Gaian Tarot was featured on several online blogs with reviews and interviews. I was on a roll. The administrative work required for the launch kept me extremely busy, even with an assistant’s help. 

It’s clear to me in retrospect that everything started shifting towards reprioritizing my businesses after I “fired” the client who owed me so much money. I stopped that abundance leak.  I only worked for one web design client in September and October, my friend Beth Owl’s Daughter. There was no time for more, just as earlier in the year there had been no time to work on the Tarot when I was so focused on my web design work. Enough extra money came in from the pre-sales launch in October (above and beyond production costs) to allow me to live on it for the next few months while I finished up the work on the deck and book.

In October, Craig and I traveled to Maine again to spend time with the family, and bonded with Gracie, who is growing by leaps and bounds. I also went to BATS in San Francisco and connected with friends and Tarot tribe.

In November, I worked on the Gaian Tarot companion book every day. That’s pretty much all I did in November, although I did keep my commitment to one web design client. I finished writing the Gaian Tarot book in early December, when I moved on to redoing and tweaking the artwork for a few of the cards. I’m still working on that, but the art files will go to the printer no later than January 15th for the Limited Edition and hopefully sooner. I will also meet my Llewellyn deadline of February 1st. 

Because Elizabeth played such an important role in my business success — helping me with both mindset issues and practical marketing savvy — I decided to sign on as one of her private Platinum clients, for six months of one-on-one coaching. We had our first session last Monday and I’m looking forward to my two-day in-person retreat with her next week. In the weeks to come, I’ll be sharing more with you about my ideas for the “Business of My Heart.”  I’m thinking about things like:  e-books, online courses, a Gaian Tarot certification program, a GT membership site and more.  If you have any ideas along these lines, I’d love to hear about them. 

The word I’ve chosen for 2010 is “Flourish.”  I’m expecting it to be a grand year!

(Please note: the links to the Marketing Goddess site are affiliate links, but I would — and have, many times — recommend Elizabeth without them.) 

Thoughtful, sparkling comments. . .

  • JulieZS Fri - Jan 01st 2010 9:10 pm

    Wow Joanna, what a year! I love how you look at it as a Wheel of Fortune year, very true. Wishing you all the best and that you truly do Flourish in this year ahead.

  • Beth Owl's Daughter Sat - Jan 02nd 2010 4:03 am

    So glad to see that your Wheel of Fortune year truly became your turning point! I am so grateful and honored to have come in “under the wire” on your web design work, but you know where my wishes for you truly lie!
    Flourish indeed!
    Blessings, blessings, blessings and much love!
    – Beth

  • Tracie Sat - Jan 02nd 2010 6:27 am

    Congratulations on surfing a transformative wave in 2009! Wow! to firing that client and shifting your business emphasis to your “business of the heart”. As I’m in the process of visioning the same kind of elemental shift in my own business life I truly appreciate hearing your story. Incidentally, my word for this year is “Presence”….
    Namaste, Joanna – you are an inspiration!

  • Teresa Michelsen Sat - Jan 02nd 2010 10:37 am

    Very nice. I love how you reflected on each month and what it brought, and so glad the year ended on such a high note for you, after how it all began. I do believe we have to follow our hearts in our work, because that’s what motivates us to be productive and THAT is what provides for us with the bounty of the world returning what we have put out there.

  • Waverly Fitzgerald Sun - Jan 03rd 2010 12:54 am

    Wow! Joanna, this is really fascinating. Thanks for sharing all the insights. I learn so much from you.

  • Grace Sun - Jan 03rd 2010 8:38 am

    Hey there lady…
    Follow the heart and the dollars will follow…Love that you made that breakthrough!
    Ideas…get those cards on Posters, greeting cards, t-shirts, journals, tote bags, you name it… I know I’d be going broke collecting!!!
    Here’s to a lovely new year…I anticipate hearing more great things coming your way!

  • Colleen Sun - Jan 03rd 2010 9:23 am

    This just goes to show that writing things down can be a powerful tool for transformation. It is something I do not do and you have really inspired me by sharing. Thank you so much. Sending my best wishes for 2010.
    Here is an idea for your business of the heart. I hope you develop a Gaian Tarot iPhone Ap for those of us who are on the road a lot. They are easier to do than you might think and it would be an entirely new market for you.

  • joanna Sun - Jan 03rd 2010 11:52 am

    Julie, Beth – thank you, sweet sisters! Tracie, I completely support you as you shift your business this year. Love your word “Presence.” Thanks Teresa, I appreciate your words (and you are an inspiration for me). Wave, I learn so much from you it’s nice to return the favor. 😉 Great ideas, Grace, thank you! Colleen, I sure do agree with you about writing things down. Otherwise we forget so easily! About an iPhone app for the Gaian Tarot: right now Llewellyn has the rights to create one. It’s possible I can revise the contract if I want to do it myself, but I’m still thinking about it. Blessings back to you for 2010!

  • NORA Sun - Jan 03rd 2010 4:42 pm

    flourish is a divine and fine and fitting word indeed
    Flourish on my mermaid sistah, flourish deep!

  • pamela ramsey Sun - Jan 03rd 2010 8:47 pm

    You have had an amazing year! (I am the one that sent back 9 of Waters for Strength.) You are such an inspiration to me. You have done two things that I have dreamed of: Studying to become a priestess & creating your my own tarot deck. You are a beautiful woman & such a sweet spirit. I am so happy for your success. Pamela

  • Jennie Lin Mon - Jan 04th 2010 3:30 am

    Hi Joanna, I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years, and really appreciate the nice wrap-up for 2009. To further your Gaian Tarot business, may I suggest two things: 1) I love it when you “walk in nature” and record your thoughts and photos. I’m a suburban-ite, and I need that nature fix when I don’t have time myself. Maybe a “totem-of-the-month” on your blog? 2) I’m a liberal Methodist and am so intrigued by your goddess ceremonies and rituals. I would purchase a small book on your personal yearly calendar. “In December, we celebrate St. Lucia’s Day.” etc. With descriptions and photos of the why’s and wherefore’s. Or maybe just a wall calendar. Those are my suggestions. Keep up the great work.

  • joanna Mon - Jan 04th 2010 10:20 am

    Thank you, Nora, Pamela and Jennie!
    Pamela – you might want to check into Lunaea Weatherstone’s course, which can lead to becoming a priestess, if you want to take it that far:
    Jennie, I love your suggestions, thank you so much. I am now living on the edge of suburbia, and miss my nature walks on the island more than I can say. It just takes me longer now to get to a truly rural place, instead of right outside my front door. One of my goals is to do more nature journaling this year though, so thank you. Love your idea about a personal yearly calendar. Until I produce one, you might want to check out my friend Waverly’s site, and especially sign up for her newsletter.

  • Anna Helvie Fri - Jan 08th 2010 4:14 pm

    It had been a while since I visited this site — I am so glad to be back. Once again your art speaks so deeply to my spirit, and I am happy to send emails around advising people to come and look.
    But I didn’t expect such an inspiring discussion of your year … so many lessons you shared, and I know I’m not the only person who has read that blog entry and had it struck home. Bless you for sharing not only your art, but your lessons as well.

  • joanna Sat - Jan 09th 2010 7:09 am

    Thank you Anna — it’s really good to know that my life lessons are helping others with theirs. Many Blessings!