Multi-Passion Diaries: What a Life in Theatre Has Taught Me About Running a Tarot Business
Welcome to what will hopefully be an ongoing series here at the blog! I think effective blogging has to come from a place of sincerity and vulnerability, and in the spirit of that, this series honestly came to me one night when I was having a rough go of trying to figure out where (if anywhere) I fit in and what communities I felt rooted in. That's the true challenge, in my opinion, of being someone with multiple careers or even one career and really significant passions or hobbies outside of that. Time management for things like deadlines and getting things done has always come easily to me. I run on pure passion for the things I love to do. I can't imagine not running Gadfly. I can't imagine not occasionally performing, directing, or otherwise working on productions outside of Gadfly. I have no idea what my life would look like without tarot and I don't want to know. Then there's my writing—while I'm often able to tie that side of my life into my work in art or with the metaphysical, I have so much more as a writer to offer and my dream life looks like hilarious yet PTSD fueled memoirs and novels as well as tarot series and books and regular art reviews and syndicated columns. By all accounts, I'm making the build to that all work and finding spurts of success along the way.
As this series moves forward though, I'll send those who want to write for a guest spot some questions to write around. One of those questions is: “What is the biggest challenge that comes from running your metaphysical business while also creating something else huge in your life?” For me that answer is that this multi-passion life is actually a little bit lonely. I have my hands in several different fields, so I never feel fully connected in any. Furthermore, because of ongoing self-esteem issues I deal with as well as social anxiety, I perceive a lot of pushback when I try to dig into the social side of any of the communities at hand because I'm only there half the time. I'm not theatre enough, or witch enough, and often I don't feel queer enough even for that community which is ridiculous because I'm gay and non-binary and who knows what else. I am probably imagining this pushback, but that is the challenge for me: the networking and figuring out the social side while also being so deeply in love with the work itself. I want most of my work time to be focused on work--and as a result, I end up feeling a little isolated or not present where I should.
Life with your hands in multiple pots certainly has it's benefits though, and that's the meat of this series. Here's a brief list of what a life and training in theatre has taught me about running my tarot business:
How to compartmentalize. My theatre motto is and has always been “keep the drama on the stage.” If you want the show to be good, nothing else matters in rehearsal expect rehearsing, and certainly nothing else matters during a performance. While I haven't found the metaphysical community to be overly drama-laden, that core idea of compartmentalizing has allowed me to give overwhelmingly deep, emotional readings to close friends, theatre colleagues, and neighbors without a hint of concern about what happens when they leave my studio. Just like I am ONLY a director when I'm in a rehearsal room, I'm ONLY your tarot reader or spiritual guide when you come in for a reading. The second we leave, you're my friend, my friend's partner, my co-worker, and it's like the hour of intimacy between us never happened. On your end, practice makes perfect here. Take on even one client at a time that you know or are close with, and really push yourself to keep the confidentiality you promise, be open in your session with them, and then just forget the whole thing when you're done. Energy cleanses are good practice too for this.
Trust your gut. This seems like something a professional tarot reader wouldn't need to learn from a different format, but trust me, when I started Tarot by Cassandra nearly a decade ago, I would see deep, earth-shattering epiphanies in the cards, and if I wasn't sure how the person would react I didn't read them. Not only does this not make sense as a professional psychic, but it strikes a deep contrast to my theatre training which tells me to make a choice and stick to it. Over time as my dual passions each took their own shape, I had to take bigger chances and leaps of faith with Gadfly—reaching out to scary donors, pulling in playwrights I idolize to work with us, and aiming for that dream cast every time. This definitively leaked over to my tarot life, and now I read what I see, no matter how poorly I'm worried it may be received. And you know what? I can count on one hand the number of times someone has gotten upset with me or been combative in response to my frankness. Always trust your gut—even if you had to learn to in a totally different way.
How to memorize quickly! While now I'm primarily a producer and director, for years I wanted to be the next Broadway actress. Reality kind of penned me down my senior year of college, but nonetheless, years of getting off book by the assigned date has given me a special skill when it comes to learning new decks or spreads quickly. Unfortunately there's no “real life” tie-in here—just a humble brag about my memorization skills and a shout out to a plucky, eager baby me who was always off book before the due date.
Social Media Savvy is key for both my tarot business and my theatre life, but I started Gadfly first. I've always been the default marketing whiz on our team, so I was the one researching Facebook algorithms in my free time and who developed our online campaigns. When it came time to start my own business then, figuring out which social media I was using and how was a breeze. I still get the bulk of my product buys from Twitter, social networking on Instagram, and in-person readings from Facebook, and I wouldn't know what fit best where without my start in Gadfly. The real life takeaway here? Learn your social media if you're using it to market. It will save your business' life. (Not into the internet at all? Check this out for other options.)
The show must go on. I read a lot of articles about reading no matter what you've been through—break-ups, family emergencies, health stuff within reason, but it's mostly a curiosity. I can't even list a cute or fun story about when I learned that come time to perform/read tarot/get an article done, you just do it. In theatre, opening night is no joke, and it doesn't matter if someone dropped out a week ago. You fill it in, and you go. In tarot, that means even when my chronic illness is a hot mess or my PTSD is acting up, it's weirdly easy for me to get in the zone. The best way to give that serenity to other is often with a mantra right before—it takes you out of the heartache/anger/anxiety clouding your vision and preps you for the session.
Overall, life in theatre has left me with one key life lesson that comes in handy when it comes to running my tarot business, my writing career, and my personal life all in one: breathe. While it was tarot that taught me to give up on the cult of busy (more on that at a later date), it was still theatre that taught me that if literal set pieces are falling down around you, you take a step out of the way and take a breath. If your scene partner doesn't show up on time, you take a breath. That breath is solace and comfort, and it refreshes your brain so you know how to improvise and forge ahead. A show has never been ruined because someone DIDN'T take a moment to release some pent up air and clear their head. A director has never fired an entire cast because they remembered to breathe. That lesson, learned early on, has stayed with me in all areas. If a client is arguing with me or my cards are legitimately cloudy, I take a breath and then see how I feel. If an editor accepts my proposal but has issues with my actual writing piece, I take a breath and then carry on a conversation about edits. I rarely will continue a fight with someone in my personal life without deep breathes and a clear mind. So no matter what passions in your life you're balancing or thinking on remember: breathe.
Blessed be, y'all!